Some of today’s big names in local business gathered in Ballston Wednesday night to decide who will be the big names of tomorrow.
Capitals and Wizards owner Ted Leonsis, former United States Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra and Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) were among the judges for the Ballston Business Improvement District Launchpad Challenge Finale. One company was supposed to go home with $15,000 in cash, office space and furniture and free legal advice.
“Both companies made a lot of sense to us,” Leonsis said after the ceremony. “We liked the teams and entrepreneurs. In horseracing, sometimes you bet the jockey and not the horse.”
BuilDatAnalytics is a business intelligence company aimed at solving inefficiencies in construction projects. Founder Tiffany Hosey Brown worked two years in construction for her family’s construction company before deciding the day-to-day operations needed radical improvement. Her company guarantees a 1 percent savings on all construction projects for its clients; considering her pilot clients’ projects cost more than $1 billion combined, she said she’s already saving them $10 million.
“It was kind of surreal, but it was exciting,” Brown said of when Leonsis called her name. She donned a hard hat during part of her presentation, and strode about the stage with confidence. When asked if there was a point during her speech if she knew she was going to win, she answered, “when [Leonsis] asked me ‘what are you going to do with the money?’”
Carsquare is billed by its founder and CEO, Khurrum Shakir, as the Kayak for cars; an aggregator of different online car shopping sites, brought together in one place. Shakir, who worked under Leonsis at AOL as a business development manager for AOL Cars, is hoping to raise $2 million in funding to fuel marketing to bring more eyeballs to his site.
“Next for us is taking it to the next level,” Shakir said afterward. “We need to finalize the app we have and integrate our new website.”
The two finalists not selected, Changecause and M2 Labs, will join BuilDatAnalytics and Carsquare next month in actual pitch meetings with Leonsis, where they will have a chance to convince one of the D.C. area’s richest people to invest in their company.
Attorney Mark Gruhin, the fourth judge on the panel and a venture investor in his own right, said each company had a strong idea, but it will take more than a 10-minute presentation in a movie theater to convince investors.
“They’re scaling right now. They have to prove their management skills,” Gruhin said. “They need to get ready for the curveballs, because they’re coming.”
There were 14 semifinalists in the field before it was narrowed to four. Before the field was narrowed down, members of the community chose Tomorrow’s Lemonade Stand — a company aimed at fostering entrepreneurship in children in grades 2-4 — for the Customer Appreciation Award. The company was founded by 7-year-old Kylee Majkowski and her mother, Amanda Antico-Majkowski, who were presented with the award on stage.
Ballston BID CEO Tina Leone announced 2014′s LaunchPad Challenge at the event, a different competition than 2013′s startup competition. Starting in January, the BID will accept applications for a new signature restaurant in Ballston. The prize will be a year of free restaurant space and the competition will be helmed by chef Mike Isabella, owner of several D.C.-area restaurants, including an upcoming eatery in Ballston.
Disclosure: Ballston BID is an ARLnow.com advertiser
Down Dog Power Yoga offers several levels of classes and workshops, all of which are are held in studios heated to 90-95 degrees. The website says “heat is primarily used to help the body get healthy by expelling toxins. The heat also makes muscles more pliable in order to prevent injury.”
Employees at Down Dog Power Yoga told ARLnow.com that the Clarendon studio should open early in 2014. No firm date has been set, however, because the lease was just signed this week. One of the employees noted that work is already in progress for the new studio and workers are excited for it to open.
Photo via Facebook
TechShop, a workshop that offers access to high-tech equipment like 3D printers and laser cutters, is expected to open in Crystal City early next year.
The Crystal City Business Improvement District announced Tuesday that TechShop would move into the Crystal City Shops at 2100 Crystal Drive in early 2014. Construction is expected to begin this fall.
TechShop, which describes itself as a “membership-based, do-it-yourself creative workshop and fabrication studio,” offers monthly and annual memberships to use its facilities, as well as classes for non-members to learn how to use the equipment. According to TechShop, each location includes more than $1 million of machines, tools and equipment.
In addition to 3D printers and laser cutters, TechShop also offers plastics and electronics labs, a machine shop, a wood shop, a metal working shop, a textiles department, welding stations and a waterjet cutter.
“The arrival of TechShop is a huge win for Arlington County and Crystal City – cementing the community’s role as the region’s center of creation and innovation,” Angela Fox, President and CEO of the Crystal City BID, said in a press release. “TechShop is a catalyst for activity, energy, and excitement offering an incredible amenity to area employees, residents, workers, and businesses.”
