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

Arlington-based entrepreneur Elodie Cally will be in New York this week showcasing her clean, sustainably made products at a trade show focused on non-toxic beauty brands.

Cally will be displaying the cleansing balm, serum and men’s aftershave from her brand, Elodie’s Naturals, at Adit Live, which connects makers like Cally with retailers as big as Costco and Saks Fifth Avenue.

The chance to network with household-name retailers is a big opportunity for Cally, who currently sells her wares at Virginia Mercantile in Clifton, Slow Down Market in D.C., Atlas Bodyworks in Falls Church and Pura Piel Skincare Studio in Annandale. Her eventual goal is to sell through third-party platforms that focus on sustainable products, such as Credo.

Cally started Elodie’s Naturals in response to the need for clean, non-toxic skincare in the United States, getting her start by running camps teaching children how to make organic skincare. Now, she offers classes to kids and adults as well as ready-made products, which she began developing in the last two to three years.

A French lab has tested all her products to ensure they meet standards for products sold in France. It is a high standard high in her home country, where people talk of le bombe toxique when discussing the list of chemicals and hormone disruptors in everyday products — from skincare to furniture glue to cleaning supplies.

In America, by contrast, skincare brands are not similarly regulated or have as stringent product testing requirements.

“When you put a product on the market, there’s no regulation in the U.S.,” she said. “In France, you need to go through so much testing.”

That is starting to change, however. She is starting to see a shift among her American customers, who are beginning to care more about what goes into their products and the packaging they come in.

“People want to know it’s healthy for them and good for the planet,” she said. “It’s a good trend, I love it.”

Elodie Cally of Elodie’s Naturals skin care (courtesy Elodie Cally)

She notes that her customers 50 and older frequently request details about ingredients, as they want to know what they’re putting in their bodies.

That may be plum oil, shipped directly to her door from France, but it won’t be the more than 2,000 ingredients banned in Europe, of which most are permitted in the U.S.

“The less you use, the better (the product) is,” Cally said.

Her younger customers, meanwhile, are attracted to the sustainability of the packaging. Many send their used products back to her or by way of the stores where she sells her products.

“Almost every week, I have a bag on front of my porch from people giving back to me the containers so I can recycle them,” Cally said.

She says her minimal ingredient list and sustainable packaging will be points in her favor at Adit Live. The retail expert assigned to Elodie’s Naturals by Adit Live told Cally the brand will stand out among other clean skincare businesses attending the show, where she hopes to land a contract with a retailer as well as press from attending magazines, including Glamour and Elle.

For Cally, going to New York City culminates months of work.

“It’s challenging to be honest, it’s been a year and a half to make this product,” she said. “Not only developing a formula but also the manufacturing process — it’s very difficult, very technical.”

Elodie’s Naturals hyaluronic acid serum (courtesy Elodie Cally)

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

An Australian company with its American headquarters in Arlington says it is part of the fight against online radicalization.

Fivecast is a software company specializing in mining intelligence from publicly available data, which is also known as open-source intelligence.

The company, with its U.S. headquarters in Courthouse at 2311 Wilson Blvd, recently raised $20 million that it will use to further develop its products, hire some 50 employees, expand into new markets and meet a surge in demand for its services in the U.S.

That demand, the company says, is driven by a need among law enforcement agencies for better intelligence to counteract radicalization happening on the internet.

“Within the U.S., there are specific areas of high demand for Fivecast solutions: U.S. law enforcement are looking to address the growing challenge of violent extremism and online radicalization exacerbated by the continuing divisive U.S. political environment,” Marketing Director Monica Brink told ARLnow.

In recent years, scholars, media outlets and government agencies have increased their focus on how online forums and communities expose young men to extremist ideologies and radicalize them to these causes.

The increased attention comes as extremist-related murders actually have been trending down — from highs in 2015 to 2019 — but the number of murders committed by far-right extremists has gone up, according to a report by Anti-Defamation League. (The mall shooter in Allen, Texas, for instance, is said to have had neo-Nazi sympathies.)

A connection between social communication platform Discord and far-right extremism, in particular, is also firming up. Most recently, the government seemed blindsided by the fact that a young man could — and did — leak classified documents in a Discord channel where he and other young users talked about guns and posted offensive memes.

