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by Anna Merod February 12, 2018 at 11:45 am 0

Startup Monday header

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.

Todd Moore spends three to five hours a day listening to podcasts.

“I’ve never really been happy with the existing podcast apps,” he said.

That’s where the idea for Playapod, a cross-platform syncing podcast app, came in. The app, created by Moore through the Crystal City-based TMSOFT, best known for its white noise app, is compatible with all Android and iOS devices and is available to download from the Google Play Store, Apple App Store and the Amazon App store. The app launched last week.

One podcast-playing problem that bothered Moore was the inability to sync podcasts across different devices from different platforms. Another issue was the difficulty of relocating where someone left off listening to a podcast.

“Something that frustrates me with all audio playback app, like even Amazon’s audio books, they never show you what you’ve listened to,” he said.

That made it easy to lose place in a podcast if, for example, the user accidentally touch the wrong button. On Playapod, users can see exactly where they left off if they lose their place through the precision progress bar. Users can also bookmark the most-recently played portion of a podcast for future playback, said Moore.

Playapod is free and has no advertisements. Another feature includes the ability to download podcasts so users can listen offline.

“I think the interface of Playapod is very simple, and it’s intuitive and it’s easy to navigate,” Moore said. “So I think it’s going to be a real hit based on the initial feedback I’m seeing.”

Playapod may have some big shoes to fill against its competitors at Apple and Amazon, but Moore said he’s not concerned.

“I think if people try Playapod, they’re going to see a better feature set. I think they’re going to enjoy this type of listening experience, and I’ve spent a year on this, so I’m a little biased,” he said.

by ARLnow.com September 20, 2017 at 8:30 am 0

Residents Irked at App-Directed Traffic — Residents who live just west of Crystal City are upset that map apps like Waze keep directing cut-through traffic down S. Fern Street as an alternative to S. Eads Street or Route 1. A resident who spoke at Saturday’s County Board meeting said her complaints to Arlington County staff have not resulted in any action. [InsideNova]

Army Ten-Miler to Close Roads Next Month — A number of roads around Crystal City and Pentagon City will close on Sunday, Oct. 8 for the annual Army Ten-Miler race. [Arlington County]

Lions Club Scrambling to Find Xmas Tree Lot — The South Arlington Lions Club is not even sure they’ll be able to hold their annual Christmas tree sale in South Arlington this year. The club’s usual location in the parking lot of the former Food Star is under construction and the club just learned that county land is off-limits to nonprofit fundraising. [InsideNova]

Colorado Has Its Own Serial Pooper — A bizarre situation that’s drawing comparisons to Arlington’s own serial pooper of 2016 is playing out in Colorado. Residents in Colorado Springs say a female jogger has been repeatedly, unapologetically defecating in their neighborhood. [Deadspin, Washington Post]

Nauck Leaders Lauded — A pair of community stalwarts were honored by the Nauck Civic Association in a ceremony this past weekend. “Wanda Pierce was lauded for her tenure leading the Arlington Community Foundation,” while “Cleveland ‘Bubby’ James Jr., another longtime resident, was honored for his work with the youth and young adults of Nauck and the entire county.” [InsideNova]

by Katie Pyzyk April 19, 2017 at 9:15 am 0

More Beds Likely at VHC — Virginia Hospital Center is likely to receive authorization to add more than 40 new beds. That’s less than its original request of 100 new beds, for which it received push-back. [InsideNova]

New Library App — Arlington Public Library has released a new app for iPhone and Android. Users can perform tasks including checking their accounts, searching the catalog, booking meeting rooms and checking operating hours. [Arlington County]

Kaine Staff to Hold Arlington Office Hours — Sen. Tim Kaine’s (D) staff will hold office hours at the Westover Library (1644 N. McKinley Road) on Thursday from 1-3 p.m. They will be available for one-on-one meetings with citizens to answer questions or address concerns. Those interested in speaking with a staff member are encouraged to make an appointment in advance, but walk-ins also are welcome. [Sen. Tim Kaine]

by Chris Teale March 27, 2017 at 2:45 pm 0

Startup Monday header

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.

Starting in late April, cat and dog owners can track their pets and find animal-friendly places to eat and stay in one place.

Set to hit major app stores next month, Roaming Tails will provide one platform for all pet owners’ biggest needs. Ballston resident Jaime Bowerman founded the company in 2014, inspired by Flipflop, her Daschund.

