Arlington, VA

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Editor’s Note: 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.

Forward Funded logo (Courtesy of Brendan Snow)A startup based out of Crystal City is looking to help people save up for items they want to buy online.

Forward Funded, a startup in Eastern Foundry’s acceleration program, helps people save money for items by creating a digital envelope system, said founder Brendan Snow.

“We have a website that makes it really easy for people to save up for something in our e-commerce store,” Snow said.

The goal of Forward Funded is to help people save for items instead of using credit and ultimately ending up in debt if they can’t pay when the bill arrives, he said.

The company, which is in its pre-launch phase, is a Walmart affiliate, meaning that all items in the e-commerce store can be found at Walmart.com. Essentially, customers will go to Forward Funded and select items that they want to purchase. When they get to checkout, instead of buying it right away, they have the choice to save money in the digital envelope.

The digital envelope is based off of the envelope system, where people would divide their paychecks into different envelopes in order to make sure they had enough money to pay bills or buy items, Snow said.

With Forward Funded, people are able to store money in the digital envelope based off a payment plan of four months or six weeks, with the option to set up a custom plan. Forward Funded then draws money from the user’s checking account to the digital envelope every weeks to make sure they have enough to buy the item by the time the plan is done.

Users have the option to change plans or cancel them at any time. The website will keep users updated with availability and price of the objects they have saved up in their envelope.

“So we’re giving people the option of bringing the price down and saving for items,” Snow said.

While the website won’t launch for another few months, Forward Funded may be used to help people plan for their holiday shopping next year.

“You can do all of your shopping early,” Snow said. “And you can get everything you want for your family — and even some aspirational items — without going into debt or needing incredible discipline.”

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Startup Monday header

Editor’s Note: 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.

BKE logo (Courtesy of BKE)An Arlington company is attempting to eliminate human error from accounting by focusing more on technology and less on accountants.

Bookkeeping Express, or BKE, is using technology to eliminate as much human touch as possible when it comes to accounting, said CEO Keith Mueller.

“We start with the premise that no data should get into the ledger by someone typing it in,” Mueller said.

Technology is more reliable, and it helps drive the cost down. It is also what sets BKE apart from other accounting firms, he said, adding that he could not go into detail about the business model due to privacy policies.

In general, the company is replacing the traditional roles at an accounting firms with people with computer science backgrounds. Where accounting firms use humans to report and calculate data, one could expect a computer program at BKE.

The accounting company uses cloud-based technology, meaning data can be accessed anywhere instead of on a desktop computer.

“Our BKE applications are all cloud-based to drive client interactions no matter where or when they need access,” Mueller said. “This allows our clients to be more efficient, save time and also allows for easy sharing of data with our team of experts and the client where and when we both require it.”

Traditionally, businesses use desktop applications to do accounting, he said, adding that costs accrue from constantly updating software. Introducing technology to accounting has worked well for the Ballston-based company, Mueller said.

“We’re using technology to eliminate literally all the data,” Mueller said.

BookKeeping Express (Courtesy of BKE)

He added using technology allows the company to keep the costs down and many franchises use the accounting firm because it provides a good quality service at a lower price.

Among some of its clients are big name chains like Five Guys, Auntie Anne’s Pretzels and Great Clips.

“From a franchisee perspective, we deliver good books at a good cost,” Mueller said.

BKE provides accounting services, including data entry and reporting, as well as expense and payroll management for each of its clients. In addition to its general services, the company provides individualized consulting and accounting features based on different industries.

For example, for gyms, spas and salons, BKE can provide membership revenue tracking and a bookkeeper who specializes in the industry. For quick-service restaurants like Five Guys and Auntie Anne’s, the company can help the franchisees with profit and loss statements, among other services.

Having an office in Arlington has helped the company expand its technological accounting services, Mueller said. The company also draws from the local applicant pool provided by nearby colleges.

“We love being in Arlington,” he said.”Great location. Great restaurants. Lots of talent.”

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Startup Monday header

Editor’s Note: 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.

BushyTail Health logo (Courtesy of George Hwang)A new app is aiming to help people with chronic illness lead healthier lives through a set of games where participants earn money for meeting goals.

