Arlington, VA

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.comStartup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. Monday Properties is proudly featuring a rare leasing opportunity at 1101 Wilson Blvd: 5 contiguous floors with exceptional views, building signage opportunity and brand new amenities. Enjoy all the perks of easy access and ample parking; a variety of food trucks at your front door; and enviable walkable amenities. Join YEXT and other leading tech companies at this vibrant location.14

The international coronavirus pandemic has put a brick on the gas pedal for one Ballston startup called GoTab, which was facilitating social distancing before it went mainstream.

GoTab locates nearby eateries and pulls up the menu, allowing customers to place their own orders directly into the business’s system and schedule a pickup. It’s more efficient than phone orders and is less costly to restaurants than delivery services like GrubHub.

“We do think the world is going to more online, it just went more online a lot faster,” said Tim McLaughlin, CEO of GoTab.

McLaughlin said the original design for GoTab was use in-restaurant for things like placing orders on your phone rather than waiting in line. It’s an idea that McLaughlin said is increasingly popular, pointing to Starbucks’ mobile order program. GoTab also benefits from having no need to create a profile or download an app.

Placing orders for takeout and delivery (by the restaurant’s own drivers) was just a side feature of GoTab, but COVID-19 changed that. McLaughlin said while the eventual goal is to get back to in-restaurant use, takeout and delivery orders have taken the spotlight.

“It had always been a feature but not something we sold by itself,” McLaughlin said. “Takeout was not usually the majority of the revenue, it was always something that was bundled along with on-premises. Now that’s changed. Because it’s cost-effective, we just kind of said ‘let’s help restaurants get online quickly and easily.'”

As also reported by Washingtonian, the company is offering its tool for free to restaurants, taprooms, breweries and others that have been affected by COVID-19 related shutdowns.

Seeing heavier use than normal, the website had some technical bumps last week, but McLaughlin said they’ve been worked out. The main struggle has been adapting the tool even further to the extremes of social distancing.

“There’s things that are different now that we’ve had to implement quickly,” McLaughlin said. “People used to come in and talk to the host, but now people are standing outside the restaurant. People might bring [food] out and never exchange cards. It’s clean and low-to-no contact, but in order for that to work, need a way to communicate without face to face.”

McLaughlin said the company took the texting tools utilized already for the hotel side of GoTab and repurposed those for restaurant use.

Even once the pandemic is over, McLaughlin said he thinks there will be an permanent impact on the restaurant industry, and more mobile ordering is going to be a part of that.

“We’re not going back,” McLaughlin said. “There’s a population shift towards using your phone to do that for a whole host of reasons, one of them is that you know your order is right because you put it in. People also don’t want to stand in line… I think this is just going to push it a lot further in that direction. People are going to be fearful for a while about germs and it’s just convenient.”

Photo via GoTab/Facebook

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.comStartup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. Monday Properties is proudly featuring a rare leasing opportunity at 1101 Wilson Blvd: 5 contiguous floors with exceptional views, building signage opportunity and brand new amenities. Enjoy all the perks of easy access and ample parking; a variety of food trucks at your front door; and enviable walkable amenities. Join YEXT and other leading tech companies at this vibrant location.

Ballston-based web development startup OpenWater Software has put together a guide for other businesses to replace physical meetings and conferences with virtual ones.

OpenWater CTO Kunal Johar said in the guide that while in-person meetings are invaluable and irreplaceable, a good online meeting can salvage some of what is lost.

“The rising impact of health concerns around the coronavirus is forcing organizations to reconsider, cancel or postpone their annual gatherings,” the company said in a press release. “Because a majority of OpenWater’s customers rely on annual meetings, conferences and summits, they created a downloadable guide and instructional video that shows step-by-step how to transition your physical event into a virtual event using Zoom, or similar meeting tools like GoToMeeting. OpenWater is not affiliated or being paid by either company.”

Johar suggested having one meeting URL per physical room that you would have had at a conference. A spreadsheet can keep track of which host will be running which room with permissions to manage that room on Zoom. These URLs can be published on a company’s site through a link.

In the guide, Johar said to make sure in settings you allow people to join before the host and to auto-mute everyone as they log in and disable sounds.

