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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups, founders, and other local technology news. Monday Properties is proudly featuring 1515 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn. 

Rosslyn-based Bitpath is working to roll out a 21st-century use for a midcentury technology: TV broadcasting.

The company says the architecture used by TV stations to broadcast their programming can also support the secure and efficient transmission of data. After all, TV and radio broadcasters and mobile phone service providers all send information wirelessly the same way, using radio frequency spectrum.

“We’re trying to be innovative and smart about how radio frequency spectrum is used,” said John Hane, the president of the startup.

The ability to repurpose broadcast TV for data services already has approval from the Federal Communications Commission, which regulates the broadcast airwaves. But broadcasters have yet to jump on the new tech because they are too small and too decentralized — relatively speaking — to do research and development and provide the services at a national scale, Hane said.

Bitpath was founded to do just that, he said. The startup is developing a platform comprised of a nationwide network of TV stations and aims to market it to companies that could benefit from better and safer data services. Bitpath is funded by big players in the TV industry, Sinclair Broadcast Group and Nexstar Media Group, which are keen to roll out this technology.

And Hane said Bitpath may be fully operational soon.

“We’re going to be launching services next year,” the president said.

The Bitpath logo (courtesy Bitpath)

This innovation to broadcast comes as more “smart” devices come online and are competing for fast, high-quality data streaming, while big mobile providers are rolling out 5G to support the rising data demand. But no matter how fast these networks get, the networks still have to transmit data through individual streams, which Hane said slows things down.

“The nice thing about the broadcast architecture, it never slows down,” he said. “That releases the cell network to be used for critical uses that can only be carried that way.”

People gravitate toward internet, even when broadcast makes more sense — for instance, streaming a big sporting event — because they are accustomed to the customization the internet provides. Bitpath’s innovations integrate the efficiencies of broadcast with the personalization of the internet, Hane said.

Consumers will one day see the tech in action in a variety of ways, he said. Regional TV stations will be able to air more personalized political advertisements or weather alerts. GPS resolution on devices will get more precise, improving a navigation app’s ability to pinpoint where a driver is and thus the quality of the directions. And security can be enhanced for certain applications.

“You associate TV stations with providing TV. That’s the majority of what they’re going to do, but a small amount of their capacity can provide amazing new services,” Hane said.

Hane says mobile providers were able to pioneer this territory because they were not as regulated as TV broadcasting is.

“Cell networks have grown so fast, because there’s been so much investment in them,” Hane said. “We use them for just about everything, even when we don’t realize that it doesn’t make the best economic sense.”

For Bitpath’s project to work, it has to make sure the hardware is consistent enough for e-commerce companies, car manufacturers and banks to buy in.

“They’re going to want fully developed services, and a platform that just works the same everywhere,” he said. “They’ll have one point of contact, one set of standards, one set of operations, and one point of support, but the capacity actually is comprised of stations all across the country owned by 20 different owners.”

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups, founders, and other local technology news. Monday Properties is proudly featuring 1515 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn. 

Founded in 2007, Clarendon-based Brazen experienced significant growth since the start of the pandemic.

And it’s no wonder, since the company has offered virtual hiring event technologies before virtual-anything was a societal norm. Brazen aims to help companies, universities and organizations engage students, job candidates and employees and improve recruitment and retention, via virtual job fairs and other online events.

“While the mission has remained the same, the types of organizations that saw a need to leverage virtual technologies to help with recruiting and retention expanded greatly in the past year,” the company tells ARLnow.

Brazen said its clientele has expanded from recruiting teams at Fortune 500 companies to state and regional workforce organizations to universities.

The mid-sized, remote-first startup has raised $13.4 million in funding and maintains headquarters in Arlington. Amid pandemic-era labor shortages, it has managed hiring initiatives for Spectrum, University of Southern California and CVS Health, among others.

The company says hiring in general is on the rise right now.

“The war for talent took a break but it’s only heating up more,” it said. “When you add the pressure of 2020’s events and the call for action around diversity, equity, and inclusion, it’s more important than ever for employers to hire, for universities to stand out and support their students and alumni, and for associations, organizations, and government entities to connect more people with more opportunities.”

