Tandem Product Academy is looking for 20 existing Northern Virginia technology companies to guide and help succeed in the COVID-19 economy.
Amplifier Advisors, as well as a group of university, government and community partners, helped Tandem Innovation Alliance’s Academy launch a new cohort mentoring these technology companies on Sept. 14.
The Academy will help the selected businesses find a business model that will sustain them throughout the pandemic and long after, according to a statement from the Academy. The program will commence on Oct. 21, 2020.
The program will run virtually over a four-month period, alternating between all-cohort classes and individual company mentor sessions, according to the statement.
“The post COVID-19 economy is punishing for technology businesses that do not have the right product market fit, but as we can see from regional and national successes, when a technology business has the right fit, this is a great time to be in the technology industry,” said Jonathan Aberman, the founder of Amplifier Advisors.
“We want to help a group of promising technology businesses find their best opportunities to pivot what they have built into a market that will be rewarding for the current economy and what’s next,” said Aberman.
Amplifier Advisors is an innovation business led by Aberman, George Mason University’s Center for Regional Analysis and Marymount University’s Marymount Intrapreneurship Initiative, according to the statement.
The cohort’s teaching team includes Marymount University faculty and technology entrepreneurs and investors; including Mark Walsh, Gene Riechers, Ben Foster, Erich Baumgarter, Tien Wong, Pat Sheridan, Elizabeth Shea and Jonathan Aberman.
Participants must be senior leaders of a business that has a technology product that has achieved some commercial adoption, according to the statement, and whose company has done any of the following over the past year:
- Had gross revenue of $500,000;
- Obtained at least $500,000 in capital from sources other than the founder’s immediate friends or family; or
- Received at least $500,000 in federal research and development funding.
Those interested can view more information and apply at the Tandem Innovation Alliance website.
Photo by Alesia Kazantceva/Unsplash
In a discussion last night (Tuesday) with Vienna Mayor Linda Colbert, several business and economic leaders talked about how locals could show support for their businesses, and how some businesses could do a better job of bringing in customers.
The simplest, and most obvious answer, was for locals to shop local when they can rather than buying through a company like Amazon. Jim Brooke, Town Business Liaison Committee chair, said people should also be more conscious now of taking the time to leave positive reviews online.
“Talk about local businesses on social media, leave positive Yelp reviews for local businesses,” Brooke said. “It’s easy to shop online, but if you want to have brick and mortar businesses in your community, you have to shop at them sometimes.”
Some industries have fared better than others in the pandemic, and Brooke said it’s particularly important to show support for the hardest hit, personal service businesses.
“Construction businesses and real estate have been doing pretty well, but businesses that are more intimate like hair stylists, anything that involves close interaction with people, aren’t doing very well,” Brooke said. “For my business and the people I work with, hospitality industry is really in trouble. Especially caterers, party planners, or party venues.” Read More
A new addition to Tysons Corner Center, Brookiegirl is a Black-owned, father-daughter run business that now offers shoppers specialty skincare products.
Dad and daughter duo Bobby and 16- year old Brooklynne Hand decided to start the business after Brooklynne struggled to find suitable products for her sensitive skin.
With two locations becoming increasingly popular in Maryland, the Hand family decided to open a third location in Tysons on Aug. 14, according to Bobby.
Products include bath bombs and teas, lip balms, body butter, hand soaps, body mists and even hand sanitizer. Offerings range in price from around $4 to $35.
For the pair, a location in Tysons Corner Center is a milestone since the traffic and notability of the mall will likely open doors in the future.
“If you’re a retailer, you want to prove yourself at Tysons Corner,” Bobby said. “Tysons is like our Times Square for the area. If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere.”
Sales and turnout at the Tysons location so far have been great, according to Bobby, who added that foot traffic in the mall allows people to try out Brookiegirl’s products. “We are hitting the mark that we thought we might have hit, even if COVID wasn’t a factor.”