The Crystal City TechShop will partner with the Department of Veterans Affairs Center for Innovation and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to offer a free membership program to veterans. Currently, there are six TechShop locations across the country.
Disclosure: Crystal City BID is an ARLnow.com advertiser
(Updated at 5:30 p.m.) Pier 1 Imports, a national home décor chain, is now open at its new Rosslyn location at 1717 Clarendon Blvd.
The store opened this morning, Monday, offering the first 200 customers through its doors a free Pier 1 Imports bag and backscratcher every day through Oct. 13.
The location is the only one in Arlington — there is one in Potomac Yard just on the other side of Four Mile Run. It has 11,000 square feet of retail space. The store is on the ground floor of the 1776 Wilson Blvd office building that opened last year.
Located next to McCormick and Schmick’s, the new location is “officially open” after holding a “soft opening” on Tuesday, according to owner Jim Barker.
“It’s in the heart of Crystal City, in the heart of the retail district,” Barker said. “We expect that it will be a very good location for us and for Crystal City.”
Barker said the interior will look similar to the first store at 401 12th Street S., but the building’s architecture will be different, and the store’s inventory will vary slightly.
Barker, who also owns the Washington Wine Academy, said the 1K beer and wine walks the organization has been organizing in recent years will now be more tightly tied-in to the physical stores.
The 20th Street location of Crystal City Wine Shop has an outside entrance — it’s not part of the indoor Crystal City Shops — and will open at 11:00 a.m., an hour earlier than when the 12th Street location opens. It will host tastings from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. on Thursday and Friday and from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. on Saturdays.
Photos courtesy of Jim Barker
(Updated at 4:30 p.m.) A space that sat vacant for years near the Ballston Metro station is about to get a new tenant.
According to permits filed with the county, Bank of America plans to open a branch in the former Ruby Tuesday space. The new bank will occupy one of the first floor commercial spaces in the building at 901 N. Stuart Street, just feet away from an existing Presidential Bank.
A representative for Bank of America said it is relocating its branch at 3625 N. Fairfax Drive to the new space. Extensive construction has been underway at the new site for several weeks, and it is expected to open sometime in December.
Caffe Aficionado, at 1919 N. Lynn Street in Rosslyn, is making its final preparations to open “within a month,” says owner Adiam Berhane.
Caffe Aficionado will specialize in American gourmet coffee and tea with an Italian flair. Berhane, who spent part of her childhood in Italy, will be shipping in coffee from Handsome Coffee in Los Angeles, which she thinks is better than many of the coffee brands other specialty shops in the area offer.
Berhane will also offer frozen drinks and blended beverages, made with a “Stealth” blender that’s quieter than comparable blenders, allowing a more serene coffee shop experience.
“I used to like to collect purses and stuff,” she said. “Now that I own a coffee shop, I like to collect equipment.”
The final month of preparations will include finishing the interior and hiring and training a staff, Berhane said. The store has already received its occupancy permit.
Berhane says the cafe will be open from early morning until 4:00 p.m. on weekdays, and will be open on Saturdays as well. Caffe Aficionado will sell only drinks and pastries at first, but Berhane plans to add sandwiches to the menu shortly after opening.
C. Wonder, which sells women’s clothing, jewelry, home décor and personal electronics, will be opening on the ground floor of the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City, occupying half of the space formerly occupied by Sephora.
The Pentagon City location is C. Wonder’s second in Virginia after its Tysons Corner location. The New York City-based brand launched in 2011.
C. Wonder’s store will be separated into what it calls “an emporium of themed rooms” – American Dream, Jewelry, English Garden and Contemporary Prep — and allows for mobile checkout throughout the store.
The area’s first electric bicycle store will open near Clarendon on Saturday, Sept. 7.
Hybrid Pedals, at 925 N. Jackson Street, specializes in selling electric bikes that can travel 20-30 miles on a single charge, giving riders the option to pedal when they want, extending the bikes’ range. Hybrid Pedals founder Alan Levine also founded Mario’s Pizza House — just around the corner from Hybrid Pedals at 3322 Wilson Blvd — and the food delivery service Doctor Delivery.
Levine said in a press release that his is the first electric bike store in the Washington, D.C., area, but the shops are already popular in California and Florida, as wells as overseas. Hybrid Pedals will carry bikes from seven manufacturers, including Pedego, Stealth, Thrust, and VeloMini.