Fivecast says understanding these online havens for extremist thought and getting ahead of threats is hard and growing more difficult.

“An increasingly complex and growing threat landscape combined with the sheer volume of data available online make it extremely difficult for intelligence teams across both the public and private sector to collect, filter and analyze data in a timely way,” Brink said.

That is where its product comes in.

Fivecast runs a platform that collects and analyzes publicly available information for tasks such as identifying violent extremism and foreign influence operations as well as countering terrorism, drug trafficking and organized crime, she said.

Private companies and public agencies turn to the company’s platform for help surmounting growing obstacles to protecting communities and businesses from threats.

Fivecast co-founders (left to right) David Blockow, Ross Buglak, Brenton Cooper and Duane Rivett (courtesy photo)

Fivecast says there is an ongoing need “for insider threat detection, large-scale security vetting and protective security” across U.S. government operations — and this is one reason it settled in Arlington.

“Fivecast chose Arlington due to the high demand for our open-source intelligence technology within the U.S. government sector as well as the talent available within the intelligence industry in this region,” Brink said.

“Arlington is well suited to our overall company mission of enabling a safer world,” she continued. “The business environment here is filled with government agencies who have a similar mission and understand the value of applying the latest AI-enabled risk analytics technology to address important intelligence challenges and keep communities safe.”

Outside of the U.S., Fivecast operates in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. Together, these five countries comprise what’s known as “Five Eyes,” an alliance among the countries with roots in intelligence-sharing activities during World War II and the Cold War.

The company says it intends to use its new funding to grow its presence and staffing in Australia, the U.S. and the UK. It also intends to get into new markets, including corporate security and financial intelligence.

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

A Rosslyn-based startup says it is on a mission to help companies adopt artificial intelligence responsibly.

The company, Trustible, announced in mid-April that it emerged from “stealth” — a quiet period of growth and initial fundraising — with an “oversubscribed” $1.6 million in “pre-seed” funding, tech news outlet D.C. first reported.

That money will go toward hiring employees and improving its government compliance solutions. These are aimed at helping companies demonstrate they are following emerging government regulations, such as those poised for adoption by the U.S. and the European Union, per a press release.

As this technology rapidly improves, companies worldwide are racing to adopt and adapt to it. In that haste, however, Trustible founders Gerald Kierce and Andrew Gamino-Cheong worry organizations could wind up not complying with government regulations and unleashing harmful applications of AI.

“AI is becoming a foundational tool in our everyday lives — from business applications, to public services, to consumer products,” they wrote in a blog post last month. “Recent advances in AI have dramatically accelerated its adoption across society — unquestionably changing the way humans interact with technology and basic services.”

Trustible founders Gerald Kierce, left, and Andrew Gamino-Cheong (courtesy photo)

Companies ramping up their use of AI are entering uncharted waters, however. The founders say these organizations have to answer tricky questions like whether AI can be biased and who is liable AI breaks the law or produces results that are not factual. They worry about misuses such as wrongful prosecution, unequal health care and national surveillance.

“With great power comes great responsibility,” they say. “Despite good intentions, organizations deploying AI need the enterprise tools and skills to build Responsible AI practices at scale. Moreover, they don’t feel prepared to meet the requirements of emerging AI regulations.”

That is why demonstrating trust in AI will be key to it being adopted successfully, say Kierce and Gamino-Cheong.

“Many of the challenges we’ve outlined require interdisciplinary solutions — they are as much of a technical and business problem as they are socio-technical, political, and humanitarian,” per the blog post. “But there is a critical role for a technology solution to accelerate Responsible AI priorities and scale governance programs.”

That is where Trustible comes in. It provides all the minutiae companies need — checklists, documentation tools and reporting capabilities — to adopt AI as governments try and concurrently develop ways to regulate it.

The platform helps organizations define policies, implement and enforce ethical AI practices and prove they comply with regulations, in anticipation of compliance reviews and AI audits.

Trustible logo

Already, the U.S. and Europe appear poised to adopt regulations, they say.

