by Ethan Rothstein April 16, 2015 at 4:15 pm 0

1776 announces expansion into Crystal City (photo via @1776)The heralded 1776 tech incubator and seed fund is moving into Crystal City, bringing tech bonafides and millions of dollars with it.

Today, on the roof of 220 20th Street S., Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Arlington County Board Chair Mary Hynes, Vornado CEO Mitchell Shear, 1776 co-founders Evan Burfield and Donna Harris and former Disruption Corporation CEO, and now 1776 Managing Director, Paul Singh joined forces to make the announcement.

“We’re proud that this new partnership will be anchored in Crystal City, which is increasingly becoming a globally-recognized home for world-changing startups,” McAuliffe said. “This new, unprecedented level of regional collaboration removes the traditional regional boundaries, creating tremendous opportunity for broad-based economic growth that benefits the entire region, and offering a model for future, long-term economic growth throughout Virginia and the D.C. Metro area.”

As part of its deal to expand in Crystal City, 1776 acquired Singh’s Disruption Corporation, a combination of a venture fund and financial advisory firm. Disruption’s headquarters on the 10th floor of 2231 Crystal Drive will be 1776’s base of operations in Arlington, according to Crystal City Business Improvement District Angela Fox.

“One of the beauties of Crystal City is there is so much space to expand, and if they do well, that’s certainly the thinking in all of this,” Fox told ARLnow.com this afternoon.

Earlier this week, 1776 announced a partnership with Montgomery County, and the incubator’s announcement today makes it one of the, if not the premier, dominant forces in the D.C. area technology space. In 1776’s new headquarters, it will already have member companies like Bloompop, Power Supply and Onomono Media.

1776 also hosts the Challenge Festival, an international, weeklong festival aimed at bringing together entrepreneurs in the energy, education, health and transportation sectors. The company anticipates more than 10,000 industry members will attend, and the opening party will be in Crystal City, at 2121 Crystal Drive, on May 8 from 7:00-11:00 p.m.

The incubator hopes to leverage the still-significant hub of government agencies and contractors in Crystal City, as well as the close proximity to the Pentagon, in its latest expansion.

“This region’s growing innovation economy and its future economic growth are closely linked, which is why at 1776 we’ve focused our attention on creating new opportunities for regional innovation and unfettered access to the networks that exist across regional borders,” 1776 co-founder Donna Harris said in a press release. “Between our partnership with Vornado and the acquisition of Disruption, this exciting new venture will allow us to bring together ALL the tremendous assets this region has to offer, from the NIH and MedStar in Bethesda to the Pentagon and Lockheed Martin in Crystal City, and create one of the most vibrant technology communities in the country.”

Photo via @1776

by ARLnow.com April 16, 2015 at 9:15 am 1,260 0

Wild flowers (Flickr pool photo by Alan Kotok)

Dems Debate in Ballston — The six Democratic candidates for County Board faced off in their first debate last night, before a standing-room only crowd at the NRECA conference center in Ballston. The debate was held by Arlington Young Democrats. Though knowledgable about current issues facing Arlington, candidates were light on specifics about what should be done to address those issues. [InsideNova]

Disruption Corp. Sold to 1776 — Disruption Corp., the Crystal City-based tech investment fund and office space, has been acquired by D.C.-based tech incubator 1776. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. [Washington Post]

Caps Pep Rally at Elementary School — Third grade students at Carlin Springs Elementary School have won a contest to bring a Washington Capitals playoff pep rally to their school today. The rally will start at 12:30 p.m. “There won’t likely be any players, but it will be a great time for all,” a teacher tells ARLnow.com. “The kids will be getting prizes, pictures with Slapshot (the Caps’ mascot) and learning some hockey skills. The Caps are also donating equipment to the school.” [Washington Capitals]

Artisphere ‘Doomed from the Start’ — Artisphere, which is on the budgetary chopping block next week, was “doomed from the start,” according to the artistic director of a theatre company that was booted out of its space at the cultural center two years after it opened. An anonymous Artisphere employee said of the early, over-optimistic attendance and revenue projections: “All of those numbers were so completely false.” [Washington Post]

McAuliffe Signs Special Needs Bill in Arlington — On Tuesday, Gov. Terry McAuliffe came to Arlington to sign the ABLE Act, which will allow individuals with special needs, and their families, to set up tax-exempt accounts that will allow them to save for future living expenses. Virginia is the first state to enact such legislation, which received the blessing of the U.S. Congress in December. [WJLA]

Security of Va. Voting Machines Blasted — The touch screen voting machines now being replaced in Arlington and elsewhere in Virginia were “so easy to hack, it will take your breath away,” according to reports. [Ars Technica, The Guardian]

Flickr pool photo by Alan Kotok

by Ethan Rothstein December 15, 2014 at 3:45 pm 0

Teck Cocktail holiday party posterDisruption Corporation in Crystal City (2231 Crystal Drive, 10th floor) is hosting the annual Tech Cocktail holiday party and all-star award ceremony tomorrow night.

