Press Club

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups, founders, and other local technology news. Monday Properties is proudly featuring 1812 N. Moore Street in Rosslyn.

VOICE Summit 2021, a conference highlighting the latest in artificial intelligence and voice technology, will kick off this evening in Crystal City.

Thousands of technology specialists, marketers and representatives from leading brands are expected to attend the event, which ends Wednesday evening. It is hosted by Modev, a Ballston-based company exploring the future of voice controls.

The event will highlight innovations in the retail, healthcare, travel and entertainment industries driven by conversational AI. It will focus on how tech companies can enhance customer experience and meet growing consumer demands and heightening expectations for conversational technology, like Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant.

For the first time, the local startup’s conference, now in its fourth year, will be held in Arlington. VOICE 2018 and 2019 were both held in Newark, New Jersey and together attracted some 7,000 attendees. The conference was held virtually in 2020 due to the pandemic.

“We’re excited to bring the event to Arlington, Va. and to gather industry back together,” Modev CEO and founder Pete Erickson said in a statement. “Conversational AI has evolved a lot since the start of the pandemic and is now a core component of an overall general business and marketing strategy for brands and enterprises. Large investments are being made across industries to capitalize on voice driven strategy, and companies are committed to enhancing the customer experience.”

Modev says VOICE Summit is the industry’s flagship event, capable of shaping the future of voice technology, AI and “ambient computing,” or any computer activity so deeply integrated into daily life that humans don’t realize they’re using computers.

VOICE Summit 2021 promotional graphic (courtesy photo)

This is the first major tech event to relocate to National Landing — collectively, the Crystal City, Pentagon City and Potomac Yard neighborhoods  — since Amazon announced it would build its second headquarters in Arlington in 2018, according to Arlington Economic Development.

The two-day event will be virtual and in-person at the Renaissance Arlington Capital View Hotel (2800 S. Potomac Ave). The event will feature keynotes, fireside chats, panels and breakout “conversations” that allow the audience to play an active role in the discussion.

Attendees will hear keynote speeches from Silicon Valley startup founders and tech leaders, including Rich Stern, the CEO of Tune-In; Andi Huels, the head of AI at Lenovo; and Audrey Arbeeny, a two-time Emmy Award winner and creator of sounds for the world’s top brands.

“We look forward to bringing leaders together to discuss this shift and helping them chart a path to success in the new year,” Erickson said.

Smart voice assistants Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant are the event’s top sponsors.

Founded in 2008, today, Modev also produces the VOICE Global event, presented by Google Assistant, and the award-winning VOICE Talks internet talk show.

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A cosplayer at the 2019 Blerdcon, which takes place in Crystal City (via Blerdcon/Youtube)

Nerds of all backgrounds are reveling in their geekdom this weekend in Crystal City.

BlerDCon — an anime, gaming, comics and sci-fi convention — has returned to the Hyatt Regency Crystal City (2799 Richmond Hwy), one year after the 2020 convention was canceled due to the pandemic. It’s taking place today through Sunday, July 18.

BlerDCon will feature a food truck rally, cosplay contests and music, but there will be pandemic precautions: Guests will be required to wear a mask and bring a vaccination card.

The event is not just for Black nerds, or “blerds.” The website said the “universally inclusive fan convention” welcomes people of color, the LGBTQ community and people with disabilities.

Other highlights include a maid cafe, a comedy show, gaming and a “Blerdfunk Concert.”

There will be a number of special guests, according to the website: “Rupaul’s Drag Race” star Dax ExclamationPoint, comedian Roxxy Haze, and actress Karan Ashley, who was the Yellow Ranger on the hit kids show “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.”

Tickets for BlerDCon are $55.

Cosplay costumes and dancing, featured below, are two hallmarks of the Crystal City event.