Ryan Healy and Ed Barrientos of Brazen, in 2015

While Brazen’s offerings have also evolved over the last 14 years, its focus remains virtual hiring events.

“Our product innovation has accelerated in the past couple years to make recruiting and hiring even better,” Brazen said. “We’ve added live video broadcasts, video chat, a live chatbot, and more to help facilitate more meaningful connections for all people.”

Those features distinguish Brazen from the likes of Zoom and Cisco WebEx, to which companies rushed to keep up business and host virtual events.

Unlike the other platforms, Brazen said its platform supports everything a team needs to host a virtual event: customizable landing pages, chat management tools to ensure recruiters chat with the most qualified candidates, live broadcasts and follow-up features.

Like Zoom and Cisco WebEx, Brazen says its platform attracted new customers during the pandemic.

“At the onset of the COVID-19 lockdowns and remote work, companies all over the world flocked to Brazen to allow them to continue to hire and retain talent through virtual hiring events and virtual career fairs,” it said. “The genie is out of the bottle and virtual hiring is here to stay.”

The company pointed to in-house research, which found that 83% of surveyed talent acquisition professionals — who are not Brazen clients — said a majority of their hiring events will remain virtual post-pandemic.

“Now that organizations, from enterprise businesses to universities, and anyone working to connect employers and job seekers, have turned to virtual event platforms like Brazen, they’ve seen first hand the benefits of these tools,” it said.

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups, founders, and other local technology news. Monday Properties is proudly featuring 1515 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn. 

An Arlington couple is launching an app that allows dog owners to find pet-friendly places and swipe right on puppy pals for their pooches.

Pals is an app for dog owners to connect quickly to discover dog-friendly places,” said co-founder Caroline Carini. “We make it easy for you to find other dogs in your area looking to meet, play, run, walk, swim and so much more.”

She and her partner Zachary Feldman, who have their own story meeting on an app, now live in Ballston. They got the idea in January, started developing the app in April, and registered their company in July.

The couple, who met on a dating app, will be launching their dog app at Oakland Park (3705 Wilson Blvd) near Ballston on Thursday, Sept. 9. They will collect donations for the Animal Welfare League of Arlington, and there will be dog paraphernalia giveaways from local businesses.

Pals App founders with app renderings (courtesy of Caroline Carini)

She and her boyfriend don’t own dogs now, but both had beloved family dogs growing up. The germ for the idea came from conversations they’ve had about what resources they’d like for their future dogs.

She said the goal of Pals is to turn the moment when dogs “stop and sniff” each other into a conversation where owners find each other on Pals.

“It’s a safe platform to find connections, find dogs you can meet up with, and build relationship with dog owners and dogs,” she said.

Pals also has bandanas for dogs to wear, which Carini said markets the app while reassuring owners meeting up for the first time.

Carini envisions Pals as a one stop shop for people wanting their dogs to socialize with similar dogs in pet-friendly areas, without joining every meetup group or Googling every community event or welcoming spot.

“There’s so much out there now, it’s almost overwhelming,” she said. “The goal would be to have it at your fingertips.”

To get it started, Carini and her partner have added the local dog parks and a few restaurants and bars, but the map will be mostly populated by user submissions.

“Users can add custom locations, if there’s a cool hidden park or spot that’s not technically on Google Maps,” she said.

Since Arlington’s their home, the D.C. area will be the first region for the app — which is lucky given how dog-friendly it is, she said.

Yelp rated Arlington the most dog-friendly place in the nation in 2018, and Arlington had the 10th most dog parks per 100,000 residents in the nation in 2019, according to the Trust for Public Land.

In the future, the couple plans to expand to other cities and launch a” pals plus” subscription, which will give users access to advanced filters for breed size, gender, favorite activities and personality traits.

“If you’re a paid user, the algorithm would provide closer matches to fit your needs,” Carini said.

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups, founders, and other local technology news. Monday Properties is proudly featuring 1515 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn. 

Ballston-based Evolent Health is set to expand with a $130 million purchase of telehealth company Vital Decisions. The company expects the deal to close later this year.

