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Tysons Selected as Location for Google Product Demos

The tech retail store b8ta in Tysons Corner Center will be one of seven locations nationwide to exhibit a new suite of Google hardware products, including the Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL.

The Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are new phones by Google unveiled on Oct. 9 at an event in New York. Also unveiled was the Pixel Stand, a wireless charger, the Pixel Slate, a high-end tablet device, and Home Hub, an assistant that tracks day to day information like calendar events and appointments.

B8ta stores allow visitors to test out the products in a space designed to feel like a home setting. The products will be coming to b8ta stores in Texas, California, New Jersey and Arizona, as originally reported by Digital Trends. The Tysons Corner Center location is the only spot in Virginia to let users test out the new hardware before it goes on sale.

The new hardware will be available starting next Thursday (Oct. 18). The b8ta store is on the second floor of Tysons Corner Center, near the Bloomingdales.

Photo via b8ta

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Morning Notes

Columbus Day in Fairfax County — Fairfax County government offices and schools will be closed and the Fairfax Connector will operate on a modified holiday schedule due to the Columbus Day holiday. Vienna Town Hall will also be closed. [Fairfax County, Fairfax Connector, Twitter]

Vienna Fund Raises Quarter Billion — Vienna-based Aldrich Capital Partners “has spent three years proving out its entrepreneur-driven investment thesis — and it just closed a $256 million outside fund to bring it to life.” [Washington Business Journal]

Tysons Company Makes Another Acquisition — “DXC Technology (NYSE: DXC), the world’s leading independent, end-to-end IT services company, today announced the acquisition of argodesign, a nationally known product design consultancy based in Austin, TX.” [Business Wire, Fast Company]

New Coworking Space Coming to Tysons — “Short for the Brandywine Experience, the first Bex is set to open soon from ground-floor space at 8260 Greensboro Drive in Tysons, a nondescript, seven-story office building. It’s not big, at about 6,300 square feet, but Brandywine hopes it will have an outsized impact on occupancy rates across its Northern Virginia portfolio.” [Washington Business Journal]

Reminder: Voter Registration Deadline Approaching — “The deadline to update your voter registration information and register to vote is Monday, Oct. 15, for the upcoming Nov. 6 general election. There are 754,493 registered voters in Fairfax County, including 695,925 active registered voters.” [Fairfax County]

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Tysons Startup Putting Payment and Membership At Your Fingertip

No wallet? No problem.

With Yombu, everything from financial transactions to gym access is at your fingertip. Now, this Tysons company is starting to branch out across the country.

Yombu is a tech startup based out of MakeOffices in Tysons. The company lets customers of a business confirm their identity for something like purchasing an item or signing into a membership with only a fingerprint scan.

“We want to be the way people pay and the way people engage so you don’t need anything other than you,” said Joe Falit, one of the two co-founders of Yombu.

Yombu started in Northern Virginia, but has since expanded into D.C. and Maryland. Falit said the company is focused on gradually building into more cities and building locally-centered networks.

Yombu’s new deal with gym software company Motionsoft means that the company is about to receive a major boost in users as it spreads to 26 gyms across the country.

Yombu started one year ago with zero users. Today, they are at 15,000, which is 5,000 more than their initial goal for 2018.

The company expands its user-base through two types of markets.

The first is through merchants or “quick-serve” transactions, like coffee shops or dry cleaners. In a location like this, a customer can authenticate their fingerprint once as they pay with a card, and the card will be linked with that print. Things like rewards traditionally tracked through punch cards can also be tracked through Yombu.

Getting merchants on board can be difficult. Falit said many they talk to initially say that credits cards work fast enough. But once shown how much faster lines can move and how much more consistent the rewards programs can be with a fingerprint scan, they usually sign up.

The second type of market is membership. Yombu is used to sign in or out of a membership area, like a gym, and while Falit said the company started with mostly quick-serve transactions, they’re finding membership to be the much more lucrative use of the technology.

