Arlington, VA

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnowStartup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. Monday Properties remains firmly committed to the health, safety and well-being of its employees, tenants and community. This week, Monday Properties is proudly featuring 1000 and 1100 Wilson (The Rosslyn Towers).

Rosslyn startup Airside Mobile is rebranding to just Airside as part of a pivot from being a travel app developer to a company focused on securing data and privacy in online interactions.

“Airside was founded shortly after the first generation iPhone was launched,” the company said in its blog. “We hopped at the opportunity to develop ultra-secure mobile technology, including the award-winning Mobile Passport App. However, the ‘Airside Mobile’ label no longer applies to our broader set of capabilities and offerings that extend beyond mobile apps to SDKs, APIs, and more. Our new name maintains the continuity of our brand while also allowing more breadth and depth for our products and services.”

In an interview with the podcast State of Identity, Chief Commercial Officer Jessica Patel said that international changes brought about by COVID-19 have emphasized the need for secure online interactions.

“The world has changed so much in these last couple of months,” Patel said. “There are some industries in the short term that have gone fully virtual that people might not have expected, like technology supporting fully virtual education. Obviously virtual healthcare and the overall health-tech space has evolved and become a bigger need in these more recent weeks… There are some of these industries that were not nearly as virtual as they are today [and there is] a need for digital identity to play a major role.”

Patel said she doubted that many of the industries that had to shift to virtual interactions will ever go back to the level of in-person interaction before the pandemic.

“When I think about changes all kinds of industries will have to make there’s going to be moves to offering digital interactions instead of physical,” Patel said. “There’s going to be a real push to implement more contactless solutions. I think that’s where leveraging digital ID and biometric technologies are going to play a huge role in a lot of these verticals.”

Over the last few months, the company has offered its digital suite of products to organizations on the front lines of fighting the pandemic, free of charge.

“If your organization is on the frontlines of the fight against COVID-19 and you believe that a digital identity solution would support your cause, please contact us,” the company said in a press release. “We’re here to help. Airside is uniquely positioned to respond to this need because we can protect the data with best-in-class encryption, ensure a high level of privacy for the individual and the organization, and utilize our FedRAMP-certified environment to handle increased transactions for your fundamentally important cause.”

Patel said the company’s experience in verifying identities while maintaining privacy is opening doors to expanding into a variety of financial, retail, and travel interactions. The company offers products like software development kits businesses can use for their own products or document scanning and chip reading products. Some of those, Patel said, are sold as monthly or annual licenses, while others are product sales.

“As we look to grow how we’re supporting consumers, we’ve grown beyond a customs application into a broader digital identity solution,” Patel said, “whether in banking, travel, insurance, education technology… we’re seeking to a be a ubiquitous form of digital identity that continues to put the control of sensitive information in the consumer’s hands.”

It’s a message that seems to have resonated with investors, with the Washington Business Journal reporting last week that Airside has raised $13.6 million in new funding.

Photo via Airside/Facebook


Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnowStartup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. Monday Properties remains firmly committed to the health, safety and well-being of its employees, tenants and community. This week, Monday Properties is proudly featuring 1000 and 1100 Wilson (The Rosslyn Towers).

Arlington stock footage startup Storyblocks, which saw continued success during the pandemic, has been acquired by Boston-based private equity firm Great Hill Partners.

The price was not publicly disclosed, but a representative said business will continue as usual in Arlington. A press release said the partnership will allow Storyblocks to “accelerate its mission of modernizing the creative process to better support affordable, efficient video creation and to extend its current capabilities and product offerings.”

Great Hills Partners is known for its investments in Gizmodo and, locally, Fairfax County-based Custom Ink.

“We have seen dramatic changes to workflows for customers ranging from freelancers to small businesses to major production studios in recent years as they adapt to an ever-increasing demand for high-quality video content,” said TJ Leonard, CEO of Storyblocks, in the press release. “We are excited to partner with the Great Hill team because we share the belief that creatives are hungry for a new model to meet these new needs.”

Storyblocks started in 2009 as Footage Firm, shipping stock footage via DVDs, and the company has changed locations and brand over several years.