One of Arlington’s largest growth companies, Evolent Health was founded in 2011 — just in time to help medical providers adjust to the changes prescribed by the Affordable Care Act. Ten years later, it is still developing solutions to address the rising costs of healthcare in the U.S.

And now, it is bringing on Vital Decisions to target the high healthcare costs borne by people with serious illnesses and their insurance providers. The New Jersey-based company uses digital services to help such individuals find advanced care throughout their health journey, especially as they approach the end of their lives.

“We believe Vital Decisions is a strong strategic fit for Evolent,” said Evolent Health Chief Executive Officer Seth Blackley in a release. “We believe this transaction… unlocks patient engagement and telehealth as levers for ensuring patients with complex illness receive high-quality, coordinated care.”

Evolent logo at its Ballston office (file photo)

Evolent first expanded into specialized care in September 2018 when it spent $217 million to acquire New Century Health Management, which helps both healthcare providers and insurance companies provide better treatment for cancer or heart conditions while saving money. Vital Decisions will report to New Century after the acquisition.

“This acquisition will help ensure that the care plans created by our Vital specialists find their way into the hands of the providers responsible for ensuring these individuals receive the care they want as their illness progresses. New Century Health has developed a robust provider engagement platform and it’s a privilege to combine capabilities,” Vital Decisions CEO Leah Puccio said.

New Century Health CEO Dan McCarthy said the addition will help ensure that individuals with advanced illnesses have care plans that align with their personal preferences for the kinds of treatment and end-of-life care.

Since its launch, Evolent Health — headquartered at 800 N. Glebe Road — has grown from a startup into a publicly-traded company. After just four years in business, it debuted on the New York Stock Exchange, where it raised $195 million on the first day of trading. Shortly after, its market valuation hit $1 billion.

The company’s stock price has more than quadrupled since the start of the pandemic. After hitting an all-time low of $4.81 in March 2020, it rebounded to around $24 today.

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups, founders, and other local technology news. Monday Properties is proudly featuring 1515 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn. 

Arlington-based tech startup BlackBoiler is using a recent $100,000 grant from the Commonwealth of Virginia to understand how to overcome mistrust of artificial intelligence among lawyers.

BlackBoiler is developing an AI-enhanced software to help lawyers write and navigate corporate contracts. The tech could save companies and lawyers both time and money, but many in the field are reticent to adopt such a product, according to BlackBoiler spokeswoman Gabriella Millard.

“One of the major challenges is the distrust and fear of AI by the end-users, which can hinder an AI initiative’s ability to scale at an organization. BlackBoiler believes AI should not be viewed with fear,” Millard tells ARLnow.

The company will use its research to present and design its product in a way that law firms may more readily embrace, she said, adding that many lawyers are suspicious of AI because they distrust new technology and fear that AI will replace jobs in the industry.

In the legal sector, paying people to review and write contracts comprises nearly $35 billion in annual spending. BlackBoiler, meanwhile, automates up to 70% of that corporate-contract process.

“AI won’t replace lawyers, but lawyers who use AI will replace lawyers who don’t. That’s because AI, or any well-developed legal technology, allows knowledge workers to become more efficient. Mundane, repetitive tasks can be automated, allowing lawyers to spend their time providing more meaningful counsel to their clients,” said Millard.

One way BlackBoiler is looking to gain trust among lawyers is to let users choose how strong the AI’s contract markups will be.

“When a contract is reviewed you can set the AI at 100% strength to completely markup a contract according to your standards and historical edits, or change the strength to 80% so that it is not as ‘aggressively’ edited,” said Millard.

Based on past research, she said the company believes lawyers may be less hesitant to use AI-enabled software if they have more control over the technology.

“We believe AI adoption can be driven by recognizing that humans and machines must work together — and learn from one another. Humans and AI actively enhance each other’s complementary strengths,” Millard said. “For example, BlackBoiler does not eliminate the need for human expertise. Instead, it enables an ideal partnership between human reviewers and machines.”

Millard says the research will help other companies beyond BlackBoiler. The company intends to share its findings with other AI-powered technology companies so that they can make their tools easier to adopt as well.