In the U.S., the National Institute of Standards and Technology has released a framework the founders believe will inform any pending federal regulations. Meantime, the White House has released an “AI Bill of Rights” the founders say serves as a blueprint for institutions looking to develop internal AI policies.

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

Anna Sullivan remembers when she used to mark out her travels on a physical map using push pins.

It helped her visualize everywhere she had ever been — but, being a map, she could not just pull it out if a friend planning a trip asked her where to visit or eat. Sometimes, her mind would go blank during these “on the fly” requests for recommendations.

“It’s hard to think back on a trip sometimes,” she tells ARLnow. “I thought, ‘It’d be cool to have this with you all the time.'”

That is how the former Ballston resident came up with the idea for Pinplanet, which she describes as a digital travel scrapbook and trip planner. While she is the creative force behind the app, Harout Boujakjian, who lives in Courthouse, handles the technical, programming side of things with a third team member, Andrew Hornstra.

Pinplanet app cofounders Anna Sullivan and Harout Boujakjian at Chichén Itzá, a Mayan archeological site in Mexico (courtesy photo)

Sullivan and Boujakjian tested out Pinplanet on recent trips to Ireland and Mexico. Now instead, of trying to remember which restaurants they ate at or excursions they went on, they can pull up locations and experiences they pinned.

“It’s nicely curated,” he said. “It’s so much easier to point people to it.”

Sullivan had been kicking around the idea since college but it never went anywhere until she met Boujakjian in the summer of 2021. They began talking about making the app that fall and had a soft launch of a progressive web application by May 2022.

“Friends and family who tested it out wanted it to be a native mobile app,” he said. “So we took the plunge and got an iOS app out in November 2022. That was our hard launch.”

Since then, Sullivan and Boujakjian have honed the app, finding and fixing bugs or discovering new features to add, while on trips to New York, Philadelphia and Cincinnati.

Next, he and Hornstra will build an app for Android, which he said is not an easy feat for such a small team, all of whom have day jobs.

Another function he aims to realize in the next year would be something like an “explorer page,” which would use pinned trips from followers — paired, perhaps, with machine learning — to generate a grid of recommended places to inspire future trips for users.

Taking a page from the book of social media and popular music platforms, Sullivan says she wants to create a year-in-review feature.

“We’re probably going to dive in more on the travel stats and figure out other ways to make it interactive and flashy — have a yearly snapshot of your travels,” she said. “We’d put together a video of places you pinned in 2023 and make that something you can share. People love that kind of stuff.”

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The fields at Washington-Liberty High School have new temporary toilets for baseball players, softball players and spectators.

These are not run-of-the-mill port-a-johns, either. The facilities, developed by D.C.-area startup Throne, give users the royal treatment with running water for flushing and hand-washing. Users simply text a phone number to gain entry and provide a cleanliness rating via text after they use it.

Kevin Healy, the assistant director of student activities at Washington-Liberty, credited a parent for making the partnership possible and Throne for loaning them for free through the end of May.

“We were just lucky we had parents looking into it who found the set-up for us,” he said. “The company was very cool about it.”

Healy says having a toilet near the baseball and softball fields is a big improvement for players, coaches and spectators.

“Typically, we’ll get one port-a-john during the season. Outside that, we have to go to the library to use any kind of facility,” he said. “We do have a port-a-john that the county put in place, but if you have a well-attended game [and] if you’re in the middle of a game… you don’t want to miss time jogging over in a ‘crisis situation’ to go in the building.”

Softball players often wind up having to go all the way to the W-L pool to find a bathroom, he said.

Located in Brentwood, Md., Throne aims to solve a handful of problems with bathroom access in the U.S.: quantity, cost, cleanliness and accessibility.

“Our co-founding team is passionate about expanding access to bathrooms,” co-founder and Chief Operating Officer Jess Heinzelman told ARLnow.

It can be expensive for municipalities to connect to water and sewer for brick-and-mortar bathrooms, which is why there can be access issues at school fields and parks, Heinzelman said. Cleaning them can be a headache, she added, because “a few bad apples ruin publicly accessible bathrooms for everybody.”

Throne considers the easiest alternative, port-a-johns, a “last resort” because they can be hard to find, locked and unpleasant.