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Morning Notes

Man Sentenced for Drunken Gunfire — “The Weedsport [New York] man arrested for publicly firing a gun in the Washington area days before the Jan. 6 Capitol attack was sentenced April 28 in Arlington County Circuit Court. Moses Geri, 39, was sentenced to two years in prison, with one year and eight months suspended… His sentence was issued days after the court rejected a previous plea agreement that would have made all 12 months of Geri’s probation unsupervised.” [The Citizen]

VHC Now a Level II Trauma Center — “Virginia Hospital Center (VHC), a community-based hospital providing medical services to the Washington, DC metropolitan area for 75 years, is proud to announce that it has received a Level II Trauma Center designation from the Commonwealth of Virginia, filling a critical community need.” [Press Release]

County Hosting Virtual ‘Healing’ Conference — “The Child and Family Services Division (CFSD) announces Building Healing Communities: Conversations on Mental Health, Resilience, and Equity… The free, four-day virtual community conference — offered with simultaneous Spanish translation throughout — kicks off on Thursday, May 20 at 6 p.m.” [Arlington County]

New Apartment Tower Now Leasing — “Leasing has begun at Aubrey, the first of three high-rise residential buildings at the Highlands, a mixed-use development in the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor in Arlington, Va. Under development by Penzance, the 23-story-tall Aubrey building at 1788 N. Pierce St. includes 331 one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments. Evo, the second apartment tower, is anticipated to begin leasing this summer. The third tower is the Pierce condominium, which is selling now.” [Washington Post]

Big Motorcycle Rally Back On — “Things are coming together for a major Memorial Day weekend motorcycle rally. It now has an official starting area and it looks like more bikers could be coming. ‘At the very last minute, the mayor came through for us,’ said Joe Chenelly, executive director of AMVETS. The veterans service organization is arranging the ‘Rolling to Remember’ event, which is the successor to ‘Rolling Thunder.'” [WTOP]

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Morning Notes

More Signs of Coronavirus Preps — Emptier shelves at local grocery stores, less traffic on the roads: there are signs that locals are taking the coronavirus threat seriously. During the first hour of yesterday’s evening rush hour, traffic on I-395 was relatively light. Last night, there was barely any canned soup left on the shelves at the Lee-Harrison Harris Teeter. [Twitter, Twitter]

Some Churches Close, Others Announce Changes — Episcopal churches in the D.C. area have suspended worship services, while the Catholic Diocese of Arlington announced a series of measures intended to help prevent the spread of disease. [Washington Post, Press Release]

Events Are Being Cancelled in Arlington — “Out of an abundance of caution, the Rosslyn BID has decided to cancel our Arts & Beats series this March and April. We are hoping to run these events later this year and we will be evaluating future events on a case-by-case basis.” [Twitter]

Arlington Conferences Cancelled — “Code for America was scheduled to host its annual summit at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Arlington, Virginia, from March 11 through 13. A Code for America spokesperson told Technical.ly that this would have been the first time the nonprofit was hosting the annual summit in the D.C. area, as it normally takes place in San Francisco. Code for America release a statement on Friday announcing the summit’s cancellation.” [Technically DC]

Local Real Estate Still Hot, Though — “Listing service Bright MLS said closed sales throughout the Washington metro area were up 13% from a year ago to a 10-year high… In Arlington County, Virginia, the median overall price of what sold was $635,000, up 12.4%. But the median price of a stand-alone house that sold in Arlington last month was $1.14 million, up 19.2% from last February.” [WTOP]

Arlington Works on Tree Preservation — “It’s not just housing affordability and increased traffic Arlington County officials are concerned about in the wake of Amazon.com Inc.’s arrival. They’re also watching out for the trees. County officials are proposing to add one urban forester position to the Department of Parks and Recreation. The new hire is needed to expand tree preservation efforts and work through the surge of site plans developers are pitching in the area of Amazon’s HQ2.” [Washington Business Journal]

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Women owned 12.3 million businesses, or 40 percent, in 2018 and are starting 1,821 new businesses each day in the U.S. Yet, 98% of all venture funding goes to men.

To successfully launch and scale a company, it is critical for women to have access to the right tools, expertise and resources.

The Women’s Entrepreneurship Conference on Wednesday, November 14 at George Mason University’s Founders Hall, was inspired by the missions of two of its sponsors: Freedom Start Foundation Founder Richard Fink and 30 Second Pitch founder Joseph B. Sprung, who passionately believe venture capital should not just be for the well-connected, but for the hard workers with the best ideas.

Both organizations — along with third partner and host George Mason University School of Business — seek to create an environment of encouragement, support, knowledge and funding opportunities for those looking to take the next steps in their career.

Entrepreneurs are invited to submit a 30-Second Pitch for $5,000 in startup funding: the deadline is Monday evening, November 12 at 7 p.m. Three finalists will pitch to a panel of expert judges and the winner will be announced at the conference Wednesday, November 14.