The company will retain its existing staff of 115 people, the Washington Business Journal reported, but will expand its product, engineering, marketing and sales staff.

Photos courtesy Storyblocks


Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnowStartup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. Monday Properties remains firmly committed to the health, safety and well-being of its employees, tenants and community. This week, Monday Properties is proudly featuring 1000 and 1100 Wilson (The Rosslyn Towers).

On hot summer days, Alex Ordonez’s kids and their soccer team, which he coached, had a hard time cooling down. The players were being sprayed with water, but Ordonez figured there had to be a better way.

Thus, the Spritz Cap — or an early concept for it, anyway — was born.

“While coaching for both teams in the summer, the heat became too much, and there were limited breaks,” Ordonez said. “When the kids became exhausted, they would run near our sidelines and we would spray them with water, and with time, I was able to modify a product to allow for any water bottle to turn into a portable multiuse bottle that allows for water conservation and several functions for user use.”

Ordonez, who also works as a real estate investor, is working on a prototype for a multi-use bottle cap he hopes to produce at affordable levels to adapt any water bottle into a spritzer.

“With our product, consumers will be able to save water and utilize water bottles for alternate needs, such as rinsing, cleaning, camping needs, etc,” Ordonez said on a Kickstarter campaign. “Spritz Cap is a two-part replacement that replaces an existing water bottle cap, made out of plastic and will be packaged in 1, 3, and 10 quantity packages.”

A video Ordonez put together for the product said the idea is to design a cap that could turn a water bottle into a tool to wash hands or cool down after a workout without wasting water.

Taking the Spritz Cap from an idea to a product is no easy feat, and one Ordonez is still working through. A Kickstarter for the project was launched but cancelled in January after getting only four backers and $28. Ordonez said he took down the Kickstarter because he wanted to work on the product some more. He’s now nearing the end of the prototype phase and hopes to re-launch soon.

“There were prospective investors but most wanted to see me with a product vs. a virtual design,” Ordonez said. “I decided to remove the Kickstarter, while I finalized the product and possibly come up with additional features that could increase additional interest. I hope to re-launch within a few weeks.”

Ordonez said the goal is to keep the product affordable, with several package options and individually packaged at 99 cents.

While development of the product has faced setbacks — including Ordonez’s limited access to funding, in part due to self-admitted “imperfect credit” as the result of an injury — he said one of the greatest sources of help in the development of the Spritz Cap has been Arlington Economic Development.

“They were able to assist with several factors as well, but the biggest struggles that any company has or will find is finding the available capital,” Ordonez said. “I spoke with several entities such as the [Small Business Administration] and other government institutes, and every single one was a dead stop… However, Arlington Economic Development was extremely helpful, not with funding, but the information and assistance that they provided was and is still outstanding. They took the time to listen to my ideas, provide feedback and were able to assist with making the right connections.”

Image via Kickstarter


Morning Notes

Ballston Macy’s Property for Sale — “The Macy’s department store in Ballston is being offered for sale and possible redevelopment as the national retailer moves forward with plans to close underperforming locations across the country. Cushman & Wakefield recently began marketing the store at 685-701 N. Glebe Road to buyers on the company’s behalf.” [Washington Business Journal]

Arlington Firms in Fortune List — Five Arlington-based companies are in the latest Fortune 1000 list of the largest companies in the U.S., including: AES (#310), CACI International (#549), E*Trade Financial (#755), Graham Holdings (#795) and AvalonBay Communities (#912). Amazon, which is building its second headquarters in Arlington, is #2. [Fortune]

More Millions for Snag — “Snag Holdings Inc., the Arlington parent company of hourly jobs board Snag, has raised $8 million in new funding, according to a new Securities and Exchange Commission filing… The company had raised about $10 million in debt funding in February 2019 and has raised a total of about $141 million over its lifetime.” [Washington Business Journal]

Synetic Pivots to Plague Play — “Synetic Theater’s final production of the 2019-20 season will feature a work that may be more than 650 years old, but has a certain resonance in the modern day… Written in Italy in response to The Black Plague of 1347-51, ‘The Decameron’ is structured as a collection of 100 tales told by a group of young people sheltering in a secluded villa just outside Florence to escape the pandemic.” [InsideNova]