“We set out with goal to drastically reduce costs while also using new technologies available to help introduce accountability to bathroom use without being creepy,” she said.

It takes a few hours to install a Throne, which uses solar power and rainwater catchment to provide running water for flushing and hand-washing. Smart sensors monitor use rates and maintenance needs and the company’s technology makes it possible to restrict access for people who vandalize the units or degrade their cleanliness.

Throne has built and tested out its toilets across the D.C. area over the last 2.5 years and has developed a step-up model, as well as one accessible for people with disabilities. The startup is readying for a commercial launch this spring, meaning people will see more installed in the District, the City of Fairfax and elsewhere.

Heinzelman said it was an easy decision to let W-L use the facilities. Its accessible units are in high-demand and the company had two unused step-up units that needed a home.

“We’re really excited to have them getting used,” Heinzelman said. “The student athletes seem to be liking them.”

Some may recognize the free-standing facility from the REEF Kitchen trailers near the Whole Foods in Clarendon. This was the startup’s first-ever pilot potty, serving the staff of the ghost kitchens, who cook food for delivery-only on platforms like Grubhub, as well as delivery drivers.

“Gig drivers are one of the major groups that has trouble finding restrooms because they’re working from their car and they’re not allowed to use the bathrooms of restaurants or places that they’re picking up from,” Heinzelman said.

A Throne toilet trailer near the REEF Kitchens trailers in Clarendon (staff photo)

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

A local data analytics company is bringing on new leadership as it plans to find new uses for artificial intelligence.

Rosslyn-based Association Analytics (1560 Wilson Blvd) hired a new Chief Product Officer and Executive Chairman, Rob Wenger, and a new Chief Technology Officer, Conor Sibley. The two men worked with Association Analytics President and Chief Revenue Officer Mark Lowry to build Ballston-based Higher Logic.

The hiring news caps significant growth in recent years, according to Chief Marketing Officer Dave Bornmann. The small company, which has north of 50 employees, doubled in size over the last couple of years. With new leadership focused on product development and expanding uses for AI, he anticipates more growth to come.

Like Higher Logic, Association Analytics works with professional societies that individuals join, largely in healthcare, real estate and STEM, as well as trade associations that companies join, he said. The company currently brings together data that is typically scattered across platforms associations use to run events and host online communities.

“These [platforms] don’t talk to one another,” says Bornmann. “We bring that together in one platform and serve up data visualization and dashboards that give insights they didn’t previously have because they couldn’t see data together.”

It uses AI to help associations predict, for instance, who might attend an event or renew their membership. That function has been critical as in-person events — the second largest revenue source after membership for many associations — resumed after Covid lockdowns and restrictions let up.

Using Association Analytics, clients noticed a trend they did not expect, Bornmann said.

“With insights from our platform, clients realized that, during the pandemic, they got people attending virtual events and paying money and then, when the in-person events came roaring back, there were segments of their membership who — it turns out — only showed up for virtual ones,” he said. “They realized they had this unmet need that got met during the pandemic by necessity.”

Up until now, Association Analytics has limited its use of AI to predicting outcomes based on available data, leaving analysis up to professionals. As the technology underpinning AI advances, the company will be looking into ways that AI can suggest actions to take based on trends.

As part of that recommendation, AI will look at what similar associations, based on size, industry or location, are doing.

“Those are the types of things that we’re starting to work with, and Rob and Conor are bringing depth of expertise in that area,” Bornmann said. “Their expertise — not only in tech but product development — and deep understanding of association industry is exciting. They’re able to step in and almost immediately get at it.”

Rob Wenger (left) and Conor Sibley join Association Analytics (by ARLnow)

Wenger founded Higher Logic and was its CEO up until two years ago. Sibley was the CTO and seventh employee, joining before the firm experienced substantial growth, acquiring a slew of companies in recent years. Both are based in Arlington and spent the last 18 months starting a company called Cloud Generation, a credentialing platform for associations.

They connected with Association Analytics CEO Julie Sciullo over their shared enthusiasm for data and how the association industry can use this information to run more effectively, Bornmann said.

“They both had an ‘aha’ moment and realized, ‘This is perfect,'” the marketing officer said.


