Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

Construction Underway on Hospital Expansion — “Shovels are in the ground and buildings are coming down as Virginia Hospital Center embarks on the nitty-gritty of a three-year, quarter-billion-dollar expansion effort.” [InsideNova]

Marymount Launches Intrapreneurship Initiative — “Marymount University’s School of Business and Technology (SBT) has launched an initiative to address one of the most significant talent gaps in the greater Washington region – a shortage of graduates who are prepared to use entrepreneurial skills to help employers grow and meet the challenges of an ever-changing world.” [Press Release]

Courthouse Office Building Sold — “Another Arlington office building has traded hands with the buyer citing Amazon HQ2 as a reason for optimism.  American Real Estate Partners, in partnership with Rockwood Capital, announced Tuesday it acquired the Arlington Plaza office building at 2000 15th St. North.” [Bisnow]

Metro Seeking Feedback on Bus Changes — “Metro is proposing service changes to selected bus routes based on input from customers and local governments, to increase on-time performance and ridership, and respond to planning studies and market changes.” Changes are proposed for the 3Y, 7F and 7Y routes. [WMATA]

Why Hoskins Left for Fairfax — “Victor Hoskins may be done working on Amazon HQ2 in Arlington County, but he’s certainly not done talking about it. The former head of Arlington Economic Development, in an interview with Bisnow, cited post-Amazon fatigue as one of the reasons he decided to leave and take a new job as CEO of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority. ” [Bisnow]

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District Taco began as a stand-alone food cart and expanded into the burgeoning regional restaurant chain it is today.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of District Taco, which was co-founded by Marc Wallace and Osiris Hoil. The company is marking the occasion with an event in Rosslyn tomorrow (Thursday).

“ATTN, amigos!” the company said in a social media post. “Join us back where it all started for our 10 year anniversary… from 12-1 p.m. we will be on the corner of Lynn St & Wilson Blvd, in Rosslyn, handing out tacos and giveaways! Come celebrate with us and pose for a photo with our original taco cart.”

Hoil said he also plans on celebrating by taking a trip down to Mexico in August to visit family and reminisce about his mother’s cooking — the inspiration for many District Taco recipes.

Hoil’s entrepreneurial story began when he came to the United States as an immigrant and was laid off from a construction company during in 2007, around the time of the economic crisis. He said despite his dismay at the time, he still thinks highly of the firm and hired them to build several District Taco locations.

The District Taco cart launched in 2009, but was retired in 2014. Since then, two bricks-and-mortar District Taco locations have opened in Arlington: at 5723 Lee Highway — its very first storefront — in 2010 and in Rosslyn (1500 Wilson Blvd) in 2016.

District Taco now has 14 locations, according to its website, and plans to add at least three more in 2020, according to Hoil. They also want to double their office space by 2021.

“Everything we have done is by scratch,” said Hoil. “We have learned so much from other people and big companies.”

Photo 1 via Twitter

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This article was written by Erik Skantze, winner of Arlington Economic Development‘s Startup Arlington Competition and Chief Production Officer for Richmond-based education startup, EdConnective.  

It’s hard to believe that I arrived in Arlington only two short months ago.

Somewhere between working at SPACES in Rosslyn, getting a fabulous introduction to the area through Chasing Dragons, and enjoying the daily breakfast buffet over at the Residence Inn Marriott, I came to the realization that Arlington has some excellent offerings for entrepreneurs. These are my top three.

Hidden Serenity

Startups are a lot like rollercoasters. Sometimes you experience the thrill of rapid twists and turns in a growing business. Sometimes you experience a knot in the pit of your stomach as you are staring over the edge of what looks like a bottomless abyss.

Other times you are just inching along a steep hill, grinding it out to get the next client, investor or product iteration that will propel you to the next stage of the startup lifecycle.