“As opposed to increasing risks to physical health or completely canceling an event or meeting, virtual conferences ensure that attendees can still benefit and view recordings from any session while keeping their sponsors happy by allowing them to have dedicated virtual sessions or incorporating them in the beginning or middle of a session,” the company said in the press release. “By following this guide, event managers can transition their event to be virtual in one day with ease and without prior tech experience.”

Johar also suggested, in communications with attendees, to include links to how attendees can access refunds from travel and booking companies.

Image via OpenWater

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.comStartup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. Monday Properties is proudly featuring a rare leasing opportunity at 1101 Wilson Blvd: 5 contiguous floors with exceptional views, building signage opportunity and brand new amenities. Enjoy all the perks of easy access and ample parking; a variety of food trucks at your front door; and enviable walkable amenities. Join YEXT and other leading tech companies at this vibrant location.

There are a lot of ways not to launch a startup. Unstuck Labs, a small company in Rosslyn, aims to help entrepreneurs avoid the early pitfalls of a new company with a course aimed to walk small companies through the process.

“We’re sort of Yoda for startups,” CEO Wa’il Ashshowwaf said. “Most days, the team here is helping people with modules and helping guide people.”

The company guides startups in a 12-week program. Ten startups have gone through the program and Ashshowwaf said 100% have raised some kind of seed funding and 60% have generated revenue.

The company is based out of Spaces (1101 Wilson Blvd) in what was once the Artisphere. Ashshowwaf said the Rosslyn location means they have good access to bigger companies like defense contractors, small entrepreneurs, and a variety of academic resources.

The course works in 18 building blocks that take entrepreneurs through the methodology of building a company. For the more technically-inclined, the focus might be on marketing, for those with a marketing background the focus might be on how to build a business model.

Ashshowwaf said the entrepreneurs that come to them are generally people who are just getting started or people who have launched a company but have struggled with growth. The startups are typically smaller in scale — Ashshowwaf said there’s a lot of “Uber for something” type companies and startups that bring chefs to people’s houses — while others are people like engineers and doctors who have big solutions for a problem but don’t know how to take that to market.

The number one mistake most new startups make, Ashshowwaf said, is starting with a solution in search of a problem.

“They build an app for tech that they like, but they don’t talk to customers,” Ashshowwaf said. “It’s Thor’s hammer. It’s a product just for you and no one else can use it.”

Unstuck Labs walks entrepreneurs through the technical side of starting up an app or a website, but Ashshowwaf said they also guide them through the business side, like reaching out to potential customers to get feedback and looking at how to scale a project.

Ashshowwaf said Unstuck Labs is different because instead of just giving out tools and reviewing work, the company is very hands-on with helping guide each person through the process.

The course is $9,470 with Unstuck Labs having the rights to invest early, after graduation.

Unstuck Labs is taking applicants for their startup studio. Ashshowwaf said the ideal applicant is someone who is about to lift up the phone and call an app developer.

“They should call us instead,” Ashshowwaf said. “Somebody called us today after they went straight to building a $40,000 website. They should have called us.”

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.comStartup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. Monday Properties is proudly featuring a rare leasing opportunity at 1101 Wilson Blvd: 5 contiguous floors with exceptional views, building signage opportunity and brand new amenities. Enjoy all the perks of easy access and ample parking; a variety of food trucks at your front door; and enviable walkable amenities. Join YEXT and other leading tech companies at this vibrant location.

Rosslyn-based tech startup DeepSig recently raised $5 million to help develop artificial intelligence that can effectively integrate with 5G wireless systems.

“The additional funding will accelerate DeepSig’s AI and machine learning (ML) software development and deployment to improve performance and security while reducing power consumption and cost in 5G and other wireless systems,” the company said in a press release.

The company aims to build its AI from the ground up to focus around 5G coverage, rather than adapting decades-old algorithms. DeepSig says its software will be able to detect the local coverage conditions and “improve user data rates and dramatically reduce the amount of hardware and hence power.”

The new funding also shows that the company has caught the eye of some local military contractors, with some of the investment coming from Lockheed Martin Ventures, the venture arm of aerospace contractor Lockheed Martin.