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

Arlingtonian Akilah Beavers is all about empowering women in their own homes.

She envisions a future where more women pursue careers as independent “handywomen” and even those not pursuing such work professionally feel better able to replace toilet tank parts and install new backsplashes themselves — rather than leaving these projects to a husband, boyfriend or contractor.

After seven years of planning, last year Beavers founded My Favorite Fixer, handy service and home repair referral center, to realize both these goals. She says she hopes most of her service providers will be women, but finding enough of them is a tall order.

“I am doing my best to recruit more women,” she tells ARLnow. “It’s easier for me to, of course, recruit men but that’s not my goal.”

Right now, she is visiting local high schools and trade schools to find women who are handy with tools or who want to be. She is offering a scholarship to help them buy books and pay for tuition to attend area career and technical schools.

“It’s really frustrating that there are so few women in the field,” she said.

She sees this field as an empowering one, especially for mothers, students or anyone else who wants to work for themselves and not work a 9-5 job. The lack of representation, meanwhile, can be a potential safety issue.

Akilah Beavers, the founder of My Favorite Fixer (courtesy photo)

Beavers got the idea for My Favorite Fixer after experiencing an unwanted sexual advance from a foreman in her former home in Orlando, about seven years ago.

“He was on my body,” she recalled. “It was such an uncomfortable position.”

Luckily, a friend happened to call her, which gave her a way out. The experience also gave her new resolve.

“I don’t want another woman to feel like she can’t be in her own home without being creeped out or feeling less than safe,” she said.

Women should not have to take extra precautions — such as opening doors, calling friends or going into a different room — to feel comfortable, Beavers said. For this reason, My Favorite Fixer checks potential handy people for a history of violent crime or robbery in addition to good quality work and customer service.

Ultimately, she wants to see more women take on projects for themselves, too. My Favorite Fixer will kick off a series of free classes this June for women on “the basic stuff” like changing toilet tank parts, doing preventative maintenance, gardening and changing a kitchen backsplash.

My Favorite Fixer logo (courtesy photo)

My Favorite Fixer is a side-hustle seven years in the making.

“I have learned to trust the process and everything is not going to happen overnight,” she said. “I’m just learning to trust the process, listen to customers — the ones I’m developing relationships with — to see what their needs are and listen to other entrepreneurs.”

Beavers credits Arlington Economic Development for helping her stand up a website, provide advice and help her establish a business plan.

“I have to give a shout out to [Small Business Manager Alex Held],” she said. “He really believed in me… He’s always there to point me in the right direction.”

This year, she aims to get her name out there, recruit more contractors and find more “future fixers” to take advantage of her scholarship.

“It’s my passion,” she said.


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

Corporations are increasingly turning to a new type of worker for simplified, elevated internal communications: artificial intelligence.

One local company championing this new teammate is Clarendon-based Axios HQ (3100 Clarendon Blvd). The startup was spun out as a separate company in late 2022 after its parent company, Axios, was bought by Cox Enterprises for $525 million, according to the Washington Business Journal.

The startup uses AI to apply the signature “Smart Brevity” style developed by Axios to internal corporate communications. Some 500 clients use it to improve formatting, wording and readability.

Now, the Wall Street Journal first reported, it has raised $20 million in a Series A funding round, which it will use to hire more data scientists and continue developing its software to do more advanced writing work.

In an interview with ARLnow on Friday, Axios HQ CEO and Axios co-founder and president Roy Schwartz shared more details about what the startup plans to do with the money. Schwartz was a former star of Rosslyn-based Politico.

“We’ve been working on it for 2.5 years and it’s been, at the moment, a fully fledged product and has a ton of capabilities that companies need and utilize right now,” he said. “We help you write, compose, format, review your analytics, but in two years from now, I really think we will have drafted your update for you and you will be editing that update, most will be written by the computer.”

Axios HQ in Clarendon (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

In short, he says, the investment over the next two years will take the AI from providing “augmented writing” to “auto-drafting.” The startup aims to net another 500 clients, which would set it up for another fundraising round in a few years. That will require hiring 20-30 more data scientists and account managers, adding to the more than 100 employees Axios HQ currently has.

