Tysons Corner, VA

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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Tysons-based Curbside Kitchen imagines a food truck-friendly world where companies can easily coordinate with food trucks to cater events or just switch up lunch-time options.

Amy Katz, the CEO of Curbside Kitchen, founded the company around 2017 after talking to her husband Brian about his struggles in real estate and difficulty coordinating food trucks for events.

To solve the problem, she decided to create a technological platform that allows managers to schedule food truck arrivals for their business or building.

Katz described the company as “Uber for a food truck — with a ton of heart” and said that her company helps buildings maintain tenants by building a sense of community and diversity based on a shared love for food.

“Each truck has its own DNA,” Katz said.

When first starting out, the main obstacle was finding a way to coordinate with hundreds of food trucks with unreliable hours and various management types, she said.

“The biggest struggle is bringing the food truck owners up to the same standard,” Katz said, adding that there are many “unforeseen” circumstances around food trucks, including maintenance issues or poor weather.

But, despite the challenges, Katz is optimistic about the company’s growth. “I am so passionate about it that every day we learn something new,” she said.

Today, the company has around 300 food truck partners on call in three cities, but Katz said they plan to keep growing thanks to the Virginia Founders Fund from the Center for Innovative Technology, which recently granted Curbside Kitchen money to expand their venture.

Katz said she did not feel comfortable revealing the grant amount, but she did say that she plans to hire a few more employees and build an app.

The app will tell food truck patrons when their favorite trucks are nearby, allow trucks and managers to schedule gigs and remind trucks to show up at certain times. She said the app should be available for download within six months.

Though they are not the only company that works with food trucks, Katz said that Curbside Kitchen isn’t worried about competition.

“There isn’t really anybody out there with the technology and integration we have,” she said.

As Curbside Kitchen expands, they plan to keep their headquarters in Tysons — where the community is incredibly supportive of the food truck culture.

“I believe people have a close eye on what we are doing,” Katz said.

Photo courtesy Amy Katz

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YetiCloud in Tysons recently received a facelift after the owners decided to rework their business model.

When co-founders Tim Marcinowski and Peter Fraedrich began the company, previously called TaskFit.io, they aimed to solve information technology problems for companies using the cloud with assistance from artificial intelligence (AI). But Marcinowski said that their market research showed many potential clients were risk-averse and not comfortable relying on AI.

Instead of giving up on their venture, they decided to switch tactics and rethink how they cater to the needs of clients. They decided to edge away from solutions using AI and instead focused on offering consultations, training and a 24/7 platform support for customers.

“We monitor in real-time and take action in two ways,” Marcinowski told Tysons Reporter.

When an issue arises, the company gives clients an option to either direct YetiCloud on how they want an issue solved or allow YetiCloud to handle the problem as it best sees fit.

When rebranding, the founders tried to synthesize the passion of their customer base and their target goal — which is to simplify and help troubleshoot cloud use.

Marcinowski told Tysons Reporter when renaming the brand, the company began to play with names of a fictional character and settled on a Yeti because “we thought it was funny we could say we solved the big hairy problem of the cloud.”

Currently, YetiCloud works with about 15 clients, four of which are paying customers, according to Marcinowski. The company offers a free version of the software to establish relationships with potential customers to build a brand alliance and product trust.

In the beginning, the company was entirely funded through profits and personal capital from the co-founders. “We had an early potential investor but the terms didn’t match up,” Marcinowski said. He told Tysons Reporter that the investor wanted 6% of all the profits, but he and his co-founder decided to turn down the opportunity.

Since October 2018, the company brought on several new employees and plans to keep expanding. For the time being YetiCloud will remain at the WeWork location in Tysons Corner.

“We definitely have the ability to flip the perception of this area,” he said when discussing the possibility of Tysons becoming the next technology hub, especially with the new Amazon HQ2 and other companies coming to Northern Virginia.

By 2024, Marcinowski wants to have $20 million yearly reoccurring revenue, which he said would help legitimize the company by building a solid financial foundation.

YetiCloud also has a new goal to raise $600,000 from new investors within the next six months.

New companies like YetiCloud must find “alternative solutions to problems that didn’t exist 10 years ago,” he said.

