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. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. 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.

Three young, tech-focused startups in Arlington were among 41 projects across the state awarded $2.51 million in funding.

The Commonwealth Research Commercialization Fund (CRCF) awards, announced by Gov. Ralph Northam on June 6, included grant funding for Fend Incorporated — a Startup Monday frequent guest — NOVI LLC and SeeHear LLC.

The CRCF is run through the Center for Innovative Technology (CIT), a non-profit corporation funded in part through the state to promote technological development in Virginia.

Fend Incorporated adds a system with a physical beam-link used to transfer data in otherwise digital systems, making them less prone to hacking. The company was awarded $50,000.

NOVI LLC develops autonomous, intelligent satellites and was awarded $48,700.

SeeHear LLC is a corporation that commercializes earlier government research into web-based speech programs for adults with hearing loss. The company was awarded $50,000.

According to a spokesperson for CIT, proposals undergo a multi-stage review process, including assessments by subject matter experts and evaluation by the CIT Board of Directors.

“Virginia is recognized as one of the most innovative states in the nation, and we know that identifying and supporting Virginia innovators at critical early stages through state-funded programs like CRCF is key to maintaining and expanding our leadership role,” Northam said in a press release. “The Commonwealth will continue to deliver programs that facilitate bringing pioneering technologies and ideas to market and create a culture where entrepreneurs will thrive.”

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. 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.

(Updated at 12:50 p.m.) Rosslyn-based tech startup Phone2Action — which aims to turn citizens into advocates — announced on May 22 that new funding will mean a global expansion.

The company received a “strategic investment” from Frontier Capital, a private equity investor, according to a press release. But neither representatives of Frontier Capital nor Phone2Action would specify how much money was included in the investment.

“Frontier Capital and Phone2Action are not disclosing the amount of the investment,” said Kristin Steele, a spokesperson for Frontier Capital, “but want to reiterate what the press release said around it being a strategic investment to help fuel future growth for Phone2Action.”

The company bills itself as a “digital grassroots platform,” helping organizations or businesses rally supporters and encouraging them to contact state or local officials. New developments at the company within the last year include email broadcasting features and an advocacy chatbot.

Ximena Hartsock, co-founder of Phone2Action, said the company is looking into expanding the range of products it offers and its markets.

“No changes on staffing at Phone2Action,” said Hartsock, “and we are looking [to use] the support we receive from Frontier to accelerate our growth.”

Partners for the company include Patagonia and Ben and Jerry’s, using Phone2Action for a variety of environmental and social advocacy campaigns.

According to the press release, the investment will be used to expand the global outreach of the program and to look into the acquisition of other complementary technologies. The release also notes that the future of grassroots advocacy and public affairs will be reliant on adapting to new technologies like machine learning.

Photo via Phone2Action

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Morning Notes

Favola’s Consulting Questioned by Challenger — “Is two-term Sen. Barbara Favola (D-31) a rising star, poised to become chairwoman of a Senate committee if Democrats seize control of the Senate? Or is she an opportunist capitalizing on insider influence for personal gain? That’s a question for voters this June in a primary that pits Favola against challenger Nicole Merlene.” [Arlington Connection]

Video: CCTV Sewer Inspections — Arlington County uses cameras inserted into manholes to inspect its sanitary and storm sewers for cracks and other problems. [YouTube]

Another Arlington Cybersecurity Firm Acquired — “Arlington-based endpoint cybersecurity firm Endgame is being acquired by Netherlands-based search and data management firm Elastic N.V. for $234 million in stock and debt repayment, according to an announcement by the two companies.” [Washington Business Journal]

New Cybersecurity Firm Unveiled — “[Arlington-based] Kfivefour today emerged from stealth and announced the immediate availability of its full spectrum Red Team assessments, training and penetration testing services. Kfivefour is a private sector focused cybersecurity affiliate of Millennium Corporation, a defense contractor and cybersecurity company.” [PR Newswire]

Local Startup Founder Arrested — “[Former Arlington resident] Andrew Powers, the founder and CEO of communications technology firm CommuniClique Inc. — sometimes known as Clique API — has been arrested by the FBI, which has charged him with a felony for what it described as part of ‘a multimillion-dollar fraud scheme.'” [Washington Business Journal]

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. 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.