With BushyTail Health, people with chronic illnesses will be able to wager money that they will be able to complete a personal goal in six months. Those who cannot accomplish the goal forfeit their money, but those who achieve their goal get their money back plus an extra bonus, said co-founder Dr. Jason Hoefling, an anesthesiologist at Georgetown University Hospital.

With chronic illnesses, people often don’t feel sick so they become less compliant, said co-founder and Arlington resident Dr. George Hwang, who’s also an anesthesiologist at Georgetown.

“It is hard to make people recognize that they are sick and scare tactics don’t work,” he said.

With BushyTail, the doctors are relying on financial incentives and motivation to encourage people to lead healthier lifestyles. The app is still in its design phase but the co-founders hope to release it early next year, Hwang said. BushyTail Health is a startup under the 1776 incubator program in Crystal City with backing from MedStar Health.

To use BushyTail, players will download the free app and set a personal goal. The app will connect them with other people who have similar goals or illnesses to create a game. A pot of money will be created from each of the participants’ wagers. If everyone completes their goal, they each walk away with the same amount of money they put in. If someone drops out or fails to achieve their goal, the remaining players will walk away with their money plus a cut of the leftover money.

Goals will be set so that they are attainable for each person and BushyTail will offer support and help, giving the participants a good chance of earning their money, Hoefling said.

“The entire experience is not designed to take money from people for the company,” he said.

The participants are given complete control over whether they complete a goal or not, such as losing weight or keeping their blood sugar level at good numbers, said

“This game is not gambling because you have all the control in the world,” Hoefling said.

Participants will be able to link the app to their lab results from lab services like Quest or LabCorp so that the data supporting their progress is objective and prevents a “fudge factor,” Hwang said.

“It is pretty unique that we’re using lab data, but its what separates from other apps,” he said.

The idea behind BushyTail is based on research, Hoefling said, adding that medical research suggests that the best way to change human behavior is through financial incentives and motivation.

“We encourage people to waiver an amount of money that will motivate them,” he said. “If it’s something that will hurt to lose, it’s more motivational.”

The doctors will be using the app to collect their own data on human behavior, looking to find information that can help physicians better treat people with chronic illnesses, Hoefling said.

“You’re obviously hoping to find what makes people better because it is so hard,” he said.

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Startup Monday header

Editor’s Note: 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.

Eastern Foundry background that will be used during competition(Updated Nov. 24 at 4:55 p.m.) A startup competition hosted by an Arlington incubator is accepting applications for the best services or products for energy conservation.

Eastern Foundry, a startup incubator in Crystal City that focuses on government contracting, is holding the Foundry Cup. Applications will be accepted until Jan. 15 with finalists announced on Feb. 1.

For its second cup, the incubator is focusing on energy conservation and is looking for commercial products that are environmentally-conscious and relatively inexpensive.

“The competition is focused on advancing solutions that allow individuals to generate, store and conserve power,” said Jill Melnicki, a spokeswoman for Eastern Foundry. “Any or all of these solutions will reduce the carbon footprint, as well as decrease government spending and save and improve lives.”

According to Melnicki, the U.S. government uses more than 12.6 million gallons of oil a day in the U.S. and spends at least $14 billion on fuel.

“The challenge was designed in consultation with experts from the U.S. Government and Washington area think tanks who identified portable power as one of our government’s most pressing needs and one of the areas in which the private sector could provide a tremendous help,” she said.

Eastern Foundry is specifically looking for innovative products that help soldiers, such as a way to keep a radio on longer, she said. Eastern Foundry founder Geoff Orazem is a veteran.

“Eastern Foundry is hoping to see game-changing approaches to versatile, go-anywhere power sources that are long lasting and durable to meet the needs of the American soldier,” Melnicki said. “Solutions that will make his radio lighter and keep it charged longer. Solutions that will keep her laptop and mobile phone working. Solutions that will keep their base cool in the desert sun and resupplied by a fuel truck less often.”

The winner of the competition will get the chance to work with NSTXL, a company that helps speed the process for working with the federal government. Working with the company will allow the startups to turn its product idea into a reality quicker.

Eastern Foundry is also planning to connect winners with Arsenal Venture Partners, which works with areas of the Department of the Defense dedicated to energy conservation.

The competition is not the first time Eastern Foundry has turned its attention to energy. One of the startups in its incubator, Alytic Technology, works to come up with solutions to help the Navy conserve power.

The incubator partners with multiple energy conservation companies including E2 and Operation Free.

