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Tech People's Hobbies
March 21, 2013

Tech People's Hobbies

The Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE — DC Region) invites you to celebrate the area's young entrepreneurs and future leaders who dare to dream. The 16th Annual Dare To Dream Gala happens on Wednesday, April 10. Find out more and RSVP here.

Launching a tech startup can be... well, exhausting. And stressful. So we checked in with the adventuresome out there doing it and asked them what they do to blow off some steam.

hobbies-danny boice
When Danny Boice isn't trying to change the way people do conference calls through his Sterling, Va.-based startup Speek, he's practicing mixed martial arts. In 2004, he started Brazilian jiu-jitsu, which is a form of submission grappling (not a South American candy), and has also taken up Muay Thai, which gave birth to kickboxing. Before Speek started to take off, Danny trained daily with world champion fighter Vivek Nakarmi and competed. But now it's about three times a week at Disciple MMA with UFC fighter Dustin Pague. He's even teaching some of his colleagues in AOL's Fishbowl Labs some of the skills.
Fashion4Paws (Tix) MTECH

hobbies-rick robinson
Urgent.ly co-founder Rick Robinson started skateboarding as a 10-year-old in Naples, Fla. And he's never stopped. He skated right on through college, and even squeezed it in as his career took off at AOL. Before his kids came along, it was tough to get accepted as a 20-something at the local skate park, but once his sons showed interest, he was able to teach them his passion. His 16-year-old Avery has moved on from the sport but Rick still gets to skate with 11-year-old Alden. Rick tells us he also has a collection of 25 skateboards stashed in his garage. We grimaced at the thought of trusting four small wheels with our balance, and Rick admits he's taken a few spills. (But he's probably also landed some sick pop shuv-it under flips, too.)

hobbies-matt calkins
Shouldn't there be a board game about running your own company? Why do that when you can design games about war and history? Appian CEO Matt Calkins does just that, competing internationally with some of the board games he designs and develops when he's not running his Reston, Va.-based BPM software firm. The wargame he designed, Sekigahara, won top prize in wargaming on the world's leading board game website; and #1 debut at the 2012 World Boardgaming Championships. He personally finished in the Top 5 overall at the 2012 World Boardgaming Championships, among 1,500 competitors. If you're stumped by checkers, you might want to stay away from Sekigahara.

hobbies-david foxworth
Making one's life story interesting enough for a group of friends over beers is hard enough. How about for an audience of strangers? Yup, that's what David Supley Foxworth does when he's not working as technical lead at Compusearch Software Systems in Dulles, Va. After going to storytelling shows for several years, he enrolled in a workshop to learn how to craft a good story for a 7-10 minute public performance. He had his first storytelling show last October and it went so well, he's done several since then. His bachelor party story was selected as one of the top 25 stories in the last two years from Better Said Than Done, an organization that teaches storytelling. The public is voting on the top 10, who will then perform at a show in May.

Rohit "Ro" Rao has always had a thing for movies and music. And last year he made the two work when he directed and wrote Ultrasonic, a movie set in DC about a musician who tries to figure out why he's the only one who hears a strange sound. Now Ro, a senior software architect at LogiXML, is working on his next feature. He'd like to raise "7-figures" for the project and bring in bigger name actors. (We know a couple of humor editors who work for a certain online newsletter who are available.) He also plays guitar and sings in a band once every weekend and has a show on April 6 at the Velvet Lounge.

Zen Hospitality Offers Alt Temp Housing

spon spot-zen
Zen Hospitality CEO Mark Nicolini has successfully removed the usual sterility of corporate living. His hospitality company operates 20 fully furnished, vibe-friendly apartments in DC, Arlington, Fairfax, and Dulles. His goal is for you to achieve zen through temporary housing that offers perfect balance, harmony, and tranquility, encompassing ease of arrival and carefree comfort. Rooms include top-name appliances, executive-level furniture, housekeeping, a complete set of cookware and towels, private WiFi and—most zen of all—queen-sized beds with double-pillowtop mattresses and 400-thread-count Egyptian cotton sheets. All reservations are overseen and cared for by the owner/operator (namely Mark). By doing it himself and having low overhead, Mark can offer more amenities (like the 42" flat-screen smart TV that other corporate apartments don't offer). Zen Hospitality is not only available to business travelers but serves as a great hotel alternative for tourists as well. For more information on our sponsor, click here.

Big Data's $7.2B Opportunity

deltek-alex rossino
Now that sequestration has become old news, we can start talking about big data again. With federal agencies creating 40% more data annually, the need for solutions for how to analyze that data and make it more useful is huge, says Deltek analyst Alex Rossino. He moderated his firm's federal executive breakfast last week in Tysons. The big data market is expected to grow to $7.2 billion by 2017, driven by demand for hardware, software, and services. (Wonder if cats will ever know the amount of data their presence on the internet causes?) HHS has the most big data projects already underway, followed by DOD, DOE, NSF, and VA.

FCC-greg elin
Greg Elin, another fed exec breakfast speaker, is one of the few federal employees with the title "chief data officer." At FCC, he's tasked with solving the agency's big data problem, which isn't as massive as other agencies. Coordinating data across its databases is one of the biggest challenges. But the agency is starting to generate more sensor-based data like looking at broadband performance in homes across the country. FCC has also successfully built APIs so that the public can work with its data. His dream is to be able to answer any research-related question with a URL. Like if his boss asks for the latest stats on how many landlines still exist, he could send a link with the breakdown. (Our guess is that pretty soon the answer to that question will be zero.)

NITRDP-mark luker
Mark Luker rounded out the panel with his take on big data, from the perspective of the associate director and chair of the big data steering committee under an organization the White House put together to oversee 14 agencies' investment in IT R&D. He says the urgency in getting big data analytics solutions for agencies could mean better forecasting for NOAA or richer clinical data for NIH. The health agency has said big data is the greatest bottleneck in medical research. Mark's steering committee is building a portal to find out which schools are teaching big data skillsets and offering prizes to the public for breakthrough solutions.

The Leukemia Ball is Raffling Two Mercedes

Since 1988, the annual Leukemia Ball has raised more than $45M for the fight against leukemia and related diseases. This event is the largest non-political black-tie happening in DC, with approximately 2,000 guests, Jim Belushi & The Sacred Hearts Band and a comedic performance by Dana Carvey. The event would not be complete without the Mercedes-Benz raffle, with a grand-prize winner receiving a 2013 GL450 and first-prize winner receiving a 2013 C250 Sports Sedan. The silent auction features more than 400 packages, including many one-of-a-kind experiences such as travel. It all takes place this Saturday, March 23 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. For more information on the event and our sponsor, click here.

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