Tysons, VA

Tysons company Urgent.ly has scored a high spot on Deloitte’s new list highlighting the fastest-growing tech companies in North America this year.

The roadside assistance company nabbed the #6 spot on the “2019 Technology Fast 500 Ranking.”

Earlier this year, the company gained national attention for its partnerships with Uber, Volvo and Amazon.

In total, five Tysons-based companies made the list.

The other Tysons companies on the list are:

The list “provides a ranking of the fastest-growing technology, media, telecommunications, life sciences, and energy tech companies — both public and private — in North America,” according to Deloitte.

The companies on the list were chosen based on percentage fiscal year revenue growth from 2015 to 2018.

Image courtesy Urgent.ly 

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A Tysons tech company wants to boost fundraising, sales and marketing efficiency for both non-profits and businesses by using artificial intelligence.

BoodleAI (1751 Pinnacle Drive), which eventually branched out to also create guidonAI, began as a small startup roughly three years ago and managed to expand its client base to include around 30 non-profit groups and businesses once product development was complete.

BoodleAI works with non-profits to expand their donor bases, while guidonAI exclusively works with businesses to boost marketing strategies and sales, France Hoang, the chief strategy officer and co-founder, told Tysons Reporter.

Both companies offer predictive analytics to help organizations by taking the clients’ pre-existing data and cross-referencing it with more than 500 other data points on each person, using only names and email. All of the data sets are then analyzed by AI to come up with a predictive model that will be tested for power and reliability, according to the company’s website.

Hoang began the company because he felt that non-profits are an “underserved market.”

“I know the pain non-profits go through trying to raise funds for their mission,” Hoang said.

The company names were inspired by Hoang’s time at the United States Military Academy at West Point, where he graduated before serving time as Special Forces in Afghanistan, moved onto law school at Georgetown University and eventually become an entrepreneur.

Everything had its place at the academy, he said, adding that all of the cadets were expected to keep things extremely organized.

“The one exception to that is that you are allowed one exception of cookies, candy and things sent to you by your friends and family back home,” he said, adding that things come in a box and the contents are referred to as “boodle.”

GuidonAI was inspired by the flag that represents a unit. “If you want to know where to go, you look towards the guideon,” Hoang said.

The company offers decreased pricing options for non-profits but the cost will ultimately depend on variables including the size of the organization, the amount of help they need and the size of the problem, Hoang said.

“We would like to be the prime, dominant builder of people-focused, predictive applications,” Hoang said after being asked where he wants to see the company in five years.

Unlike competitors, boodleAI focuses on the fit of a person’s needs rather than on their online behavior, Hoang said, adding that their algorithms can pick out the target market four out of five times.

Hoang said that he loves connecting the world with issues they care about through outreach and the company’s work with non-profits.

“I’m passionate about solving problems in new ways. It’s in my blood.”

Photo via BoodleAI

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The Weekly Planner is a roundup of interesting events coming up over the next week in the Tysons area.

We’ve scoured the web for events of note in Tysons, Vienna, Merrifield, McLean and Falls Church. Know of any we’ve missed? Tell us!

Tuesday (Nov. 12)

  • Mayor @ Your Service — 7:30 p.m. at Town Hall (127 S. Center Street) — Mayor Laurie DiRocco is set to chat with Victor Hoskins, the president of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority, tonight about the future of Fairfax County economic development.

Wednesday (Nov. 13)

Thursday (Nov. 14)

  • Women in Technology Job Fair — 4 to 7 p.m. at Sheraton Tysons Hotel (8661 Leesburg Pike) — Women in the STEM industry are invited to attend this free event if they are currently seeking a job. Registration is still open for applicants and hiring companies.
  • Professional Networking Night — 6 to 7:30 p.m. Tea with Mrs. B (136 W Jefferson Street) — This event allows people across the community to network and meet new people. Tickets are $10 and include drinks and appetizers.
  • Trace Bundy — 6:30 p.m. at Wolf Trap (1635 Trap Road) — Folk singer and guitarist Trace Bundy will take the stage for a performance. He is known for his harmonics, looping and multiple caps, according to the event website. Tickets start at $27.

Friday (Nov. 15)

  • Tree Lighting — 6 to 9 p.m. at The Plaza (1961 Chain Bridge Road) — The public is welcome to watch as the Christmas tree at Tysons Corner Center be decorated with lights. There will be live music from Kris Allen at this free event.
  • Bright Lights in the Little City Community Celebration — 7 to 10:30 p.m. at The State Theatre (220 N. Washington Street) —  The Falls Church event will include food and dessert, live music by The Grandsons and an online auction. Tickets are $85.
  • Improvicon — 7:30 p.m. at 1st Stage  Tysons (1524 Spring Hill Road) — This event will feature several improv groups throughout Northern Virginia. General admission tickets can be purchased for $15.