When it comes to product brand and identity, Bobby said that they think of a “Broookiegirl” as someone who “not only is a well rounded and empowered lady of various nationalities, ages and races but someone who is a defender of her own imagination, beliefs and is big on defending others’ individuality.”
Since they are a military family, Bobby said that individuality and hard work is an American trait they work to embody.
All of Brookiegirls products are produced locally by young adults looking to enter the job market, often in college or high school who want to learn about the business or the beauty industry, according to Bobby.
Despite the ongoing pandemic, the company’s growth means that Brookiegirl was able to bring back all of its employees to once again operate at full capacity.
“That made us feel great – not only that they felt we were able to take care of them and they trusted us to provide a safe space, but they wanted to continue growing the business,” Bobby said.
Bobbygirl is open seven days a week offers discounts for military, veterans and first responders.
Photo via Brookie Girl/Facebook
More Info on COVID-19 Outbreaks — “The Virginia General Assembly responded last week, unanimously passing emergency bills in the House and Senate to require the disclosure [of COVID-19 outbreaks in nursing homes and assisted living centers.]” [Inside NoVa]
Kanye West Will Be on Virginia Ballots — “Rapper Kanye West has qualified to appear on Virginia’s presidential ballot in November, according to state election officials.” [Inside NoVa]
Affirm Logic Corp. Scores New Funding — “A McLean cybersecurity startup, whose pedigree includes research from Carnegie Mellon University and the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, has secured a $25 million equity financing round.” [Washington Business Journal]
Even though @fcpsnews students will be virtual for now, there is still a need for school supplies for kids in need. Our annual backpack event is going on today but will look different than in the past. #FCFRD still here for our Fairfax County community! ❤️ pic.twitter.com/1NmoqAb9Pa
— Fairfax Fire/Rescue (@ffxfirerescue) August 31, 2020
Photo by Michelle Goldchain
Several Tysons companies received kudos recently for hiring and retaining former service members.
The recently announced “Best for Vets: Employers” rankings from the Military Times included six Tysons-area businesses. The ranking aims to spotlight businesses around the country that are expanding their efforts to recruit and keep veterans.
The Military Times determined the rankings with ScoutComms by using a survey to rank 144 employers. Here’s how the Tysons-area businesses did:
- #11 Hilton
- #14 Capital One
- #26 Booz Allen Hamilton
- #61 PenFed Credit Union
- #94 General Dynamics Information Technology
- #113 DynCorp International
With veterans making up 3.6% of its roughly 44,000 employees, Capital One got top scores for retention support programs, help employees get civilian credentials and employment support for guard and reserve employees.
Hilton received high marks for its retention support programs, civilian credential attainment and practices for recruiting and employment. Veterans make up 3% of the company’s approximately 53,500 employees.
DynCorp International had the highest percentage of veterans among its workforce — 70% of roughly 8,700 workers — for the Tysons-area companies on the list.
The Military Times has been reporting on the pandemic’s impact on the number of jobless veterans, writing in July that more than 770,000 veterans across the country were struggling to find work in June.
Booz Allen Hamilton and the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department were among 11 businesses that received kudos during the virtual Virginia Veterans and Military Affairs Conference last week, Virginia Business reported.
The conference was hosted by the Virginia Chamber of Commerce, Virginia Department of Veterans Services (VDVS) and the Virginia Veterans Services Foundation.
For former service members seeking employment help, VDVS helps veterans and their families fidn resources for employment, housing, education and more, along with assistance filing claims for federal veterans benefits. The state agency also operates two long-term care facilities.