The competition this spring will be 48 hours, with time for networking, Melnicki said.

“Eastern Foundry is looking for a great power generation, storage or conservation concept,” she said. “Maybe a soldier portable solar or wind capability, a system to allow bases to turn their trash into power, advanced batteries that support operational flexibility, or a solution that lets one volt of energy do twice as much.”

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Startup Monday header

Editor’s Note: 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.

Govlish logo (Courtesy of Robert Mander)A startup based out of a Crystal City incubator is looking to help break down the cacophony of government abbreviations and acronyms.

Govlish, a startup out of Eastern Foundry, is a searchable online database of acronyms and abbreviations used by the state and federal governments.

“Govlish is a data-driven tool for navigating our government maze — the largest, most complex organization on the planet,” said founder Robert Mander.

The idea behind Govlish is that there are hundreds of thousands acronyms used by governments, both federal and state, and many times there are acronyms with multiple definitions.

For example, there are 14 different terms that are abbreviated to “CIP” in the government. For one department, it might mean “clean in place,” but another might use it for “College Intern Program.”

Finding what a specific term means and in the right context can take up to 30 minutes by using a Google search, but with Govlish it would take 25 seconds, Mander said.

“I learned very early on that you cannot understand the government without learning the government language,” he said.

Right now, people use Google to look up terms, and according to Google’s index for government term searches, 14 million people are searching different acronyms. Mander said he expects to capture the “lionshare” of the people once he launches Govlish.

The idea for Govlish came from Mander’s experience as a technical writer for the government. He had collected lists of the different acronyms and abbreviations he did not know, and noticed he wasn’t alone.

“I’ve been to hundreds of meetings and no one does that [ask what a term means],” Mander said. “No one wants to admit they don’t know something.”

With Govlish, people will be able to look up the acronyms during a meeting in a private manner, allowing them to follow along with a meeting, he added.

People can also look up the different acronyms under departments by using tracing features.

Once launched, there will be three different user plans, Mander said. One will be access to an app, or a “cheat sheet,” meant for the casual user, most likely with a $0.99 access fee.

The app will allow people to search different acronyms, or if a term is a true acronym, the app will pronounce the word.

One example would be the Freedom of Information Act, which goes by the word FOIA and pronounced as a word instead of individual letters. Users could either speak “FOIA” into the app or search “FOIA” and have the app pronounce the word and explain what it means, Mander said.

Govlish also offers a website and data sets, both which would be paid for on a subscription basis, Mander said. Those who buy access to the website or the data sets, will be able to use the app for free.

Mander plans to provide a subscription model for nonprofits, government contractors and schools, he said.

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(Updated at 12:10 a.m.) There will be two new faces sitting on the County Board come January — Democrats Katie Cristol and Christian Dorsey.

Dorsey led the race the entire night, taking approximately 36 percent of the total vote. Ticket mate Cristol followed closely, garnering about 34 percent of the votes. The two Democratic candidates effectively boxed out independent candidates Michael McMenamin and Audrey Clement.

Today’s election was a historic one for Arlington. For the first time in years, voters were asked to select two new County Board members after Board Chair Mary Hynes and Vice Chair Walter Tejada decided to retire. After electing independent John Vihstadt last year, Arlington residents resumed voting for Democrats by giving Cristol and Dorsey the two seats.

“Now it’s time to get to work fulfilling the promise of the campaign, which was bring Arlingtonians together to talk about issues,” Dorsey said.

Voter turnout was relatively low, following the trend of most off-year elections in Virginia. Arlington election officials estimate that around 27 percent of registered voters cast a ballot today, compared to 26 percent turnout in a comparable election four years ago.

The relatively low turnout is a sign that the county needs to do better with communicating how important local elections are, Cristol and Dorsey said.

“As much as I would love Arlington to be special and different, it’s tough when the County Board race is at the top of the ballot,” Dorsey said.

Cristol and Dorsey led the race for County Board with a large gap between them and the independent candidates. The unofficial results are:

  • Audrey Clement: 10.08%
  • Katie Cristol: 34.41%
  • Christian Dorsey: 35.71%
  • Mike McMenamin: 19.03%

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A group of more than 40 people in yellow shirts has been knocking on the doors of homes in the Glebe and Arlington Mill voting districts the past few days in hopes of increasing voter turnout today.