Sunday (Nov.17)

  • 5K Turkey Trot — 8 a.m. Central Park (Tysons Blvd and Galleria Drive) — This 5K, sponsored by the Rotary Club of Tysons Corner, invites community members to participate to raise money for local charities. Until Nov. 15, tickets are $35 and will go up to $40 after that. Tickets include food and swag. The first three women and men to place will receive cash prizes.

Photo via Tysons Corner Center/Facebook

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After celebrating its 10-year anniversary, a cybersecurity and technology company decided to move its headquarters in Tysons to fit expansion needs.

Founded in 2009, OBXtek specializes in six different areas including cybersecurity, cloud solutions, and IT engineering, according to the company website.

They moved to the new location at 2000 Corporate Ridge Road in late October to “support the rapid growth of the business,” according to a press release.

The new location will have roughly 17,000 square feet of space, which is larger than the previous office space at 8300 Boone Blvd, Dale Spencer, the company’s president, told Tysons Reporter.

Currently, the company employs around 500 people and was recently ranked as one of the most veteran-friendly companies by American Veterans because of its efforts to boost community involvement for veterans.

OBXtek actively tries to hire veterans and participates in the Department of Defense Transition Assistance Program, the press release said.

“OBXtek’s relocation provides us with the opportunity to consolidate our headquarters staff in a modern and efficient facility and helps to accommodate our continued growth,” Spencer said in the press release.

Photo via Facebook/OBXtek

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The Weekly Planner is a roundup of interesting events coming up over the next week in the Tysons area.

We’ve scoured the web for events of note in Tysons, Vienna, Merrifield, McLean and Falls Church. Know of any we’ve missed? Tell us!

Tuesday (Oct. 22)

  • Beer School 101 — 6 to 8 p.m. at Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant (7861 Tysons Corner Center) — Gordon Biersch’s head brewer is hosting an event to teach attendees how to start the beer-making process. Light appetizers are included with the $10 admission price. Tickets are $10 and can be found online.

Wednesday (Oct. 23)

  • Startup Social — 6 to 9 p.m. at Office Evolution (8609 Westwood Center Drive, Suite 110) — Aspiring entrepreneurs are welcome to come and learn more about how to start a business from a panel of business founders. Attendees should register online beforehand.

Thursday (Oct. 24)

  • Lauren Liess Book Signing — 7-9 p.m. at Ballard Designs (8084 Tysons Corner Center) — The HGTV host of “Best House on the Block” will be at the mall signing her new book and talking about her inspiration. This event is free and there will be light appetizers and drinks.
  • Falls Church City Council Election Debate — 7 p.m. at Falls Church American Legion Hall, Post 130 (400 N. Oak Street) — In this debate, the candidates for the upcoming Falls Church City Council will face-off and discuss topics surrounding the community. This event is free and open to the public.
  • Kirby Road Community Meeting — 7 p.m. at Chesterbrook Elementary School (1753 Kirby Road) — This meeting will discuss the flood damage in the area and cover what is being done to fix it. This event is free and open to the public. 

Saturday (Oct. 26)

  • Code and Coffee Meetup — 9 a.m. until 13:30 p.m. at NuAxis Innovations (8605 Westwood Center Drive) —  This monthly event will provide people a chance to enjoy snacks, coffee, free wifi and the company of other coders. It is free, but participants are encouraged to RSVP.
  • Wellness Fair — 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Church of the Holy Comforter (543 Beulah Road NE) — This event is open to everyone and will give people the chance to enjoy keynote speakers, try yoga, hang out with therapy dogs, have lunch and play in a bounce house. Tickets are $12 per adult, $5 for kids or $25 for the whole family and can be purchased online.
  • Pup-Tober Fest — 5-7:30 p.m. at Dogtopia (1524 Spring Hill Road) — This event invites pet owners to gather for an evening of deals, food, a raffle and treats. This event is free and open to the public.

Sunday (Oct. 27)

  • Spooky Yoga — 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Tysons Biergarten (8346 Leesburg Pike) — This seasonal event invites all ages to try out a yoga class. Tickets are $25. Attendees must bring their own mat and costumes are welcome.

Ready for spooky season? Tysons Reporter also rounded up Halloween events.

Image via Facebook/Dogtopia

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Two Vienna residents looking to simplify the way people buy and sell event tickets decided to start their own company.

Newly created TicketFam is an online platform that controls ticket distribution for events. Though still in the early startup phase of the company, co-founders and friends Ashik Banjade and Arian Shahbazi said that their main goal is to disrupt how people buy and sell tickets now.

The James Madison University graduates met while in college a few years back and launched their company eight months ago. Though they both have full-time jobs as IT consultants, they said they work on their company during their spare time.

