Editor’s Note: Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. The Metro-accessible space features a 5,000-square-foot common area that includes a kitchen, lounge area, collaborative meeting spaces, and a stage for formal presentations.
The combination of nostalgia and modern technology is at the heart of Crystal City startup Onomonomedia, which builds custom photo booths that link with social media.
Dave Clark founded the company four years ago after graduating from Liberty University — where he transferred from George Mason — and it has since grown into a multi-device based marketing agency, providing photo booths for companies to engage potential customers with “real-world experiences.”
The germ of the idea starting six or seven years ago, Clark told ARLnow.com last week, when Clark took a photo booth his friend bought to a wedding and it was a huge hit.
“I saw the opportunity in how social media was blowing up, but I wanted to make sure it included a real-world experience,” Clark said. “It’s really revolutionized event marketing. It’s a super engaging thing at an event, and gives people real content.”
Clark said it was hard at first to think of what the company could be, since photo booths are typically thought of as something to do ” at the beach or the mall.” But once he saw how people were using it, and how popular the feature of posting directly to social media from the booth was, he knew he had a potentially huge new platform.
So, in 2010, he started to reach out to companies around D.C. to use his photo booths. He was able to bring booths to Adams Morgan Day and Foto DC and get noticed by D.C. events website Brightest Young Things. BYT became Time Magazine, whose partner, Wired, asked Onomonomedia to do a photo wall installation for its Wired Store, an annual gadget pop-up shop in New York City over the holidays.
Since then, Onomonomedia has only grown, built more and sleeker photo booths, different products — like Instagram kiosks, GIF generators, video booths and 3D booths. Clark said the GIF booth, which takes four photos of the user and turns it into an animation, is his most asked-for product.
“People wanted to see the content that was created at their event,” Clark said. “We’ll create it as classy, creatively and as easy as possible.”
The booths are made from dozens of pieces of plywood that are carefully placed together. There’s a digitial SLR camera, a computer and a printer in each. The original booths were designed by a full-time carpenter who moonlights as an artist. Now, Onomonomedia employs a full-time electrical engineer to help create new booths.
Each standard booth takes “about a week” to build, Clark said, and they have made about 30 so far. Ten of those booths were made at once for a huge project with Armani Exchange stores. The fashion company wanted Onomonomedia booths in 13 of its stores around the country simultaneously. The project “was like a $200,000 investment round” for the company, and was a “gamechanger” for its future.
This year, Clark expects Onomonomedia to exceed $1 million in sales for the first time. It works with Fortune 500 companies, has sold booths to Vitamin Water and is constantly exploring new avenues to pursue, Clark said. The company moved to Disruption Corporation‘s Crystal City office this summer, but not as a company that has taken investment. Instead, Disruption CEO Paul Singh just liked the idea and the company so he offered Clark and his seven full-time employees office space.
Now, Onomonomedia is in discussions with investors for the first fundraising the company has ever done. It’s been bootstrapped to this point, starting when Clark began renting booths to use for events. Now, the company is profitable, and hiring programmer and interface designers for its next steps, which Clark wasn’t quite ready to reveal.
“We’re not always first to market with some things,” Clark said, acknowledging that there are other companies also making social media photo booths. “So when we come out with something, it’s got to be the best one our client has ever seen. People will pay top dollar for this engagement. When we put something out, it’s got to be killer.”
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The Arlington-Aachen High School exchange is returning this summer and currently accepting applicants.
The sister-city partnership started in 1993 by the Arlington Sister Cities Association, which seeks to promote Arlington’s international profile through a variety of exchanges in education, commerce, culture and the arts. The exchange, scheduled June 17th to July 4th, includes a two-week homestay in Aachen plus three days in Berlin. Knowledge of the German language is not required for the trip.
Former participants have this to say:
_”The Aachen exchange was an eye-opening experience where I was fully immersed in the life of a German student. I loved biking through the countryside to Belgium, having gelato and picnics in the town square, and hanging out with my German host student’s friends. My first time out of the country, the Aachen exchange taught me to keep an open mind, because you never know what could be a life changing experience.” – Kelly M._
Learn about the new assessment of Arlington’s urban tree canopy and the many ecological and social benefits trees provide. Staff from the Green Infrastructure Center (GIC) will share study results and compare canopy cover for different areas of Arlington.The webinar will include assessments of ecosystem services such as stormwater mitigation, air quality, carbon uptake, and urban heat islands. For background on Arlington trees see the “Tree Benefits: Growing Arlington’s Urban Forest” presentation at http://www.gicinc.org/PDFs/Presentation_TreeBenefits_Arlington.pdf.
Please register in advance to assure your place at the webinar, https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/29543206508863839.
About the Arlington County Civic Federation: The Arlington County Civic Federation (“ACCF”) is a not-for-profit corporation which provides a forum for civic groups to discuss, debate, inform, advocate and provide oversight on important community issues, on a non-partisan basis. Its members include over ninety civic groups representing a broad cross-section of the community. Communications, resolutions and feedback are regularly provided to the Arlington County Government.
The next meeting is on Tuesday, February 21,2023 at 7 pm. This meeting is open to the public and will be hybrid, in-person and virtually through Zoom. Part of the agenda will be a discussion and vote on a resolution “To Restore Public Confidence in Arlington County’s Governance”. For more information on ACCF and this meeting, go to https://www.civfed.org/.
Valentine gifts for someone special or for yourself are here at George Mason University from noon -4pm on February 14, 2023. Satisfy your sweet tooth with Kingsbury Chocolates, find a handmade bag from Karina Gaull, pick up treats from Village