Pentagon Officer Back Home After COVID Battle — “Patrick Bright is one of the most grateful people in the D.C. region tonight. He’s home from the hospital after a grueling six weeks fighting COVID-19… ​​​​​​​Friday’s homecoming was enough to inspire a hearty greeting from a convoy of Pentagon police officers who welcomed Bright — one of their own — home.” [Fox 5]

Emergency Power Proclamation Modified — “County Board members this week are expected to adopt an updated proclamation of a community emergency.” The new proclamation removes “a provision that potentially would have shunted aside the county government’s Long Range Planning Committee and various review committees that consider the implications of new development.” [InsideNova]

Flickr pool photo by Mrs. Gemstone


Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnowStartup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. Monday Properties remains firmly committed to the health, safety and well-being of its employees, tenants and community. This week, Monday Properties is proudly featuring 1000 and 1100 Wilson (The Rosslyn Towers).

A Rosslyn-based company that keeps those at on the job or at school in contact over security-related issues is pivoting the toward sharing COVID-19 information as localities start to reopen.

LiveSafe is a mobile and web-based platform that enables employees and students to communicate safety concerns with managers and administrators. The company has been around for six years, but with the economy starting to reopen CEO Carolyn Parent said they wanted to shift to using their platform to help companies and employees communicate about plans for reopening and employees’ health status.

“When COVID hit, all our customers wanted to update [their companies] with CDC links,” Parent said. “Now we’re seeing back to work safety as a major issue, from restaurants in Arlington to bigger businesses.”

Parent said companies are asking how they can bring employees back and assure them that they aren’t being put at risk. To that end, Parent said LiveSafe has created a new module called WorkSafe that’s specifically about COVID-19 and workplace safety.

“Businesses can license this and use it for that sole purpose,” Parent said. “WorkSafe gives you the ability for employees to conduct daily health checks back into their companies, with either an ‘I feel okay’ or ‘I don’t.'”

Parent said the new program is being offered free for restaurants with only one location. For chain locations, it’s $50 per month, per location.

“We’re making it free for smaller businesses with one location,” Parent said. “Main Street America does need to come back.”

Parent said WorkSafe can also utilize surveys to allow companies to get feedback on opening from employees, as well as offer links to health protocols.

“The approach to prevention that many companies are doing is that once these employees show up to work, they’re taking temperatures at the door,” Parent said. “But if you are sick, you shouldn’t do that. It should be done before you leave the house [as] part of a morning ritual. We really feel like that can be a helpful way to have an observable, verifiable way of encouraging the right kind of behavior.”

Parent said part of the idea came from LiveSafe’s work with Hungry, a separate Arlington startup whose founders also co-founded LiveSafe.

Parent said Hungry’s challenge was that their spread-out workforce meant they needed a reliable way to check in with a large network of people to see who is healthy and available to work.

For employees, WorkSafe allows them to report (anonymously, if they so choose) health concerns like a lack of personal protective equipment or other issues that could arise after the pandemic.

“There is a whole collective idea that we have a responsibility to each other to communicate these things,” Parent said.

Image via LiveSafe


Morning Notes

APS Working to Keep School Construction on Track — “Top Arlington school-system staff are recommending doing whatever it takes – including shuffling money away from other projects – to ensure construction of a new elementary school in Westover does not fall behind schedule.” [InsideNova]

Yard Waste Collection Suspended Again — After a one-week reprieve, Arlington has again suspended its residential yard waste collection service. There’s no word on when it will resume, though the county has opened two yard waste drop-off centers. [Arlington County]

Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony to Be Livestreamed — On Wednesday at 8 a.m. “the Arlington County Police Department and the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office will host a virtual Observance of Peace Officers Memorial Day to honor and pay tribute to the memory of Arlington’s seven fallen law enforcement officers.” [Arlington County]

New Superintendent’s Introductory Remarks — “Among other things, Dr. Durán pledges to close ‘access, opportunity and achievement gaps;’ to ‘commit collectively to sustain and improve the level of academic excellence for students in APs
through an equity and inclusion lens;’ and to help students and families ‘through these troubling times times.'” [Blue Virginia]