The group is part of the Virginians for Organized Interfaith Community Engagement, an organization that supports social justice causes like affordable housing and that strives to increase the amount of people who actively engage in local politics.

As of 9 a.m. this morning, Nov. 3, VOICE members had talked to almost 600 people who pledged they would vote, said VOICE spokeswoman Marjorie Green. Arlington residents are voting for two new County Board members, making this an election that will set the direction of county policy for years to come.

“Even if only a third of those voters actually go to the polls, we figure we will have contributed to a more than 20 percent increase in voter turnout, a pretty significant figure in an election in which, as I just heard, the county registrar is saying turnout thus far is only about 15 percent,” Green said.

VOICE’s goal with its “Get Out the Vote” push is to engage with 2,000 people in the Glebe and Arlington Mill voting districts in hopes of raising voter turnout by 5 percent, the group said in a press release. The Glebe voting district includes the Nauck neighborhood, and the Arlington Mill district is made up of people in Columbia Pike and Arlington Mill areas.

VOICE is targeting the Glebe and Arlington Mill voting districts because people living there have historically skipped voting in off-year elections, like today’s, Green said. They have also raised concerns of their voices not being heard by county officials, said Rev. James E. Victor, Jr., the pastor at Mount Olive Baptist Church in Arlington View and a VOICE leader.

Residents in the Glebe voting district can vote at the Drew Recreation Center (3500 23th Street S.) and those in the Arlington Mill district can vote at Campbell Elementary School (737 S. Carlin Springs Road).

VOICE members stood at bus stops this morning encouraging people to stop by the two polling places and to cast their votes, Green said, adding that the organization will also be calling people throughout the day in hopes of getting more people to vote.

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A new gym with a focus on a family-friendly, holistic approach to health and fitness is opening up a new location on Walter Reed Drive.

True Health and Wholeness is looking to open a new location, dubbed “Studio D,” at 1058 S. Walter Reed Drive in March or April, barring any construction delays, said gym representative Kimberly Hartke. The new location is replacing World Gym, which closed last year, and is located across from the new Columbia Place development.

The new gym will take a family-friendly approach, offering childcare programs that help kids lead active and health lifestyles while their parents work out or take classes.

“True Health & Wholeness is building a team of individuals experienced in children’s movement and fitness programming, kids nutrition education and workshop design to come use their skills to help us develop what we believe to be a major differentiator for our business when it comes to family fitness,” the gym said on its website.

Gym members will be able to take classes on nutrition and healthy lifestyles, participate in group exercises and receive massages.

“Let the days of a doctor, pill and boutique for every body part and situation slowly become the exception. We believe it’s time to move away from the niche model for health (where the focus is on stand-alone services), and move toward a holistic, customer-centric, relationship-centric, lifestyle-adaptable, results-oriented model for health. You don’t need to fit into our programs, we need to fit into your lifestyle,” the gym said.

The Walter Reed Drive location will be the fitness company’s fourth space in Arlington. The company owns three other properties — Studios A, B and C — near the Glebe Road exit of I-395 in the Long Branch Creek neighborhood.

“[Co-owner Christian Elliot] said that they have always planned to expand in Arlington (though they did look once at a Skyline/Baileys location.) But they have been in business for 10 years in Arlington, which is also their home,” Hartke said in an email.

Elliot and co-owner Nina Elliot will be holding a fundraiser to help offset the costs of opening “Studio D” on Nov. 14, Hartke said. During the event, gym instructors will lead two group exercises, followed by dinner and a dance party. The gym is also accepting donations online.

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A new restaurant is looking to serve classic Texas barbecue near Clarendon this month.

Texas Jack’s Barbecue is occupying the former home of Tallula and EatBar at 2761 Washington Blvd in Lyon Park, after it closed last year. There is no target date for the BBQ restaurant, but it is hoping to open later this month, said restaurant rep Lindley Thornburg.

While Texas Jack’s window signs and website say it’s “coming fall 2015,” the restaurant is still currently undergoing construction inside.

“Steve, Remzi [and] Matt are working around the clock to get our doors open soon…” the restaurant said on its Facebook page Oct. 29.

Once opened, Texas Jack’s will be able to hold 145 people inside the restaurant between its 14-seat bar, tables and 20-seat communal table, and will have 25 seats on its patio, according to a press release.

