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January 16, 2013
 
 
Is There An 8(a) Afterlife?

 
How does a small government contractor prepare to leave the 8(a) nest? IP Network Solutions is just months away, so we asked CEO Ash Murthy. He reminded us that not all companies go to H8(a)ven.
 
IP Network Solutions CEO Ash Murthy
Graduation from 8(a) status during an uncertain business climate for government business is daunting. But Ash says his Herndon, Va.-based IT services firm is ready. It’s making strategic exec hires, bidding on larger IDIQs, and securing some long-term contracts like the 8(a) STARS GWAC to keep business going beyond its July grad date. The market downturn will weed out companies not prepared for a more competitive business place, Ash says.
IP Network Solutions operations and strategy VP Aaron Tilock and biz dev director Mark Thomas
VP Aaron Tilock recently came on to help with the 8(a) transition and biz dev director Mark Thomas joined a few years ago to help compete for bigger contracts. (All while helping Dulles land planes—that's the control tower in the back.) Some of its bigger contract wins include working for the Dugway Proving Grounds in Utah. The company has about 25 people on site doing everything from software development to running networks in the very remote area. The contract has been a major selling point to win other deals, says Aaron.
IP Network Solutions team
IP Network Solutions has a small corporate team in its HQ, while the rest of the 130-person company is scattered at client sites. We caught the team on a day when major contract proposals were being hashed out. DOD, Army, and Air Force have been targeted as agencies willing to work with smaller players. Ash, who launched the company a decade ago, says his goal is to get revenue to $40 million to $50 million by 2015. The biggest challenge is managing growth and making sure the company doesn’t get ahead of itself with contract wins and hiring.

E-Commerce Without the "E"
 
AutoSquad's Beth VanStory
The online to offline market has been heating up over the last year, with companies like Uber and Warby Parker leading the charge. (It's the next wave of e-commerce where an online business delivers its product offline.) Sterling, Va.-based TireVan recently hired OfficeDepot.com guru Beth VanStory to get some more online expertise. She's since taken the company through a rebranding and expanded from just tires to also brakes. Now known as AutoSquad, the company will install tires and brakes anywhere in the DC region and Philadelphia.
AutoSquad's warehouse
Beth tells us “We’re seeing more and more orders online versus the phones. And people have become more accustomed to mobile services.” She moved to the region from Richmond, after spending 12 years in Silicon Valley. But she knows DC after being here in the early '80s when she worked in interactive TV for the former Bell Atlantic. (So yes, she remembers that pair of leg warmers we wore to work.) She also ran new media for Weather.com and launched and ran OfficeDepot.com.

Christmas Returns Get New Life
 
Optoro co-founders Tobin Moore and Adam Vitarello
Soon those discarded Christmas sweaters and ties will have a home. Optoro co-founders Tobin Moore and Adam Vitarello debuted their Lanham, Md.-based startup today and announced $7.5 million in series A funding from Grotech, SJF Ventures, and QED. The startup developed cloud-based remarketing software that posts returned, overstocked, and damaged box products on popular online marketplaces like eBay, Amazon, and Buy.com. The software uses big data sets and proprietary selling algorithms to match product pricing with market conditions. CEO Tobin Moore says holiday returns are expected to surge 37% over last year to $63 billion. Capital One co-founder and QED managing partner Nigel Morris and McLean Capital managing partner Dendy Young are advisors.

Bring Us Your Interns
 
Foster.ly's Adam Zuckerman
They descend on Washington from about mid May to late August. We’re talking interns of course. Foster.ly’s Adam Zuckerman tells us his entrepreneurship building org recently took over ProudlyMadeInDC's summer internship match program. An online forum was developed for students to find the perfect internship with local startups and entrepreneurial organizations. Interns apply online and Foster.ly provides the hiring organization with applicant info and makes recommendations. Foster.ly will also hold a virtual job fair in mid March where interns and startups can have live, online conversations. The service is free to applicants and free to $250 for hiring organizations based on their financial ability.
 
So should interns get paid? Tell Bisnow's Tania Anderson if you pay your interns.
 
 
 
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