Also at the free, full-day conference, attendees will:

  • Hear the inspiring stories of top women in business who have become successful entrepreneurs.
  • Learn and ask questions about how to make the changes necessary to fulfill your dream business and how to navigate the obstacles involved.
  • Learn about funding opportunities for those looking to take the next steps in their career.

Submit a 30 Second Pitch here and learn more about the Women’s Entrepreneurship Conference here.

Rep. Don Beyer (D-8th District) is gearing up to hold his fourth annual “women’s conference” Saturday (Oct. 13), with speeches planned from groundbreaking female lawmakers and activists.

Beyer has titled this year’s event “Breaking Through: Women Work for Change,” and it will run from 8:30 a.m.-12 p.m. at George Mason University’s Virginia Square campus (3351 Fairfax Drive).

While Beyer is set to give some opening remarks at gathering, the rest of the speakers will be women.

Del. Danica Roem, the state’s first transgender lawmaker who represents Manassas Park and parts of Prince William County, is set to deliver the event’s keynote address and discuss her work in Richmond.

Beyer will then present the “Clara Mortenson Beyer Women and Children First Award” to Naomi Wadler, an Alexandria fifth-grader who gained national notoriety for organizing protests in the wake of the Parkland, Florida school shooting earlier this year.

Subsequent panel discussions include the following, per Beyer’s office:

Making History in Virginia with the ERA

Megan Beyer — Former executive director of President Obama’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities
Lynda Johnson Robb —  Advocate for literacy and the eldest daughter of President Lyndon Johnson
Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy (D-2nd District)
Bettina Hager — D.C. Director and COO, ERA Coalition and Fund for Women’s Equality

Starting a Movement – Mobilizing Support and Driving Solutions

Michelle Millben – CEO and Founder, MGMC Enterprises LLC
Kim Anderson – Executive Vice President, Democracy Alliance
Jennifer Herrera – Virginia Chapter Leader, Moms Demand Action
Miriam Gennari – Environmental Advocate

Gender and the Supreme Court — Understanding the Impact on Women’s Issues

Jill Morrison — Executive Director Women’s Law & Public Policy Fellowship Georgetown University
Rebecca Buckwalter-Poza – Journalist
Emily Martin – Vice President for Education & Workplace Justice, National Women’s Law Center

The event is free to attend, though participants should register online or by calling Beyer’s district office at (703) 658-5403.

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Morning Notes

Construction at Shirlington Library — Construction is expected to begin this week on renovations to the Shirlington Branch Library, to bring the library into Americans with Disabilities Act compliance. Library administrators caution that “certain areas of the building may be closed for short periods, and noise may be unavoidable at times.” [Arlington Public Library]

Millennials Leaving D.C. for Cheaper Cities — “A new analysis by George Mason University researchers finds that… more people are leaving the region than arriving for the first time since the Great Recession. Millennial deserters — ages 20 to 29 — are one factor. But another big one is baby boomers leaving to begin retirement life elsewhere. Families and the unemployed are also going.” [Washington Post]

‘Anti-Muslim’ Group Holding Conference — Despite opposition, ACT for America — which describes itself as “a nonprofit national security organization” but which is described by critics as “the largest anti-Muslim organization in the U.S.” — kicked off its annual conference yesterday at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Crystal City. [Southern Poverty Law Center]

Yorktown Teacher Publishes Third Book — “Melanie McCabe, an English teacher at Yorktown High School and now three-time author, will debut her new work, His Other Life: Searching For My Father, His First Wife, and Tennessee Williams at the Arlington Central Library (1015 N Quincy St., Arlington) on Thursday, Oct. 5.” [Falls Church News-Press]

Region’s Dry Spell Continues — Today is expected to be the 20th straight day without measurable precipitation at Reagan National Airport. But it is still far from the region’s record of 34 straight rainless days in the fall of 2007. [Washington Post]

Photo courtesy Leslie Aun

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Morning Notes

‘Hate Group’ Holding Conference in ArlingtonACT for America, which describes itself as the “nation’s largest non-profit, non-partisan, grassroots national security organization” — but which is described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an anti-Muslim hate group — is holding its annual conference at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Crystal City next weekend. Marriott is refusing calls to cancel the event, saying: “We are a hospitality company that provides public accommodations and function space. Acceptance of business does not indicate support or endorsement of any group or individual.” [Slate]