Photo courtesy of  Tim Marcinowski

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(Updated at 3:50 p.m.) Earlier this week, the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority announced that it had poached Arlington’s top economic development official, Victor Hoskins.

Currently the head of Arlington Economic Development, Hoskins recently wooed Amazon and its HQ2 to Arlington County. Come August, he will become FCEDA’s new president and CEO — one year after its now-retired and longtime leader, Gerry Gordon, announced his plans to leave.

Tysons Reporter talked to Hoskins about how he plans to head up one of the largest economic development agencies in the country.

“I’m done in Arlington.”

Hoskins said he entered the process for the FCEDA role back in May during the agency’s second hiring search for the position.

Back in December, he told ARLnow that he planned to work for Arlington County until the office vacancy rate dropped from its then-18 percent rate to 10 or 12 percent.

With a current rate of 16.7 percent, Hoskins said that Arlington County has “nothing to worry about” with Amazon coming in. Hoskins said that the career move is coming at the right time — “Yes, I’m done in Arlington.”

“If you look at my history, I pretty much do what I need to do and move on,” he said. In the case of both his former economic development role in D.C. and his Arlington County job, Hoskins, who describes himself as a person who likes to finish projects, said that he leaves once he’s accomplished the specific challenges of a job.

New Challenges Ahead 

“What I look for in a career change is a challenge,” he said. “This is a different kind of challenge. Just the size of the market is pretty amazing.”

Hoskins said he is looking forward to encouraging companies in Fairfax County to recruit and train more top workers with a talent-focused strategy.

“We already have a lot of talent residing [in Fairfax County],” he said. “We need to keep the people we have.” A part of that will include offering more opportunities to retrain employees with skills like cybersecurity coding, he added.

He also said he would like to see FCEDA get more closely involved with the county’s Department of Housing and Community Development, in addition to continuing work with the Planning Commission, Virginia Department of Transportation and other county agencies to set priorities.

Additionally, Hoskins said that the county could use more work on placemaking.

“The size of Fairfax County makes it difficult to create places — concentrated nodes of activity,” he said, which could include creating more urban villages around the Silver Line stations and making “a nexus between residential and commercial nodes.”

Another area Hoskins wants to work on is making Fairfax County more attractive to millennials.

Some ideas he has: creating places where people want to work and eat outside, offering more housing choices, making “interesting environments” and strengthening mass transportation.

Hoskins was quick to note that many of the challenges he mentioned are not unique to the county, which he praised for its global reputation and competition with places like London and Paris.

“Fairfax is amazing right now,” he said, lauding the county’s quality of life, including its public schools and parks. “Fairfax has it all. What we’re trying to do it to move it to the next level.”

Amazon’s Impact on Fairfax County

While Fairfax County lost its bid for Amazon, Hoskins said that the tech giant will impact Northern Virginia, from adding a plethora of new job opportunities to a “back and forth between employees and employers” with Amazon and local companies.

Hoskins also mentioned a recent report by the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors and the George Mason University Center for Regional Analysis, which estimated that roughly 33 percent of Amazon’s workforce would live in Fairfax County, while 16.4 percent would live in Arlington.

“It’s a higher percentage than [Amazon employees who] will live and work in Arlington,” Hoskins said.

On a larger scale, Hoskins said Amazon will transform Northern Virginia into a more innovative environment that will increase the private sector.

“[Amazon will bring an] innovation focus to the region where companies begin thinking differently about how they work,” he said.

Hoskins starts his new role on Aug. 5. Until then, he said he will help with the leadership transition at his current job before having two to three days off.

“Building an economy is more like solving a very complex puzzle,” he said.

Photo courtesy Fairfax County Economic Development Authority

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CollabraLink has decided to move to larger office space at the Highline near the Spring Hill Metro station in Tysons.

Started in 2003, CollabraLink provides IT services to federal and commercial clients.

The technology company will move to 22,000 square feet of office space at its current home (8405 Greensboro Drive), according to Newmark Knight Frank, a commercial real estate advisory firm.

“CollabraLink wanted to stay in Tysons but needed a long-term home with the option to grow,” NKF’s Senior Managing Director Chethan Rao said in the press release.

The Highline is a two-building office complex with more than 400,000 rentable square feet on 7.5 acres. The complex includes retail, an outdoor plaza, daycare facility and a fitness center for tenants.

