Arlington, VA

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.

Everyone has experienced waiting forever to pay their bill at a crowded restaurant. GoTab, a local startup, aims to eliminate that annoyance with its web app.

Restaurants can pay to set up GoTab to save both their servers and customers time. Customers can use their phones to view their tabs on a special webpage, with no login or app download required.

They then have the option to split their bills, add tips and pay with credit or debit cards. Payment information is secure and receipts are emailed to the customers.

Diners can also leave ratings or reviews of the restaurant if they wish.

“It saves the [customers] a bunch of time, it’s super convenient, their receipts are stored electronically…and it saves the restaurant or the bar time because [servers] don’t have to make multiple trips back and forth [to their tables],” said Paige Cantlin, president and co-founder of GoTab.

Cantlin started the company three years ago after working in finance for six years. However, she had considered creating a company like GoTab back in her college days when she waitressed tables to help pay her way through Johns Hopkins.

“That was where I learned about the restaurant industry and I wanted something like this as a person who worked in the industry,” Cantlin said. “I wanted something that would help save time and let my customers leave if they couldn’t find me when we were slammed.”

While Cantlin was getting her MBA, in 2014, she founded GoTab. A year and a half later, she met Tim McLaughlin, GoTab’s CEO and co-founder. Cantlin had known she needed somebody with technical experience to help with the app side of GoTab and McLaughlin seemed like a good fit.

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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.

There is no doubt that the D.C. area is ripe with talented people. But is it innovative enough to be worthy of the title “Silicon Valley of the East,” over other tech-heavy cities like Boston and New York?

Jon Jackson, the founder of the successful local startup Mobile Posse, seems to think that’s an attainable goal for the nation’s capital.

“I want for it to be the Silicon Valley of the East,” Jackson said. “I’m not sure that it is the Silicon Valley of the East [but] I think that there are some hallmarks of the D.C. area that make it possible for us to get there.”

Jackson founded Mobile Posse in 2005. The company is a “leader in mobile content discovery solutions that help wireless carriers and device manufacturers capitalize on the mobile advertising economy.” The business has seen tremendous growth — about 70 percent per year — for the past three-and-a-half years, which is part of the reason Jackson believes D.C. is a prime location for startups.

Formerly in McLean, Mobile Posse moved to Arlington just over a year ago, where both Jackson and his cofounder live.

“There’s a great workforce here [and] the county is pretty progressive,” Jackson said.

One of the main reasons he chose to move his company was because many of the people he wanted to hire did not own cars and lived in Arlington, so they were reluctant to commute to McLean.

“We needed to get close to the Metro for recruiting purposes,” Jackson said.

During its 12 years in McLean and then in Arlington, Jackson noticed that D.C. and its surrounding areas had a great deal of potential for the tech industry. He cited D.C.’s educated workforce, its proximity to many universities, the presence of the federal government and all of the investments in the area as several reasons for that potential.

“We have more IT workers than any other city in the U.S.,” Jackson said. “Now, many of them work in the government so they’re not necessarily startup IT workers… but at least there’s the technical skills to [become a Silicon Valley here].”

Jackson mentioned that there were several factors holding the area back in the startup realm. He said that since the D.C. metropolitan area is split between two states and the District of Columbia, that makes it difficult to have one cohesive goal to bring talent and foster startups to the area.

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When I first began my ARLnow internship, I knew nothing about Arlington. A native New Yorker, to me, Arlington was just some place across the river from D.C. I was a bit of a “big city” snob, so I expected very little from the area.

Three months later, as my internship comes to a close, my view could not be more different. After writing dozens of articles about Arlington, from covering the opening of a Clarendon tattoo parlor to a piece about the county’s decreasing homeless population, I’ve developed quite a fondness for the community.

“Arlington is the smallest self-governing county in the U.S. And no, the Pentagon is not in D.C., it’s actually in Arlington,” I would proudly tell my friends when they asked about my job.

Of course, I am no “Arlington expert” but I have dipped into the pool of what Arlington has to offer and boy, is it deep!