The $100,000 award was one of 34 grants given by the inaugural Commonwealth Commercialization Fund, which is a state program that awards funding to companies that are conducting technology-based research to accelerate their businesses.

BlackBoiler was founded in 2017 and has an office along Lee Highway near the Lee Harrison Shopping Center. The company received $3.2 million in funding last fall, and since then, it’s used the money to make several new hires, including two senior contract analysts, two software engineers, a customer success manager and a sales director, Millard said.

How Blackboiler’s AI-assisted contract review system would work (courtesy of Blackboiler)
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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups, founders, and other local technology news. Monday Properties is proudly featuring 1515 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn. 

Financial technology company Interos is now the first private Arlington startup to reach a billion-dollar valuation, becoming what’s called a “unicorn” in the world of startups.

The name was coined to denote how rare it has been to attain the $1 billion valuation.

Although 728 companies globally enjoy the designation today, the mythic animal fits the Ballston-based software company for another reason. Founder and CEO Jennifer Bisceglie now joins the 4% of unicorns led by female founder-CEOs, Fortune Magazine reports.

(Fluence, an energy startup also based in Ballston, was valued at just over $1 billion at the end of last year; it was formed as a joint venture of two large, publicly-traded companies, including Ballston-based AES.)

Bisceglie first launched the company, which develops AI software to help businesses identify disruptions to their supply chains, in 2005. The company is located at 4040 Fairfax Drive.

“It’s taken a lot of iterative engineering, working closely with customers to understand their needs and supply chains, and so much more to get us here. I couldn’t be prouder,” Bisceglie told ARLnow in an email.

NASDAQ congratulates Interos on pulling in $100 million in funding and reaching the billion-dollar milestone (courtesy of Interos)

The startup attained the milestone on the back of a $100 million funding round led by Silicon Valley-based investors. Venture capital firm NightDragon led the financing while other investors like Kleiner Perkins and Venrock also contributed.

“We were very fortunate to enter into discussions with Dave DeWalt and his fund, NightDragon,” said Bisceglie. “Considering Dave and his team’s backgrounds in security and risk, they immediately understood the importance of what we are doing and saw the opportunity to scale rapidly while continuing to support the growing number of companies and government agencies who rely on our technology.”

The company will now use the influx of funding to improve its product and expand its outreach.

“The new funding ensures Interos can accelerate its business at a time when supply chain vulnerabilities are front and center for companies around the world, following major supply chain shortages due to the pandemic and cyberattacks on organizations like SolarWinds, Kaseya, and Colonial Pipeline that put company operations at risk,” Bisceglie said.

Interos employees pose together at the office (courtesy of Interos)

Over the last two years, Interos has grown by 303% and has seen its platform used by NASA, the U.S Department of Defense, and a number of Fortune 500 companies. The startup’s mission became especially relevant during the pandemic, as COVID-19 led to trade restrictions and product shortages.

“COVID-19 and other macro and digital supply chain disruptions over the past year have caused boards of directors and other leaders to awaken to the tremendous impact supply chain disruptions can have on operational resilience, business performance and reputation,” Bisceglie said.

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups, founders, and other local technology news. Monday Properties is proudly featuring 1515 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn. 

Ballston startup GoTab, which facilitates QR code ordering in restaurants, has picked up a lot of extra tables over the last 18 months.

“We’ve continued to grow,” CEO Tim McLaughlin said. “We lost a couple of clients nostalgic for the old way, but our product is fully compatible with operating a classic restaurant.”

GoTab, which launched in 2016, operates in restaurants, hotels, resorts, golf courses, festivals and the Capital One Arena in D.C. It does more than provide black squares that guests scan while seated at a table, however. It also targets ordering takeout or delivery and regular sales.

While its services are diverse, GoTab has seen the most growth with QR code ordering — especially during the pandemic, when contactless ordering helped keep restaurants open and staff and diners safe.

GoTab CEO and Founder Tim McLaughlin (courtesy of GoTab)

Last year, the number of payments made through the app grew by 100 times, he said. This year alone, payments are set to increase by 20 times. For the CEO, the staggering growth is hard to quantify to people.