“If you’re a gym and you now use Yombu to have membership through finger, you’re basically making everyone sign up,” said Falit. “We see these memberships as hubs. At coffee shops, we might get 20 percent of people there to sign up. But at the gym, we get 100 percent of people to sign up.”

As Yombu prepares to launch in Philadelphia soon and in gyms across the country, back at home in Tysons the program is starting to become more and more commonplace.

Yombu is currently being used in 56 locations throughout the D.C. area — 30 merchant locations and 26 gyms. On one rainy day along a few weeks ago, Falit watched as 325 new users signed up for the program as they flocked into coffee shops throughout the region, all of them paying for their coffee with a single touch.

Photo via Yombu

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Tysons-Based AI Company Hoping to Make IT Departments a Relic

Today, information technology departments are largely reactive — called to fix problems after they happen. But the Tysons startup TaskFit.io has developed artificial intelligence tech that, if it catches on, could supplement if not replace the help desk entirely.

TaskFit.io is an IT automation software platform that can be installed onto a laptop, server, or edge device (like routers) to gather metrics on that device and help fix it when an issue occurs.

TaskFit.io’s AI programs are constantly collecting data as the system is running and adapting to meet problems that come up. Problems can be identified and remedied before the user even recognizes that one exists.

“When you have an issue with your laptop, you call support,” said Tim Marcinowski, co-founder of TaskFit.io. “Your internet goes down and you’re on the phone. We’re the first line of defense for support for organizations through our agents, which are AI that can learn based on data we collect and take action before the user has to report it to support.”

Marcinowski said that for many companies, IT is outsourced. This can work for a smaller company just getting started, but Macinowski said problem comes when the companies start to expand and starts to outgrow their IT service.

“There’s a number you can point to [in each business], where if they bring on X amount of customers, they need X amount of people supporting those activities,” said Marcinowski.

TaskFit.io is currently a small company, based in the Tysons WeWork coworking space. Marcinowski and co-founder Peter Fraedrich run the technical side of the company, along with two advisors and three or four contractors.

“We haven’t taken any investments and have been gaining revenue since month one,” said Marcinowski. “We started on our own with our own money and have been doing okay for right now. Eventually we will raise early stage capital within the year.”

Two started in April with $90,000 of the two founders’ own money. The company has $40,000 in recurring annual revenue, according to Marcinowski, who hopes to push that to $100,000 by the end of the year.

Currently, TaskFit.io has three paying customers and four pilot projects. The pilot projects are unpaid but allow the company to gain insights into the program working in action and allow them to continue developing abilities.

“These companies that are early adopters got free software,” said Marcinowski, “but we’re going to bug you and ask you a lot of questions. Things may break, but we’ll work to get them fixed.”

Like many startups, TaskFit.io has pivoted its focus over time. Early on, Marcinowski says they were originally interested in competing with Google and Amazon to create the first real-time machine learning platform. That evolved into the company’s current platform, but even then product development has been an iterative process of shifting priorities and tough decisions.

According to Marcinowski, what managers said they really wanted was a tech tool to help them figure out what their employees were doing. While this could have been a profitable avenue, it didn’t fit with the founders’ vision for the company.

“We really didn’t want to be the watchdog of employees,” said Marcinowski. “We didn’t want to be that at all, and we didn’t care how much money we made. We aren’t used car salesmen, we wanted to build software that solves problems.”

Photo via TaskFit.io

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Women In Technology Hosts Fall Job Fair Tomorrow

The Women in Technology organization is hosting its fall job fair tomorrow (Wednesday) in Tysons.

Both men and women are encouraged to attend and meet recruiters. The event is free but online registration is required and will allow exhibitors to view the applicant’s resume. Exhibitor registration for the event has been closed, but potential exhibitors are encouraged to check later for the spring job fair.

Exhibitors at the job fair range from large corporations like Sony and Amazon to organizations like the International Atomic Energy Agency. A full list of exhibitors can be viewed here.

The event runs from 4-7 p.m. at Valo Park — the former Gannett headquarters at 7950 Jones Branch Drive.

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