Pet care service Woofie’s announced plans for franchise expansion in the Vienna, McLean and Great Falls areas.
Though they don’t have set locations or opening dates yet, Vice President of Marketing Renee Ventrice said that once the company finds owners to run the franchises, locations are usually open for business within six months.
When the new locations finally open, Ventrice said that it will bring new jobs to the area as well. The company chose the three areas for expansion because they recognized an increased need for reliable pet care services. With a working median-income population, the locations fit their target market.
As a previous startup, the venture began in Ashburn under owners Amy Reed and Leslie Barron. Woofie’s slowly transformed their business into the multi-market company it is today. The company offers customers grooming, pet-sitting and walking services catering to many species of animals with varying dispositions.
Woofie’s also offers mobile dog wash stations.
“Our focus on mobile services ensures a relatively low barrier to entry when compared to other pet care franchise systems,” said Ventrice.
At their established location in Ashburn, they currently employ around 60-80 dog-walkers, 11 groomers, four to five full-time administrative employees, and other part-time seasonal employees.
For people looking into franchise opportunities, Ventrice said the company is seeking driven individuals who are passionate about pets and have a strong work ethic. Franchisees with Woofie’s have the flexibility to work with the company on important decisions. They are also guaranteed a protected territory so they don’t have to worry about competition with other locations.
Anyone interested in opening a franchise with the company can visit their website for more information or email [email protected].
Photos via Woofie’s
Tysons-based startup hatch I.T. recently launched a new service to help other local startups scale up their projects.
Hatch I.T. is a local firm that helps other technology-centered startups find and recruit talent, which may become increasingly difficult locally with Amazon coming to town. Their new product, Scale, aims to help those startups moving beyond that garage-workshop phase figure out how to expand.
According to the product website:
Scaling your engineering team can be a daunting task for any company, especially startups and small businesses. With limited resources & budget constraints paired with a tight job market, many startups find themselves falling behind in the race for talent. The age-old recruiting options that may work for a Fortune 500 do not always carry over to the startup ecosystem. That’s why ‘Scale by hatch I.T.’ is a custom recruiting model… geared for startups and growing small businesses.
A press release from the company said Scale functions as a subscription-based recruiting service, helping companies build their corporate teams faster.
Tim Winkler, CEO of hatch I.T., said the cost of Scale varies based on the size of the engagement, the number of openings, size of the startup and other factors. While Winkler would not quote specific rates, he did say that the company charges a fixed price on a bi-weekly retainer.
“The current recruiting landscape for startups is broken,” Winkler said in the press release. “When clients use Scale, they grow their staff more rapidly and with cost savings because their dedicated recruiting partner from hatch I.T. is with them all the way.”
Photo via hatch I.T.
When hackers try to break into a website, they probe the site for vulnerabilities.
Mohamoud Jibrell, CEO of Tysons-based startup NormShield, says that’s where his company comes in. NormShield searches a company’s website and infrastructure for those same vulnerabilities, so it can shore up defenses later.
Yesterday, the company announced that it had secured $3.5 million in seed funding that will allow the company to expand the scope of it’s operation and begin targeting sales.
“The majority of that funding is going to give us ability to scale,” said Jibrell. “None of our competitors in the market can do what I did. But our reach is limited, we didn’t have the sales people and engineers. So one way this is going to help us is expand our reach and we can sell to more customers.”
While NormShield isn’t the only company testing vulnerabilities, it’s a pretty standard part of the industry, Jibrell said NormShield’s strength is in combatting access through vendors or suppliers.
When Target was hacked in 2013 in one of the largest data breaches to ever hit a retailer, it wasn’t through the main company’s infrastructure. Jibrell said the hackers targeted a tiny company that handled heating and air conditioning service for the store. The hackers were able to access Target through a connected network and steal access to millions of credit cards.
Jibrell said larger companies often use hundreds or thousands of suppliers for various jobs, and NormShield is able to relatively quickly scan those websites and report back which ones are most vulnerable.
“Capital One, for instance, has thousands of suppliers,” said Jibrell. “It doesn’t make sense to run scorecards for all suppliers. But if they have 50,000 suppliers, with us we can run that every night and can only alert Capital One when there are [serious problems].”
Currently, Jibrell said the company is able to run anywhere between 10,000 to 15,000 checks overnight. But as the company grows, he says there are larger clients with larger needs.
“We need to expand our reach and improve our name recognition,” said Jibrell. “But at the same time, as customers increase, we don’t want to create a bottleneck. Today, 15,000 scorecards overnight. Want to be able to do 150,000 overnight or a million a week. So far, we’ve been trying to be frugal and didn’t want to spend on infrastructure for that level of scale. That money will allow us to create that so as we get more customers, we have the capacity to support.”
Jibrell said the company currently works with around 50 clients, ranging from small non-profits to larger banking and technology companies. But Jibrell also said it’s been the founders who have been making most of the sales calls, so the company is going to start looking to hire a new sales team and begin to exhibit at tech conferences.