“The idea is to go from being a very, very fast-growing startup to being a very successful [software as a service] company with a large client base and a large recurring revenue stream,” he said.

When asked if Axios the media outlet uses the software, Schwartz said it does not. In addition, he stressed the separation between the two companies, noting that they use entirely different systems so clients are not concerned about data being accessed by reporters.

There has been some angst about what AI will mean for writing and, ultimately, journalism as an industry. (ARLnow, for example, uses AI to stay on top of new press releases, summarize stories, automatically evaluate event calendar submissions, and occasionally, make edits.) Schwartz, however, wants to put aside the implications for media and keep the focus of Axios HQ on internal corporate communications.

“A lot of people using the tool are not professional writers,” he said. “What I like to say is that internal communications has been the Wild, Wild West — anyone can send an email to entire company, staff or department and really, hardly anyone is looking at it. The formats are all over the place. What that has meant is inefficient communication at nearly every organization in the world… Things can be shorter, formated much better and understood at a much higher level. That’s what we’re focused on.”

AI would help subject-matter experts who “have a lot of knowledge in their minds but don’t know how to write or format” as well as employees who have “writing that has to be done” — repetitive, weekly sales or marketing updates providing week-over-week changes.

“In that situation, the better use of the human brain is to provide the insight — the why, the trends, explaining the differences versus just taking the data and giving a relatively straightforward update,” Schwartz said. “I would much rather use my brain power to provide insight than write the update… In that situation, you want the computer to be the writer and the human to be the editor.”


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

With a seventh acquisition under its belt, local startup Higher Logic is launching a new service for building easy-to-navigate websites.

Ballston-based Higher Logic (4250 N. Fairfax Drive) offers solutions to businesses to cultivate relationships with their customers and for membership-based organizations that want to improve how they engage with members online.

With the acquisition of eConverse Media, a 13-year-old company that has worked with Higher Logic for more than a decade, the company announced it is able to launch a new solution for users of Higher Logic Thrive Design.

The new product would specifically target improving website design for organizations that support an online community. The company says bad design can make it harder for people to stay engaged.

Higher Logic logo (courtesy photo)

“Associations are looking to create synergy between their website and community, but many times do not have the resources in-house,” Kevin Boyce, CEO of Higher Logic said in a statement. “For years, we have partnered with the eConverse team to provide additional design resources that help create that synergy for our customers. Today, we are bringing their expertise into Higher Logic and launching Higher Logic Thrive Design, to drive powerful member experiences across an association’s entire digital landscape.”

With the acquisition, Higher Logic welcomes nine new team members, including founder Martha Jack, who have a combined experience of more than 40 years with Higher Logic products.

Higher Logic Thrive Design aims to personalize how people interact with websites to improve how they engage with a company’s website and community. It is designed to be a one-stop-shop for customers.

“By officially joining Higher Logic, we will have more opportunities to collaborate and align our design services with product development,” Jack said in a statement. “In my new role as Senior Director, Design Services at Higher Logic, I look forward to strengthening relationships and offering more comprehensive design solutions that drive innovation and success for our customers.”

In two weeks, Higher Logic will be hosting its annual Super Forum conference, where Jack’s team will demonstrate how the website design service works.

Since its founding in 2007, Higher Logic has acquired seven companies, including Canada-based Vanilla in 2021, South Carolina-based startup Customer Imperative in 2020 and four other companies in 2017. This spree of acquisitions brought the company’s total headcount to 400.

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

A longtime Arlingtonian has launched a company that seeks to provide a more personalized pooch poop removal service.

Wes Clough, a Gulf Branch resident who is a partner at a handful of local restaurants, founded Poop Patroller this year after running into some service quality issues with his previous pet waste removal company.

“My wife and I, we have dogs, we’re busy and to try and make our lives easier, we had a pet waste removal service for almost 10 years,” he said. “I watched that company get bigger, and in my experience, the service deteriorated.”

He would come home to his gate left open, and one time, his dog got out as a result.

“I thought, there has got to be a better way,” said Clough.

Running Poop Patroller, Clough focuses on customer service by, for example, using software to keep clients updated on the status of the service, including push notifications to confirm that their gates have been closed after the poop is scooped.

