by May 6, 2013 at 10:00 am 0

From Nick Barron. Follow him on Twitter @nbarron; email him at nick[AT]


Martha and Charles from Light after Loss. (Luis Gomez Photos)

When the unthinkable happens, LightPath Apps wants you to remember the name of their signature Web application, Light After Loss.

The DC-based company Light After Loss aims to help you and your family and friends deal with the death of a loved one. It’s based on the real experience of one of the company’s co-founder, Martha Blue.

When Blue’s husband passed away three years ago, she was unprepared for what to do next. Everything from telling others about his death to planning the funeral to changing bank accounts fell to her.

Because of the trauma Martha and her kids were going through, she relied a great deal on friends and family, but they also didn’t have much experience dealing with what to do after death.

“Her friends and family were heroic in helping out, but many of them were also trying to figure out how to get everything done from scratch,” Martha’s co-founder, Charles Moore said. “We created Light After Loss to make this time just a little easier.”

Right now the company is letting people know about Light After Loss, as well as making continual improvements to the product.

Moore said to do this Light After Loss is deploying regular marketing tactics, but are also focused on “building a network of individuals and partners who know about Light After Loss, and who can recommend it to those in need.”

Blue and Moore oversee the company and development of its namesake application, which benefitted from others’ design and development, namely Friendly Design’s Geoff Silverstein and Ross Nover and Jacob Patton from Trisignia.

Currently Light After Loss has completed its friends and family round, but will begin raising outside investment over the next few months.

Also part of the company’s plans is a second app called Light Path Ahead to help people do the planning needed before there’s a death.

“Dealing with the death of a loved one is so difficult because many of us do not take essential planning steps, like creating a will and advance directive, or even writing down where all of our bank accounts are,” Moore said.

Still in its early stages, you can track the development of Light Path Ahead by following them on Twitter.

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by April 30, 2013 at 10:00 am 2 Comments

From Nick Barron. Follow him on Twitter @nbarron; email him at nick[AT]


DC Home Buzz has gone to a flat-fee listing price. (Luis Gomez Photos)

A DC business is challenging the status quo of the real estate industry in a move it hopes will ease the housing shortage in the nation’s capital.

DC Home Buzz, a real estate brokerage in Columbia Heights, has moved to a flat-fee listing service, instead of the industry’s standard commission-based fees. The fee is $9,900, regardless of the purchase price of a home.

Ati Williams, owner of DC Home Buzz, hopes the move will accomplish two things: increase the amount of available housing stock in DC, one of the tightest housing markets in the U.S., and encourage others in the real estate industry to start offering flat fee services.

“We’re hoping that sellers see what a great offer we’re giving and are encouraged to put their homes on the market because they can sell their homes, get the full service, luxury treatment and save up to $20,000,” Williams said.

While some real estate agents offer flat fee listings, Williams says most don’t offer the level of service her firm is giving sellers.

“The few brokerages that do flat fee listings don’t include marketing for the property, staging and the like,” Williams said. The flat fee service was requested, and DC Home Buzz can afford to offer it by being more targeted in how they spend money on marketing.

With DC Home Buzz’s flat fee service, a $400,000 transaction would save a seller $2,100, based on an estimated 3 percent commission to the listing agent and buyer’s agent. A $750,000 transaction would save the seller $12,600 based on the same scenario.

DC Home Buzz has published a question-and-answer blog post with more information about their flat-fee listing service.

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by April 29, 2013 at 8:00 am 0

From Nick Barron. Follow him on Twitter @nbarron; email him at nick[AT]


Contactually Email Template. (Screenshot)

With a major update last week DC-based Contactually is looking to be your tool of choice for managing your network while at your computer and on the go.

Contactually syncs with your email, Facebook and Twitter accounts to help you organize those with whom you communicate. You can organize your contacts into groups that Contactually calls “Buckets,” and set how often you want to be reminded to communicate with a member of each Bucket.

Each day you can get a reminder email letting you know who in your contacts you’re supposed to follow up with that day.

The update, called Contactually 2.0, pushes across five major changes:

  • Email templates: You can create templates to use when emailing your contacts. The templates include fields you can add to a template that will automatically update with a contact’s information when sending an email.
  • Quick introductions: Fire off email introductions to people in your network from Contactually in a small number of clicks.
  • Content sharing: Quickly share links and articles you find with people in your network, and save them to your Contactually account so you can access them in the future.
  • iPhone application: A new Contactually app for the iPhone is coming soon that will let you import your phone contacts, log telephone calls you’ve made, and email your contacts from within the app.
  • Group messaging: You can now email more than one contact at a time with personalized messages.

“We’ll tell you not only who (you) should talk to, but we’ll help you deliver great experiences to people you care about most,” Contactually CEO and co-founder Zvi Band, said in a press release. “We do this by enabling you to follow up across any channel, including mobile, and helping you interact meaningfully with your network in a matter of seconds.”

Along with Band, Contactually’s co-founders are Tony Cappaert and Jeff Carbonella. The company, which announced a $1 million seed round in March, has been growing since first covered by Borderstan in 2012.

Now with six full-time employees in addition to its co-founders, Contactually is hiring for five additional positions. The company is located in Dupont Circle.

