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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 small business owner had his marketing firm acquired by a national software company last month.

The story is a case study of finding success by breaking into a niche industry.

Six years ago, Justin Gooderham founded a marketing company to help clients expand their reach with mobile-friendly websites, blog content and social media pages.

At the suggestion of a friend, however, the entrepreneur tailored his fledgling company, Dalton Digital, to a sector with little competition for his services: title insurance.

“There are tons of agencies that help lawyers, that help dental practices, that help plumbers, but the title industry was relatively untapped, so there were lots of companies that needed the help of the service that I provide, so it was just a good match,” Gooderham told ARLnow.

He leaned on resources from Arlington Economic Development’s BizLaunch to establish connections and grow the business.

“I’m an Arlington native, so I started kind of close to home, reaching out to local businesses to kind of get my name out there, introduce myself,” Gooderham said.

During the early years, the local entrepreneur oversaw quick growth. By 2019, the company won the Arlington Chamber of Commerce’s Home-Based Business of the Year Award.

More recently, however, the founder said his small team at Dalton Digital was reaching an upper limit — until an offer from Jenesis Software came along. The health insurance management company was started by an insurance agent who, like Gooderham, recognized small agencies needed help establishing an online presence.

The acquisition, announced in late August for an undisclosed amount, will give Dalton Digital “access to a broader range of resources, technologies, and expertise,” according to a press release.

Gooderham says that this is a win for clients.

“It just made sense,” Gooderham said. “I felt like I was a bit maxed out in terms of what I could do myself and my small contracting team, but [Jenesis] has a bigger company with more resources.”

The founder will stay involved with the company after the acquisition, but is looking to explore other areas beyond Dalton Digital.

He says that one of his biggest takeaways after starting and growing his business has been getting to know his customers and their needs.

“Getting to know the business, asking the right questions and uncovering those layers is really instrumental in understanding a business and ultimately doing business with them,” Gooderham said.

Justin Gooderham, Founder of Dalton Digital (courtesy of Justin Gooderham)

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

As more modern conveniences and critical infrastructure connect to the internet, increasingly commonplace objects — like electric vehicles — can be hit with cyberattacks.

In this ever-changing landscape, Ballston-based cybersecurity company Fend has put forward a new piece of technology to protect large systems and small devices alike from offenses launched by alleged thieves, cybercriminals and nation state actors.

It recently patented a microchip that allows Fend to protect a wider variety of goods. Any manufacturer can embed the chip into small-scale products, such as medical devices and delivery drones, to keep them secure.

“We’re talking about cars, power plants, and other machines that keep the economy going,” CEO and founder Colin Dunn said in a press release. “Our users will be able to feed data into next-generation AI tools while permanently keeping attackers out.”

Like its first product — a “data diode” that looks like an internet modem — the new chip dictates how devices “talk” to the internet, such that hackers cannot find a way to wrest control.

“Because we maintain that physically applied, one-way data flow, that means nobody from the outside can ever hack in, and that’s a bold claim but it’s the sort of thing that our infrastructure needs,” Dunn told ARLnow.

Amid reports of continued attacks on national infrastructure, he said, governments also have to protect their older systems, such as energy plants, which have been retrofitted for internet connectivity.

“These are folks that have big, important equipment that makes modern life possible, whether it’s making the goods in our homes or bringing clean water to our neighborhoods,” Dunn said. “And they also have a big target on their back as well from those who would like to disrupt their operations.”

This is Fend’s fifth year in Arlington. The company is in the midst of fundraising, with the goal of expanding further.

“We’re excited to have the opportunity here to — really from almost the very beginning — do this in Arlington, and make a contribution to the security of our country and around the world right here from home,” Dunn said.

An engineer works on Fend’s data diodes (courtesy of Bryant Cox)
Riders with the Air Force Cycling Team start the final mile of the Memorial to Memorial ride in Arlington on Sept. 18, 2022. (U.S. Air Force photo by Eric Dietrich)

Cyclists will ride almost 350 miles from Kitty Hawk, North Carolina to Arlington in the second annual Memorial 2 Memorial bike ride this month.

“The purpose is to have fun, celebrate Air Force heritage, promote fitness and recruiting, and importantly, support wounded Airmen, Guardians, and their families,” Robert “Surf” Beletic, the ride’s director, told ARLnow.

The Memorial 2 Memorial ride, or M2M, starts at the Wright Brothers Memorial in Kitty Hawk this Thursday and finishes at the Air Force Memorial in Pentagon City on Sunday.