The party will start at 6:00 p.m., end at 8:30 and costs $25 to attend ($35.99 if the guest wants a copy of Startup Mixology by Tech Cocktail’s Frank Gruber). All guests are encouraged to bring canned goods to donate to the Arlington Food Assistance Center.

Hundreds from the D.C. startup scene are expected to be in attendance, and awaiting the announcement of the annual awards. Winners will be named in the following categories:

  • Best Design (Product)
  • Best Bootstrapped
  • Most Innovative Product
  • Most Disruptive
  • Biggest Pivot
  • Best Company Culture
  • Most Active in Local Community
  • Most Likely to Get Acquired
  • Best Social Good Startup
  • Best Big Company with Startup Culture
  • Most Charismatic or Best Founder(s)/Leader(s)
  • Best Community Leader

Several Arlington companies — including Disruption Corporation and its founder, Paul Singh — are nominated for the awards, which are still open for voting here.

There will also be a mixology demonstration and cocktails — naturally — for the occasion. After the event concludes, the remaining guests will migrate just one floor up for a happy hour at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse.

Photo via Teck Cocktail

by Ethan Rothstein November 26, 2014 at 1:00 pm 1,292 0

The Iron Yard coding bootcamp (Photo courtesy Crystal City’s Disruption Corporation, on the 10th floor of 2231 Crystal Drive, is planning to play host to a 12-week immersive computer coding class in January.

The “coding bootcamp,” is an academy by The Iron Yard and costs $12,000. It offers three courses: rails engineering, which teaches Ruby on Rails for building “fast, production-quality full-stack apps;” mobile engineering for building iPhone apps; and “front-end engineering” for designing websites.

“Every student will leave the app with a portfolio of a functioning app or a functioning tool,” Campus Director Su Kim told ARLnow.com today.

The academy starts Jan. 5 and it’s taking students now. Each class is capped at 15 students to provide for ample teacher-student interaction, she said. The classes are Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The morning session is a “lecture,” with teacher-led instruction while students are live-coding at their computers. The afternoons are lab time, where students can work on their assignments and build their portfolio design.

The final two weeks of the course are devoted strictly to the final product students work on. After the academy is over, The Iron Yard has a career placement system set up to get its graduates jobs as developers in the area. During classes, guest lecturers are brought in from local technology companies and The Iron Yard likes to get a sense for what each community wants out of its developer talent pool.

“We really want the students to meet the needs of the existing community,” Kim said. “The Iron Yard started as an accelerator, but we realized there wasn’t enough talent even for the startups to come out of the accelerator. So the academy launched as kind of accessory.”

In tandem with the bootcamp, The Iron Yard also offers free kids coding classes. For an hour a week, children as young as 7 years old can come and take courses, taught by both the academy’s full-time instructors and by the students in boot camp.

Crystal City is the 10th campus for the Iron Yard bootcamp, following cities like Houston, Atlanta, Austin, Texas and Orlando, Fla. It will be located in Phase II of Disruption Corporation’s headquarters.

Photo courtesy The Iron Yard

by ARLnow.com November 12, 2014 at 9:15 am 1,442 0

The Concert for Valor, as seen from Arlington (Flickr pool photo by Rob Cannon)

Utility Pole Struck on Glebe Road — A car struck a utility pole on Glebe Road near 14th Street N., just before 9:30 last night. All lanes were closed while crews worked to clear the downed pole from the roadway. All lanes reopened by 5:00 this morning.

Rosslyn Metro Center For Sale — Rosslyn Metro Center, the 22-story office building above the Rosslyn Metro station, is for sale. Should it sell, the buyer would likely seek to redevelop the property. [Washington Business Journal]

Goal: Wreath for Every ANC Grave — The group Wreaths Across America is seeking about 25,000 volunteers to help lay 235,000 holiday wreaths in Arlington National Cemetery on Dec. 13. For the first time, in honor of the cemetery’s 150th anniversary, the group wants to lay a wreath on every grave. [Washington Times – WARNING: AUTO-PLAY VIDEO]

RedRocks Seeks Entertainment, Delivery Permit — The Columbia Pike outpost of RedRocks Pizzeria (2501 9th Road S.) is seeking a site plan amendment to allow live entertainment and food delivery service. The request, which is expected to be approved by the Arlington County Board this weekend, has the “full support” of the local civic association. [Arlington County]

Crystal Tech Fund Expansion — Crystal City-based Crystal Tech Fund has started construction on an expansion project that will double the size of its workspace. [Tech Cocktail]

GOP Oppo Firm Resides in Arlington — America Rising, one of the top Republican opposition research firms during this latest campaign cycle, has its office “in a nondescript building in Arlington.” [Washington Post]

Flickr pool photo by Rob Cannon

by Ethan Rothstein August 25, 2014 at 12:15 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, founders and funders. The Ground Floor is Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn. 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.