Tinkering with the virtual structure of a company can be hazardous, so instead, Ballston-based startup HyperQube will make a digital clone of a company and then subject it to every horrible cyberattack known to man.

It’s the Portrait of Dorian Gray for the digital age.

“Being able to rapidly clone entire infrastructure, including the networking, allows enterprises to test in ways that used to be too expensive,” Craig Stevenson, founder and CEO, told ARLnow. “Before HyperQube, probing an enterprise’s defenses was costly and dangerous, since you are probing real systems which can’t be taken offline. Now, you could spin up hundreds of exact copies of an enterprise’s defenses and probe them both risk-free and simultaneously, saving massive amounts of effort and eliminating the risk of taking a production system offline.”

HyperQube describes the virtual environment as “alternate realities” that allow users to test, play and break to their hearts’ desire.

The ability to clone digital structures isn’t new, but Stevenson said HyperQube allows the clones to be built and modified quickly.

Various products focus on different scales and targets, like Hyperskill — which uses the cloning method to allow instructors and students to tinker with real systems without potential consequences.

The startup launched in January 2018 after participating in the local cybersecurity accelerator Mach37.

HyperQube ran an event last year where they invited hackers to come participate in a digital competition where, once a platform was shut down, the hackers wrote out detailed explanations of their exploits and offered suggestions on how to fix them.

The company recently signed partnerships with the National Guard, Department of Homeland Security, Cisco and other groups. Stevenson said more partnerships were on their way soon, but couldn’t announce any further details. HyperQube also raised $500,000 in seed funding, which is going toward sales, development and new hires.

Stevenson said Arlington has been a great place to run a cyber startup.

“For us, being within 40 minutes of a customer in D.C. or our data center in Ashburn, makes Arlington ideal,” said Stevenson.

Photo via HyperQube

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Morning Notes

Fire Outside Shirlington Apartment BuildingUpdated at 9:30 a.m. — “ACFD working to extinguish a dumpster fire near an apartment building at 3000 S. Randolph Street in Shirlington. ‘Smoke conditions’ reported in portions of the building.” [Twitter, Twitter]

The Cost of Renaming Washington-Lee — “It will cost taxpayers about a quarter of a million dollars to change ‘Lee’ to ‘Liberty’ on the name of Arlington’s oldest public high school. School officials have released an estimate of $224,360 for the name change, with about two-thirds of the total for ‘soft costs’ (uniforms, athletic equipment and the like) and the remainder ‘hard costs’ such as signage.” [InsideNova]

Local Teen Gets Celebrity Shoutout — “When [H-B Woodlawn student] Cole Goco, 17, sits down to draw his comic Billy the Pop, every line and contour is decisive. He uses pen, after all. And, after five years, hundreds and hundreds of strips published regularly to a blog, two self-published comic books, a dedicated following, and — most recently — the recognition of Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, it’s safe to say Goco knows what’s doing.” [DCist]

Rosslyn Startup Gets Another Investment — “Frontier Capital, a Charlotte-based growth equity firm focused exclusively on B2B software, today announced a strategic growth investment in Phone2Action, a digital advocacy platform that connects citizens to lawmakers.” [BusinessWire]

Bomb Squad Investigates Suspicious Car at DCA — “A portion of the daily parking lot at Reagan National Airport was closed [Wednesday] morning after suspicious contents were spotted inside a parked car. Authorities checked out the car ‘out of an abundance of caution’ and nothing hazardous was found, per an airport spokeswoman.” [Twitter]

Local Pedestrian, Bicycle Crash Reduction Effort Honored — “The Arlington County Pedestrian Bicycle Crash Reduction Campaign aims to reduce bicycle and pedestrian-involved traffic crashes through the coordination of education, engineering and enforcement… Arlington County saw a seven percent decrease in pedestrian crashes and a 29 percent reduction in bicycle-related crashes in 2018.” [Virginia DMV]

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. 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 presentation

(Update 1:25 p.m.) Commonwealth Joe Coffee Roasters (CWJ) has a shop in Pentagon City, but the company has its eyes set on bringing cold brew to vending machines nationwide.

