Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. 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.
But from its new Crystal City headquarters, Trustify is looking to challenge those perceptions. Open since March 2015, it has now moved into a new space in Arlington, where it matches up private investigators with customers.
Trustify co-founder Jen Mellon said the company’s diverse staff — more than half are women — has helped make it more accessible to more people.
“There’s a lot of brand debt,” Mellon said. “We’ve worked hard to change the face of the industry. I think a lot of our success is because our team looks like their consumer.”
Trustify allows anyone to run background checks, investigate fraud, locate missing children, check for infidelity and more from their web browser or the phone app. A consultation with a private investigator takes place over Trustify’s chat application, then investigators choose whether to pursue a case.
Company co-founder Danny Boice said that while about half of investigators’ work is done using standard surveillance techniques, much of it now is done through investigations of someone’s online presence and on the dark web.
“The internet makes a great accelerator for dishonesty,” he said. “For all the things it provides exponential growth, it also provides the perfect catalyst for puffing up your Facebook profile or LinkedIn or lying about not being in a relationship when you’re on Tinder, all those things.”
Mellon said Trustify recruits a lot among ex-law enforcement officers, including police and those retiring from agencies like the FBI and CIA. She said that the company conducts its own vetting of applicants to ensure their credentials and experience stack up, and that there are no black marks on their record.
Once someone is employed at Trustify, they step into an office culture that aims to make everyone feel comfortable. Employees have a designated space on the walls for photographs, while behind hidden doors are rooms for nursing mothers and other relaxation spaces.
Mellon said it was imperative to make employees feel valued internally, while externally, being surrounded by other technology firms and startups adds value too.
“We wanted a space not only to support our team, but support the work that we do,” Mellon said. “It’s nice to be a part of that technology community. It’s so conducive to the work we’re doing. We don’t have a lot of time to go somewhere else, so it’s nice to be in this concentrated technology corridor that we’re proud to be a part of.”
Trustify employed architecture firm Wingate Hughes to design its new office space, a process that took about eight weeks before another 12 weeks of construction.
Gavin Daniels, co-founding principal at Wingate Hughes, said the firm wanted Trustify employees to feel comfortable in their new space, while at the same time making it unique.
“I wanted something for them that was badass,” Daniels said. “I wanted someone to walk in and have that visceral reaction of, ‘Holy s–t. This is an office building? I can’t believe I’m standing here in an office building.’ I wanted people to get their breath taken away, smile and feel something.”
With the use of technology in a welcoming office environment, Boice said they are working hard to change how people view private investigation.
“We analyzed the market and found it’s an old industry that’s white male dominated, it’s a 1 percenter service,” he said. “We saw that if you changed how it could be consumed and made it accessible to everyone, then it could be this very large, new industry.”
More photos of Trustify’s new Crystal City office:
Danny Boice photo via Trustify