“The advanced technology developed by DeepSig can optimize communications within a wide spectrum environment,” said Chris Moran, vice president and general manager of Lockheed Martin Ventures. “Applying deep learning and artificial intelligence to the application of real-time signal processing is an impressive capability. We are pleased to be a part of this endeavor and work to integrate the software into programs.”

Photo via @deepsignl/Twitter

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Morning Notes

Another Celeb Backs Ballston-Based Hungry — “Arlington catering platform Hungry Marketplace has raised $20 million from actor Kevin Hart, former Whole Foods co-CEO Walter Robb and others to fuel a 23-city expansion as the company’s revenues grow into the tens of millions of dollars.” [Forbes, Washington Business Journal]

Public Meeting for Athletic Field Feedback — “Help Arlington County ensure its athletic fields are utilized effectively and efficiently… Whether you play on an organized team or enjoy one of our many fields for casual recreation, share your thoughts and help us determine community needs.” [Arlington County]

Nearby: Region’s First Coronavirus Cases — “Maryland’s first three cases of coronavirus disease are Montgomery County residents who took an international trip together, Gov. Larry Hogan said Thursday. He said he has declared a state of emergency for Maryland, which has been preparing for the first cases of the disease.” [Bethesda Beat, WTOP]

Nearby: New Inova Facility Near Potomac Yard — “Inova Health System plans to open a new health care facility on part of Oakville Triangle, giving another try to the 13-acre site on Richmond Highway in Alexandria across from a planned Virginia Tech campus and a short distance from Amazon.com Inc.’s second headquarters.” [Washington Business Journal]

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Morning Notes

Transit Union Gets Its Money Back from Dorsey — “Union verifies (to me, 5 minutes ago) that it has received [embattled County Board member Christian Dorsey’s] repayment of $10,000 campaign donation.” [Twitter]

Board Advances Reeves Farmhouse Plan — “The [Reeves] farmhouse will be preserved and protected as a historic site, the parkland around the house will stay as parkland, and the County will get much needed housing for people with developmental disabilities without our taxpayers footing the bill. It’s a win-win-win.” [Arlington County]

Va. Legislature OKs Amazon Delivery Bots — “Amazon.com Inc. package delivery robots could soon hit Virginia’s sidewalks and roadways. The General Assembly has made quick work of a bill that would clear the way for Scout, Amazon’s six-wheeled delivery robot, to operate in the commonwealth.” [Washington Business Journal]

Airport Helper Service to Launch Tomorrow — “Goodbye, airport chaos… SkySquad is launching this week at Reagan Airport to improve the airport experience for anyone who needs an extra hand. Travel is stressful for most people, especially families with young kids; and senior citizens who need extra support.” [Press Release]

A Look at Arlington’s Oldest Families — A series of articles profiling long-time local families takes a look at the Parks, the Shreves, the Smiths, the Syphaxes, the Birches and the Thomases. [Arlington Magazine]

Sheriff’s Office Welcomes New K-9 — “The Arlington County Sheriff’s Office recently welcomed its newest K-9 officer – Logan, a one-and-a-half-year-old black Labrador retriever who is paired with handler Cpl. Matthew Camardi. The duo will work in narcotics detection and other specialized fields. [InsideNova]

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Morning Notes

Students: Keep the Career Center’s Farm Animals — “A staff proposal to revamp the animal-science program at the Arlington Career Center, including the removal of on-site large non-domesticated animals, is drawing brushback. The proposal calls for focusing more on smaller, domestic animals at the expense of farm animals, which have been part of the program for years and have come to be a beloved part of the Career Center family.” [InsideNova]

NBC 4 Profiles ACFD Mass Shooter Plan — “The Arlington County Fire Department is leading a national shift in how rescue squads respond to mass shootings.” Arlington fire trucks are now equipped with bulletproof vests and personnel are trained to treat victims as soon as possible. [NBC 4]

Arlington Rent on Par with D.C. — “The District and Arlington County are virtually tied for average apartment rent, at $2,233 and $2,236 respectively. Rents in D.C. and Arlington County are both up 4.3% in the last year.” [WTOP]