There is something for everyone here: urban enclaves like Clarendon or Crystal City are just minutes’ drive from quintessential suburban neighborhoods with cozy brick homes and tumbling gardens. There are free yoga classes every Sunday throughout the summer and so many events that we publish an event calendar that is updated daily.

The variety in Arlington’s food scene made me feel like I was back in my hometown, except here, there’s elbow room and you’re not rushed after paying your check. I have eaten dinner while watching artists paint at Palette 22 and I’ve tried ice cream made with Nitrogen. I slurped up bubble tea from bottles shaped like lightbulbs at Kokee Tea and had my first taste of kangaroo at Oz (in case you were wondering, it tastes like a hamburger).

Perhaps more impressive than the free events and delicious food are Arlingtonians themselves. Every week, ARLnow publishes a weekly Startup Monday article, in which we write about a startup based in the county. I remember when I wrote my first Startup Monday, I was told to find a startup in Arlington that our website had yet to write about.

I wondered how many startups this one county can have. It turns out, it’s enough that ARLnow has been able to write about a new one almost every week since September 2013. That goes to show the incredible talent and creativity found in Arlington. There’s a guy giving free rides thanks to his advertising model; a couple with a company that plans “surprise” vacations; somebody creating an app to ensure people know their rights.

Even my boss — the founder of ARLnow — Scott Brodbeck, was once one of those Arlingtonians with a startup dream. He noticed that parts of Arlington had very little news coverage and saw an opportunity for a business. Seven years later, ARLnow is alive and thriving, and I got to intern with it and you’re reading it right now.

Tonight, as I leave Arlington to return to New York, I will wave goodbye to this place that has shown me so much, as I relish one of my favorite vistas: the sprawling Pentagon and graceful Air Force Memorial, set against a backdrop of pink skies.

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Across the street from the Crystal City Metro station, in a nondescript office building, stands the headquarters of Bloomberg BNA, one of Arlington County’s largest private employers.

Each day, more than 1,000 employees push through its revolving glass doors or take the elevator up from the underground garage.

Bloomberg BNA is an information and research company which provides “legal, tax, compliance, government affairs and government contracting professionals with critical information, practical guidance and workflow solutions.” Established in 1929 as the Bureau of National Affairs, the company was employee-owned from 1947 until 2011, when it became a subsidiary of financial news and information giant Bloomberg.

Paul Albergo, the bureau chief, has worked at Bloomberg BNA for over 30 years. Around 200 people work under Albergo at Bloomberg BNA’s Crystal City news division.

“We are one of the largest news-gathering organizations in Washington,” Albergo said. “We have the largest number of reporters that are credentialed on Capitol Hill.”

Bloomberg BNA was in D.C.’s West End from the 1920s until 2007, when it came to Arlington, lured by tax incentives, which were extended earlier this year. Previously, the company was scattered amongst several different buildings. In Crystal City, employees are an elevator ride away from each other.

In the new space, people from various departments can rub shoulders in the “pantry” — a pristine, sunlit eating area boasting an exotic fish tank and a peanut butter grinder.

“You tend to run into people that you’re thinking about but you don’t have a formal meeting with and suddenly you can have communication,” Albergo said.

One of the many perks of the company’s new building is an easy commute: the West End location was not close to a Metro station and could be difficult to reach by car.

“To go from a neighborhood that was kind of tucked away in a corner of the city to a location that was well-served by Metro, [Virginia Railway Express], just a couple blocks off the highway and other major commuter routes [made] everyone’s commute a lot easier,” Albergo said.

Albergo himself lives in the District but his commute is about 20 minutes quicker than before. Ironically, although the company is no longer in D.C., it now takes reporters less time to get to their important events on Capitol Hill, among other places.

“In many ways it becomes really easy to recruit people that come to work here because commuting is so easy,” Albergo said.

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Those near Joint Base Fort Myer-Henderson Hall next weekend can expect to hear live cannon fire during the U.S. Army Band’s annual 1812 Overture summer concert.