Paper’s Prediction: Dems Win Special Election — “The field is set at three: Democrat Takis Karantonis, Republican Bob Cambridge and independent Susan Cunningham. The arrival of Cambridge is probably music to the ears of Democrats, as he will help split the anti-Democratic vote with the better-known and probably more viable Cunningham, allowing Karantonis to win and avoiding a repeat of a 2014 special election when John Vihstadt went mano-a-mano against Democrats and wrestled them into submission.” [Sun Gazette]

Amazon Running Arlington-Herndon Shuttle — “It’s too early to tell if Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) will launch a Seattle-style shuttle service for its HQ2 employees, but the company has connected its Herndon and Arlington offices via shuttle.” [Washington Business Journal]

Arlington Participating in Virtual Tech Conference — “For the last several years, Northern Virginia has taken dozens of promising tech start-ups to the Collision conference, granting them access to programming, investors, mentors and networking opportunities. This year, the Collision organizers have moved everything online, so instead of traveling to the conference in Toronto this year, eighteen lucky start-ups from Northern Virginia will get an all-access pass to the Collision from Home tech conference.” [Press Release]

Nearby: Alleged W&OD Trail Creeper Arrested — “City of Falls Church Police arrested Lamar Dontae McCarthy, 23 years old of Stafford, VA, and charged him with assault. On Saturday, May 9, police reported to Grove Ave. and the W&OD Trail for a report of a suspect who had pursued a woman on the trail. The woman stated she saw a man in a red hooded sweatshirt suddenly stop his vehicle and sprint after her.” [City of Falls Church]


Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnowStartup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. Monday Properties remains firmly committed to the health, safety and well-being of its employees, tenants and community. This week, Monday Properties is proudly featuring 1000 and 1100 Wilson (The Rosslyn Towers).

With on-demand services businesses finding new customers during the pandemic, local startup Mechaniku is hunting for local car mechanics and willing to pay to get new mechanics trained, if necessary.

Mechaniku is a Columbia Pike-based startup built around the idea of bringing oil changes and other essential car services out of the shop and to people’s houses.

“I need to hire more mechanics,” co-founder Jesse Tyler said. “We’ve got two right now, I need more. We have a guy in Maryland and a guy in Virginia. We were in the process of hiring more mechanics, then all of this happened.”

Tyler said coronavirus has actually halted some of the progress that was being made on building the service, given the reduction in driving, but he’s able to carry on by running the company lean — and by having another source of income.

“We were able to step back a little and put things on hold,” Tyler said. “We don’t carry a lot of debt, we’ve built as we’ve grown.”

Tyler said he’s also been reevaluating the pricing model, which is currently $100 for an at-home oil change. With most oil changes averaging $50, it’s a little pricey, but Tyler said he has to balance the company revenue with paying the mechanics fairly.

“We need to figure out how to get more people interested,” Tyler said. “We might reexamine our pricing model. We may cut it from $100 to maybe $80.”

Tyler said he is hoping Mechaniku can be poised to take advantage of the end of the pandemic, when people start driving more but are still a bit wary to take their cars to a bricks-and-mortar garage for an oil change.

“Coronavirus has slowed everything to a halt, but we expect it will pick back up,” Tyler said, noting that he’s able to serve people needing an oil change immediately but said demand has been low.

Those interested in applying for a mechanic position should email Tyler at [email protected] or call him at (202) 880-2430.

“Obviously, more experience the better, but I’ll pay for people to get trained and certified,” Tyler said. “You just need to be able to pass a background check and have a vehicle to drive.”