“Location and continuity were extremely important to our firm and the NKF team had a clear understanding of our desire to stay in Tysons,” Rahul Pandhi, CollabraLink’s chief executive officer, said in the press release.

Image via Google Maps

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Every Fairfax County high school student will soon have a school-issued laptop for the 2019-2020 school year.

The upcoming rollout is part of the plan by Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) to issue computers to every student by 2023 with an initiative called FCPSOn.

FCPSOn aims to help students access a digital device for learning at school and possibly at home depending on the school and grade level.

“This 1-to-1 computing initiative will better prepare students for college and careers,” according to an FCPS press release, adding that the computers won’t replace teachers.

Last week, the Fairfax County School Board adopted the FCPS FY 2020 Approved Budget, which includes $16.1 million for instructional programs — where the FCPSOn initiative falls under.

The budget includes a little more than $4 million to implement FCPSOn for the high schools and a new technology fee of $50 per high school student per year, FCPS said will cover repairs or replacements for equipment.

FCPSOn started as a pilot program in the Chantilly High School pyramid and eLearning Backpack high schools in the 2016-2017 school year. Phase 1 was funded through a combination of FCPS and the VDOE e-Learning Backpack grant funding.

The remaining timeline — pending approval — is:

  • school year 2020-21: middle schools
  • school year 2021-22 elementary grades 5-6
  • school year 2022-23: elementary grades 3-4

McLean High School is looking for volunteers to help with distribution from August 12-15 from 12-7:30 p.m.

Image via FCPS

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A Tysons company is helping BMW move into the driverless car market with aims to reduce the time and cost to develop autonomous vehicles.

Tysons-based DXC Technology Co. has signed up to help BMW with the technology to collect, store, and manage vehicle sensor data in autonomous cars, the Washington Business Journal first reported.

“DXC will greatly support our commitment to maximizing innovation, which will benefit our customers,” Alejandro Vukotich, senior vice president at the BMW Group, said in a press release. “With the managed services, we are able to ramp up the solution to support the next stage of the future of BMW Group’s autonomous drive platform.”

The data DXC will be processing can be collected globally to maximize the efficiency of the vehicles and reduce costs. The press release also says the DXC programs are built with online collaboration in mind, meaning engineers in different locations can work together on data analytics for the self-driving cars.

Edward Ho, executive vice president of DXC Technology, said in the press release that the next five years are a pivotal time in the development of autonomous cars to revolutionize the car industry.

“DXC welcomes the opportunity to collaborate with BMW Group to advance autonomous driving development capabilities,” Ho said. “With the platform and tools provided by DXC, BMW engineers are able to significantly accelerate the engineering and testing of autonomous driving algorithms.”

Photo via Facebook

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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.

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Zantech, a technology contractor located just south of the Chain Bridge Road/Leesburg Pike interchange in Tysons, announced plans today to invest $317,853 in an office expansion while adding 120 new jobs.

The company was founded in 2007 and provides technical support primarily for federal government and contracting clients, according to a press release from the Gov. Ralph Northam’s office.

“Strengthening Virginia’s position as a leader in information technology remains one of my highest priorities and partnering with a forward-looking firm like Zantech reinforces the Commonwealth’s reputation as an epicenter for this industry,” Northam said in the press release. “We look forward to Zantech’s continued growth in Fairfax County.”

Zantech’s expansion in Virginia is being supported by the Virginia Jobs Investment Program (VJIP), a program run through the Virginia Economic Development Partnership to provide consultative services and funding to companies creating new jobs.

Photo via Facebook

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As part of a countywide “Maker Day” celebration, honoring inventors and encouraging teens to pursue technology goals, the Tysons-Pimmit Library will host a pair of free lessons for teens on 3-D printing and building a gaming-focused PC on March 9.

The 3-D printing class will be held from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. and will help run teens through the basics of TinkerCAD, a free utility that allows users to craft 3-D objects. Guests are encouraged to bring a charged laptop if possible, though some laptops will be available at the library.

The class is followed by one from 2-4 p.m. that will walk teens through the basics of building a gaming PC. The class covers every part of the process, including the fundamentals of which parts to get and what to consider when buying parts.

Photo via Facebook

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