“In talking to many other pet parents, they seemed to have similar sorts of problems, and there’s really no good place to find accurate data that tells us where we can take our pets,” Bowerman said. “She also had a mind of her own like most dogs do, and there had been a time where I thought she was missing, which was kind of scary.”

Pets are connected to their owners through a tag around their neck, which connects to the app via Bluetooth. That tag then integrates with the app to provide medical records, and has a long battery life of upwards of a year.

The app will be available for free download. Tag services would be available for a one-off payment of $39.99, but no monthly fees.

And while the Bluetooth capabilities limit the range of separation between an owner and their pet to about 50 yards, Bowerman said there has progress on that front.

In January, company employees attended the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and agreed to partner with a major tag provider to have tags that use Wi-Fi as well as Bluetooth.

Bowerman said that combined with the Ballston Business Improvement District’s initiative to deliver free wi-fi in the neighborhood’s public spaces can help grow the product’s use.

“What we’re really hoping to do on launch in early April is to make [Ballston] the most pet-friendly place possible that we can,” she said. “It’s pretty exciting technology.”

With the launch a matter of weeks away, Bowerman said she and her colleagues are working to get the app as perfect as possible by testing it among themselves. But with hopes of partnerships with pet stores and veterinarians, they have grand ambitions.

Roaming Tails also could be at the forefront of partnerships with local pet-friendly restaurants, Bowerman said.

“Let’s say you’re walking past a restaurant with our tag, what happens is your phone will bark at you and say, ‘Bring Fido in for two-for-one drinks,'” she said. “It really is a way for restaurants to easily market to people with pets and to easily set up rewards programs and things like that.”

Bowerman said with the way the relationship is evolving between pets and their owners, this app can fill a valuable need in one place.

“Technology is changing the way we life live with our pets, but unfortunately it just takes a lot of apps to enhance the quality of life or change that,” she said. “What we have done is taken most features and put them on one platform that allows you to do these things.”

by ARLnow.com December 1, 2016 at 10:10 am 0

Christmas trees (Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman)

Per Student Spending Questioned — Arlington Public Schools is again being questioned about why it has the highest per-student costs — $18,957 — of any suburban D.C. jurisdiction. Fairfax County, the largest school system in the state, has a per-student cost of $14,432. [InsideNova]

Woman’s Tireless TSA Protest — Alyssa Bermudez, a former Army staff sergeant and Bronze Star recipient, has been tirelessly protesting in front of Transportation Security Administration headquarters in Pentagon City, claiming that she was sexually harassed and fired for complaining about it. Other complaints and a lawsuit point to an alleged culture of harassment within the agency. [Washington Post]

ACPD Officers Meet Shaq — NBA great Shaquille O’Neal visited with D.C. area police yesterday on Capitol Hill to raise awareness of the dangers of driving while under the influence of drugs. Several ACPD officers were photographed with the 7’1″ O’Neal. [Twitter, Twitter]

AFAC Needs New Van — The Arlington Food Assistance Center is seeking donations to help it buy a new cargo van, after one of its old vans broke down while on a grocery run. [Fox 5, AFAC]

LiveSafe Launches Navy Pilot ProgramArlington-based startup LiveSafe has launched a six-month pilot program with a big client: the U.S. Navy. LiveSafe’s app will be used by sailors in Hampton Roads, Va. and in Rota, Spain “in an effort to prevent sexual assaults and combat other destructive behaviors before they happen.” [Stars and Stripes]

Arlington Man Tweets Hillary Sightings — Arlingtonian Adam Parkhomenko, a long-time Hillary Clinton aide and booster, is helping grieving Democrats by turning the former presidential candidate into a “wandering folk hero.” He’s doing so via a social media account that keeps track of photos of Clinton “in the wild” since she lost the election. [Vanity Fair]

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

by Katie Pyzyk November 14, 2016 at 1:00 pm 0

Startup Monday header

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.

Sometimes business is booming, branding is on point and more customers pour in without prompting. Other times, a business might need an extra punch. That’s where Punch Digital Strategies comes in.

Punch Digital StrategiesIn the crowded field of digital marketing, the creative strategists at Punch aim to set themselves apart by offering clients the “whole package.” Co-Founder and Creative Director Joe DePalma explains that Punch is a boutique agency and competitors in that space often only focus on one thing, such as brand identity or development or design.