Image via Mechaniku


Morning Notes

Unease About Va. Reopening — “Local leaders and business owners in Northern Virginia were uncertain about Gov. Ralph Northam’s announcement that parts of the state could begin reopening as soon as May 15. ‘Our first reaction was whoa wait a minute, talk to us,’ said Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey. David Guas, the owner of Bayou Bakery in Arlington County, said the state’s guidance on reopening business is becoming unreliable.” [NBC 4]

Republican Candidate Running for County Board — “The Arlington County Republican Committee, which in recent years has found it challenging to field candidates, announced May 7 that retired attorney Bob Cambridge had won the GOP nod for the special-election ballot. ‘Bob will bring a robust discussion of important local issues to this race – focusing on fiscal accountability, government transparency and planning for the future,’ GOP chairman Andrew Loposser said.” [InsideNova]

Arlington Startup Secures More Funding — “Stardog, the leading Enterprise Knowledge Graph platform, today announced it has expanded its Series B round to $11.4m, securing an additional $3 million from new investors Contour Venture Partners, Dcode Capital, and Presidio Ventures… The additional capital will be used to scale go-to-market operations.” [Stardog via Potomac Tech Wire]

CPRO Launches ‘Feed Our Families’ Initiative — “As the pandemic continues to impact every aspect of our daily lives, access to fresh food has become the most urgent need for many families along Columbia Pike. That’s why we’re partnering with our Columbia Pike Farmers Market vendors to assemble weekly produce boxes that can be distributed to families in need.” [Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization]


Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow,  Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. Monday Properties remains firmly committed to the health, safety and well-being of its employees, tenants and community. This week, Monday Properties is proudly featuring 1000 and 1100 Wilson (The Rosslyn Towers).

(Updated at 1:25 p.m.) While many Arlington businesses have been struggling, for local startup Storyblocks the pandemic been pushing more customers unable to get their own footage to their tech-enabled stock video service.

Storyblocks is a Courthouse-based startup that allows members to access a large library of royalty-free stock footage with photos, video and audio from contributors. It has proven to be especially popular with content creators stuck at home during the coronavirus crisis.

“The nice thing for us is, amidst the chaos, more people are depending on our service,” TJ Leonard, CEO of Storyblocks said. “People can’t go out and shoot their own content, but need to create content for their jobs.”

Leonard said the virus has forced people who would normally shoot their own video to find other sources, which is where Storyblocks comes in.

“The way we thought about coronavirus is that on a normal day, only so many people who wake up and say ‘I’m going to take a close look at content, expense and performance,’ but when something like this occurs, it forces that consideration,” Leonard said. “When we get a side by side comparison we come out ahead more often than not. Coronavirus has forced more people to think more actively about where they spend their money on.”

The company started in 2009 in Reston as Footage Firm, shipping stock footage through the mail on DVDs, but evolved and changed location as technology progressed. Over the last year, the company has seen continued growth.

“We’ve been very fortunate,” Leonard said. “We’ve been investing in content and investing in our product. We’ve seen steady growth over the first part of the year before the pandemic but in general, we’re up about 50%. We’re seeing business growing with website traffic increased by slightly higher percentages.”

Leonard said that Storyblocks is trying to focus around providing the “best first experience” for new customers in hopes that they’ll stick around after the pandemic is over.

On the content generation side, Leonard said Storyblocks hasn’t had any issues with uploading new content to the website, though he credits that mainly to the pandemic giving the company time to sort through its backlog.

“We have six months of a backlog to work through,” Leonard said. “If the stay at home order goes longer than six months that could be an issue.”

As the company continues to grow, Leonard said his sights are on expanding into the international market. On the homefront, Leonard said Arlington remains a solid place for a tech startup headquarters.

“Being in Arlington has been incredible for attracting top talent,” Leonard said. “We put a ton of value on our team and on our culture. It’s a team that’s analytical and understands direct marketing. Being in Arlington has helped. It’s a diverse community and we are able to pull from Washington, D.C. and Northern Virginia.”

Leonard added that he’s not worried about talent from his team, which is barely over 100 people, being poached by Amazon when the tech giant comes to town.

“Here, you’re not a cog in a machine,” Leonard said. “You have a chance to make a daily impact. We’re very rarely competing for the same type of individual.”

Photo courtesy Storyblocks


(Updated at 3:50 p.m.) Just a few months after moving into a larger office space in Courthouse, Arlington cybersecurity startup DivvyCloud is being acquired for $145 million by larger cybersecurity company Rapid7, Inc.