While some people cannot fathom the idea of outsourcing this work, he says there is strong interest among pet owners. He compared it to landscaping, with some people firmly in the camp of cutting their own grass and others hiring gardeners as soon as they have a yard.

The Poop Patroller car (courtesy Wes Clough)

The company uses compostable bags and donates a percentage of its gross revenue to the Lost Dog & Cat Foundation. Clough, a Yorktown High School graduate, moved back to Arlington after six years in the Navy and says he has watched the nonprofit grow, experiencing the good it does firsthand.

“We have adopted three dogs through them and have donated as well,” Clough said. “It seems like a focused organization that does a good job.”

He says steering some revenue to the nonprofit and using environmentally friendly bags is important because his clientele care about their money going to good causes and companies that share their values.

Running Poop Patroller, his first venture of this nature, is a big departure from being a partner in restaurants, he says.

“I’m finding social media interaction is more important than… before,” he said. “Also, because I’m doing this on my own, versus with partnerships, everything I have to do I have to do myself or hire people to help with startup and business development.”

Currently, the only patroller is Clough, who is able to handle the workload part-time. As he gains more clientele in Northern Virginia and Northwest D.C., he says he hopes he can hire some employees. Today, most of his clients are in Arlington, with a few in Alexandria.

“It would be great to have several full-time employees, I like the idea of creating jobs,” he said. “I’m not in a rush, though, I’m okay with growing organically.”

A pooch and a poop picker-upper (courtesy Wes Clough)
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Sponsored by Monday Properties and written by ARLnow, Startup Monday is a weekly column that highlights Arlington-based startups, founders, and local tech news. Monday Properties is proudly featuring 1515 Wilson Blvd in Rosslyn. 

Sip n’ Clip, a portable drink holder for airplanes devised by a local inventor, is ready to take off.

The cup holder that clips into tray tables, which first launched on Kickstarter, is now on available on Amazon. Meanwhile, on the promotional products circuit, it has gotten into the hands of some big clients, according to the company’s founder, Seth LaPierre.

The Clarendon resident, who taught himself 3D printing to design and build a prototype, says getting the product listed by the e-commerce giant was also a big learning curve.

“I thought it was a platform you put stuff on and sell. There are so many layers to selling and marketing on Amazon,” he said.

LaPierre devised the cupholder to slot into tray tables after his wife couldn’t figure out what to do with her coffee cup on a flight to France. As a bonus, he says, it doubles as a phone stand and can hold certain baby bottles. He previously told ARLnow that there is nothing like it, specifically for airplane travel, on the market.

On Amazon, LaPierre aims to get enough reviews for Sip n’ Clip to participate in Amazon Launchpad, a service the company offers to help products get discovered faster.

“My ultimate goal is to be really proficient by the holiday season,” he said.

The Sip n’ Clip (courtesy photo)

Earlier this year, LaPierre flew to Las Vegas to look for knock-offs and competitors at the Promotional Products Association International expo. There, he said, he did not find quite anything like it on the show floor.

“I walked 12 miles in one day, talking to people, and some said it was the best thing they had seen in years,” he said. “This was really encouraging because that’s going to be the main core of my business.”

While there, he connected with HALO, which he describes as the largest commercial product distributor in the industry, grossing some $1 billion in branded swag sales. LaPierre says the company asked him to supply Sip n’ Clips to them; after getting everything set up with HALO about a week ago, he is hopeful about the product being introduced to more corporate clients.

Sip n’ Clip will be sponsoring a corporate travel-related event in New York City as well as a airport customer experience symposium in Louisville, Kentucky, hosted by the Alexandria-based American Association of Airport Executives.

“I think that will be a really good growth opportunity and a good way to introduce Sip n’ Clip to airport channels on a larger scale,” LaPierre said. “We already have the Daytona Beach International Airport and the Akron-Canton Airport as customers.”

Additionally, LaPierre submitted a pitch to host his product on the shopping channels QVC and HSN.

“Those are huge things that I’m really excited about,” he said. “Now I’m getting more inbound leads, and people calling me and saying ‘Can you give me a quote?’ instead of me knocking doors.”

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