“The success stories we have had is when we started to merge the idea of strategy and content with design,” he says. “From a product delivery standpoint we have a unique approach to how we collaborate. Being in control of not only the content but also the design and development, every facet, makes the final project come to life.”

Co-Founder Brian Tillman adds that “clients are often good at knowing their technical content, but not marketing.” That creates a “mismatched user experience and message. We’re trying to fuse those two things,” he says.

The agency consists of writers, designers and developers who focus on producing digital elements — such as websites, mobile apps, videos and downloadable content — to create the “next generation” for each client’s brand identity and message. The digital aspect allows Punch to be browser-based both internally and while interacting with clients.

“Instead of the old way where you’d do a big reveal on a poster board and send versions back and forth and have long email chains where things get lost, we do things in a much more efficient way,” Tillman says. “For clients it’s a lot quicker, more collaborative and more involved. And it helps to reduce errors and miscommunication.”

The Punch Digital Strategies team Even though the business is mostly web-based, the co-founders think it’s important to also have an office presence where the employees can collaborate and bounce ideas off of each other in front of a white board, rather than all employees working remotely. “You’re going to get a better product and the client’s going to see value in that,” DePalma says.

Part of offering high-quality deliverables involves researching and incorporating the most up-to-date digital elements and new media. For example, Punch recently created a virtual reality video that users could access on their mobile phones and view through disposable cardboard VR goggles.

“As people consume things differently our tactical delivery will change,” Tillman says. “The medium is constantly evolving. We have to stay ahead of the curve.”

Plus, Tillman says, having a cache of tech and cybersecurity clients means constantly coming up with compelling ways to present dry material. For instance, the VR project was for a business that makes software, but “making software is boring,” he says. “We needed to figure out a really interesting and immersive and creative way to get people excited about it.”

Tillman and DePalma met while working at another agency and decided to break off to start their own business about two years ago. They now have a 10-person creative team and moved into an office in Shirlington earlier this year. Although launching a startup can be a daunting endeavor — especially because they chose to be self-funded — the Punch co-founders say it was worth taking the risk.

(more…)

by Katie Pyzyk November 7, 2016 at 12:15 pm 0

Startup Monday header

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.

actNOW app prototypeRecently there has been more attention paid to how incidents of sexual assault are handled on college campuses. The team behind actNOW wants to help the victims of those campus assaults easily get access to the resources they need to deal with the frightening, overwhelming issue.

Co-founder Mark Harris says actNOW is a “survivor-centered model to help after an assault has occurred.” Many sexual assault victims are “unfamiliar with how to [report the incident]. There’s a lot of information on websites, but it’s not streamlined,” Harris says. That realization prompted him to look for a way to gather all the information into one place and make it available on a convenient mobile platform.

The web- and app-based service will allow victims of sexual assault to report the incident — either anonymously or with identifying information — to the authorities of their choice. The user enters information about the incident and can choose to inform the university, the campus Title IX office and/or the police.

Users who enter information and then don’t feel like they want to send it can also choose to store the information until they are ready to pass it on to officials. “After an event that is really traumatic, a person may want to wait to come forward,” explains co-founder and certified sexual assault nurse Stacy Garrity.

According to co-founder Lee Reynolds, the actNOW team wanted to “deliver something that’s uactNOW app prototypeseful and impactful” to allow victims to “tell their stories and… know it’s not the end of the road.”

The team members add that this is not a platform for people to put their stories out to the public or media, but rather for victims to report incidents to authorities. But it isn’t only intended to be a reporting platform; the app also will link victims to physical and psychological healthcare providers.

The service makes it less intimidating to report incidents and takes the guesswork out of trying to discover or remember available resources, the co-founders say. Harris stresses that “actNOW is a liaison to the services. We do not provide the actual psychological or physical health services.”

The service started as Harris’ academic project at Georgetown University, and he found Garrity through researching sexual assault resources. Along with Harris’ longtime friend Reynolds, the three officially launched actNOW in March. The Arlington-based business now has six employees.

Much time has been dedicated to researching and initiating appropriate app security measures for both sexual assault victims and the universities where assaults occur. “We have to be mindful of each university’s rules for investigations,” Harris says. In addition, actNOW employees want to make sure strong security measures are in place to ensure the utmost protection for victims’ identifying information and HIPAA privacy.