“We’ll work with anyone — vendors, artists or stadiums,” Banjade told Tysons Reporter, adding that users can register on the platform and create an event page.

The platform functions by working with event organizers to create a seating or ticketing arrangement, promote events and special offers, analyze the target audience for the event for marketing purposes and allow attendees to purchase tickets from sellers, according to the company’s website.

Currently, the co-founders work with a production company run by Shahbazi’s family called Arian Productions.

On TicketFam’s website, tickets are only available for the upcoming act 25Band, which the production company booked. But the founders said they will be adding more ticket opportunities this week, including an event on Halloween.

Event attendees will be given a QR code upon checkout, the co-founders said.

“All of our payment processes are managed via Payment Card Industry-certified third parties, ensuring the checkout process is secure and regulated,”  Banjade said. In the future, the co-founders also want to accept cryptocurrency, PayPal and other forms of payment for tickets.

Soon, TicketFam will unveil a new user interface and features, including a rewards system and game, which Banjade and Shahbazi declined to provide more details on.

Within the next five years, the young entrepreneurs said they hope to catch the attention of competitors and maneuver into a position of power to challenge the status quo and become a main player in the ticket sales industry.

When it comes to costs for artists and event organizers, they do not have a set cost, Banjade said. Instead, they are competitive and will match the price of any competitor until they establish themselves in the ticket sales industry.

“As young entrepreneurs, you’ve just gotta keep trying,” Banjade said.

Photo courtesy TicketFam 

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(Updated 9/19/19) A company in the City of Falls Church is rethinking cell phone service to eradicate dead zones across the globe.

Lynk is a new startup in the process of launching satellites that will allow cell phone users to send and receive SMS texts anywhere in the world within 55 degrees north or south of the equator.

Though they aren’t operational just yet, they want to show partners that their technology is beyond that of science fiction, said CEO and Co-founder Charles Miller.

By working with cell phone companies, Lynk will be able to provide secondary service from satellites when it isn’t available from normal towers, Miller said.

The idea for the startup came from Co-founder and Cheif Operating Officer Margo Deckard during her time in Africa easing the impact of Ebola through data and satellite information, Miller said.

Deckard noticed people had a hard time communicating with one another using technology because wi-fi and cell tower service were not available and wondered if satellites could be a solution.

When the team first proposed the project there were lots of naysayers, Miller said. But given his background as a senior adviser for NASA, he was confident in the capabilities of satellites and his team.

“Basically people thought it was impossible and assumed it couldn’t be done because it defied conventional wisdom,” Miller said.

Miller said getting funding was one of the largest roadblocks he faced, adding that the company needed investors to fund prototypes and test-runs. After three rounds of funding, the company finally received in June the $12 million they needed to begin test runs.

Lynk will launch all of their satellites via a rocket to the International Space Station (ISS) and then from ISS into space.

Now, the company has 33 partners, including call phone carrier companies Telefonica Argentina and Vodafone Hutchison Australia, who are monitoring Lynk’s growth.

The company recently decided to rebrand from Ubiquitilink Inc. for clarity and ease of name recognition. Miller said that it was hard to spell and it didn’t translate well into other languages.

Lots of investors have been suggesting they move their headquarters to Silicon Valley, but Miller said he considers Northern Virginia to be his home as well as a hotbed for innovation.

Looking forward to the future, Miller said the company will focus first on establishing reliable text messages before they establish bandwidth for phone calls or data streaming services. He said 3,000-5,000 text messages can be sent with the same bandwidth that it takes to support one five-minute phone call.

“We would rather service 3,000 to 5,000 people than lock up that one channel,” he said.

Once they manage to raise capital through private companies, they will expand to assist the Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Coast Guard, Miller said.

To meet their upcoming goals, Miller said they are looking to recruit one more investor by the end of the year.

The company is currently looking to hire eight different positions, including a vice president of business development and a telecommunications software engineer.

Image via Lynk.world

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A 3D modeling company in Tysons is trying to change the way U.S. armed forces, governments and disaster aid organizations strategize.

Vricon, a Tysons based company, uses imagery from satellites to map out land in acute detail to provide clients with geospatial data and solutions that can be used for planning and preparation.

Headquartered at 8280 Greensboro Drive, the company works with the federal government, armed forces, telecommunication companies and emergency responders, according to the company’s website.

Barry Tilton is the vice president of engineering and CTO for U.S. government programs at Vricon. He joined the company in 2017 shortly after its founding in 2015 and now works closely with company executives to develop the software and mapping tools.

The company is currently working on developing a tool that would allow troops to train for situations and eventualities in foreign or unfamiliar places.

There is no way of knowing where the next global conflict will occur, he said, but this technology allows armed forces to “modernize” their tactics.