“GoTab gets paid if restaurants get paid, so we measure success by payments,” he said. “People think I’m saying 100% growth. No, it’s 100 times.”

There are a few other signs of growth, too. Today, the company employs 65 staff, up from the nearly 20 it had last year, and the 35 to 45 employees with whom it kicked off 2021. And, as of last month, GoTab expanded into Canada. The company is looking to move into a number of other English-speaking countries, McLaughlin said.

Within a month, it will move into multi-merchant ordering. For example, if a group of friends visits the Ballston Quarter food hall — which is next to GoTab’s offices at 901 N. Stuart Street — everyone can scan the QR code at a table and order from multiple restaurants in one cart with one payment.

“If you go with your friends, you don’t have to all split up and have someone hold the table,” he said. “It’s fun if you want to go check out what they’re selling. If you have been there a few times, and you want to hang out with friends, that’s when it’s not fun.”

Businesses see the payments separately and it helps restaurants and customers save money on credit card fees.

A GoTab user scans a QR code to order (courtesy of GoTab)

McLaughlin said the black squares are not aimed at replacing servers. Rather, GoTab eliminates the need to hail down a waiter to add a last-minute order, fight through a crowd to close out at the bar, or wait for the check when pressed for time, he said.

“We are not against servers,” he said. “Right now, in many of our venues, you can order from a server and a phone, and go back and forth. It’s the best of both worlds.”

GoTab plans to transform any industry where payment- and service-related inefficiencies can be solved with tech. Restaurants were the first because that’s where technology was lacking the most, McLaughlin said.

“We’re not trying to eliminate local jobs,” he said. “We’re trying to support them and make them competitive.”

For restaurants, takeout companies such as Doordash, which has its own staff and is starting to open ghost kitchens, is the real competition. For local retail, it’s e-commerce platforms such as Amazon, as customers appreciate up-to-date inventories and quick delivery.

“Local merchants are good at the high-touch part of [the customer experience] but they’re not so good at inventory management and logistics,” he said. “We’re bringing tech to brick and mortar stores so they can be competitive with e-commerce-only companies.”

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups, founders, and other local technology news. Monday Properties is proudly featuring 1515 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn. 

Fifteen Arlington startups will be recognized this Wednesday during an event highlighting “red hot” startups in the D.C. area.

Event company DCA Live selected more than 40 companies to recognize, including Courthouse-based data privacy startup Wire Wheel and Ballston-based GoTab, which facilitates to-go and in-person, contactless ordering.

Red Hot Companies,” which will be held in Rosslyn, is the first large-scale, in-person event that DCA Live has been able to host since D.C. and Virginia reopened, according to company founder Doug Anderson. After 16 months of virtual offerings, he expects a big crowd — upwards of 400 people — for the sixth annual event.

“I didn’t move into the shallow end with a 100-person event,” Anderson said. “There was an opportunity for us to be first mover in returning to live events.”

Forty-four startups will be recognized, and the ceremony and networking opportunity at Sands Capital Management (1000 Wilson Blvd) will celebrate how the D.C. area tech sector survived the pandemic, he said.

“I think we’ve come out of this pandemic much stronger than we entered it,” Anderson said. “About half-way through the pandemic, it became clear one of the big winners would be tech businesses. They had the infrastructure, and they enabled the world to continue.”

These companies also found ways to use the pandemic to accelerate their business plans and the demand for their products, he said.

“They had to really focus on what their true value proposition was, who their true customer was and how to serve them,” he said.

A previous DCA Live ‘Red Hot Companies’ event (courtesy of Doug Anderson)

Anderson is recognizing a number of new companies as well as a few established ones. Most are smaller cybersecurity and financial technology companies, but a few are unicorns: privately held startups valued at more than $1 billion.

He picked the companies after soliciting nominations, evaluating them and consulting with people who have a pulse on the D.C. tech startup scene.

“I try to do a fresh look every year,” he said.

The event will draw out strong Arlington startups, including Brazen, Ostendio, CareJourney and C3, he said. Arlington Economic Development and property owner/developer Monday Properties are sponsors.

“It’s got a big Arlington angle to it,” Anderson said. “Arlington is a great place to start a company and host an event.”