The actNOW team at a pitch competitionCurrently, actNOW has an app prototype and employees are getting feedback on it from sexual assault victims; so far, the response has been positive. The employees are actively seeking funding and participated in a pitch competition a couple weeks ago. They’re working toward formal app development, which they hope to begin with a tech firm in the next few weeks. If all goes well, they’d like to send the finished app to universities in April 2017 during Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

The goal is to spend the next three years or so maturing actNOW through activities such as receiving focus group feedback and adding additional features to the service. Eventually, employees would like to explore the possibility of expanding the service to the military.

As far as measuring success with the tool, the actNOW team says that’s achieved when people actually use the tool to get help. “It’s really hard for people to report sexual assault,” Garrity says. “So when we start to see usage of the product, I think we’ll see success.”

The team hopes their passion for developing empowerment through technology will help victims both in the short term and down the road, while simultaneously raising awareness about sexual assault.

“We want to put control back in our users’ hands,” Harris says.

by ARLnow.com November 7, 2016 at 9:05 am 0

Medical helicopter lands near Arlington Traditional School, transporting a patient to Virginia Hospital Center

W-L Defeats Yorktown, Heads to Playoffs — The Washington-Lee Generals defeated cross-county rival Yorktown Friday night to advance to the football playoffs. W-L was trailing when senior quarterback Ricardo Mestre passed for a touchdown with just seconds remaining to clinch the win. [Washington Post]

Board Advertises Ballston Historic District — The Arlington County Board voted unanimously Saturday to advertise hearings on designating a small family graveyard in Ballston a local historic district, ahead of a planned redevelopment by the Central United Methodist Church. “The Board on Saturday received assurances from the church that it will not seek to remove any remains from the graveyard before the County has an opportunity to consider its historic designation,” according to a press release. [Arlington County]

Students: Adults Should Tone Down Boundary Rhetoric — Some adults have taken their rhetoric over the current Arlington Public Schools high school boundary refinement process too far, according to a pair of high school students who spoke at Thursday’s School Board meeting. “We honestly consider some of the comments made thus far to be an embarrassment,” said a Yorktown student. [InsideNova, InsideNova]

Arlington Smartphone App Updated — Arlington County has made a number of new upgrades to its My Arlington App for smartphones. The changes include a new home screen design, transit alerts and, just in time for Election Day, polling locations and a map of voter precincts. [Arlington County]

Cyclebar Now Open on the Pike — Cyclebar, a new indoor cycling studio, has officially opened along Columbia Pike. A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Nov. 1. [Cyclebar]

Library Director: Vote on Nov. 8 — From Arlington Public Library Director Diane Kresh’s blog: “Every election is important and every vote counts. And it’s a privilege that for people in many parts of the world is not enjoyed. On Tuesday, vote as if your life depends on it; it does.” [Arlington Public Library]

Free Home Buying Seminar TonightSponsored — The Orange Line Living Team is hosting a Free Home Buying Seminar with a local lender and all attendees will receive two guarantees just for attending: 1) Buyer satisfaction — if you don’t love your new home they will buy it back or sell it for free for 12 months, and 2) $1,500 home purchase credit. See website for details and conditions. The event is being at 1600 Wilson Blvd #101 in Arlington, from 6-8 p.m. tonight, Nov. 7. [Orange Line Living]

by Katie Pyzyk October 31, 2016 at 12:15 pm 0

Startup Monday header

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’s a well-known phrase claiming that from necessity comes invention. But sometimes it’s more the case of “from annoyance comes invention.” That’s exactly what prompted a local entrepreneur to invent an app to ease lost wanderers’ frustration at the grocery store.

Basket Helper app by Safety Now SolutionsMinh Tran, of Safety Now Solutions, has created an app called Basket Helper that points users to desired items at a Giant grocery store. It’s not for all Giant stores; very specifically, it’s for the Virginia Square Giant at 3450 Washington Blvd. Right now it’s a pilot that Tran hopes will expand to include other locations.

He took this on as a personal side project, unrelated to Safety Now Solutions’ typical work.

“We usually do public safety software, but this project I made kind of for myself because I was so frustrated with the shopping process,” he says. “Basically when I go to the supermarket I often don’t know where things are. It’s frustrating to walk up and down the store [aisles] staring at the sign that’s above you just to find the right aisle.”

