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February 5, 2014
Arlington's Plan to Disrupt National Security Tech
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It wasn't fun for Arlington when the National Science Foundation was lured away by $30M in incentives to Alexandria, Va. But spirits weren't the least bit dampened last night as the county kicked off its plan for spurring a new wave of entrepreneurship.
TandemNSI officially launched Tuesday night to bring entrepreneurs together with the plethora of federal agencies that call the DC suburb home. The group, being co-run by Amplifier Ventures founder Jonathan Aberman and Arlington County's Jennifer Ives (a duo we lovingly call J-squared), will hold several events like tech throwdowns and reverse pitches for entrepreneurs, federal agencies, and universities to work together on national security problems that can be solved with technology. Rep. Jim Moran (right), who recently announced he would retire after 23 years in Congress, supports the effort. TandemNSI also has Virginia funding of $350k and county funding of $175k.
Another cheerleader is former federal CTO Aneesh Chopra, who called Arlington a "gateway to a new chapter of entrepreneurial activity." (He also happens to be an Arlington resident.) He's bullish on TandemNSI because it's an opportunity to engage agencies with problems and entrepreneurs willing to listen, along with a mechanism for testing ideas. Rep. Moran sees an opportunity for the county to create an ideal environment for the $140B the federal government puts toward R&D.
Photo credit: Amir Mounib Photography
Ed Bersoff (left) and Dendy Young (on Ed's left) are some of the veteran tech entrepreneurs supporting TandemNSI. And yes, that's former Lt. Gov. Don Beyer in the background. He recently announced he was running for Jim's seat. Ed started in DC tech in '69 and eventually launched government contracting firm BTG and sold it to Titan in 2001. He recently launched a financing firm geared to smaller government contractors seeking working capital.
From Startup To The Big Leagues
It's been over 10 years since Phil Schmitz sat in his University of Maryland dorm room and dreamed up a tech company that would offer web hosting and software as a service to anyone with a checkbook. The dream worked. BIS Global, which started as four guys in a tiny room, has built solutions for large retail customers like Tuesday Morning and nonprofits like the Wounded Warrior Project. It's on pace to more than double in revenue this year and grow head count from 16 to 30, and just moved to bigger space in Tysons from Rockville, Md. The live ticker behind Phil shows how much funding is being raised by the company's nonprofit clients using its CharityEngine software. (It's much more fun than the national debt clock.)
Phil recently hired former Motionsoft co-founder Hossein Noshirvani as a partner and Leigh Kessler to handle marketing. BIS Global's growth comes from creating software for email marketing, e-commerce, CRM, and website content management. Phil says the company's big break came when Tuesday Morning, an 800-store retailer, wanted the company to create its e-commerce solution. It grew from zero online sales to $10M in a year. The second big break came three years ago when the Wounded Warrior Project asked the company for a CRM solution to support its direct response TV campaigns. Realizing the gap in the marketplace, the company created CharityEngine software geared specifically to nonprofits that needed technology to better integrate their CRM with whatever online fundraising and communications they were doing.
We weren't that impressed by Phil's Redskins helmet until he told us it was signed by RGIII. The 34-year-old is the oldest of eight and pursued computer science after high school. While at Maryland, he got a job at an online advocacy firm on Capital Hill. He taught himself code and saw the firm go from five people to 60 before the boss realized Phil was only 19. He then switched majors from computer science to business. While he launched BIS Global during college, going to class was less of a priority since he had to work full-time to pay tuition, but he did graduate. Now the plan is to focus on marketing and growing the nonprofit client roster. Phil says he's also making his own transition from the guy writing code to the guy in charge.
Laundry Service For The City Dweller
Wash.io brought its dry cleaning service to its first East coast city this week: DC. The Santa Monica, Calif., startup's mobile app lets users order pick up and delivery of laundry for dry cleaning and wash and fold services, all within 24 hours. We snapped Juan Dulanto, who launched the company with Jordan Metzner, at a DC-area laundromat this week. The company, which has raised $2.75M in VC from some DC investors, has hired a team of DC “ninjas” to handle deliveries. The model is to partner with large dry cleaners, pay them wholesale fees, and then charge the user a retail rate. (Combined with Seamless, we're having a hard time finding a reason to go outside. Any suggestions?)
We're looking for tech couples to feature on Valentine's Day. Are you running a tech venture with your honey? Tell Bisnow's Tania Anderson about it.