The free concert is scheduled for 8 p.m. on Saturday, August 19 at Summerall Field (247 Sheridan Ave) on the base. If it rains, it will be moved to across the street to Conmy Hall (239 Sheridan Ave).

The U.S. Army Concert Band, the U.S. Army Herald Trumpets, the U.S. Army Chorus and the U.S. Army Voices ensembles will all perform. The program will include selections of classical, popular, and patriotic music.

The climax of the evening will be live cannon fire provided by the Presidential Salute Battery of the 3rd Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) during a playing of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture.

Advance tickets are not required, and bleacher seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Food is allowed but alcohol, glass containers and coolers are not. All bags will be searched.

Cars and pedestrians can enter the base through the Hatfield Gate (off Washington Blvd and 2nd Street S.). The Henry Gate (off Arlington Blvd) will be open for pedestrians only from 6-10:30 p.m., while cyclists can enter at either gate. Valid photo ID is required for attendees aged 18 or over.

Photo via Facebook

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After weeks of anticipation ahead of its August 26 block party, the Arlington County Police Department on Thursday, August 10 released its video of officers synchronized swimming to advertise the festivities.

The video begins with officers looking at hundreds of bottles of water, wondering if it will be enough to quench the thirst of attendees. Then the video cuts to show five officers removing some of their bulkier equipment before diving into the pool — it was filmed at the Dorchester Towers apartments along Columbia Pike — to perform a synchronized swimming routine.

The video is one of several created to promote the third annual Police, Fire and Sheriff Block Party. Another released on August 2 shows an officer and a child demonstrating the ninja obstacle course, one of several activities at the event.

The block party will take place on August 26 from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. at Kenmore Middle School (200 S. Carlin Springs Road). The event is free and will be geared towards families.

Activities scheduled throughout the day include: “Behind the Badge,” an interactive activity that will simulate police scenarios for residents; a training on police tactics to get a taste of what it’s like being an officer; VIN etching; demonstrations from police K-9s and motorcycle officers; a distracted driving course; a “helicopter and vehicle expo” and more.

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It takes a special talent to make strangers pause and smile during the rush of their busy days. Yet Adrienne Ellis does it on a weekly basis.

Ellis is the general manager at the Circa restaurant in Clarendon (3010 Clarendon Blvd), and she also provides the witty, colorful quotes that adorn the chalkboard on the sidewalk outside. In fact, Ellis’s work is so popular, she created an Instagram account to showcase it.

“Nothing is more fun than seeing someone stop out there and take a picture of [my work], or giggle and keep walking,” said Ellis.

Ellis has been drawing and painting since she was a child. She used to want to be an art teacher, until she led an art class in middle school. She began chalkboard painting at her previous job at Chef Geoff’s. She mainly did advertising on those chalkboards, but once she moved to Circa almost two years ago, she gained more creative liberties with her work.

“I free-hand everything,” Ellis said. “I just try to get an idea of what would be entertaining more than anything and catch people’s eye.”

Ellis uses the internet for inspiration and generally makes one new chalkboard painting per week.

“I’ll update funny quotes or do a new picture, a little bit of everything,” she said. “I do a lot of cartoons. If it’s Easter, [I’ll do a] Bugs Bunny, [or] something like that.”

Mainly, Ellis paints the current Clarendon trends, including brunch, kale and summer restaurant week.

“Clarendon, I think, is very particular,” Ellis said. “I mean, they love to brunch out here, they love their Champagne. Wine night is really big here so I pick those [things] to poke a little fun at and make people laugh.”

Ellis uses chalk paint for the illustrations and currently, non-waterproof chalkboard boards. The quote paintings usually take around 30 minutes to make while the more intricate paintings can take two hours.

“That’s just me being meticulous,” she explained.

Ellis said her favorite paintings so far have been a Scooby-Doo and a Bugs Bunny. However, passerby seem to have really enjoyed the food puns, like “Champangry,” a cartoon painting of Doug and the Disney figures.