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups, founders, and other local technology news. Monday Properties is proudly featuring 1515 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn. 

In 2017, while a graduate student at Georgetown University, Shavini Fernando’s heart suddenly stopped beating.

“I was working, and my friend started to scream that my entire face was blue,” said Fernando, who now lives in Arlington. “It didn’t even take one minute. I couldn’t breathe and my heart stopped.” 

Fernando managed to revive herself by self-administering CPR before the oxygen supply to her brain cut out, but the incident frightened everyone around her. Fernando’s doctor at The Johns Hopkins Hospital suggested that it was no longer safe to live on her own.

But Fernando, who was unwilling to let the condition control her life, refused. Instead, she decided to develop a wearable device that continuously monitors her flow of oxygen with the help of her graduate school program director and fellow students. Whenever Fernando’s blood oxygen levels fell below a normal threshold, the ear-worn device sends an emergency alert to her doctor.

“I’m sort of a rebel. When people tell me ‘you can’t do this,’ I want to show them that I can,” Fernando said.

OxiWear founder Shavini Fernando (courtesy of Shavini Fernando)

She channeled that fighting spirit two years prior, when a cardiologist told Fernando — who was 33 at the time — that she had just two years left to live. She flew from her home country of Sri Lanka to The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore for a second opinion and treatment. There, she received medicine and equipment to help manage severe pulmonary hypertension, a condition in which the heart has trouble pumping blood through the lungs. The condition leaves people vulnerable to sudden and undetected drops in oxygen, known as silent hypoxia.

This condition makes it dangerous to live in high altitudes, so rather than return home to Sri Lanka, she settled in the D.C. area to keep receiving medical treatment and start her master’s degree at Georgetown. That decision ultimately set her up to establish OxiWear so that she could share the product that she wears to survive with others.

“Most of the deaths happen in the pulmonary hypertension and cardiovascular patient community because they don’t get the help in time,” Fernando said. “If they have an alert and a way of calling for help, these deaths can be prevented.”

By the end of this year, Fernando and OxiWear plan to launch a product to be used by the public for fitness. A medical device for those with heart conditions will come later, once it gets approval from the Food and Drug Administration.

Both devices connect to a smartphone to show users their oxygen levels and enable them to contact emergency services during sudden drops.

A prototype of a forthcoming device from OxiWear (courtesy of Shavini Fernando)

OxiWear is now closing in on $1 million in funding since its launch in the spring of 2019. Most recently, after securing patents in the U.S, China and Japan, the company received investments from CIT Gap Funds and Tie DC. Before that, Fernando obtained funding through her connections at Georgetown and a crowdfunding campaign.

“Currently, there is no other device available to continuously monitor oxygen levels. OxiWear is a game changer for those affected by the complications of pulmonary hypertension, and could be the difference between safety and danger,” Tom Weithman, Managing Director of CIT GAP Funds, said in a press release.

Fernando says that investors and potential consumers initially expressed doubt about the importance of the product. As COVID-19 raised awareness of the dangers of silent hypoxia, however, OxiWear gained traction.

“Because of COVID-19, fundraising became really slow. At the same time, a lot of people started contacting us, asking, ‘Is there a way we can purchase this device?’ I’m like ‘I wish I could get it out fast, but we don’t have enough money,'” Fernando said.

In the early stages of the company, as funding dried up, Fernando and her employees went months without pay. Still, the OxiWear founder carried on.

“Even if it kills me, I will get this done. That’s why, even without funds, we’ve managed to get so far in such little time,” said Fernando. “For me, this is not about making money. It’s about helping those like me. Once you get silent hypoxia, even if you are recovered, you will end up with life-long after effects.”

Fernando and her OxiWear employees work remotely. The company’s address is publicly listed as a condo in Rosslyn.

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups, founders, and other local technology news. Monday Properties is proudly featuring 1515 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn. 

Ostendio, an information security management company, has completed its first significant round of venture capital funding since its founding in 2014.

Company leaders said they hope the funding will help them further develop, market and provide customer service for Ostendio’s leading product: the MyVCM Trust Network. The software platform lets small and mid-size companies securely share information with third-party sellers and security auditors and demonstrate their compliance with security regulations — or find the help they need to get on track.

