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October 28, 2011
Help, Please

Hail to the (possible) chief: On Nov. 2, presidential candidate Herman Cain speaks at the Northern Virginia Technology Council's Presidential Series (co-hosted by The Consumer Electronics Association). Hear the former Godfather’s Pizza CEO talk about jobs and the economy. Register now!

Toilet leaks—consumer freaks.
Printer stops working—office manager stops smiling.
The world is filled with problems and people to fix them. But linking the afflicted with those that can solve their problem has never been easy. One local team of techies may have the answer.
Seva Call product head Aman Bakshi, product VP Vighna Karyampudi, CEO Gurpreet Singh, and president and COO Manpreet Singh
Seva Call's Aman Bakshi, Vighna Karyampudi, Gurpreet Singh, and Manpreet Singh are moments away from launching a web service that allows a consumer to describe a problem such as a leaky toilet and within a few minutes find a local service provider that can fix it within the time frame they’ve specified. The idea attracted a heavy-hitting team of investors, including the Carlyle Group’s Ed Mathias and Hedge Fund guru and Wall Street Warriors star Tim Sykes. The company will announce its first $1.3M venture round next week. New VC firm Fortify.vc is also on board, along with several dozen entrepreneurs and angels.
Seva Call product head Aman Bakshi, product VP Vighna Karyampudi, CEO Gurpreet Singh, and president and COO Manpreet Singh
The team, who all grew up in Maryland and went to the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins, works late night getting the service ready for its public launch. The idea was alpha tested during Snowmaggedon when the Potomac-based company bought “snow removal” as a keyword on Google. They set up a system where consumers would be linked to a snow remover through Seva Call. Those providers then started asking Seva Call to link them with consumers searching services other times of year like landscaping and moving. That’s when they knew there was a business.
Seva Call screen shot

Now the service has several categories of service providers and uses an algorithm to connect consumers with businesses based on reviews and analysis of phone calls. Working out of Gurpreet and Manpreet’s parent’s basement, the team will use its VC for tech tweaks and marketing. They'll move into office space when the company gets bigger or when their parents kick them out. They’re also working on a voice-activated iPhone app. (We predict a few erroneous calls for alcohol when people yell at their phones: "I need more bars.")

Saved By Cvent
Cvent founder Reggie Aggarwal
DC area VCs wrote fewer checks in Q3 than Q2 (and less than last year as well), according to PWC's recent figures. Mid-Atlantic VC deals totaled $236.9M, versus $357.9M in Q2 and $268.4M during last year’s third quarter. The number of deals by local VCs also dropped from 46 in Q2 to 32 in Q3. Which means the $136M that went to Cvent, led by Reggie Aggarwal, made up nearly 60 percent of the entire pot, and ranked the second biggest deal in the country for the quarter. We should all say thank you by buying him coffee from a more recognizable brand.
MAVA president Julia Spicer, who we snapped at this year’s Capital Connection with Twitter co-founder Biz Stone and Updata Partners VC Carter Griffin
MAVA president Julia Spicer (who we snapped at this year’s Capital Connection with Twitter co-founder Biz Stone and Updata Partners VC Carter Griffin) says the quarterly numbers are useful, but they should be viewed as a snapshot, and as part of the bigger picture. Depending on what happens in the final quarter, she says the year could end up looking more stable overall, pointing out that a similar quarterly pattern was seen in 2010. That year ended up pulling in $924M in overall venture investment dollars, which is just $159M away from what the region has already pulled in this year. Aside from the quarterly numbers, she’s “also very encouraged by a regional groundswell of real-time, early entrepreneurial interest which bodes well for future company development.” 
Novak Biddle general partner Jack Biddle, with his wife Foree
Novak Biddle general partner Jack Biddle, with his wife Foree, says the fact that venture firms are struggling to raise new funds may be why investments have slipped. Limited partners have seen poor returns for the last decade and aren't putting money toward private equity and VC. The IPO market is choppy and M&As haven’t been so strong. Those firms with money are being cautious. The companies getting money are in the later stages and already have some success stories, says Jack. “A guy with a good idea and no revenue is going to have a really hard time raising money.” (Whereas someone with no idea but lots of revenue...we find that pretty much describes everyone's boss.)
Have you recently gotten a VC check? Tell tech editor Tania Anderson about it.
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