Paul Singh, Founder and CEO of Disruption Corporation, which runs Crystal Tech FundPaul Singh is filled with ideas.

Sit down for a while with the founder and CEO of Disruption Corporation, a venture capital firm that owns and operates Crystal Tech Fund, and it’s clear that the 33-year-old Singh is aching to break paradigms.

That’s part of what led him to Crystal City. Singh is a native of Great Falls and an alumnus of Bishop O’Connell High School, but he moved to California’s Silicon Valley in 2008, where he co-founded the 500 Startups angel investment firm. He moved back to Northern Virginia — he now lives in Ashburn — last year to start a family, and immediately “scoped out Crystal City, but kept it ultra-quiet.”

“We had Disruption up and running,” Singh said. “We thought, ‘what if we tried to build an ultra-productive environment for all kinds of creative entrepreneurs?’ We were thinking about where we can place it that would have a big impact. I realized I could do something meaningful here and build a model for a future American city.”

Crystal Tech Fund is both a coworking space and investment fund. Almost all of the companies that occupy desk space on the 10th floor of 2231 Crystal Drive have received an investment from Singh and his team. Some, like Bloompop, have office space there because, as Singh says, “I just like them.”

The Tech Fund isn’t a seed investment firm or a “traditional” venture capital firm, giving companies Series A, B or C investments in the tens, or hundreds, of millions of dollars. Instead, it aims to fill the funding gap between a company’s initial seed round (which is typically less than $1 million) and a Series A. Companies in the Crystal Tech Fund largely generate about $1 million or more in annual revenue, and have a team in place.

Sen. Mark Warner tours Crystal Tech Fund in Crystal City“I love to fill gaps,” Singh said. “There’s a lot of money available for the first round of funding. If you want to raise ultra-big money, there’s a lot there. But there is a gap between the seed and later-stage funding, so we fill the gap there.”

Recently, Singh has been fixated on another gap: the lack of firms qualified — and legally allowed — to give private investors research and advice for investing in startup companies. That’s why Disruption “handed in its exemption” and announced last week it has become a registered investment advisor.

Venture capital firms are generally exempted from regulations and disclosures the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission requires of firms like Merrill Lynch and Charles Schwab because the firms don’t give advice to outside investors. Disruption no longer gets that exception, meaning, Singh said, he now has to be ready to be audited at any moment. He prints out his emails and even his tweets, just to be safe.

“There’s really nobody else doing what we do specifically,” Singh said. “We have a deep bench of analysts that provide research for us on companies we invest in. Now we’re able to provide whatever research these clients need.” (more…)

by Ethan Rothstein July 23, 2014 at 1:15 pm 1,585 0

(Updated at 1:25 p.m.) Gluten-free food delivery company The Green Spoon was the people’s choice among Arlington startups at last night’s ARLive Startup Smackdown event in Crystal City.

Green Spoon founder Hanson Cheng and his team served guests lemon garlic chicken, cauliflower mash and truffled mushrooms, earning $1.48 million in “investment.” Every guest was given $100,000 in fake $10,000 bills to invest in their favorite companies. A total of $11.26 million in “venture capital” was invested.

In second place was Encore, a company based in Rosslyn’s ÜberOffices that gives companies advice on what to tweet, when and how often. Encore received $1.25 million in “investment,” just edging out Giftrocker, a gift certificate and e-commerce platform, which brought in $1.18 million.

“I’m stunned,” Cheng said after it was announced that Green Spoon won the competition. The Green Spoon also won the contest for Best Entrée at Taste of Arlington in April. “There are all these companies with amazing services and the fact that we’re even in this room is crazy. I’m ecstatic.”

Cheng and his team won a lunch with venture capitalist Paul Singh, founder of Crystal Tech Fund, whose offices hosted the event.

Many of the 100+ guests at the event remarked on the diversity of the companies, both in the products they sell and the stage of their growth. One company, RoadFan, made its public debut at the event while another, Boldfoot socks, had a chance to show its designs to customers in physical form for the first time.

“This is the first time we’re throwing it out to the world,” RoadFan co-founder Jason Waxberg said. His company is a platform to allow fans of teams gather in a communal spot in any city to watch games together. “To be in the same room as Encore and Distil Networks, who are at the forefront of D.C. startups, it’s great exposure.”

Dozens of members of the Arlington community showed up to network, attempt to create partnerships and see the future of business in the county. Ryan Halpin works in a D.C.-based accounting firm that specializes in technology and was hoping to entice a few new clients.