Local Tech Firm Not Meeting Job Hype, Yet — “Blockchain software developer Block.one promised in September to add 170 jobs in Arlington over three years, so we’re checking in on where its local employee numbers stand. Out of the 231 employees the company has listed on LinkedIn, 24 are now located in the D.C. area.” [Washington Business Journal]

How One Young Resident Affords Housing Here — “In 2013, [Mallory Scott] and one roommate moved into a three-bedroom, World War II-era Arlington house where the monthly mortgage and property taxes totaled $1,200. She had a connection that helped her find the place: Her parents, who now live in Nevada, purchased the home in 1991 for $190,000 when the Army assigned Scott’s father to Arlington. Today, it’s worth roughly $800,000.” [WAMU]

Neighborhood Near Clarendon Profiled — “Lyon Village is a chic, charming neighborhood in Arlington, Virginia, that resides regally just across the river from Washington, D.C. The 191-acre community of 6,000 residents, which was established in the mid-1920s by developer Frank Lyon for whom it is named, still retains a small-town, good-to-see-you feel yet offers access to all the cultural activities and amenities of the nation’s capital.” [Mansion Global]

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Startup Monday header

Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.comStartup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings.

MotoRefi, a Ballston-based car refinancing company, has fueled up with a new batch of funding and welcomed a former Uber executive along for the ride.

The company just raised $8.6 million in Series A funding, an announcement that was paired with news that former Uber executive and D.C.-based venture capitalist Rachel Holt is joining the company’s Board of Directors. Holt was an early investor in MotoRefi but joined the company in an official capacity this month.

“I’m eager to bring my experience building Uber to MotoRefi’s Board,” Holt said in a press release. “MotoRefi is transforming the world of auto financing. I’m proud to have been an early investor and am extremely excited about the team they’ve built.”

The press release noted that the new funding will allow the company to scale up with new lenders and partners.

MotoRefi checks your auto loan interest rate and tries to offer a better rate than what is provided by the dealership, factoring in things like improved credit scores.

“You make payments every month, but do you ever wonder if you could be paying less?” the company said on its website. “That’s where MotorRefi comes in.”

The company, started in 2017, aims to simplify the refinancing process to make it more accessible for the average driver still making payments on their car.

Photo courtesy MotoRefi

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Morning Notes

HQ2 Employment Up 50% in Two Months — “Less than two months into the new year and Amazon.com Inc. says it has more than 600 employees at its second headquarters — a fairly significant staffing jump considering there were some 400 employees there as of late December.” [Washington Business Journal]

Construction Progress at DCA — “It’s happening: Reagan National’s nightmarish Gate 35X at Terminal C will soon be demolished. Construction is underway for Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority’s Project Journey, which will bring a new concourse to the north end of the airport and add new security checkpoints for Terminal B/C.” [NBC 4, DCist]

Fire Alarm Delays DCA Flights By 30 Minutes — “Flights have resumed and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) controllers have returned and continued tower operations after a control tower was evacuated to investigate a sprinkler alarm activation Wednesday.” [WJLA]

Food Delivery Driver Robbed in Claremont — “At approximately 11:04 a.m., the victim, who was operating as a food delivery driver at the time of the incident, exited his vehicle to make a delivery and was approached by three male suspects. The suspects demanded the victim provide them with the contents of the delivery, then attempted to assault him. The suspects stole the delivery and fled on foot.” [Arlington County]

Property Owner Goes 100% Renewable — “Brookfield Properties has added 100 percent clean, renewable power to six of its office buildings in Northern Virginia, with the new energy source going into effect this month… The changes are impacting three of the firm’s Arlington properties: Potomac Tower at 1001 19th St., 601 South 12th Street, and 701 South 12th Street.” [Commercial Observer]

Big Raise for Startup With Clarendon Office — “Carbon Relay and Insight Partners today announced a $63 million transaction to accelerate the growth of its Red Sky Ops solution for optimizing application performance in Kubernetes environments.” [Carbon Relay via Potomac Tech Wire]

‘Mr. Z’ Wins Award, Gets on TV — “The Virginia Department of Transportation has named an Arlington County crossing guard one of 2019’s Most Outstanding Crossing Guards. He’s one of only four in the state. Affectionately called Mister Z by faculty and students, Zeleke Taffesse says his smiling students make him feel younger every day. Taylor Elementary School is one of three schools he’s worked for.” [Local DVM]