It is open to all military and civilians. While most participants ride all four days — and can expect to climb a grueling 5,600 feet of elevation along the way — anyone can ride along for a single day.

Registration is free but funds raised from sponsorships and donations will benefit the Wounded Airmen and Guardians Program. Organizers are aiming to raise $15,000 for the program.

The Air Force Cycling Team (AFCT) and the Air and Space Forces Association (AFA) organized the inaugural M2M ride last year to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the U.S. Air Force.

According to the ACFT website, they were inspired by the Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI), in which they have participated since 1995, as well as the Air Force’s history.

“The U.S. Air Force can trace its roots back to two bicycle mechanics tinkering in a garage… from the bike trails to contrails and beyond,” Beletic said.

Last year, over 100 cyclists participated, per an AFA press release. This year, organizers expect around 130 riders, including about a dozen from Arlington.

“The AFCT and AFA are building the M2M with a view to it becoming America’s favorite ride where thousands participate, have fun, tackle a big challenge, and learn a bit about the Air and Space Forces,” Beletic said.

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Arlington Cinema Drafthouse at night (Flickr pool photo by TheBeltWalk)

Real comedians will go toe-to-toe with AI at Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse on Columbia Pike.

On Friday, the old-school theater will host an interactive comedy show called “Comedy GPT.” Audience members will be able to spar with comedians and see if AI is as funny as they are.

Rahmein Mostafavi, a local comedian and a guest host on ARLnow’s upcoming podcast, will host the event.

In addition to Mostafavi, the event will feature local comedians Jamal Russell and Winston Hodges. Mostafavi shared that there will be stand-up comedy, improv, AI-generated poetry, karaoke and sketches.

“I have a few different facets in there to see if Chat GPT can keep up, if it’s funny — you know, if the written words are funny, or if it’s just comedic watching GPT kind of fail,” Mostafavi said. “We will discover that as we go.”

At one point in the show, audience members can volunteer to perform Chat GPT’s jokes and go head-to-head with a stand-up comedian.

While Mostafavi says that AI has yet to affect comic performers, the show aims to address concerns that the technology could replace jobs in specialized industries.

“When it really comes down to it, the intricacies thus far of human nature — our responsiveness, our sensitivities, our inflections — are still very important, but this is the beginning,” Mostafavi said.

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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

A Green Valley-based nonprofit is encouraging kids to dream about working in tech the same way they dream of being a doctor or lawyer one day.

To help launch them into those career paths, MySecureKid — which also educates families about internet safety — connects children and teens with programming, apprenticeships and mentors.

Since founding the organization in 2018, Quiana Gainey and JaLisa Johnson have focused on supporting children from underrepresented backgrounds. While cybersecurity and technology are projected to grow more than 13%, they say a “knowledge gap” is holding back Black and Hispanic people, as well as people with disabilities, from riding that job growth wave.

“We were the first IT apprenticeship in D.C., and we were servicing a population that was what they consider disenfranchised. We just said that they’re undiscovered,” Gainey said.

Gainey and Johnson have both founded for-profit companies in cybersecurity and healthcare tech, respectively. Using that experience, plus their backgrounds in government contracting and military service, the duo say they created curricula for students to bridge that knowledge gap.

“We want them to see that there’s a shortage in cybersecurity [and that] our infrastructure, our country needs this,” Gainey said. “So let’s start with building that into the curriculum, building partnerships with community, with nonprofits like ourselves, so that we can help the next generation realize their dreams and also help them not go into all traditional [careers].”

Co-founders Quiana Gainey (left) and JaLisa Johnson (right) (courtesy of Quiana Gainey)

MySecureKid offers apprenticeship programs for teens as well as summer cyber camps and after-school programs for younger children. They pair high school students with mentors and provide scholarships to those pursuing education in IT, emerging technologies, healthcare, cybersecurity and entrepreneurship.

It also has worked with Arlington Public Schools for three years and has plans to partner with their apprenticeship program in the fall.

With these programs, Johnson says she hopes that students gain hands-on skills over time — similar to a trade school.

“We make things fun but challenging,” Johnson said.

She and Gainey also make sure parents have opportunities to learn about tech issues, such as internet safety.

“I always tell parents, when you give your childhood phone, it’s like leaving them in the middle of the intersection, and telling them to find themselves their way home,” Gainey said. “Now, you wouldn’t do that, right. So when you give them that cell phone, it’s time to have that conversation.”