Although some grocery stores have similar apps that show customers which items are in which aisles, Giant does not. Enter Tran and his test pilot.

Basket Helper app by Safety Now SolutionsThe app functions simply: Users type in the items they want to purchase, hit “search” and the store aisle number appears. The platform is programmed to accept many partial word matches or alternate spellings, so entering “lightbulb” and “light bulb” should both provide the correct aisle. Some brand names also come up with a match.

A unique way Tran envisions the app helping people is when they send someone else on an errand to the store. Users can go onto the website app and “actually send your partner the link” showing all the items’ locations, says Tran. “You can type in the things you need and then copy and paste the search link to your partner and they would know which aisle to go to,” he says. That means no more “I couldn’t find it” excuses from the person who went on the errand.

The pilot launched earlier this month on iOS, Android and a website app. Currently it is independent of the Giant grocery chain, but Tran hopes to change that. He has pitched the app idea to Giant and is waiting to hear if they’ll buy it and expand it to other stores. He’s also considered contacting Safeway, because that chain’s app only allows users to search for one item at a time.

Devising the app itself only took a day or two; what’s been time consuming is entering all the items into the database. But Tran only expects to deal with that for the pilot. Once stores purchase the app, they’ll then enter the information themselves. “You can do it quickly if you have multiple people doing it in multiple aisles,” Tran says. Perhaps, for example, employees could add the items to the database as they restock the shelves.

Keep in mind that this prototype can’t guarantee that every single item in the Virginia Square Giant is listed. But so far it comes pretty darn close; with about 3,000 searchable items, Tran estimates about 75 percent of the store’s items are in the database.

“I thought a tool like this would be helpful,” he says. “I wanted to see if people would embrace the idea.”

by Katie Pyzyk October 25, 2016 at 2:35 pm 0

The following is the second in a weekly series of articles about a “day in the life” of companies at the MakeOffices coworking space in Clarendon. The mini-series, which will run this fall, is sponsored by MakeOffices.

Just like former Utah Jazz point guard John Stockton made a career of enabling Karl “The Mailman” Malone to score, the workers behind LeagueApps spend every day making assists. They strive to set up every community team that uses their management service with a slam dunk experience.

The app-based service provides a management platform and web presence for youth and recreational sports teams. It organizes tasks such as online registrations, schedules, score databases and payment collection.

“It’s kind of like an all-in-one app for sports organizers to facilitate all the logistics of their registration and what they need to do during the season for communicating with their members,” says Steve Parker, LeagueApps co-founder and chief technology officer.

The service has about 50 employees in two offices: one in Arlington and one in New York. Although the New York contingent works out of a standalone office, Parker says the Arlington employees benefit from being in the MakeOffices Clarendon coworking space.

“One of the things that I like, and I think everyone likes, is being around these other companies. The energy of this place is great,” he says.  “As a company, we see the value in having a nice working environment for people. [It’s] an intangible benefit that will pay dividends because they’ll feel more motivated and productive.”

Each day starts with the team having a stand-up meeting to go over what each person is working on, then the team disperses for their tasks. Although a lot of research, planning and strategy occurs in the Arlington office, much of what happens daily at this location is writing and testing code. Some businesses consider that an insular activity that can be performed remotely, but Parker believes staff members benefit from collaborating at the office.

“We can have in-person, live interactions, which are so valuable,” he says. “There’s a lot of questions that come up, issues that we encounter. Being able to talk through things and go to a whiteboard and discuss it live instead of just typing it… is a lot easier and more efficient.”

Having the two offices in different cities also creates a natural separation between the different tasks performed at each. Arlington houses the team behind the software platform and is considered the LeagueApps technology and product hub, whereas the New York office has a greater focus on business aspects such as sales, management, marketing, finance and customer success. “It’s a nice, clean delineation between what we do and they do,” Parker says.

The environment doesn’t just have a positive effect on employees. The conference rooms come in handy on the days when employees bring in clients for meetings. “The conference rooms and breakout rooms are key. We use those all the time,” says Parker, noting that clients are impressed when they visit the space.

So far, the business model appears to work. Parker says LeagueApps has nearly doubled in growth each year since its launch in 2011. “Just like any startup we’ve worked out a lot of kinks and have gotten to a point where we have a good model and we have a strong product-market fit. We’re continuing to refine that,” he says.