In the crowded cybersecurity marketplace in Arlington, DivvyCloud specializes as a cloud-focused security option that not only fixes gaps in security coverage but makes it easier for a company to see where its security is weakest.

The acquisition is expected to close during the second quarter of 2020, according to a spokesperson for the company. When it does, it will be a big payday for the company and any employee that received equity in it, as well as one of the Arlington startup scene’s bigger exits, alongside fellow Courthouse tech firm Opower’s 2016 acquisition.

“Through DivvyCloud’s platform, Rapid7 will enable customers to innovate more securely in the cloud and make infrastructure more accessible and manageable for both DevOps and security teams,” said Brian Johnson, CEO and co-founder of DivvyCloud.

As more companies using the cybersecurity services of Boston-based Rapid7 start to move more to cloud-based services, DivvyCloud will allow customers to innovate and safely move out of data centers, making their infrastructure more accessible.

“Joining forces with Rapid7 is a natural next step,” said Johnson. “Their commitment to customers, employees, and company culture is well-aligned with the values that have made DivvyCloud so successful. With the combined expertise of both Rapid7 and DivvyCloud, we are even better positioned to help enterprises accelerate innovation using cloud and containers without the loss of control.”

Despite the acquisition, Johnson tells ARLnow that the company is staying put.

“The DivvyCloud team will continue to be located and work out of our office in Arlington,” he said, “although we are all working from home these days.”

Photo courtesy DivvyCloud


Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow,  Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. Monday Properties remains firmly committed to the health, safety and well-being of its employees, tenants and community. This week, Monday Properties is proudly featuring 1000 and 1100 Wilson (The Rosslyn Towers).

Elise Yanker Hasenei used to jog to her radiation treatment at the Virginia Hospital Center and back home. It became something of a community event, with friends and supporters taking to the street with her to encourage her. Now, Hasenei is making the trip to the Virginia Hospital Center to encourage others.

With the Virginia Hospital Center (VHC) seeing an increasing uptick in coronavirus patients, Hasenei’s startup GoLisey recently donated over a hundred brightly colored hospital gowns with brightly colored masks to help out.

Hasenei runs GoLisey, a “glam gown” company she started in 2015 after surviving breast cancer. The hospital gowns are brightly colored and aim to boost spirits, but are no less medically functional than the usual drab coverings.

The gowns can be worn in either direction, with access to the front or the back depending on the specific medical needs.

“Elise wanted to do something to help during this trying time in the healthcare industry, so she reached out to VHC to donate all of the gowns she currently had in stock, for men and women alike,” Hansenei’s niece, Megan Wrobel, said in an email. “She dropped four boxes of Glam Gowns to the donation center on Tuesday afternoon, which serendipitously ended up being located in the Oncology wing; an area she was, of course, familiar with.”

Hasenei said when she was going through cancer treatment, she always hated the gowns.

“I never felt depressed about cancer until radiation and I just had to put those ugly things on,” Hasenei said. “I can sow a little bit, so I started playing with the pattern and people started saying ‘that’s fabulous.’

After making a few, Hasenei started to get serious about the idea of making them on a larger scale. Hasenei put together a design with a pattern maker and started working with a factory in Brooklyn to produce the designs while she handled the business from her Arlington home. Since then, Hasenei has moved production to a facility in Fairfax County.

The gown business is a second job — her main career is coaching and consulting businesses — and Hasenei said the gown line was never intended to make her rich.

“Didn’t start the business to be a big moneymaker,” Hasenei said.”It’s really been about — one gown at a time — making a difference.”

When COVID-19 hit, Hasenei said her brother-in-law sent her a message about people in New York seeking gowns and masks. When it became apparent that hospitals nationwide were starting to run low on supplies, Hasenei decided to donate to the hospital where she’d received treatments.

Other local organizations, like Marymount Nursing School, have also donated items like gowns and masks to VHC.

“I reached out to contacts who put me in touch with the hospital,” Hasenei said. “I gave them everything I had. I was able to deliver those, and we’re waiting to see how they’re distributed.”

Now, Hasenei said the factory is “full tilt” making masks, which will be included in the next round of donations to VHC.

Photo courtesy GoLisey


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