“Any pop culture [reference], people respond really well to,” Ellis said. “I think, again, it’s the area. It’s a lot younger area and they appreciate that humor.”

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Another free weekly yoga event has begun in Crystal City.

The new program, “Yoga at the Fountain,” will be held at the Crystal City Water Park (1751 Crystal Drive) each Sunday night from 7:30-8:45 p.m. through the end of September, according to Amanda Shipe, one of its organizers. The first event was held this past Sunday.

The event is sponsored by the Crystal City BID and the weekly classes are led by instructors from Mind Your Body Oasis, a holistic wellness center and yoga studio based in Crystal City.

The BID and Mind Your Body Oasis have been hosting a similar event, “Monday Morning Yoga,” at the water park from 7-8 a.m. for six years. Attendance has grown tremendously since the event first began, according to Shipe, the studio’s owner.

“We see a lot of familiar faces each Monday morning and then the people that come end up bringing their friends,” Shipe said, adding that local hotels also support the program and recommend the free yoga classes to their guests.

Hosting classes in the morning allows for participants to enjoy the outdoors before the summer heat and humidity become stifling. Having the new class on Sunday nights in August and September should also ensure comfortable conditions.

“I don’t know why it took us this long to think of [doing Sunday yoga classes],” said Shipe. Hosting the classes by the sound of running water, she said, makes them extra relaxing.

“The calming effects from the fountain are really influential in the overall effect that people have after the class because water has negative ions,” Shipe said. “Negative ions are very calming to people which is why people love to be around waterfalls and the ocean and rivers.”

Monday sessions are focused on Vinyasa Flow classes for all levels. Sunday night yoga classes, however, will each have different themes.

This past Sunday’s event was “Glow Yoga” where people brought glow sticks and wore reflective clothes. Around 30 people showed up, which, according to Shipe, is the highest attendance ever seen at one of these yoga events.

The themes for the next few Sundays vary. On August 13, the theme is “Family Yoga Night,” where parents can bring their children for a laid-back, unscripted class. The following class, on August 20, is “Downward Dog Yoga” where participants are encouraged to bring their dogs.  The last Sunday of the month will be “Relaxing Night Flow” which will be more of a restorative class.

Angela Fox, the president and CEO of the Crystal City BID, said “Yoga at the Fountain” will continue to take place on Sunday nights next year, from May 1 through September 30.

Courtesy photos. Disclosure: The Crystal City BID is an ARLnow.com advertiser.

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(Updated at 7:20 p.m.) Local coffee shop Commonwealth Joe is encouraging Arlingtonians to explore businesses in Crystal City and Pentagon City with special “passports.”

The program will run for a week, from today (August 7) until Sunday, August 13. People can stop by Commonwealth Joe (520 12th Street S.) and pick up their own passport, or they can get a team passport for up to three people.

Once passports are claimed, the goal is to visit all of the participating businesses to get the passports stamped.

Participating businesses include: Sweetgreen (Crystal City), Orangethoery Fitness, Pure Barre, CrossFit South Arlington, Earth Treks, WeWork Crystal City, TechShop and the Crystal City Wine Shop.

Once the passports have all of the necessary stamps, participants turn their passports into Commonwealth Joe, where each team that completes the challenge within the week will get a free drink.

In addition, there will be prizes for the first three teams to get all of the stamps. These grand prizes include day passes from Earth Treks, free Sweetgreen salads, WeWork merchandise and more.

A spokeswoman for Commonwealth Joe said they started this event to help build relationships with other local businesses and to help people explore the neighborhood.

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Arlington Agenda is a listing of interesting events for the week ahead in Arlington County. If you’d like to see your event featured, fill out the event submission form.

Also, be sure to check out our event calendar.

Tuesday

Mosquitoes and Ticks: Identification and Control
Westover Library (1644 N. McKinley Road, Suite 3)
Time: 7-8:30 p.m.

An information session on how you can shield yourself from mosquitoes and ticks. The presentation will teach people how to identify these bugs, about their life cycles and more. It will also recommend sustainable options for backyards.