On occasion, the refining happens while interacting with employees at the other businesses in the coworking space. “Sometimes there’s technologies that we’re using that we can have conversations about and gain some quick insights,” says Parker.

One business improvement that has helped LeagueApps is choosing a handful of sports to focus on — such as lacrosse, soccer and baseball — and catering the platform to each, rather than having one generic platform that could be used for all sports. Customers get more value with the sport-specific focus because “different sports have slightly different ways of doing things,” Parker explains. “So we’ve built our platform to be customizable to all the different things that sport organizers do… our account executives and our support services are all tailored by sport.”

Although the team buckles down and works hard at the office, there’s plenty of room for being social. Such as when amidst the quiet typing and clicking, one employee nonchalantly teases another and everyone laughs. That spirit spills over from the work day into evening happy hours, sometimes on-site (MakeOffices provides a selection of locally-brewed beers on tap from four kegerators in the kitchen) and sometimes at nearby Clarendon watering holes.

“The space and location are good for team building activities,” Parker said.

(more…)

by Katie Pyzyk October 18, 2016 at 12:30 pm 0

The following is the first in a weekly series of articles about a “day in the life” of companies at the MakeOffices coworking space in Clarendon. The mini-series, which will run this fall, is sponsored by MakeOffices.

“Okay, let’s do the stand-up meeting now. What’s everyone up to?” says Shy Pahlevani, co-founder of Hungry, an app-based food delivery service.

The nearly 20 employees at the startup take Pahlevani’s cue and begin with the morning routine of everyone standing up for a few minutes while announcing what they’re working on. It’s this kind of collaborative model that the business says helps it thrive.

And thrive it does. In its first month after opening to the public, Hungry sold more than 1,000 meals and has goals to further expand.

After everyone has had a turn at the morning meeting, some employees remain in Hungry’s office space at MakeOffices Clarendon to go about their tasks, such as marketing and coordinating deliveries. Others scatter to some of the areas that Hungry shares with the other coworking space occupants.

A few Hungry employees, including Director of Chef Onboarding Laura Medina, head to the kitchen to prepare for one of the chefs who’s bringing in his dish of the day. It’s the chef’s chance to show off what food he can offer, and this particular dish will be available for Hungry users to purchase for delivery the following week.

“For the rent that we spend, we’re grateful to have great looking countertops and a gourmet-looking kitchen,” says Pahlevani. “It’s very appealing when we take pictures of our food and pictures of our chefs when we use this environment here.”

The Hungry team helps the chef set up his food in various parts of the kitchen that will allow for the best photographs. Contract photographer Reema Desai takes a prepared dish over to the window that overlooks Clarendon Boulevard to get a little more natural light on the display. As she arranges the food, she turns it slightly one way, then adds a napkin, then fluffs some of the garnish. She’s trying to use the light to maximize all the available textures and colors. “[The chefs] make it easy for me. The dishes already have a lot of bright, different colors and I just try to bring that out,” she says.

Designer Collin O’Brien works with the newly snapped photos. He’s populating the app with them and ensures the presentation works across all platforms — internet, iOS and Android. Getting customers to buy the food is all about quality and presentation.

Marketing can be one of the most difficult aspects for a fledgling small business to master, but Hungry employees say the coworking environment actually makes it easier. Again, it comes back to collaboration, this time outside of the immediate Hungry team. “It’s a really great base for word of mouth,” says Pardis Saremi, Hungry’s director of public relations.

She explains that employees at other businesses in the coworking space get interested when they see the food displays and try the service themselves. That has led to many becoming customers of the delivery service and talking it up to others. “They’re telling their friends. I also had someone say they know chefs that would love to cook on our app. The connections and the word of mouth is just so, so helpful,” Saremi says. The on-site connections also have led to two other MakeOffices occupants booking Hungry’s chefs — through the app — to cater events.

She also credits the MakeOffices newsletter that goes out to all coworking office occupants with drumming up interest in Hungry’s events and promotions. About 300 people showed up at the startup’s first food event, just based on word of mouth among the coworking office occupants. That definitely wouldn’t have been the case in a standalone building, says Saremi.

“The food business is very tough. So getting people to try our dishes and recommend us to friends is really how we’re going to grow,” says Pahlevani. “Being able to start in a space that’s 40,000 square feet and has 70 plus companies is an easy way… to get some traction early, just leveraging the folks here.”

