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My Story: David DeWolf
July 15, 2013

My Story: David DeWolf

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Many young entrepreneurs have had this moment: when they realize their company actually has employees who work to put food on their table. David DeWolf shares his holy #%$* moment during 3Pillar's infancy.

3Pillar-david dewolf
He was driving down I-66 and realized there were six employees with families to feed and mortgages to pay. At that point he knew he couldn't just be one of the guys writing software code but had to now take on the CEO role. Seven years later, Fairfax, Va.-based 3Pillar Global is a 600-employee company, building software for customers like PBS and Carfax. Other milestones followed, like client wins and beating the more established competition. 3Pillar recently raised a $12M series A round and opened a NY office. Boston is next, with more in the pipeline. While 40% of its business is helping media companies, 3Pillar is now moving into education.

3pillar-pointing to dad
David points to his father, a brigadier general in the Air Force who helped shape his leadership skills. Despite his high position in the military, his father always showed compassion for people, recalls David. Like the time he advocated on behalf of an enlisted female in his commanding wing. She faced some scrutiny because of her weight, which was over military restrictions, even though she was in shape and capable of doing her job. He also learned how to identify people with leadership skills by interacting with four-star generals when they were invited over for family dinners. (Good leaders love his mom's mashed potatoes.)

3pillar-fam photo
David and his wife have six children, ranging in age from two to 12. He wasn't exactly a computer geek from birth. David went to Franciscan University to study communications and theology and graduated thinking he would do radio and TV production. He quickly realized it wasn't the kind of field where he would be able to support a family. He fell into an ad agency job during the height of the dot-com era and worked on building a website for a software company. Three months later, the client recruited him, and its founders taught him everything about software. His second job was launching 3Pillar at age 26. With six kids under foot, he spends free time at baseball games and volleyball matches. And we hear there's a home in Centreville, Va., with a pretty cool tree fort in the backyard.

Tablet App To Cure Athletes

sparkmotion-david gottfled
Dave Gottfeld spent most of his career helping injured athletes get back on the field. But two years ago, he joined forces with three others in the sports medicine and therapy fields to create Spark Motion, a tablet app that allows trainers to get a better sense of an athlete's body movement so they can treat and prevent injuries. The Bethesda, Md., startup's client roster includes one-third of NBA teams, NFL teams like the Patriots and Lions, and baseball teams like the Red Sox and Dodgers. Many international teams also use the software. The company plans to target doctors and veterinarians who could monitor a patient's recovery. Spark Motion is also meeting with manufacturers on improving assembly line ergonomics.

sparkmotion-in action
The app is used to take video of the athlete while in action and then the trainer can review it in slow motion, zoom in, and insert notes, arrows, and a grid within the video. The app has 700 clients and has attracted most of them by partnering with mentorship programs that provide continuing education to sports trainers. Dave says Spark Motion, which has some angel funding, is the first motion analysis app for a tablet. Most are turn and flip apps that link to Instagram or Facebook. But he argues that an athlete's health information can't be put on social networks. Spark Motion, which has a patent pending on its app, stores info in a HIPAA-compliant cloud.

spark motion-show
The app originally sold for $300 in the app store, but Apple prevents vendors from knowing who downloads their software. (The San Francisco Giants had been using it for two years without the company knowing.) Spark Motion wanted to be able to offer direct support and other types of communications to its customers. So it changed to a monthly subscription model for $6 a month. It also charges extra for other features, with Spark Motion taking a 7% transaction fee. Not every client pays: Spark Motion donated the app to Walter Reed and the Wounded Warriors program.

Homework From The Senator

nova market-mark warner
At Bisnow's State of the Northern Virginia market event Friday in Falls Church, former Virginia governor and tech entrepreneur, Sen. Mark Warner said sequestration will end up costing taxpayers more than than it saves. Some important projects will get axed and some of the brightest minds in government will leave their posts. So he assigned some homework: Make the DC region the cybersecurity capital of the world and ground zero for crowdfunding (as soon as the SEC figures out the regs); work with Silicon Valley on further development of the cloud; Virginia should partner with Maryland on increasing the region's life sciences dominance; and find other ways to leverage the region's proximity to the federal government. Got it?

Two DC Chefs!

tania-with Ris
This is your publisher speaking. Last week at lunch downtown we snapped two of our favorite chefs: Ris Lacoste, who you may remember helmed the kitchen of 1789 for 10 years and then started her fantastic own restaurant ("Ris," of course) at the Ritz Carlton in 2009 and where we took this pic; and Tania Anderson, who whips up those delicious concoctions you know as Tech Bisnow and Association Bisnow, which we hope you savor lovingly as you would the finest fois gras (assuming you do love it).

So send Tania some juicy ingredients for the next tech or association story.

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