“There’s literally nowhere you can’t go on an e-bike,” Ray Carrier, Hybrid Pedals operations manager, said. “The range can be extended to any length if the rider pedals… If you know how to ride a regular bike, you can ride an e-bike within moments of ﬁrst trying one out. There’s no steep learning curve as with a Segway, which has limited range and is stymied by ‘rough’ terrain such as grass and gravel.”
Hybrid Pedals also has a license to sell to police and emergency responders, offering bicycles that can go as fast as 60 mph. The bicycles available for public use by law can’t go faster than 20 mph. Levine’s store will also sell solar-powered e-bikes, which he said are useful for extended power outages when a wall charger can’t be used.
The showroom’s grand opening ceremony on Sept. 7 starts at 11:00 a.m. and goes until 7:00 p.m., with a ribbon cutting at 3:00 p.m. There will be live music, project demonstration and test drives as part of the event.
Audi of Alexandria and all of its employees will relocate from 1704 Mt. Vernon Avenue in Alexandria’s Del Ray neighborhood to the Arlington land previously occupied by the Brown’s Used Car Super Center (3200 Columbia Pike), which closed in 2011.
According to an employee at the dealership, the move should happen in late September, but no firm date has been set yet. The employee indicated that both the service and sales hours would likely expand after the move, but that hasn’t been definitely determined.
The dealership is owned by Rosenthal Automotive Group. The County Board has approved rezoning the Rosenthal Jeep/Chrysler property down the street from the new Audi dealership for the development of a multi-family residential complex.
Code Orange Air Quality — Hot and unhealthy air is in the forecast today. Code Orange air quality is expected today through Friday, meaning that pollution levels could be harmful to children, the elderly, or people with health problems. On this hazy and humid day, the heat index could reach as high as 107 degrees. [WJLA]
Arlington Girls’ Fire Camp Profiled — CBS News correspondent Chip Reid took a look at Arlington’s girls fire camp on the network’s morning show. The camp is an effort to help spark interest in the department among potential future female recruits. Percentage-wise, Arlington has more than double the national average of female firefighters. The county also hired the first paid female firefighter in the nation. [CBS News]
Board Approves Improvements to Parks — The Arlington County Board on Tuesday approved nearly $2 million in contracts to repair and upgrade Towers Park and Ft. Barnard Park. Towers Park will get new tennis courts and a basketball court, among other things. Ft. Barnard Park will have its playground and picnic shelter replaced. [Arlington County]
Yorktown Running Back Commits to UNC — Star Yorktown running back M.J. Stewart will play Division I football at the University of North Carolina. Stewart, a rising senior, will still play at Yorktown this fall. [Sun Gazette]
New Pilates Studio Opens – A new pilates studio recently opened in Courthouse. It’s the second Arlington location for the company, My Thrive Pilates. The studios are located at 1401 N. Adams Street and 2800 S. Randolph Street. [PRWeb]
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
A new Arlington Community Federal Credit Union (ACFCU) branch will open in Ballston next week.
The new ACFCU will replace a White House Federal Credit Union branch (4121 Wilson Blvd) that closed last month. It will be a full-service facility with tellers and an on-site mortgage officer.
This is the third ACFCU branch, joining the one at 2130 N. Glebe Road and another just over the Arlington/Fairfax border at 5666 Columbia Pike. The Ballston branch will be the first that is Metro accessible.
“We are excited to move to the Ballston area as we have been looking for an option that is convenient to both ACFCU members and to Arlington commuters for some time,” said Karen Rosales, ACFCU Chief Operating Officer. “ACFCU members are important to us, and we want them to have access to convenient branch locations they deserve.”
The new branch is scheduled to open on Monday, April 15.
Disclosure: ACFCU is an ARLnow.com advertiser
(Updated at 3:05 p.m.) A new “high-end martial arts studio” is coming to the former Hollywood Tans space at 3000 N. Washington Blvd in Clarendon.
Urban Kempo says its mission is “to help individuals grow in and cope with the challenges of our contemporary urban society.”
Shaolin Kempo is a martial art often taught for self defense. The Urban Kempo website says the following about the Kempo techniques it teaches.
On the street, there are no weight classes or three-minute rounds with one-minute breaks in between. You will not enjoy the luxury of a referee stopping altercations or enforcing rules. In practicing Kempo, one assumes that the attacker perceives an advantage, either in size or number. Thus, the Kempo artist practices quick and effective strikes, often towards targets that are considered off limits in virtually all combat sports.
Signs are now up outside the business. Depending on whether Urban Kempo is able to obtain the proper county permits in time, owner “Sensei Mike” Herway says they “hope to be open sometime next week.”