The company recently closed on $1.2 million in funding aimed at continuing deployment of Kegerator Vending Machines (KVM), on-tap vending machines that operate as a pay-by-the-ounce self-service kiosk. The company plans aims to raise $4 million.

The coffee shop opened in 2012, but the company pivoted toward delivering office coffee in 2017. The company currently operates the portable machines in D.C., New York, and Philadelphia.

“The $4 million raised in this round will be used to fuel CWJ’s continued growth in vending, as the tech-enabled coffee brand develops closer ties with [KVM] and continues to take a vending-first approach with its coffee program sales strategy,” the company said in a press release. “The KVM is the only one-of-its-kind in the commercial coffee market, essentially acting as a gas pump and only charging the end-user for the amount of liquid dispensed.”

The machines also allow CWJ to track statistics like consumption habits and inventory depletion. The press release noted that some of the funding is planned to go toward including new features like digital payments, automatic reordering, maintenance issue identification and service ticket creation.

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Morning Notes

VC Firms Eyeing Arlington, D.C. — “Two venture capital firms that have invested mostly in tech companies in the middle of the country are keeping their eye on Greater Washington in the wake of Amazon.com Inc.’s decision to place its second headquarters in Arlington.” [Washington Business Journal]

Owl Rescued from Middle School — “Last week, [the Animal Welfare League of Arlington] got a call from a local middle school that an owl was trapped in their boiler room. Officers Toussaint and White responded and were able to safely remove the owl.” [Facebook, Twitter]

Five-Vehicle Crash on Route 50 — At least two people were reported injured after a five-vehicle crash on Route 50 yesterday afternoon. [Twitter]

Wild Press Conference Near Rosslyn — “Pro-Trump operatives Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman… hosted a bizarre press conference in the driveway of Burkman’s Arlington, Va. home, while being frequently interrupted by noise from nearby garbage trucks.” [The Daily Beast]

Arlington Org Office Attacked in Kabul — The Kabul, Afghanistan office of Crystal City-based non-governmental organization Counterpart International was attacked yesterday. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the deadly terror attack. [CNN, Counterpart International]

Nearby: Silver Diner Coming to Alexandria — Silver Diner is seeking permission to open a new location at 4610 King Street, in a new development in the City of Alexandria, near Arlington’s Claremont and Fairlington neighborhoods. [Patch]

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. 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

ChurnZero — a Crystal City-based company aimed to specifically combat customer attrition through better software management — recently scored $7 million in Series A funding.

The start up uses software to track how customers use a company’s product and the likelihood of subscribers to renew. The end goal is using this information to allow companies to personalize the customer experience and quickly fix issues that are leading to customer attrition.

In a press release, the company said they would invest in additional product development and more customer support staffing.

You Mon Tsang, co-founder and CEO of ChurnZero noted in the press release that:

Building a customer success platform that integrates data and customer touchpoints from a myriad of sources, generates insights and analytics, and kicks off workflows and communications is a tough technical project and is a proud achievement for our team. But our real achievement is creating a happy and successful customer base. Our growth has been testament to our efforts so far and I am thrilled to have Baird Capital as partners to invest further in the company and in the ecosystem.

The funding was led by Baird Capital, a venture capital investment group.

The new funding was more than triple what ChurnZero had raised since its founding in 2015, increasing the total funding from $3 to $10 million.

Image via Facebook

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Morning Notes

Amazon Signs Another Lease in Crystal City — “Amazon.com Inc. has tacked on another block of space to its planned footprint at National Landing, less than a month after executing its first set of leases and purchase agreements with JBG Smith Properties for its second headquarters.” [Washington Business Journal]

Beyer Endorses Buttigieg — “Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg picked up his first endorsement from a member of Congress on Wednesday when Rep. Don Beyer from Virginia announced his support for the South Bend, Indiana, mayor.” [CNN]

County Scooter Pilot May Be Extended — “Though scheduled to come to an end in June, Arlington officials could extend through the summer months a pilot program allowing motorized scooters across the county – while potentially imposing additional regulations in the interim.” [InsideNova]