Wednesday

Family Open House *
The Sycamore School (4600 N. Fairfax Drive 3rd Floor)
Time: 6-8 p.m.

Parents and their children can attend this hands-on open house with three, 30-minute “pop up” classrooms for kids to get a sense of what learning is like at The Sycamore School. Parents may also observe the classes, or ask staff any questions.

Thursday

Late Night Recess
Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street)
Time: 9-11:30 p.m.

A late-night library event for adults of all ages, from 18 and up. The night’s activities will include games from your youth like Twister, Nerf Tag, Bubble Wrap and Forts as well as delicious snacks such as cookies, milk and smoothies.

Saturday

Columbia Pike Movie Nights – “The War of the Roses”
Penrose Square (2503 Columbia Pike)
Time: 8:30 – 10:30 p.m.

Enjoy a free 1980s movie, as part of CPRO’s 30 Years: Celebrating the Great Movie of 1987 (ish). “The War of the Roses” is rated R and about the deterioration of a wealthy couple’s marriage and the divorce battle that ensues.

Sunday

Free Outdoor Concert -Lovejoy Blues Machine
Mount Olivet Church (1500 N. Glebe Road)
Time: 6-8 p.m.

Enjoy a picnic while also listening to the fantastic voice of Karen Lovejoy and her band. The Lovejoy Blues Machine is described as jazz with blues and Latin undertones. It’s the perfect way to relax before starting another week.

*Denotes featured (sponsored) event

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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.

Kristin McCurry noticed that the traditional fundraising agency model was going out of style and after spending years in the industry, she believed she knew just how to fix it.

“I really felt like there was an opportunity to have a next generation agency and that included working differently with the partners that we have,” McCurry said.

So 12 years ago, she founded MINDset Direct, a multi-channel marketing agency. MINDset works exclusively with nonprofit organizations, such as Whitman-Walker Health, the Children’s Inn at NIH as well as more national and international organizations.

The companies MINDset works with tend to lean towards progressive causes, are children’s organizations or are veterans’ organizations. MINDset focuses on fundraising for these nonprofits.

The way MINDset differs from other alike agencies is it fosters a partnership between itself and the clients it serves, as opposed to a “we make, you take” attitude.

“This was not just fundraising with blinders on,” McCurry said. “This moved much beyond that into understanding how fundraising plays into your branding, how it plays into your marketing, how it is complimented or challenged by your organizational structure, changes in mission etc. It’s a much more comprehensive approach.”

 

As a result, MINDset has many relationships with its clients that have endured over the years. It just celebrated a 12-year anniversary with one client.

“It’s really been very confirming that the time was right for a next generation model and that we have met and exceeded the expectations of our clients,” McCurry said.

When MINDset was first created, many startups were just beginning to take form. An Arlington resident, McCurry knew she wanted her company to be based in Arlington because of the incredible talent pool located here.

“We knew that we were going to need bright, energetic people to be on staff,” McCurry said.

For the first eight years, McCurry and her staff worked out of a garage-turned-studio at her house on Jefferson Street. Then three years ago, they moved to Clarendon.

McCurry explained how since the presidential election last year, charities across the nation have undergone immense transformations. Many organizations are experiencing a “Trump bump,” which is an increase in fundraising thanks to the election. However, the bump is not limited to just conservative or liberal organizations — it encompasses the entire spectrum.

McCurry believes many people are donating to nonprofits because of their frustration with the current political situation. She said donating to a worthy cause makes people feel better about themselves, and noted that in her 30 years working in the fundraising industry, she has never seen anything like what’s been happening at charities post-election.

“Philanthropy is a reflection of someone’s personal beliefs,” McCurry said. “We see that definitely for the causes that are aligning themselves with the Trump administration or coming up against the values of the Trump administration.”

Courtesy photos. Pictured in No. 1: the MINDset Direct team of Erica O’Brien, Kristin McCurry and Candice Briddell.

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