Potential customers aren’t the only thing office interactions have produced; the Hungry employees also have forged mutually beneficial business relationships. “It’s a great way to attract talent from other startups that may have complementary businesses and can support the things we’re doing,” Pahlevani says. “We’ve met photographers from other groups that are now helping us. We’ve met social media gurus that are now helping us.”

Saremi agrees, further explaining how employees constantly gain unexpected knowledge for improving the business. “I met a guy in this building who does something in physics and he was giving us ideas on things to do with our packaging to keep the food warm,” she says.

Sometimes the employees finish their daily tasks during what would be considered a traditional “quitting time.” But with all the action from the chef’s visit, this may end up being one of those times the work day stretches longer into the evening. “When you start a startup it’s a lot of hard work,” says Pahlevani. “It’s very motivating to see a lot of other people staying past 9 p.m. It encourages our employees.”

The Hungry employees are proud of the hard work they’ve put into the business and how much it already has grown, which makes the time pass quickly, says Saremi. “There’s definitely an entrepreneurial spirit and everyone is so supportive of each other in this space,” she says. “You meet so many people… you see everyone growing in this space.”

Expect to hear more about Hungry in the coming months: the company just announced that it raised $2.5 million in seed funding, in a round led by New York-based Timeless Capital.

by ARLnow.com October 10, 2016 at 5:45 pm 0

Startup Monday header

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.

White noise appYou might not think that a smartphone app that plays background sounds to help people sleep could be particularly lucrative or innovative. But then you would be underestimating both the market and the vision behind the app.

TMSoft, a small software company based in Crystal City’s 1776 space, released version 7.0 of “White Noise,” its flagship app, over the summer. The update pushes the app in the direction of being a social network, of sorts, for ambient sound.

White Noise, as we’ve previously reported, was released in 2008, just after the Apple App Store started letting iPhone users easily download third-party apps to their phones.

“When I first started I didn’t think anyone was going to download the thing,” said its creator, Ballston resident Todd Moore. “I just ran around my house with a recorder and recorded eight different loops: a bedroom fan, the outside crickets, rain, my HVAC [system]” and so on.

Thanks in part to media exposure — it was written up in the Washington Post, featured on the Today Show and made fun of by Jimmy Fallon — and a first-mover advantage, it became the No. 1 free app in the App Store. Through in-app advertising and a paid-for “pro” version, it was soon bringing in enough revenue that Moore quit his otherwise lucrative R&D job to focus on apps full time.

“I was making more money in a week than I was making all year at my job, and I said to myself, why don’t I quit and do this full time,” Moore recounts.

White Noise remains popular to this day, with the main app and its variants — including a “White Noise Baby” version for parents that includes a built-in baby monitor — generating the bulk of TMSoft’s revenue. (The company has some popular games and novelty apps in its catalog, but none were sustained smash hits on the scale of White Noise.)

“Putting people to sleep is our bread and butter,” Moore quipped, although White Noise is also used by those who want to use background sounds to help them work or study. “It was definitely the story of an app that bootstrapped a company.”

White noise appThe seventh generation of White Noise doesn’t stray from its original use case, but it does represent the culmination of five years of development toward a much broader vision for the app.

“The goal is to catalog the world’s sounds,” Moore said. “I want every country covered and every sound available.”

Why do that when a simple fan or rainstorm noise will usually suffice? User feedback, Moore said, has made him realize that the most impactful sounds represent a specific time and place in people’s memories.

“People are most comforted by sounds of their childhood,” Moore said. Thanks to user submissions, if someone wants to find a loop of a certain type of frog they heard once upon a time in Bermuda, for instance, there’s a sound for that.

Version 6.0 of White Noise introduced the feature that allows users to record sounds on their phone and, through an algorithm, seamlessly loop the sound so that it can play on repeat without distracting clicks or pops — no small engineering feat.

With version 7.0, users can now upload those sounds — and mash-ups of existing sounds — and download others from a marketplace that can be searched geographically. Users can then “heart” and comment on each other’s sounds.

(more…)

by Tim Regan August 18, 2016 at 5:00 pm 0

My Arlington app screenshot, photo via Arlington County 2Arlington residents are now able to check the status of road work, look at traffic conditions and access information on local real estate development projects on the County’s mobile app.