Their space in Green Valley, which they call the “360XP Zone,” is self-sufficient, powered with renewable energy and connected to its own water supply. It features learning, retail and event spaces and is equipped with a full-service kitchen and bar. Small businesses can even rent these spaces and benefit MySecureKid in the process.

Calling on her healthcare background, Johnson designed the space to include clinics that she says meet Centers for Disease Control and Prevention standards.

“We always say, ‘I don’t wait for someone else to do something. You can be the change you want to see,” Gainey said.

Inside one of the learning pods at MySecureKid’s facility in Green Valley (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

(Updated at 4:25 p.m.) Fueled by its signature açai bowls, local juice bar South Block is hitting a growth spurt.

The smoothie, juice and açai bowl spot opened its newest location in Amazon’s HQ2 in July, marking its 15th storefront in the D.C. area and fifth in Arlington in the last 12 years.

Its founder, Amir Mostafavi, says he has no intentions of slowing down, either. Armed with the company’s first capital raise, he aims to add another 15 locations to the D.C. area while exploring other regions of the U.S., as well.

“I still think there’s there’s opportunities in Arlington County alone, let alone the [D.C. area],” he said. “But, you know, we do we do have aspirations to go into new markets as well.”

ARLnow caught up with Mostafavi to discuss the wave of success South Block is riding and the new course he is charting. He says the key is not growing so quickly the brand loses sight of its mission to make a positive impact on customers, the environment and employees.

“We’re going to grow [South Block] at whatever pace we can keep up with to maintain the same quality of product and company culture, because I’ve seen too many awesome brands fail because they try to grow too fast,” the founder said.

For instance, Mostafavi says he will continue using fair trade açai and will not take shortcuts for cheaper ingredients or labor. The booming popularity of the antioxidant rich fruit in the United States has resulted in cheaper product tied to child labor flooding the market.

Mostafavi also emphasizes leadership development and guest experience because of his negative experiences in the food service industry.

“I really strive, even to this day, for perfection in the quality of the product, but mainly in what we stand for and how we treat our people — the people that work for us [and] the people that come through our doors,” he said.

These are lessons Mostafavi said he and his team learned because South Block got its start in Arlington — which continues to lead the nation as the fittest “city.”

“Customers in Arlington, they know what they’re looking for,” Mostafavi said. “They’re health conscious, and they will ask questions, and so, you know, if you’re trying to take shortcuts or if your product is inferior, I think Arlington customers are very savvy and aware of that.”

Mostafavi started South Block after five years of running a popular juice bar called Campus Fresh at George Washington University. He chose a 700 square-foot space on the south block of a new building at 3019 11th Street N. to house the new business.

“The name ‘South Block’ kind of represents that idea of building a community on your block,” Mostafavi said, referencing the company’s mission.

Mostafavi says he did not open the smoothie shop with expansion plans. About two years in, when lines were stretching out the door, he realized it was time for South Block to grow.

As South Block continued adding locations, Mostafavi considered ways to give back as well.

In 2019, he started the nonprofit Fruitful Planet, which provides fresh produce to people in need. A percentage of all of South Block’s proceeds, are put towards the initiative. The Fruitful Planet Cafe, which operated during pandemic, gave 100% of its proceeds to the nonprofit. Fruitful Planet says it has donated nearly 65,000 pounds of produce.

“Our mission statement is to build healthier communities one block at a time,” Mostafavi said. “So the way I look at that is that’s everyone in our community, not just people that can afford, you know, a $10 smoothie.”

Laura Resetar embarks on one of her runs for cancer research (courtesy of Laura Resetar)

South Arlington resident Laura Resetar is going the distance for people battling cancer.

She is running 100 miles in 10 consecutive days while raising money for the American Cancer Society.

“I just wanted to do something to give back, and feel even the slightest ounce of discomfort that everybody battling cancer is feeling every single day,” Resetar told ARLnow.

The Fairfax County native began her daily 10-mile runs around Arlington and D.C. on Saturday. For Resetar, the cause is deeply personal. Her father has been battling bladder cancer for the past five years and her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer earlier this year.

“Through their journey, I’ve seen how challenging it is for them and everybody else in the cancer facility where they’re being treated, and I just wanted to do something to honor them and everybody else that’s fighting this disease,” Resetar said.

