Arlington, VA

This article was written by Erik Skantze, winner of Arlington Economic Development‘s Startup Arlington Competition and Chief Production Officer for Richmond-based education startup, EdConnective.  

It’s hard to believe that I arrived in Arlington only two short months ago.

Somewhere between working at SPACES in Rosslyn, getting a fabulous introduction to the area through Chasing Dragons, and enjoying the daily breakfast buffet over at the Residence Inn Marriott, I came to the realization that Arlington has some excellent offerings for entrepreneurs. These are my top three.

Hidden Serenity

Startups are a lot like rollercoasters. Sometimes you experience the thrill of rapid twists and turns in a growing business. Sometimes you experience a knot in the pit of your stomach as you are staring over the edge of what looks like a bottomless abyss.

Other times you are just inching along a steep hill, grinding it out to get the next client, investor or product iteration that will propel you to the next stage of the startup lifecycle.

In the latter scenario, I like to take Steve Blank’s advice and “get out of the building” not only to connect with the community around me, but also to give myself the space and time to reflect. Arlington is full of hidden gems that are ideal for this activity — my favorites (so far) are:

  • Freedom Park makes for a quiet walk in the heart of Rosslyn (outside of lunch hours, at least!) with great views of D.C. and plenty of opportunity to admire the local architecture.
  • Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Island is Arlington adjacent and accessible by a quick bike ride or walk — after a short walk you will be so surrounded by nature that you may even forget you are in one of the most populous metro areas in the U.S.
  • Although the George Washington Memorial Parkway might not always be associated with relaxation during rush hour, a quick stop along the overlook (or a walk through Potomac Overlook Park) makes for a great drive/walk combo.

East Coast Early Adopters

Does anyone really need same hour grocery delivery? Probably not, but it does have its novelty and it might even save you some time during a hectic day. Sure, almost every city has an unending supply of new services and early adopters, but what I love about Arlington is that it is jam packed with early adopters.

Whether it’s the ubiquitous electric scooter, Balkan cuisine, board game bars or home cooked ketogenic meals delivered to your door, the excitement, buzz and conversation about new concepts and services is what sets Arlington apart.

That’s not to say that every idea is a winner or even that most of these concepts will endure the test of time, but Arlington presents an attractive proposition for an entrepreneur who thrives on feedback and needs to test his or her creation in a tangible way.

Convenient Transportation to Basically Anywhere

Yeah, this one is decidedly less exciting than the other two, but I have come to find options in transportation to be a huge advantage. Hungry? Nothing beats an afternoon walk along Custis trail to Mom’s/Naked Lunch or (on those rough days) a quick scoot to Ben’s Chili Bowl for a fully loaded half smoke.

Tech MeetUp? The metro gets me where I want to go. West coast conference? Both Reagan National and Dulles are a short ride away.  Bonus: the trip to our Richmond office is just a couple hours by car or train, which means I can catch a morning meeting and be back in time for lunch!

In closing, I’ll mention this: every conversation I have with an Arlingtonian (yep, I looked that up) ends the same way. I always ask, “what is the number one ‘must see‘ or ‘must do‘ on your list of Arlington-based activities and why?”

I haven’t gotten a bad answer yet, so I figure that’s as good a way as any to end this article. What’s your recommendation? Hit me up at @edconnective or [email protected]!

Erik Skantze is the Chief Product Officer for EdConnective and has mixed feelings about electric scooters (loves riding, hates dodging). As the winner of the Startup Arlington Competition, EdConnective is excited to work with local educators, investors, and mentors to help empower principals and teachers to impact student outcomes.

Photos via Rosslyn BID

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