The county this week added these and a few other new features to My Arlington, the app for iPhone and Android devices that launched in February.

Users can now use the app to access real-time information on paving and milling operations on county-owned streets, view traffic camera feeds and get traffic updates using data from Google Waze, said Shannon Whalen McDaniel, a communications manager for Arlington County.

“County staff enters data into Waze daily, noting if a street is partially or fully closed, along with an estimated time of completion,” Whalen McDaniel added.

Other recent additions to the My Arlington app include:

  • Voting information, with Arlington polling and precinct locations.
  • A county staff search directory.
  • Information on development projects with county site plans.
  • Notices about stop work orders and unsafe buildings.

Screenshot via Arlington County

by Michelle Rosenfeld February 29, 2016 at 1:35 pm 0

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.

Wyth+Me teamTwo years ago, Tim Keough was enjoying a run-of-the-mill night out, meeting up with friends at a new restaurant.

“As the group gathered, we started inviting other people to join us,” Keough recounted. “I thought that this place probably loves that we are bringing more people in the door without any effort.” An idea struck him, and two years later, Wyth+Me was born.

Wyth+Me is a mobile app — its creators are based in Arlington — that is aimed at helping both consumers and local businesses. According to Keough, the app will “change the way people go out as well as fit in seamlessly with the way they currently go out.”

Unlike other location check-in apps, Wyth+Me doesn’t ask users to play a game or earn levels. By checking into a location and activating the app’s promotional capabilities – such as inviting friends or sharing the check-in on social media — users can earn “immediate rewards,” Keough said. The more friends who come out, the bigger the user’s reward. At the end of the night, users can show the app to their server or bartender to receive the discounts they earned during their visit.

Wyth+Me appIn addition, Wyth+Me takes planning the evening to the next level. The app’s Wyth+Me Later feature allows users to create future events, while getting bars and restaurants to bid for their business.

The app also is helpful for businesses that want to draw bigger crowds.

“Whereas with a coupon or app that provides what amounts to a coupon for visiting, Wyth+Me gets restaurants/bars and customers on the same page in a mutually rewarding manner,” Keough said. “The business gets more people in seats and the customers that bring in the most businesses get the best discounts – a true win-win.”

A beta version of the mobile app launched late last month in the D.C. area and already has seen “significant traction,” Keough said. Even though the app has not done any promotion, Keough added that it already has “dozens of locations online or being implemented now and several new businesses are joining each week.”

Arlington businesses that have signed up to participate include A-Town Bar and Grill, Heavy Seas Alehouse, Sehkraft Brewing, Whitlow’s and World of Beer, he said. Other markets are starting to take notice.

“We’ve already had significant inbound interest from other markets across the U.S. and should be launching in several other large metro areas this spring,” Keough said. “We are excited at the number of locations in other markets already contacting us directly that are ready to use the app and solution, as we believe this is true validation of the concept and model.”

by ARLnow.com February 4, 2016 at 11:15 am 0

Want to see for how much your neighbor just sold her house? That’s one of the streams of information in Arlington County’s new mobile app.

My Arlington, the recently-released app for iPhone and Android devices, “puts popular County information about events, real estate, permits and more in the palm of your hand,” says a county press release.

Among the noted features are:

  • “County Board and commission meetings, searchable by geographic location, date and other criteria”
  • “County sponsored events, searchable by geographic location, date, age group and other criteria”
  • “Permits information (status, permit type, description of work, contractor, location owner, etc.), searchable by geographic location and permit type”
  • “Real estate sales and assessment information, searchable by geographic location, price and property type”
  • “Newsfeeds for County Government and Arlington Public Schools”
  • “Alerts, including Arlington Alerts and transit-related alerts and updates for WMATA and ART”
  • “County contact information including links to the County’s Service Directory and a feedback form for the app”

“My Arlington is a terrific new tool that will help us better engage and communicate with our community,” Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz said in a statement. “We are already working on making the app even more robust – we think this, and other technologies we are looking into, will help us better serve residents and make County government more accessible and transparent.”

The county is “already working on adding more functions to the app, including: traffic disruptions, crime statistics and other useful information.”

My Arlington will supplement other county apps like the ArlingtonVA Service Requests app, which launched in 2014 and allows residents to report potholes, trash collection issues and other non-emergency problems.

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