“I think all the companies here are pretty impressive in their own way,” Halpin said. “It’s interesting to see where they’re all at. For me an event like this is an obvious fit. It’s not your typical networking event.”

The entrepreneurs were all given money to invest in the other companies, and all of them glowed about the communal experience of starting a new business.

“Entrepreneurship is a lonely journey,” Boldfoot founder Brad Christmann said. “It’s cool to be here and talk shop. There’s nothing cutthroat, everyone is genuinely excited to see everyone do well.”

ARLnow.com hosted the event with the Crystal City Business Improvement District, Click, Disruption Corporation — which owns Crystal Tech Fund — Grade A Marketing and The Falcon Lab. Below is the complete list of companies that participated:

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

by Ethan Rothstein July 22, 2014 at 1:30 pm 0

ARLive flyerARLive Startup Smackdown, the competition where community members get to “invest” in Arlington-based startup companies, will take place tonight at Crystal Tech Fund (2231 Crystal Drive, 10th floor) from 6:00 to 8:30 p.m.

Tickets are $20 at the door or can be purchased online. The tickets cover appetizers, beer and wine, as well as fake dollars to invest in one of 17 companies. The company with the most fake money at the end of the night wins a lunch at Good Stuff Eatery in Crystal City with Crystal Tech Fund founder and investor Paul Singh.

Homemade Gin Kit gin fermenting (photo via Twitter)Thirteen of the companies participating have been featured in ARLnow.com’s weekly Startup Monday series, including: flower e-commerce company Bloompop, a Crystal Tech Fund company, food delivery service The Green Spoon, The Homemade Gin Kit — which plans on bringing gin samples — and crowdfunded sock company Boldfoot.

The event is also a chance to network with Arlington entrepreneurs and see the future of business in the county. Several of the companies have secured a combined millions of dollars in angel investment and venture capital in recent years.

Photo (bottom) via Twitter

by Ethan Rothstein July 14, 2014 at 12:00 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, founders and funders. The Ground Floor is Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn. 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.

SevaCallManpreet Singh doesn’t need a long, explanatory speech to explain what the tech startup he founded with his brother, Gurpreet, does. All he needs is a phone call.

The Singhs are co-founders of SevaCall, based in Crystal City’s Crystal Tech Fund. In his demonstration, Singh goes to his company’s website and gives you an example of a service you may need. He pulls up “plumber,” inserts a location, time for the appointment and specific problem.

Within 90 seconds, the customer receives a call from, as in his example, the plumber, and the two can discuss terms. Fifteen seconds after Singh inputs the criteria, his phone rings with the test call, and he has the option to take the call — and pay SevaCall’s fee — or ignore it. Customers pay nothing, the merchants don’t receive the access to the customers’ information and, if the initial merchant and the customer don’t agree to terms, there will be two more waiting as backup.

“Finding a service provider is not efficient at all,” Singh said. “But with us, you literally can have three companies that have chosen to work with you, and you can be done with your task in 15 minutes.”

SevaCall has more than 50 “verticals,” Singh said, including heating and cooling, roofing, computer repair, auto repair and dentists. So far, the company has had requests in 8,000 zip codes nationwide, fielded 900,000 calls and interacts with more than 1,000 businesses a week.

Screenshot of SevaCall's website

The company was founded in the fall of 2011, when Gurpreet Singh was operating his last business, Geeks on Site, and fielding a substantial number of phone calls from customers out of his service area. He had the idea to connect companies with their customers more efficiently, and the University of Maryland computer science grad started to build the beta.

“Many of the ways small businesses had to advertise were very inefficient,” Manpreet Singh said. “You don’t know who’s seeing what ad, and there’s never a good way to measure your return on investment.”

Manpreet Singh was working as an investment banker when his brother asked him to join his company full-time in 2012 when the website launched. In the beginning, getting companies to join the website — and customers to use it — was a struggle. Cold-calling companies asking them to sign up was both inefficient and ineffective, so the Singhs decided to use a composite ranking of location, quality based on social media and web ratings, and mined data from the webs.

“We have a two-sided marketplace, which is really challenging,” Singh said. “We started to mine our data and just put companies in our database, giving them their first call for free. The businesses were so happy they would call us right back after hearing the customers tell them where they heard about them. After that, we were able to build our network a lot faster.”

The SevaCall teamFor the first six months of SevaCall’s existence, the founders funded it themselves before working on raising a $1.3 million seed round of funding. A new round of “significant” investment from Crystal Tech Fund and others is expected to be finalized soon, Singh said.

The company is currently developing a mobile app with voice-based technology that Singh said will increase repeat customers. The company has seven full-time employees among 16 workers including interns and contractors. After the next round of investment, Singh expects to grow even more, despite the fact that his company isn’t quite profitable yet.

“We expect to go to about 20,000 zip codes,” he said. “We think we can be engaging 10,000 people a week. I want to blanket the entire country.”


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