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After chronicling highs and lows of Arlington startups for a decade, ARLnow bids farewell to Startup Monday column

The Rosslyn skyline and Arlington National Cemetery at sunset (staff Photo by Jay Westcott)

After more than a decade and nearly 500 articles, one of our longest-running columns, Startup Monday, is ending — at least for now.

Since 2013, ARLnow has profiled scrappy entrepreneurs with thoughtful ideas and new businesses at every stage of a startup’s life cycle, from raising a seed investment fundraising round to landing on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing companies to outgrowing the “startup” descriptor when they merge, get acquired or list their shares on a stock exchange.

Through the column, written by ARLnow staff and supported by longtime sponsor Monday Properties, we have covered some companies before they made it big. Profiled when it was just five years old, today, Privia Health is publicly traded on the stock market. Once a small outfit out of Rosslyn, PerformYard — founded to disrupt how HR is managed — moved to Ballston, nabbed $95 million and celebrated its revenue growing by five times in the last four years.

A few had brilliant strokes of luck: Zoobean, which nabbed a coveted investment from outgoing Shark Tank shark Mark Cuban, is still going strong and still headquartered in Arlington. Since Cuban’s investment, the company ended its subscription service, renamed itself Beanstack and now focuses on partnering with libraries and offering software solutions that motivate kids to read.

ARLnow covered Ballston food tech startup HUNGRY when it launched in 2016 and long before its founders, brothers Shayan and Eman Pahlevani, scored major celebrity investors including actress Issa Rae and NFL player DeAndre Hopkins, along with scores of other performers, TV show hosts and major athletes.

Other Startup Monday subjects never went national but cemented themselves in Arlington. Sol Schott’s Columbia Pike bakery, ACME Pie Company, is a household name for locals and the baker is still thinking of ways to expand his brand — most recently getting in on the ground floor of a membership-based arcade business located inside his shop.

Amid these success stories, dozens of other companies never gained the same traction and were integrated into other platforms or sold to larger companies.

There were amusing and serious Kickstarter campaigns — among them, for an urban planning-themed take on “Cards Against Humanity” and a phone-based breathalyzer. Attempts to disrupt the landscaping and tailoring industries, in the style of ride-sharing app Uber, struggled to take off.

Such is the fate that every entrepreneur with an idea risks tempting when they get started, however.

Startup Monday was able to have that breadth of coverage thanks to a sponsorship agreement that gave ARLnow free rein to select who to profile. We could give equal weight to bright ideas such as portable cup holders for airplane and to to businesses solving entrenched problems in health care, including the physician-patient experience in women’s health or gaps in comprehensive diabetes care.

This column also became an unofficial history of the changes Arlington’s local economy has experienced. After thousands of Dept. of Defense workers left major office buildings in the 2010s, Arlington rebranded itself as a tech hub, especially in the wake of the arrival of Amazon, with a particularly strong presence of cybersecurity and defense-oriented startups, securing planes and trains and military installations and power plants.

ARLnow thanks Monday Properties for the long-standing partnership and the hundreds of stories of startup successes and failures — including, in a fitting final installation, today’s story of a new beginning for veterans of a long-shuttered game company.

There’s a chance that Startup Monday makes a return down the road, but for now the column is signing off. While we might not be able to chronicle it on a weekly basis, the march of innovation locally — at the smallest local startups to Arlington’s more established tech firms — continues unabated.

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