“Our main goals are to increase awareness of the Ostendio MyVCM platform and to grow the MyVCM Trust Network, [which] connects organizations with their vendors to help them safely share security information,” company spokeswoman Miranda Elliott said. “The funding will be used to expand the network of auditor partners, as part of the MyVCM Auditor Connect feature, and to expand our vendor risk management solution, MyVCM Vendor Connect.”

The amount of the funding was not disclosed.

Ostendio co-founders Grant Elliott and Marc Bandini (courtesy of Ostendio)

Since launching in Rosslyn in 2014, Ostendio has grown to 30 employees and more than 100,000 user activities per month on the MyVCM Trust Network platform. Elliott said that Ostendio aims to have 50 employees by the end of the year. In 2019, the company moved into a larger office in Arlington Tower (1300 17th Street N.) to accommodate its growing team. Ostendio aims to have 50 employees by the end of the year.

“With this investment we will help many more companies move away from the arcane and episodic security audit process, helping them to transition to an always on, always auditable, always secure alternative,” Ostendio CEO and Chairman Grant Elliott said in a press release.

The financing round, led by Philadelphia-based Osage Venture Partners, began in early 2020 but had to be put on hold until the fall of 2020 due to the pandemic.

“We were impressed by both the magnitude and simplicity of Ostendio’s vision in a very large market where innovation is long overdue, particularly as security and compliance requirements proliferate,” said OVP Partner Sean Dowling, who will join Ostendio’s Board of Directors.

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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow, Startup Monday is a weekly column that profiles Arlington-based startups, founders, and other local technology news. Monday Properties is proudly featuring 1812 N. Moore Street in Rosslyn.

There is a new skipper offering cruises of the Potomac River that launch from Gravelly Point in Arlington.

Jerry Lee is a South Korean immigrant and a lawyer-turned-captain who started chartering boat tours this spring through his new company, Reflections DC. He offers two-hour powerboat cruises of the Potomac from Gravelly Point and three-and-a-half to five-hour sailing excursions of the Chesapeake Bay from Shadyside, Maryland.

His launch coincided with cherry blossom season and he was fully booked during that time.

“That was really encouraging,” said Lee, who lived for a number of years in Clarendon.

Bookings continue to fill up: His weekends are almost fully booked and he takes tourists on the water about two to three times a week. Many find out about his company through his Airbnb experiences page, which drives up to 40% of his bookings. His most popular offering is the powerboat cruise but he is working to promote his sailing excursions, which range from trips for pleasure to instructional courses.

“It’s very quickly been enough to earn a living,” he said. “It’s going faster than I expected. As the weather gets warmer, people are booking more and more.”

He got the idea for Reflections DC from a friend who owns a charter business in Baltimore. He started the company last year and then set out to obtain the necessary business licenses and build up the online presence needed to get started.

Lee is trying to carve out a niche for Reflections DC as a private, small boating company offering “engaging, conversation-driven and personalized experiences” — with complimentary beer, seltzers and sodas — amid big competitors running dinner cruises.

“I really do want to get people inspired to learn to sail and to buy a boat, to do all that stuff safely,” he said.

The skipper, who came to the U.S. when he was 16, discovered sailing in college while teaching martial arts to support himself. One of his students became a good friend and took him sailing for the first time. Throughout the rest of college and during law school, Lee rented little dinghies and kept improving his sailing skills. He finished law school in 2011, did corporate litigation for two years and started taking on cases as a private-practice attorney in 2013.

While he has kept his day job for now, one day Lee hopes to make Reflections DC a full-time pursuit.

“When people see me as a lawyer, they have a problem they want me to solve, and that’s fulfilling, but people are upset when people see me,” he said. “On the boat, people are happy, and if they aren’t, they will be when they’re done.”

Lee aims to expand and run more than one boat at a time but he doesn’t want it to get so big that Reflections DC loses its essential offering — “a more pure experience” of the river and the sights surrounding it.

“I feel like I shouldn’t be able to make a living doing something so much fun,” he said.

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