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Morning Notes

Warren Blasts Bloomberg at Arlington Event — “Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts said Thursday that Michael R. Bloomberg should not be the Democratic presidential nominee because of newly surfaced comments he made 12 years ago in which he said the end of a discriminatory housing practice had helped contribute to the 2008 financial crisis.” [New York Times]

Warren Draws Big Crowd at Wakefield — Last night’s Elizabeth Warren presidential campaign event at the Wakefield High School gym drew national media, a crowd of thousands and lines that stretched around the block. The gym’s scoreboard was programmed to say “ELIZABETH WARREN” and “20:20.” Warren later addressed the overflow crowd outside the school.

Bike Rack at EFC Metro Has Cost Millions — “Metro has spent $3.8 million and taken five years to build two unfinished bike racks — at East Falls Church and Vienna Metro Stations. WMATA originally budgeted $600,000 for each rack, but the price tag has soared to $1.9 million each. The covered bike shelters will house 92 bikes, putting the price tag at more than $20,000 per bike… The projects were supposed to be completed in December of 2015 but remain unfinished in 2020.” [WJLA]

EPA May Move Out of Arlington — “The Trump administration is planning to move the Environmental Protection Agency from leased space at Potomac Yard to the federally owned William Jefferson Clinton complex in downtown D.C… The GSA plans to shift workers from One Potomac Yard in Arlington starting in March 2021, boosting occupancy in the Clinton building by about 1,200 employees.” [Washington Business Journal]

Megamansion Skews Arlington Real Estate Stats — The average sale price of a single-family home in Arlington was more than $2 million, though that figure was skewed by the nearly $45 million sale of an estate along the Potomac River, the priciest home sale ever in the D.C. area. [InsideNova]

Arlington Startup Sells to Texas Firm — “Mobile Posse announced today that it has entered into a definitive agreement to be acquired by Digital Turbine, a mobile delivery and app advertising company headquartered in Austin, TX. The acquisition by Digital Turbine builds on both firms’ strategies of creating frictionless mobile app and mobile content solutions for carriers and OEMs, thus creating effective advertising solutions for brands and app developers.” [Mobile Posse via Potomac Tech Wire]

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Morning Notes

Lopez’s Dream Act Passes House — “In a landmark session, the Virginia House of Delegates today voted for the first time to approve HB 1547, a bill which would expand in-state tuition eligibility to undocumented students at Virginia’s public colleges and universities. The bill, also known as the Virginia Dream Act, was introduced by Delegate Alfonso Lopez (D-Arlington) and passed after many years of advocacy and hard work.” [Press Release]

One-Time Arlington Startup Founder Convicted — “A jury convicted CommuniClique founder and former CEO Andy Powers of six out of eight counts Friday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. The jury found Powers guilty on three counts of wire fraud and one count of mail fraud, according to court documents… Powers was based for years in Reston and Arlington before moving to Los Angeles in August 2018 as the head of what he billed as a communications and tech platform.” [Washington Business Journal]

New Funding for Local Startup — “The Center for Innovative Technology (CIT) today announced that CIT GAP Funds has invested in Arlington, VA-based HyperQube, a cyber range as a service offering that enables enterprises to quickly and easily build an exact copy of any IT infrastructure.” [Globe Newswire via Potomac Tech Wire]

FYI Tipsters: We Can’t Open Nextdoor Links — Here at ARLnow, we appreciate everyone who emails us or sends us anonymous tips about possible stories. Recently, tipsters have started frequently sending us anonymous tips that link to a post on Nextdoor. The problem is: Nextdoor is a private, neighborhood-based social network and we can’t open the links. Please send us screenshots of posts instead.

Nearby: Falls Church Fire Cause — “Yesterday’s house fire at 400 S. Oak Street was accidental. ‘It’s not confirmed, but the cause could be a space heater plugged into an electrical power strip,’ said [fire official Henry] Lane. ‘If so, this is part of a bad national trend. Power strips cannot handle the demands of a space heater. People should plug them directly into an outlet.’ The damage to the property is valued at $150,000.” [City of Falls Church]

Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley

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