The menu will consist of classic barbecue offerings like brisket, pulled pork and beef short ribs, as well as items from Mexican and German cultures. Matt Lang, winner of Food Network’s Best in Smoke in 2011, will head up the kitchen.

“The menu for Texas Jack’s is focused on barbecue classics, while also showcasing the Mexican and German food cultures that served as early inspiration for what barbecue has become today,” the restaurant said.

The theme of classic barbecue will extend to the restaurant design, which will consist of western murals and a combination of wood and brick to give the place a “rustic yet refined” look.

“Guests will find western murals, repurposed wood and other salvaged materials combined with sleeker urban finishes to create a comfortable, relaxing vibe for dining,” the restaurant said.

Texas Jack will play homage to the original owner of the Washington Blvd property — Whitey’s. The owners kept the “EAT” sign that hung outside Whitey’s as well as the original bar.

Roberts said the new Texas Jack’s sign uses the same colors and font as the “EAT” sign and both will light up at night.

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Startup Monday header

Editor’s Note: 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.

Syde (Courtesy of Syde)

(Updated at 3:55 p.m.)An Arlington resident has created a new way to play fantasy football.

Rishi Nangia is the CEO of Syde, an app that gives people a new, simpler way to play daily fantasy sports by providing the teams for the players instead of making them create each side from scratch.

“We want to give people a vehicle for people to have fun with fantasy sports without being bogged down by needing to have a full team or roster,” Nangia said.

Traditional season long fantasy sports require people to build up a fantasy sports team and follow athletes over the regular season. With daily fantasy sports games, like Syde, players are responsible for single games.

“We offer the same excitement that you get over 22 weeks in one day,” Nangia said.

Syde makes fantasy sports simple, Nangia said, so that anyone can use the app.

The app provides the two fantasy teams for each game, or “sydes.” Each “syde” is equally-matched and can consist of a full team or just a couple of players, Nangia said.

Syde teams screen (Courtesy of Syde)

“We present you with two sides of the equation, A or B, and we ask you which side you think will win,” he said.

Nangia has a team dedicated to coming up with the different “sydes” so that each “have the look [and] feel of [equality],” he said.

“I don’t think its a process that is repeatable by anyone else,” Nagia said.

The team also works to make sure that matchups are not repeated.

“We don’t repeat in any week and we try not to repeat in any consecutive week,” Nangia said. “So if we play Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, you probably won’t see that for the rest of the season.”

Players made a $5 bet for each game and can win $9. In the future, Nangia said he hopes to give more options for bets in the app’s future.

By providing the teams for the players, Syde makes fantasy sports easier to play, he said, adding that people don’t have to worry that they have all the required athletes for a team if they are handed the two options.

“We want to keep this open to everyone,” Nangia said. “And we’re finding more and more that people are playing with less knowledge about NFL.”

Syde offers a new game every day, but games might not always be resolved in a day, he said.

For example, if one “syde” was Tom Brady and the other Peyton Manning, the game would be resolved after each quarterback played that week.

Currently the app can only offer one game, regardless of how many sports are in season. In the future, Nangia said he would like to offer at least one game per sports and offer games that would combine athletes from different sports for games.

Nangia would also like to give players the option of customization, he said. Once that is added, players would be able to set up the two “sydes” and offer the games to their friends or any app users.

“If a user creates a game, for another person to accept the other side, it has to be even,” Nangia said.

The company is mostly Arlington based, with the app “created, so to speak, out of my garage,” he said. Living in Arlington has contributed to the app’s success because of the strong talent pool that lives in and around the county.

“I think the talent pool is second to none in Arlington,” Nangia said.

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Halloween is tomorrow and some houses in Arlington have been decked out for the spooky holiday.

Spider webs and spiders hanging from fences, windows and trees are popular choices. The more festive have skeletons or half-decomposed corpses trying to emerge from graves on the lawn.

We stopped by N. Jackson Street near Clarendon, 15th Street N. in Waycroft-Woodlawn, N. Harrison Street in Leeway Heights and S. Frederick Street in Columbia Forest to check out some of the ghoulish decorations.

If you spot any other houses decked out for Halloween, post a picture or two in the comments section.

There is no official trick-or-treating time in Arlington, but tradition says costumed children will start arriving around sunset, until around 8 p.m. or so.

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