Most of the half-dozen new jobs will be split between the company’s Tysons and Boston locations. Jibrell said they will be looking specifically for accountants and salespeople.
For Jibrell, Tysons is home, so it’s important to keep the company rooted here. But the location also gives NormShield access to talent at several local technology incubators, like MACH 37.
“[This area] has that community so that’s a big advantage,” said Jibrell. “That comes with talent, a lot of cyber talent in this area. It’s easier for us to grow and hire more technical people here than we would in Silicon Valley or New York.”
Image via NormShield
Local Startup Raises $30 Million — “Fairfax-based real estate data and analytics company Remine,” which has offices in Tysons and Dunn Loring, “has closed a $30 million Series A funding round, bringing its total amount raised to $48 million.” [Washington Business Journal]
Officials Hold Meeting on E-Bikes — “The recent popularity [of] e-bikes and the fact they are not allowed on trails in Fairfax County and NOVA Parks prompted NOVA Parks and Fairfax County Park Authority to take steps to understand the issues and then share facts with the public and listen to their comments.” [McLean Connection]
Fairfax Home Market Flat to Start Year — “A modest increase in sales was offset by slightly lower average sales price in the January home-sales report for Fairfax County. And as a result, the total sales volume for the month stood relatively unchanged as the local market began to segue from winter to spring.” [InsideNova]
Falls Church Seeking BZA Member — The Falls Church Board of Zoning Appeals is looking to fill a vacancy for the position of Alternate Member. [City of Falls Church]
New investors in the project include car manufacturers BMW and Jaguar.
“Global automotive and new mobility companies are increasingly designing and marketing more transportation options with varying tasks, sizes and complexity,” the company said in a press release. “This level of innovation will render traditional roadside assistance obsolete, evolving into mobility assistance that can service today’s vehicles as well as fleets of the future that will include electric vehicles, autonomous vehicles, micro-mobility vehicles, drones, robotic delivery and more.”
The company is headquartered at 8609 Westwood Center Drive, just off Leesburg Pike and west of the Dominion Square development.
Urgent.ly’s platform aims to make linking a driver to a roadside assistance program seamless and accessible. The company claims its product can provide a 50 percent reduction in response times and offers real-time tracking for both the driver in the crash and the roadside assistance company.
The BMW Group also selected Urgent.ly as a partner for further work with the manufacturer’s in-house roadside assistance system.
“We are truly gratified by the support of our investors, including some of the world’s top global automotive brands, as we work to define the future of mobility and roadside assistance and deliver experience customers demand and deserve,” Chris Spanos, CEO and co-founder of Urgent.ly, said in the press release.
Photo via Facebook
Developer Buys NADA HQ — “The Meridian Group has acquired the NADA headquarters building and an adjacent development site, adding to its growing Boro District near the Greensboro Metro station in Tysons.” [Washington Business Journal]
Police Expanding Dressing Room Filming Case — Fairfax County Police have added Fair Lakes Promenade and Springfield Town Center to the list of shopping centers where they think 39-year-old Mumtaz Rauf secretly filmed women in the dressing room of stores like Forever 21, Gap, H&M, and Old Navy. Rauf was already suspected of filming at Fair Oaks Mall and Tysons Corner Center. [FCPD]
Park Fees May Increase — “Fees for using the Fairfax County Park Authority’s RECenters, gardens, historic sites, rental facilities and trails would increase under a slate of fee changes proposed by agency officials. The fee package would bring in an estimated $656,000 more revenue, officials said.” [InsideNova]
Tysons Startup Moving to California — “Tysons personal data startup Kork… recently got a $5 million term sheet from a New York-based private equity firm for its Series A round that values the company at $15 million… But the growth has also led to another big moment — Kork plans to move to California in the coming months, according to CEO and co-founder Robert Wensley. ‘We tried really hard to raise money here in D.C. but it’s impossible unless you are cybersecurity of some sort,’ Wensley said.” [Washington Business Journal]
Tysons Startup Raises $10 Million — “McLean-based Verato Inc., which provides cloud technology to consolidate medical records, has raised $10 million in Series C financing… Verato has already outgrown its 6,000-square-foot headquarters, so it plans to move in July to another Tysons space totaling 12,000 to 14,000 square feet.” [Washington Business Journal]
New residential buildings are coming to The Boro, but a new partnership with WhyHotel means many of them might temporarily be hotel-style rentals before they’re leased.
WhyHotel is a startup based in D.C. that takes unrented units from recently-built apartments, from studios to two-bedroom units, and rents them out as hotel spaces and pay some of the rent back to the developer. Meanwhile, on-call staff handle the cleaning and other guests needs.
In addition to new WhyHotel locations planned in Arlington, the company announced Monday that it will partner with The Meridian Group and Kettler to operate a “pop up” hotel in The Boro (8395 Greensboro Drive). Up to 150 residential units will be used as WhyHotel rentals. Guests will be able to stay in the units starting late summer or early fall next year.
