Tysons, VA

Three McLean teenagers decided to leave behind the minimum wage grind and embark on their own entrepreneurial journey.

TeenServ is an online platform that connects students to adults who need short-term jobs done, like pulling weeds, cleaning or other types of housework. It began in 2018 under Ben Jeannot, Jack Lannin and Quin Frew, a group of friends who are still in charge of the service’s development and outreach.

The idea quickly spread after the boys decided to promote the service within their own friend groups, according to Lannin.

Since September, the team said they managed to recruit around 200 teenagers from eight area schools including Falls Church, Herndon, Marshall, McLean and Oakton. 

Teens who sign up for the app can accept jobs they are most interested in and make about $17 per hour, according to the founders.

“Because it’s pretty much a free market system, it allows teens to choose jobs they want and think are fair,” one of the members told Tysons Reporter. 

Another group member added that all of the jobs are screened by the founders before being added to the list of available opportunities. This way, they can ensure the jobs are safe and within limits of the site user agreements.

“We tend to stay away from animals or babysitting,” a group member said, adding that any job that involves the liability of a living thing, besides plants, is also off the table. 

Twice a week, the boys said they will meet to discuss goals and next steps.

Currently, Lannin said the majority of their marketing is done through word of mouth and social media presence — including  Instagram and Facebook. The group’s Instagram account has more than 800 followers as of Monday (Feb. 3).

Two promotions were recently announced on the company’s Instagram. The first promotion offers workers an extra 12 percent on top of the listed rate for a job if they bring along a friend, according to TeenServ’s Instagram.

There is also a job lottery that automatically enters students in a giveaway for every job they complete within a certain month.

Photo courtesy TeenServ

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A group headquartered in Falls Church aims to get women “from the classroom to the board room” by offering developmental resources and networking opportunities.

With more than 1,000 members, the Women in Technology group (200 Little Falls Street) operates around the D.C. area and works with a large variety of age groups — including young girls and women at the height of their careers, according to its website.

“Our scope is to really network and support the advancement of women and girls in this specific area to enter STEM fields,” recently elected Board Member Cristine Gollayan said. “It’s for girls and women at any stage of their life.”

Gollayan’s own story with the group began around 2013 when she said she attended an event and eventually worked her way up the group’s leadership ladder.

Since then, she also served on the job fair committee board and was eventually elected into the WIT’s Board of Directors in 2018.

Gollayan currently works in Herndon as a senior manager for Sony’s Global Information Security team and said events hosted by WIT take place throughout the area, including Tysons — a central location for many of the organization’s volunteers.

WIT has several representatives, who happen to be women of color, on both its board of directors and the executive committee. But, the group doesn’t offer specific programs targeting women of color or transgender women.

Gollayan also said anyone who identifies as a woman is more than welcome to join.

“Anything we promote, we try to ensure that diversity and inclusion is an important piece,” she said.

Two of Gollayan’s favorite events include the leadership awards ceremony and STEM for Her Gala, which Gollayan also said she helps to plan, because the women at both of the events are “so poised and ready to rock and rule the world,” she said.

Other events run by the group include two seasonal job fairs a year, the Leadership Foundry and Girls in Technology. A full list of offerings can be found online.

For example, the Leadership Foundry is a nine-month-long program that teaches women to run board meetings and take on positions of power within their own companies. So far, 20 alumnae from the program have ended up on boards within a corporation, according to Gollayan.

Meanwhile, Girls in Technology is a subgroup within WIT that targets young girls considering careers in STEM.

The CyberPatriot Girls is a program through Girls in Technology that takes 6th-12th-grade girls and challenges them to participate in a “fast-paced and high-pressure” simulation that resembles a mock cyber-attack, according to Gollayan. It is hosted in partnership with the Air Force and the University of Maryland. In the activity, girls form teams and are expected to “protect national infrastructure” while learning technical skills, she said.

For people interested in the group, the next upcoming event, WIT.Connect, is coming up.

On Feb. 20 from 6 to 8:30 p.m., people will gather at Valo Park (7950 Jones Branch Drive) to network and learn about upcoming technological trends in healthcare. Attendees will have the chance to hear from speakers and WIT members.

Registration is $45 for WIT members or $55 for non-members.

Photo courtesy Cristine Gollayan

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A store where shoppers can try out the latest tech products is coming to Tysons Corner Center.

Signs indicate that B8TA will open a store at the mall. The retail-as-a-service company has chains that present various consumer electronics and devices.

The store is coming to the first level of the mall near Bloomingdales. The wrap-around at the storefront says that B8TA is hiring.

Shoppers can find a B8TA kiosk with about 30 products on the second level by Bloomingdales.

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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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