Donations from friends, family and strangers have already surpassed her $1,000 goal. She had raised around $1,400 so far, as of publication.

In challenging herself to running 100 miles, Resetar said she aims to go a step beyond fundraising.

“It’s easy to just hit reshare on Instagram, but it’s a completely different thing to actually put your words into actions,” Resetar said.

The Virginia Military Institute graduate regularly takes advantage of Arlington’s trails as a way to stay active and destress as her parents undergo treatment.

On top of raising awareness for cancer research, Resetar says that she hopes her challenge encourages people to take a closer look at their own health and take more preventative measures against cancer and other diseases.

“[Running] is so calm and peaceful and such a great stress reliever,” Resetar said. “And I think when you’re so close to home with battling cancer and everything, it kind of puts your own health into perspective.”

Resetar plans to complete her last 10-mile run next Tuesday, with hopes of further exceeding her fundraising goal for the American Cancer Society along the way.

A new sign is installed at Studio PAUSE on Columbia Pike (courtesy of Krista Brick)

The real estate company renovating and redeveloping the Barcroft Apartments is helping a local art studio expand its reach.

After renovating a Western Union in the Barcroft Shopping Center on Columbia Pike, owner Jair Lynch Real Estate Partners donated the lease to Studio PAUSE. There, the Arlington-based studio will host art and writing workshops, which will be free for Barcroft residents but for a fee for other community members.

With loans from Arlington County and Amazon, Jair Lynch Real Estate Partners the Barcroft Apartments in 2021 with plans to set aside all 1,344 units for affordable housing. At the time, it also purchased a Penske rental facility and nearby strip mall, which the company says it has no “immediate” plans to redevelop, but could nonetheless figure into future plans.

Instead, Jair Lynch views the shopping center as a place to foster the existing community at Barcroft — through the arts.

“The Barcroft Shopping Center adjacent to the Barcroft Apartments property is not just a convenient location for an arts center, it is already occupied by beloved retail tenants like Goodwill and Café Sazón,” Krista Brick, a representative for Jair Lynch, told ARLnow.

“The location along the Columbia Pike Corridor encourages members of the Barcroft community and our neighbors to learn from each other in a setting that fosters understanding and expression,” she continued.

The former Western Union space will be the third location for Studio PAUSE, which has also received donations from the county.

“Working with local community advocate BU-GATA and the Columbia Pike Partnership, the location was identified as a prime opportunity to work with Studio PAUSE to celebrate the diversity of Barcroft and empower our residents to tell their story through art,” said Mark Hannan, an investment manager at Jair Lynch, in a press release.

Studio PAUSE — an acronym for “People, Art, Understand, Share, Explore” — was started by Sushmita Mazumdar in 2013. The writer, artist and educator wanted to create a space where people could share stories and explore their creativity. Mazumdar is also part of the Columbia Pike Documentary Project, which will display photos, books and interviews in the new studio space.

The studio currently runs programs in the Gates of Ballston apartment complex, run by nonprofit affordable housing developer AHC Inc.

“We believe the collaboration between Barcroft Apartments and Studio PAUSE will provide a much-needed space for creativity, arts, and mental wellness,” said Columbia Pike Partnership Executive Director Kim Klingler in the press release. “We look forward to collaborating and making this a welcoming space for the community.”


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

The Courthouse-based hospitality commerce startup GoTab raised $18 million earlier this month.

Truist Ventures led the Series A funding round, per a press release. This milestone marks the startup’s first fundraising round after nabbing smaller seed investments a few years ago.

Founded by Tim McLaughlin in 2016, GoTab makes it possible for guests at restaurants, hotels, resorts and stadiums to order and pay from kiosks or phones — without needing to download an app — while streamlining order fulfillment.

“We have been incredibly intentional with the solutions we develop for our customers, and this latest capital injection will help us further enhance our existing solutions, while also helping us continue to scale the business across sectors and geographies,” McLaughlin said in a statement.

That includes going outside the U.S. and breaking into other industries. Last year, the startup announced its plans to expand into Canada and equip hotels with its solutions.

Already, GoTab says, hotels and resorts that use its platform see an average increase in sales of 28% and a 14% decrease in costs.

It attributes greater profits and deeper savings to its platform, which makes it easier to split checks, place multiple orders and communicate with the back of house. Participating vendors can combine GoTab with  other services, such as the reservation platform OpenTable.