The new WhyHotel spaces will be located in Rise, a 27-story luxury high-rise apartment building scheduled to open sometime in 2019.
Image via The Meridian Group
Yombu, a startup at MakeOffices in Tysons that specializes in fingertip authentication, recently expanded its reach into New York City, California and Colorado.
Originally reported by DC Inno, fitness centers in Manhattan and other locations have started using Yombu to authenticate gym entrance and training sessions. Joe Falit, CEO of Yombu, told Tysons Reporter the push into New York came as part of Yombu’s partnership with Motionsoft, a management and software company that operates in fitness and entertainment centers across the country.
Falit said the gyms use the fingerprint software to authenticate people coming in and out of the facilities, as well as using it to sign for training sessions to avoid fraud.
Yombu is expanding into 35-40 new locations, of which 25 are in Manhattan. Falit said Yombu may expand into as many as new 60 locations in the near future.
In 2019, Falit said his aims are to add new distribution channels for the technology and continue making technical improvements.
“We still do payments, but overall we’re becoming [more of an] authentication company,” said Falit.
For now, though, Falit says he plans on doing more work from home as he helps raise his daughter, who was born last week.
Photo courtesy Yombu
Fairfax startups are economically strong but disproportionately tied to the public sector, even compared to other nearby jurisdictions, according to the 2017 Startup Census.
Adam Zuckerman, founder of census creator Fosterly, spoke to the Fairfax County Economic Advisory Commission meeting earlier this month to offer a recap of Fairfax’s role in the survey of local startups.
In total, 48 companies from Fairfax participated in the survey, while 377 businesses from around the region were surveyed in total.
- The Fairfax startups that participated in the survey generated $28 million dollars in revenue in 2017 and projected 194 percent growth in 2018.
- Startups throughout Northern Virginia generated $108 million in revenue and projected 166 percent growth.
- Throughout the entire region, startups generated $193 million in revenue and projected 217 percent growth overall.
- Fairfax County is home to about 12.5 percent of startups in the D.C. area.
According to the survey, startups in Fairfax also derived less of their revenue from consumers or private businesses than the regional average.
- Fairfax startups derived 66 percent of their revenue from private sector customers.
- Regional startups averaged 89 percent revenue from private customers.
“If you look towards the larger set, only 11 percent of revenue in the overall set came from the public sector,” said Zuckerman. “So Fairfax County companies have a disproportionate amount of public sector revenue than the larger ecosystem.”
Ryan Touhill, chief of staff for the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership, said in the survey analysis that the regional shift away from a reliance on the public sector is a positive trend for local economic diversification.
For Fairfax, Zuckerman said this public sector reliance for startups that are generally less than five years old is unusual because most public sector deals require a track record that startups generally don’t have. Most startups, Zuckerman said, start off working in the private sector before dipping their toes into the public sector when the product is proven.
The survey also found that the top five industries in Fairfax for startups were technology and services, computer software, real estate, financial services, and management and consulting.
There was one unfortunate item of news about one company in particular: Fosterly, the company running the census. Unless another organization takes over the mantle, Zuckerman says this year’s census will be the last.
“We’re not doing it again this year,” said Zuckerman. “We’re going to be talking to a few entities to see if they want to continue the census… but the resources weren’t there.”
Photo via Fosterly
Republik Coffee Bar was founded out of frustration.
Elan Irving, the company’s director of operations, said when the founders of the coffee bar were looking for premium coffee options in the area, they were underwhelmed. Recently, the coffee shop that started one year ago in Arlington has branched out into Tysons.
The Republik Coffee Bar in Tysons is located on the ground floor of the mixed-use Highgate (7915 Jones Branch Drive) just east of Tysons Galleria. It opened in June.
“We were looking for a place to enjoy premium coffee served in an inviting environment staffed by friendly baristas with a pleasant ambiance,” said Irving. “Surprisingly, there are very few places that embody all of these qualities, so we decided to provide such space for like minded coffee lovers.”
Irving said the largest issue that faced the burgeoning company initially was finding a price balance.
“One of the challenges is to keep prices low without sacrificing on the quality of the product as well as keeping a staff of highly qualified baristas,” said Irving. “We were always in pursuit of better coffee, better brewing methods, and very competitive prices. We don’t believe in charging $5 for a six-ounce cappuccino.”
Republik Coffee Bar is in the midst of an aggressive expansion campaign. In six months, Republik plans to open two more locations inside D.C. and eventually another in Fairfax County.
“If you are afraid of taking calculated risks, you shouldn’t be in business of investing in new businesses,” said Irving. “This is also true in our business. We are very confident in our concept and very happy to see the response we received in Ballston. This has encouraged us to expand into other locations.”
For now, Republik Coffee Bar is local, but the company has much larger ambitions if the continued regional launches go well.
“Our short term goals are establish our brand into a very respectable local brand in the D.C. metro area,” Irving said. “If we are successful in achieving this, we will continue to expand regionally and then one day, nationally.”