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An Arlington-based startup accelerator has moved into new digs in Rosslyn, with room to grow

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups, founders, and other local technology news. Monday Properties is proudly featuring Three Ballston Plaza

An Arlington-based company that helps startup founders turn their ideas into viable ventures has a new permanent home in Rosslyn.

Founded in 2017, Unstuck Labs is a small venture capital and consultancy firm that provides founders of small tech startups with mentorship, office space and, sometimes, investment.

Until recently, Unstuck operated from various co-working spaces across Arlington. With the help of Arlington Economic Development, the Rosslyn Business Improvement District and the county’s Innovation Fund grant, Unstuck moved to an office in Rosslyn, where Co-founder and CEO Wa’il Ashshowwaf says he hopes to add more programming.

Ashshowwaf says Unstuck is not a typical accelerator program.

Whereas most accelerator programs provide founders with a “curriculum” on how to set up their company, Ashshowwaf says Unstuck treats the program more like an apprenticeship.

“Think about sitting in a classroom versus doing an apprenticeship. Like someone can tell you, ‘This is how you fix a car,’ but our apprenticeship is going to be like, ‘Okay, let’s open the hood and fix it,’” he told ARLnow.

The program lasts 12 weeks, during which Ashshowwaf says the company assists founders in everything from designing a logo to pitching to potential investors — including Unstuck.

Although Unstuck does not guarantee it will invest in participating startups, Ashshowwaf noted that “86% of the founders got some kind of seed funding… within three months of the program.”

“The goal is you come in on day one, and no one really cares about you. You have your idea. By week 12, people care about you. You have an idea. You have a customer. You have revenue, and you’re invested in,” he said.

Unstuck Labs Co-founder and CEO Wa’il Ashshowwaf waves to attendees following a ribbon-cutting event in Rosslyn this September (staff photo by James Jarvis)

Even if the product “doesn’t work,” Ashshowwaf says it is not the end of the world. For Unstuck, a failed product launch is less a setback and more a learning opportunity that can lead to a more successful venture down the line.

“If the idea doesn’t work, that’s not a failure because in 12 weeks, you would learn, ‘Okay, that didn’t work.’ You didn’t spend two years of your life doing that. And then you can move on to the next thing,” Ashshowwaf said.

In addition to its accelerator program, Unstuck offers free workshops, such as “Startup Patent Survival Skills, and weekly meetups where entrepreneurs can discuss their current projects. Ashshowwaf says he hopes to host 50-100 free workshops and weekly meetups a year now that Unstuck has its own office.

Ashshowwaf says the free workshops cultivate an “ecosystem” where entrepreneurs can collaborate and help each other get “unstuck,” instead of navigating the often daunting process alone, he said.

“Someone has an idea. Says, ‘Okay, I want to build a startup. I want to build a business.’ So they’ll ask friends and their family, then they usually jump to a company and say, ‘Hey, can you build the app? How much? Oh, $100,000? How do I find the money?’ And it’s a very disjointed process,” he said.

The meetups, meanwhile, foster accountability, he says.

“By the end of [the meetup], I’m giving you a to-do list… So, for example, I’m saying, ‘Okay, let’s research how we can manufacture a doggie tuxedo. Here are some companies: go look at them… Someone from our team is going to follow up with you to make sure you do it,” Ashshowwaf said.

Unstuck is also attempting is to secure an additional $10 million in funding to support the company’s operations, including its accelerator program, for the next two to three years.

“But the goal is, if I can be the first check for 100 startups in the next two years, I think that’ll be great,” Ashshowwaf said.

Unstuck Labs officially opened its new office in Rosslyn this September (staff photo by James Jarvis)

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