GoTab Founder and CEO Tim McLaughlin (courtesy of GoTab)

Meanwhile, the company is focused on making its platform easy to use for people who are colorblind or have other impairments, per a recent interview McLaughlin gave to Forbes.

This commitment to improving the experiences of customers and staff is one reason Truist Ventures said it led the startup’s fundraising round.

“Truist Ventures seeks out companies that drive innovation, deliver impactful solutions, and support their communities; this investment in GoTab is a testament to these values,” Truist said in a statement.


While many TikTokers share their perfect days in D.C., one recent grad has found a recipe for social media success by sticking closer to her home in Arlington.

Since graduating from Roanoke College and moving to Arlington in 2020, Maine native Margaret Skiff has accumulated more than 60,000 followers for videos inspired by this life transition, including tips on budgeting and relocating to the D.C. area.

While her account was originally geared towards caring for houseplants, Skiff found herself wanting to share more general lifestyle content. At first, she struggled with whether to lean into being across the river from D.C.

“I felt a lot of pressure at first to brand myself as a D.C. influencer because, you know, closest major city. Everyone’s like, ‘This is a day in my life in D.C.,’ and I had just seen that and I felt like that’s what resonated with people,” Skiff told ARLnow. “But I was like, ‘You know what? I don’t live in D.C. I live in Arlington. And there are plenty of people that live on this side of the river that will also relate to my content.’”

As she posted more Arlington-centric day-in-the-life videos, she watched her following, particularly among Northern Virginians, grow.

“It was very slow going at first, I was kind of just posting whatever, and then I had a couple of videos that started to do really well,” Skiff said. “Within six months I gained over 30,000 followers, and then it’s kind of been steady growth ever since.”

On her TikTok, Instagram and YouTube pages, Skiff now shares a mix of daily video blogs, budget breakdowns and fashion ideas on top of the ups and downs of working a 9-5 job in corporate America. Her TikTok page has more than 4.5 million likes, owing to her honesty about her life and work.

When it comes to Arlington-specific lifestyle tips, the local social media content creator says she typically keeps to Clarendon, Courthouse and Ballston. She enjoys Spider Kelly’s for a late-night spot, Maison Cheryl for an upscale dinner, and the Brass Rabbit for happy hour. In addition, her videos regularly feature local farmers markets and other popular spots like Brooklyn Bagel Bakery.

While not all of her followers are from Arlington, she does share tips for making friends and getting involved.

“There are so many cool and fun ways to make friends in D.C., especially right out of college,” Skiff said in a TikTok posted in July where she discusses social adult sport leagues in the area.

Skiff tells ARLnow the key to success is posting things that her audience will find relatable, whether that is lighter fare — such as finding the perfect dress for a summer wedding — or more serious topics, including mental health.

“Sometimes, you know, not everyone’s going to like everything that you post, but I try to be conscious of how other people are going to feel about it,” Skiff said.

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Daniel Meyer at the United States Geography Championships in April (courtesy of Brendan Meyer)

Arlington Forest teen Daniel Meyer is jetting off to Indonesia this weekend to represent the U.S. in an international geography tournament.

The rising senior at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology is one of four students in Team USA competing in iGeo, or the International Geography Olympiad, next week.

Starting next Tuesday, the team will face off the best geography students from around the globe during this competition, which will be held in Bandung, Indonesia.

“It’s a very communal environment, because there’s teams from all over the world,” Meyer told ARLnow. “So it’s going to be nice to meet and talk about geography with people who have perspectives coming from all over the world.”

Meyer, who earned his spot after placing fourth at the U.S. Geography Championships in April, has a long history with geography.

As a fifth grader, he won the geography bee at Arlington Traditional School, and went on to qualify for the Virginia State Bee in eighth grade.

“I’ve been interested in geography pretty much my entire life. But even when I was three or four, I was using maps, making my own maps,” he said.

The three-day championship includes multimedia and written examinations, a fieldwork test and a poster presentation with questions ranging from climate change to economic systems to urban planning.

For their fieldwork test, students will be taken to a site and asked to apply their geographic knowledge in a less structured environment, according to iGeo’s website.

“One way I’ve been preparing is actually making my own tests,” Meyer said. “Just exploring all the different areas online, and putting them down, like in a physical format — it helps it get locked in my mind.”

Flying to Southeast Asia and exploring its geography will be a new experience for the geography buff.

“I’ve never really been outside of the country before, so to go to the other side of the world, it’s just a new, interesting thing,” Meyer said.


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