Photo courtesy Paul Moon
Mind Your Body Oasis is scheduled to open at 1750 Crystal Drive on January 12. Owner Amanda Shipe said the area has been hurting for a business of this type.
“I’ve lived here for 15 years, I own a house on South Glebe Road, so I kind of know the lay of the land really well. I’m also a realtor,” said Shipe. “There’s not a yoga studio in the area. It’s very densely populated and is really in need of something different than what’s happening with the restaurants and shops.”
In addition to yoga, the center will offer massages, facials, acupuncture and nutritional coaching.
“There is nothing else like my studio,” said Shipe. “You have your yoga studios that have just yoga and maybe massage, but there is not a center that has hot yoga, regular yoga, pilates and the spa options and acupuncture. There is no other studio that combines everything I’m doing into one in the entire D.C. metro area.”
The Crystal City location made even more sense to Shipe after she led a few outdoor yoga classes in the neighborhood earlier this year. She said the studio will be easy to get to by Metro, and customers can enjoy the renovated courtyard area at the Crystal City Shops. Shipe said customers can take food they buy at her studio into the courtyard to eat.
The food will be provided by local startup Postmodern Foods. Business owner Denise Hicks will make the pre-packaged health food that will be sold out of a refrigerator near the studio’s front desk. Hicks became more involved with health foods when she became ill a number of years ago, and she saw positive changes in her body and emotions due to a change in diet and exercise. She then attended the Natural Gourmet Institute in New York and learned about concepts such as cooking foods to keep them nutritionally intact.
“It took me to another level in terms of understanding different philosophies about food. I think food is really powerful, but it can be more powerful if you handle it respectfully,” said Hicks. “I’m really excited to be able to create food that I believe in and give it to the market. I want to make sure that people have access to really healthy foods that can change the quality of their lives.”
Although about 80 percent of the selections will be raw foods, Hicks plans that around 20 percent of the products will be cooked.
“100 percent raw is not something that you want all day, every day, especially not in winter,” she said.
Hicks makes all the items herself and plans to sell the beverages in glass containers, and the food in compostable, cornstarch based plastic containers. One of the pre-packaged dishes she’s featuring will be a quinoa and egg scramble, with an organic tortilla, corn, salsa fresca and a spicy black bean sauce.
Shipe said she is excited to have Hicks on board for the wholistic center, not just because of the healthy raw food concept, but also because she enjoys helping local people start a small business. Another business she’s helping out by selling its products is House of Steep, which is owned by Shipe’s sister, Lyndsey DePalma.
“We really play off of each other with our strengths and weaknesses. She helped me with the business plan, I helped her with the marketing,” Shipe said. “She’s a little bit ahead of me, so she gives me a future view of what I should be doing. It’s a very, very fun bonding experience for us. It’s been two years since we started this journey. We’ve been along for the ride together.”
If all goes well for both businesses, the sisters would eventually like to open a location combining Mind Your Body and House of Steep. But for now, Shipe is focused on getting out the word about her wholistic center.
“I want Mind Your Body Oasis to be a community and be a place where people can come and meet like minded people and escape the world,” said Shipe. “When you walk in the studio you have a sense of peace and harmony and it’s your little oasis to escape to for a while and forget about anything you’re dealing with that day.”
Mind Your Body Oasis will have a grand opening event from 2:00-9:00 p.m. on January 19. There will be raffles and samples of the juices that will be sold at the center. Customers are also welcome to check out the facility and enjoy a free yoga class.
Nolan Forness owns the store, along with his wife, daughter and son. His wife’s father started the business in 1953 and thus far the family has had one store in Alexandria.
Forness grew up in Clarendon and currently lives in Crystal City. He said the family had been looking to expand into Clarendon for a long time, and jumped at the opportunity when they saw the space open up.
“I knew the old neighborhood and the new neighborhood is a whole lot busier,” Forness said. “We knew it was a hot location. There were no jewelry businesses around and we thought we’d fill that void.”
This location’s specialty will be silver pieces by several unique designers. Forness touts his membership in the Independent Jewelers Organization, and promises that customers will find items that aren’t available elsewhere. The store will also offer Pandora jewelry, jewelry repair, watch repair and custom jewelry design.
Forness said his family has been ready to open the new location for a few months, but they were just waiting for the custom-made jewelry cases to arrive. The store opened on Sunday, and the sign went up yesterday (Tuesday).
The family is considering this a “soft opening” period and plans to have a grand opening sometime after the holidays.