In the latter scenario, I like to take Steve Blank’s advice and “get out of the building” not only to connect with the community around me, but also to give myself the space and time to reflect. Arlington is full of hidden gems that are ideal for this activity — my favorites (so far) are:

  • Freedom Park makes for a quiet walk in the heart of Rosslyn (outside of lunch hours, at least!) with great views of D.C. and plenty of opportunity to admire the local architecture.
  • Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Island is Arlington adjacent and accessible by a quick bike ride or walk — after a short walk you will be so surrounded by nature that you may even forget you are in one of the most populous metro areas in the U.S.
  • Although the George Washington Memorial Parkway might not always be associated with relaxation during rush hour, a quick stop along the overlook (or a walk through Potomac Overlook Park) makes for a great drive/walk combo.

East Coast Early Adopters

Does anyone really need same hour grocery delivery? Probably not, but it does have its novelty and it might even save you some time during a hectic day. Sure, almost every city has an unending supply of new services and early adopters, but what I love about Arlington is that it is jam packed with early adopters.

Whether it’s the ubiquitous electric scooter, Balkan cuisine, board game bars or home cooked ketogenic meals delivered to your door, the excitement, buzz and conversation about new concepts and services is what sets Arlington apart.

That’s not to say that every idea is a winner or even that most of these concepts will endure the test of time, but Arlington presents an attractive proposition for an entrepreneur who thrives on feedback and needs to test his or her creation in a tangible way.

Convenient Transportation to Basically Anywhere

Yeah, this one is decidedly less exciting than the other two, but I have come to find options in transportation to be a huge advantage. Hungry? Nothing beats an afternoon walk along Custis trail to Mom’s/Naked Lunch or (on those rough days) a quick scoot to Ben’s Chili Bowl for a fully loaded half smoke.

Tech MeetUp? The metro gets me where I want to go. West coast conference? Both Reagan National and Dulles are a short ride away.  Bonus: the trip to our Richmond office is just a couple hours by car or train, which means I can catch a morning meeting and be back in time for lunch!

In closing, I’ll mention this: every conversation I have with an Arlingtonian (yep, I looked that up) ends the same way. I always ask, “what is the number one ‘must see‘ or ‘must do‘ on your list of Arlington-based activities and why?”

I haven’t gotten a bad answer yet, so I figure that’s as good a way as any to end this article. What’s your recommendation? Hit me up at @edconnective or [email protected]!

Erik Skantze is the Chief Product Officer for EdConnective and has mixed feelings about electric scooters (loves riding, hates dodging). As the winner of the Startup Arlington Competition, EdConnective is excited to work with local educators, investors, and mentors to help empower principals and teachers to impact student outcomes.

Photos via Rosslyn BID

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This week Arlington is hosting conference dedicated to helping women entrepreneurs in the Greater Washington area.

The We Thrive Women Entrepreneurs’ Conference will be held on Thursday at Founders Hall at George Mason University’s Arlington campus (3351 Fairfax Drive) from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and aims to provide business growth and social media training and opportunities to network for female entrepreneurs.

Keynote speakers include Melinda F. Emerson of the Pennsylvania-based marking consulting firm Quintessence Group who will share lessons from her 20 years growing and advising small businesses. Other keynote speakers include attorney Nicole Cober and Jen Pilcher of MilSpouseFest.

The all-day event includes break out sessions on topics like raising your capital, federal contracts, marketing tips, and pitching.

Arlington Strategy CEO Jennifer Mulchandani will moderate a workshop on marketing tips. The workshop will also include panelists Romona Foster, a social media consultant, Evelyn Powers who co-founded website design company Design Powers, Inc., and Maritza Lizama of brand developer LiMon, LLC

Tickets sell for $150 and those interested in attending can register here.

Also happening Thursday in Arlington is East Coast VentureCON 2019, which is billed as a conference for “VCs, angels, and entrepreneurs on the East Coast” looking to network, attend events, and check out the an “innovation showcase” with speed pitches from startup companies.

The conference is being held at Marymount University in Ballston (1000 N. Glebe Road) and ticket prices range from $159 to $3,000.

Photo via Flickr user Marco Verch

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