Soros Funding Stamos Challenger — “A political action committee funded by Democratic mega­donor and billionaire George Soros has made large contributions to two upstart progressive candidates attempting to unseat Democratic prosecutors in Northern Virginia primary races.” [Washington Post]

Airports Authority Mulling New HQ — “The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority is considering moving its headquarters to a potential development on the Reagan National Airport footprint as part of a larger plan to accommodate Amazon.com Inc.’s second headquarters in Arlington County.” [Washington Business Journal]

New CMO, CFO for Arlington Startup — “Snag today announced key appointments to the senior executive team as the company continues to expand its online marketplace for hourly workers and employers.” [PR Newswire]

Flickr pool photo by GM and MB

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow.com, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups and their founders, plus other local technology happenings. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. 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

Crystal City-based startup 4stay aims to help more students find affordable housing with ambitious plans to quintuple their current reach, thanks to some new funding.

On the heels of raising $1 million in angel investments, last week the state-funded nonprofit Center for Innovative Technology (CIT) announced that its CIT GAP Funds would be investing in 4stay, according to a press release. The size of the investment was not disclosed.

“As someone who has worked in student housing for almost 10 years and lived the pain of many housing challenges, we have seen firsthand the difficulties and frustrations of looking for housing on college campuses,” Akobir Azamovich, co-founder and CEO of 4stay, said in the press release. “4stay is solving these challenges by providing an online marketplace to book furnished rooms around campuses. We also provide $100K insurance, host pay guarantee, and zero deposit to protect students, parents, and hosts.”

The site’s functionality is similar to rental site Airbnb, with students searching for available off-campus housing based on a variety of factors like the number of roommates or length of stay. Types of homes range from apartments to basement rooms in someone’s house, but all locations are required to be fully furnished with students having a bedroom of their own.

“We are grateful for the support of CIT GAP Funds, whose investment will help us further the acceleration of our product development as well as help spread the word through increased marketing efforts,” said Faridun Nazarov, co-founder and COO.

The company currently partners with over 100 schools, but with the CIT investment announced plans to bring on an additional 500 schools over the next 12-18 months. Part of the expansion plans include opening up in new student housing markets in Canada and Europe.

Upcoming offerings planned for the site include features to match users with other residents and the ability to book with room providers like school dorms or student housing companies.

Photo via 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. The Ground Floor, Monday’s office space for young companies in Rosslyn, is now open. 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.

(Updated 3 p.m.) Fend — a Ballston-based startup that adds a physical component to the data transfer process to reduce hack-ability — has won a key Department of Defense contract.

The company’s technology transmits information from a data-collecting source, like a piece of industrial equipment, in a unidirectional beam into the second piece of equipment that links with the cloud network. The physical barrier reduces the possibility of hacking through a network.

The startup won a $1.6 million contract to install devices at an Army Corps of Engineers facility starting in June as part of the Environmental Security Technology Certification Program.

According to the Department of Defense project description:

On-board processors enable Fend’s hardware to communicate with protected equipment using common protocols and transmit this information to an on-site network or cloud service. Fend’s [technology] would serve the unmet needs of critical infrastructure managers across [the Department of Defense] by quickly enabling secure access to equipment data.

Dunn said part of the new contract will be putting the project through the wringer to see if it can survive in the field.

“We tested program out in the field and it worked for extended periods of time,” said Colin Dunn, Fend’s founder. “Probably looking at several dozen [pieces]. We need other rigorous scientific tests to make sure the data going into the device is the data going out. There’s also performance tests and environmental tests — seeing if it works in hot and in cold.”

Dunn said the project has evolved some since the initial design, like streamlining the number of ports on the box and figuring out ways to make the product more cost effective and rugged.

“This opens up a lot of doors,” said Dunn, “not just for military, but opening to the commercial sector by showing that it’s good enough for the military.”

The new contract has allowed Fend to expand, with the company currently looking to hire a project manager, electrical engineer, a data scientist and a few people in sales.

Photo courtesy Fend

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