Photo by Michelle Goldchain
&pizza Co-Founder Buys McLean Mansion — “Washington Wizards superstar Bradley Beal has sold his French Provincial-style McLean mansion to entrepreneur Steve Salis, the co-founder of &pizza, for $3.5 million.” [Washington Business Journal]
Virtual Fundraiser — “The McLean area branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) is hosting an online fund-raiser to take the place of its 51st annual book sale, which was slated for September but has been canceled due to the public-health pandemic.” [Inside NoVa]
Former Lt. Gov. Dies — “John H. Hager, a moderate Republican who persevered over polio to serve as Virginia’s lieutenant governor and hold other key state and national posts, died Sunday. He was 83.” [Richmond Times-Dispatch]
Inc. 5000 List — “The number of Greater Washington companies at the top of the Inc. 5000 fastest-growing companies fell precipitously in 2020, reversing a trend of growth from the previous few years’ lists… Vienna logistics firm Urgent.ly, which last year was Greater Washington’s highest-ranked firm at No. 12 on the list, dropped more than 200 spots to No. 221 in 2020.” [Washington Businss Journal]
Photo by Michelle Goldchain
Tysons Company Reduces Workforce — “MicroStrategy Inc. (NASDAQ: MSTR) cut its workforce by 6% in early July as the company adapted to the business changes brought about by the continued spread of Covid-19 — and its recent cuts helped increase profitability for the Tysons business intelligence software company.” [Washington Business Journal]
Pizza Chain Struggling — “California Pizza Kitchen has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, as the chain has been unable to surmount the challenges posed by a steep drop in sit-down dining due to the coronavirus pandemic… California Pizza Kitchen has five locations in Greater Washington, in Pentagon City, Bethesda, Tysons Corner Center, Fairfax Corner and Washingtonian Center in Gaithersburg – all currently reopened in a limited capacity.” [Washington Business Journal]
Women’s Suffrage Month — “Fairfax County supervisors, after first being chided by one member, agreed July 28 that all the board’s members would sign a proclamation declaring this August as ‘Women’s Suffrage Month’ in the county.” [Inside NoVa]
Planning Commission OKs three-house subdivision — “Satisfied with planned noise-reduction measures, Fairfax County Planning Commission members on July 22 unanimously recommended the Board of Supervisors approve a three-home subdivision just north of Tysons.” [Inside NoVa]
Photo courtesy Joanne Liebig
The City of Falls Church unveiled a new permit to help businesses and nonprofits to use outdoor space for classes and events.
The city announced yesterday (Tuesday) that the Temporary Outdoor Commercial Activity Permit will tentatively be available until Oct. 1, with the possibility that the end date might get extended.
Eight areas in the city are available to rent, including the Cherry Hill Park Basketball Court, designated grass area at Cherry Hill Farmhouse/Park and Mr. Brown’s Park. Normally, Mr. Brown’s Park is the only city park that businesses and organizations can rent for commercial activity.
Rentals are $20 per hour, along with a $200 security deposit. Applications are accpeted on a first-come, first-serve basis, the city said, noting that the permit does not apply to outdoor dining or service related to food or alcohol.
When using the outdoor space, people must follow the governor’s orders to social distance, wear face coverings and disinfect areas.
“We recognize that a lot of city businesses and non-profits are looking for ways to create safe environments for their customers and supporters,” Danny Schlitt, the parks and recreation director, said in a press release. “If they feel that open air venues help them safely deliver a service or program, then we want to help by temporarily allowing the rental of our parks. We are all in this together!”
Photo by Bradley Brister/Unsplash
About a year after Wee Chic opened in the Mosaic District, COVID-19 restrictions temporarily closed the brick and mortar store. Now, the newly reopened kids’ clothing boutique is preparing for the fall.
Started in Maryland a little more than 10 years ago, Wee Chic made a quick pivot to e-commerce with curated boxes and an online store this spring. Just like owner Bridget Quinn Stickline predicted back in May, the reopened stores are currently offering steep discounts as Wee Chic looks to shed excess inventory and make way for fall clothing.
“We still have too much inventory,” Stickline told Tysons Reporter in mid-July. “Currently, we’re selling product up to 60% off. This is the good stuff that would have sold full price.”
With fall approaching, Wee Chic plans to make changes again — a “giant pivot cycle” as Stickline calls it — to keep the business going during the pandemic. Stickline stressed that the store is committed to serving shoppers with various comfort levels around COVID-19 precautions, from in-store browsing with required face coverings to online shopping.