Currently, the army uses high-resolution gaming models for training, Tilton said, adding that before the technology, training was limited to a smaller number of scenarios.

“The folks in the training environment wanted to get a set of tools that more accurately reflect the kind of information available to a warfighter in operation,” he said.

When it comes to international affairs, Vricon’s executives understand the power of their product, and Tilton said that company executives are careful when releasing data to companies or entities.

The CEO and the company’s board will work with the State Department when they receive data requests that might be used for nefarious purposes, he said, adding that they have denied requests for information in the past.

“If we are dealing with other countries, unless there is a good working relationship and a trusting relationship with the U.S., we will only provide countries data of their own area,” he said. “There is no real harm in giving people knowledge of their own country.”

When Hurricane Maria swept through Puerto Rico back in 2017, Vricon worked in coordination with the U.S. government to build an accurate before and after 3D comparison to help survey damage.

Once a storm clears up, Tilton said Vricon can prepare a model of a disaster zone relatively quickly — within two weeks — once the storm clears out.

To make a comparison, the team recollects data from scratch since things change so dramatically after storms hit. To get an accurate image, the company will take five or six satellite images before creating updated maps, he said.

In the coming weeks, Tilton expects the company to begin work on a model that will assess the damage in the Bahamas from Hurricane Dorian.

Vricon has also done work to preserve culturally significant sites in the Middle East. The company recreated an ancient Syrian citadel near Aleppo that was under threat of destruction from bombing so historians could understand what was lost, Tilton said.

“It was experimental in the idea we’ve never done anything like that,” he said.

Since Vricon is still a somewhat young company, they are still in the midst of forming partnerships and establishing themselves in the industry, Tilter said. They recently partnered with Apollo Mapping in Colorado and are working to see how their technology might be able to assist humanitarian organizations as well.

“We are engaging with NGOs to see what might be provide-able and under what circumstances,” Tilton said.

Images via Vricon

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Tysons company Urgent.ly has sparked national attention after its recent partnerships with Uber, Volvo and Amazon.

Its partnerships with Uber, Volvo and Amazon were all formed within the last year, but the company is still focused on outward expansion Chris Spanos, the co-founder and CEO, told Tysons Reporter.

“I think it’s important for people to know we have the largest digitally connected network in the U.S.,” Spanos said.

Urgent.ly is a roadside assistance app that works on-demand with standardized pricing — no subscription needed.

Uber’s and Volvo’s partnerships allow their companies to receive rewards for roadside assistance including discounts, while growing Urgent.ly’s userbase and aligning them with well-known brands, according to the company’s website.

With Amazon, users can order Urgent.ly roadside assistance through Alexa.

The company was co-founded in 2013 by Spanos and five other colleagues. They used to gather at the McLean coffee shop Star Nut Gourmet for brainstorming sessions until they moved onto a permanent office, Spanos said.

Since Urgent.ly’s founding, the company has hired 250 employees, opened several offices throughout the U.S. and also began offering roadside service internationally. The company’s recent growth nabbed it the #12 spot on the 2019 Inc. 5000 national rankings as one of the fastest-growing private companies in the U.S.

“Our international strategy so far is to license our technology to players in those markets who operate a service directly,” Spanos said.

Though no subscription is needed to use the app, the company is offering a discounted $50 yearly membership that gives users access to discounts and free services like jumpstarts or lockout services.

Looking to the future, Spanos said he will watch for upcoming technology and may eventually offer roadside service for technology beyond traditional vehicles. “It’s fascinating to have a look into the future and how we may be receiving our packages.”

He said that he thinks drones and robots delivering packages may be a reality in the near future and that a company — like Urgent.ly — will need to fix them when they break on the job.

Though he couldn’t give specifics about future partnerships, he said that the company is looking to build alliances with early-stage companies exploring new technologies, like drone and robot deliveries.

“That’s where we see the next five years,” said Spanos.

Image courtesy Urgent.ly 

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BAE Systems announced its new Robotic Operations Center in Tysons yesterday (Monday).

The new center will “customize and deploy suites of software robots that automate high-volume, repetitive tasks in support of U.S. national security missions,” according to a press release.

“The emphasis on security is driving a significant increase in the collection of data across the IT enterprise, giving analysts access to more data in greater detail than ever before,” Peder Jungck, the vice president of intelligence solutions at BAE Systems, said in a press release.

Known as ROC, the new center stems from BAE Systems’ partnership with UiPath to increase machine learning in the U.S. defense and intelligence communities earlier this year.

“The ROC streamlines IT operations, helping customers to take advantage of the vast sea of information to improve responsiveness while reducing cost and security risk,” Jungck said.

The multinational defense, security and aerospace company has a Tysons office at 1676 International Drive, Suite 1000.

Image via Google Maps 

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