Join

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.

0 Comments

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.

0 Comments

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. 

(Updated 2:55 p.m.) Thirty Arlington companies made Inc. Magazine’s list of America’s 5,000 fastest-growing private companies, including one advertising firm made the top 15.

The featured companies had a median 3-year growth of 181%. There were 31 companies on the list last year.

Rosslyn-based advertising agency Olympic Media led the way, placing 13th. The company was founded in 2018 and has grown by 20,330% over the last three years. Olympic’s explosion in growth makes it the fastest-growing company in Virginia and the D.C. area, as well as the No. 1 advertising and marketing company on the list.

“We are honored to be included in such an esteemed list which serves a ‘who’s-who’ of American business,” said founder and CEO Ryan Coyne in a press release. “We started as a one-man operation in an office the size of a closet. Now we have over thirty employees making up four departments, all dedicated to our diverse clientele and to each other.”

Olympic Media CEO Ryan Coyne (courtesy of Olympic Media)

Olympic chalks its success up to its team and its business model. The company’s clientele consists of businesses, advocacy groups and conservative political campaigns.

“There is no getting away from the talent and dedication of the team we have been able to build — as cliche as that may sound,” Coyne said in a statement to ARLnow. “We really do emotionally invest in the success of our clients. Second to that, I think it’s a combination of our unique business model that better aligns incentives between ourselves and our clients — as well as word spreading about the success our clients have had.”

The team deserves being recognized as 13th on the list, given their success and dedication, he said.

“We had gotten some indication that we would be fairly high on the list (including some fairly invasive financial disclosures) but being the No. 1 Advertising & Marketing company in the nation was certainly higher than I had expected,” Coyne said. “It’s both a validation of our business model and work quality as well as a challenge for the team to keep pushing boundaries, taking risks and raising the bar.”

Olympic Media made local headlines in Maryland politics earlier this year for a viral ad campaign it promoted for Kimberly Klacik, a Republican Congressional candidate from Baltimore.

Klacik raised $8.3 million in donations. Citing campaign finance filings and her campaign manager, the Washington Post said Olympic charged $3.7 million for its services. Klacik later said the fees were for advertising on YouTube and Facebook, the Daily Caller reported. Olympic told the Daily Caller that anyone arguing the company itself pocketed that much money from the race is “a competitor, a moron, or a writer for the Washington Post.”

Of the other 29 companies, some have been featured in ARLnow, such as HUNGRY, Ostendio, C3 Integrated Solutions, SweatWorks and ThreatConnect, most of which made the list previously. It was the debut, however, for Ballston-based Hungry, which managed to grow despite the pandemic being a major headwind for its office and events catering business.

“Not only is it an incredible honor to receive a spot on the Inc. 5000 list, it’s a true testament to the hustle, grit, and smarts our team has displayed over the last year and half,” said HUNGRY Co-Founder and CEO Jeff Grass said in a press release. “Despite all the challenges we faced due to the pandemic, we’ve defied the odds — relying on great teamwork, superhuman accomplishments by many people across the team, and by staying true to our Core Value #4: Positivity.”

Other repeat honorees include 540.co, Enterprise Knowledge, Sehlke Consulting and IDS International Group.

The full list of Arlington companies is as follows:

0 Comments

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.

0 Comments

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)
0 Comments

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.

0 Comments

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.”

0 Comments
×

Subscribe to our mailing list