Private Middle School Opens in Arlington — A ribbon cutting was held earlier this week for the grand opening celebration of The Sycamore School, a new, private middle school in Arlington. “More than 80 percent of our inaugural students are coming from public school,  which tells me that our community is aching for smaller class options and more individualized learning,” said the school’s founder. [InsideNova]

Another Arcing Insulator Outside of Rosslyn — A track issue caused problems yet again between the Rosslyn and Foggy Bottom Metro stations this morning. The initial call for a possible arcing insulator went out around 5 a.m. Normal service on the Blue, Orange and Silver lines was restored around 7 a.m. [WJLA]

First Day of Fall — Grab your maple lattes, today is the autumnal equinox and the first day of astrological autumn. The equinox will happen just after 4 p.m. Eastern time. [Twitter, Capital Weather Gang]

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

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BlerDCon, an “exclusively inclusive” convention for geeks of all colors and backgrounds, arrives at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City (2799 Jefferson Davis Hwy) today.

BlerDCon strives to help people embrace their inner nerd across a variety of genres, including “anime, comic books, sci-fi, gaming or cosplay.” It’s taking place today through Sunday, July 2.

The weekend’s events will include panels, celebrity guests, presentations, workshops, gaming tournaments, cosplay contests and more.

The convention will be open 24 hours each day. Tickets start at $45 per person.

More from the BlerDCon website:

Despite the rapid growth of the nerd universe, however, conventions have failed to proportionately represent the expansive minority nerd audience. Fans of all backgrounds and cultures are embracing their inner nerd. This includes POC (Black, Asian, Latino, etc.), women, disabled, LGBTQ and many more types of nerds across the globe. This is where BlerDCon comes in.

For those who don’t know, “Blerd” is an acronym for Black nerd; this has become a phrase embraced by minority nerds of all backgrounds, no matter what their skin color. The word blerd has evolved to become a symbol of unity for all nerds; BlerDCon is a team of lifetime geeks that has rallied around this concept to create a con for all.

BlerDCon says it anticipates between 3,000-4,000 attendees.

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Morning Notes

Sunrise over the Potomac (Flickr pool photo by David Giambarresi)

Key Bridge Marriott Lease Sold — The ground lease for the 57-year-old Key Bridge Marriott in Rosslyn has been sold to a luxury hotel and resort operator, leading to speculation that the hotel — Marriott’s longest continuously-operating property — may soon be replaced. [WTOP]

Sales Tax Receipts Nudge Up — Arlington received $39.68 million in sales tax disbursements from the state this year, up 0.2 percent compared to the year prior, pointing to an ever-so-slight increase in retail sales in the county despite some challenges dragging that figure down. [InsideNova]

Arlington to Host Community Conference — Arlington County is hosting the 17th annual Virginia Statewide Neighborhood Conference from Sept. 29-Oct. 1. Hundreds of neighborhood leaders, community activists and government agencies are expected to attend. [Arlington County]

Local Yoga Studio Featured on National TV — Spark Yoga, an aerial yoga studio on N. Pershing Drive in Lyon Park, was featured in a segment on business news channel CNBC with reporter Diana Olick. [CNBC]

Bikes With Roofs — Is the hot summer sun beating down on you during your bike commute? If so, perhaps you can follow the lead of these two local cyclists and attach a canopy to your bike. [Twitter]

Flickr pool photo by David Giambarresi

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Morning Notes

Anna and David Sculpture in Rosslyn

View from Central Place — An ABC 7 reporter visited one of the top floors of the still under-construction Central Place residential tower in Rosslyn. The residential building is slated to open in 2017 while a twin office tower next door is set for 2018. [Twitter]

Wine in the Waterpark Extended — Crystal City is extending its popular Friday night Wine in the Waterpark events through July. The event offers beer, wine and music in an outdoor setting. [Crystal City]

‘Women in Secularism’ Conference — A Crystal City hotel will be hosting the fourth “Women in Secularism” conference in September. The conference “brings together a diverse lineup of speakers to address what it means to be a ‘woman in secularism’ — not just in theory, but in practice.” [Women in Secularism]

Photo by Jackie Friedman

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