Curated Boxes Returning
Wee Chic first promoted its curated “Shop Box” in the spring to help with the inventory overload, but put a pause on the box due to the summer sale.
As the store now looks to move away from being heavily discounted, Stickline said that she plans to relaunch the box for fall merchandise.
Here’s how the box works: employees talk to shoppers over the phone to pick out 10-20 pieces, which can include multiple sizes. When the box arrives, kids try on the clothes and parents send back whatever they don’t want. Shoppers who keep a certain number of pieces get a percentage off their entire order.
Because the box is not a subscription model, Stickline said that her employees work hard to pick out the right products.
“[Subscription services] have a chance to get it right,” Stickline said. “In our model, it’s one box. That one box has to be good enough.”
Stickline noted that while Wee Chic had been offering the box for awhile, the store hadn’t given it a name or marketing until the pandemic.
Bringing back the box isn’t the only upcoming move for the fall. Wee Chic is also looking to start a loyalty program — “Something we’ve wanted to do for a long time,” according to Stickline.
Stickline sees the loyalty program as a way to make her customers feel appreciated and also ease any strain on their wallets from the pandemic.
“Everyone I think is more concerned about spending right now,” she said.
Regular customers might notice some changes to Wee Chic’s inventory this fall. Unlike previous years, the store is now looking to reduce its party dresses and ramp up its toy and gift options as the pandemic affects clothing demand.
Wee Chic is also selling masks for kids and tweens, which Stickline calls “a little bit of a heartbreaker.” The masks include pastel colors, sharks, unicorns, corgis and more. “
“You still have to buy clothes,” Stickline said. “Some kids are going back to schools a few days a week.”
Even for families and school systems opting for fully virtual learning, Stickline noted that kids outgrow clothes quickly.
Parents normally have to size up for a few or all of their kids’ clothing pieces every season, with ages 2-5 usually seeing the fastest growth and ages 6-8 most likely for growth spurts, Stickline said.
Online Wish List
When the pandemic prompted social distancing and canceled in-person events, Stickline noticed that shoppers started to spend more on kids’ presents.
“I feel like people are giving slightly nicer gifts because they can’t go to showers,” she said. “[People] want to make more of a gesture. You’re sad for a kid who can’t have a birthday party when they’re 6.”
In pre-COVID times, kids could pick out items in the store for wish lists. Now, work is underway to create an online registry.
Stickline sees the online wish list as a way for would-be guests to send “a big box full of fun” to kids and their families celebrating birthdays and holidays.
“The role I see for us in the world as a business is we’re here to spread some cheer and make things better,” she said.
Photo via Wee Chic/Facebook
A local Turkish catering company recently opened up a new bakery and gourmet market in Falls Church.
“We initially wanted to open a full cafe, but unfortunately seating nor funding was available to us,” Dilek Kaygusuz, the owner of BorekG, told Tysons Reporter.
The catering business has been serving the community for 10 years.
Kaygusuz said plans to open the store started seven years ago. Finally, at the beginning of June, the team was able to move forward with opening plans under COVID-19 safety protocols and through the Falls Church Food Safety Workshop.
She said they are disappointed that they didn’t get any financial help from Falls Church or Fairfax County. “I hope in the future they value us more,” Kaygusuz said.
Business at BorekG has been stable, but they hope things get better, Kaygusuz said. Many businesses have struggled due to the pandemic, and BorekG is no exception.
The BorekG Bakery and Gourmet Market offers Turkish breakfast, brunch, appetizers, and lunch. Some of the items included in their store include flatbreads, pastries, baklava and more. The market also sells grocery items such as eggs, cheese, butter, milk and oils.
“You can also sign up for our future cooking classes, make reservations for outdoor seating and find out about our host dinners,” BorekG’s website says.
Outside of the store, people can find BorekG at the Falls Church Farmers Market each Saturday.
Photo via Borek-G/Facebook