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by April 24, 2013 at 8:30 am 0

From Nick Barron. Follow him on Twitter @nbarron; email him at nick[AT]

"What's Next DC"

What’s Next DC kicks off May 5. (Courtesy What’s Next DC)

What has arguably become DC’s biggest marketing conference is coming soon, and its sights are set for neighborhoods in Borderstan.

What’s Next DC, a two-and-a-half day conference kicking off May 5, hosts speakers such as Blackboard founder Michael Chasen, Zac Moffatt, digital director of Romney for President and Pandora’s senior vice president of strategic solutions, Heidi Browning Pearson.

The first full day, May 6, will take place downtown at The Hamilton Live, while Studio Theatre on 14th Street in Logan Circle will host day two.

This marks the third year for What’s Next DC, having started in Jan. 2011 at George Washington University with about 300 attendees. This year at least 800 people are expected.

The number of people attending isn’t the only thing separating What’s Next DC 2013 from its predecessors.

“During the previous two years the conference took place over the course of one day with one venue for the conference and one venue for the party,” organizer Tod Plotkin said. “This year it takes place over three days at five venues, including some spaces that are truly unique to the DC scene, like the British and Austrian Embassies.”

Yes, there will be events at embassies, but the conference isn’t just about partying.

The conference’s programming includes keynotes, panels and case studies. The intent, according to Plotkin, is to give each attendee something they can gain by attending.

“I want attendees to stay engaged with the content all day and not get bored,” Plotkin said. “We design the conference to make sure a ton of networking and individualized strategy takes place.”

Part of this focus comes in who Plotkin recruits to speak at What’s Next DC.

“We focus on showcasing speakers who are actual marketers themselves, and not just professional speakers who tour the conference circuit around the country,” Plotkin said.

You can register here to attend What’s Next DC 2013.

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by April 15, 2013 at 10:00 am 2 Comments


From Nick Barron. Follow him on Twitter @nbarron; email him at nick[AT]

One of the many byproducts of DC’s burgeoning tech startup scene is the explosion in blogs run by these startups.

And not just the kind of blogs you expect a company to have, though there are plenty of those, posting an update here and there when the company has news to share.

There are blogs that have something more to say than the latest product or new hire update. Some are about marketing, some about dating and some about teleworking.

Below is a list of as many of these blogs I could fit into one blog post.

Along with having to be a DC-area tech startup, the other rule in making this list is that you have to be publishing content that isn’t just about your company and what you sell.

While an attempt was made to list as many blogs as possible that fit the above guidelines, this list is surely not all-inclusive. Feel free to post in the comments below a link to a blog you think should have been listed.

DC Tech Blogs

Here are, in no particular order:

  • Fed Log, the blog for government contracting job site Covers getting a government-contracting gig, hiring a government contractor, and things you should know when doing business with the federal government.
  • Spinnakr Blog, a blog for the website targeting company Spinnakr. This blog’s topics are a little marketing, a little DC Tech scene and a little general business management.
  • TouchdownSpace’s blog, from the on-demand office space company. This blog posts about teleworking, focusing on mobile workers and the trend toward working remotely.
  • SocialTables the Blog, brought to you by the event planning software company. This blog churns out content for event and meeting planners, covering everything from weddings to business conferences.
  • Maven’s Marketing Intelligence Blog, from TrackMaven, a company that wants to make competitive intelligence easier. Similar in some ways to Spinnakr’s blog in that it focuses on marketing, but different in that it covers a wide range of marketing related topics from social media to branding.
  • The RidePost Blog, provided by the company that wants to make going places, like road trips, more fun and affordable. This blog is about traveling with a focus on American locations, and trips taken primarily by people under 30.
  • The Contactually Blog, by the contact management company. Focused mostly on the power of networking and on how to manage relationships.
  • Hinge, a blog from company of the same name that’s using Facebook to help you find a date. While not updated as frequently as some of the other blogs on this list, their posts often share interesting info from data compiled from their users. For example, a recent post ranked DC’s workplaces by the hotness of their employees.

That’s what I have making the cut so far, but who did I miss? Post a link in the comments.

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by April 8, 2013 at 9:00 am 0

From Nick Barron. Follow him on Twitter @nbarron; email him at nick[AT]


For funny photos SnapDash is here to help. (Screen Shot)

Instead of applying filters and other edits after you take a photo with your phone, a new DC company wants to help you shape what you snap before taking the picture.

SnapDash, now available in Apple’s App Store for iOS devices, is on a mission to make photo taking more fun.

“Our theory is that the entire world likes looking at funny photos, so we want to make them easier to create,” SnapDash co-founder Daniel Hanks said.

Here’s how it works: You open the app and select from one of the categories preloaded on SnapDash. Within each category are different situations and poses for you and those you’re with to do when taking the photo, which SnapDash calls a Snaption.

The scenario you chose, like “There are bees in your pants,” is labeled at the bottom of your Snaption. Then you can publish your Snaption to SnapDash’s internal feed, as well as your Twitter and Facebook accounts.

“SnapDash turns taking photos into an entertaining and hilarious social game,” Hanks said. “Unlike other video and photo apps there is a built in idea generator that provides users with suggested poses and scenarios, eliminating the need to ‘be funny’ when put on the spot.”

Like many moments of entrepreneurial inspiration, the idea for SnapDash came from apparent randomness, when Hanks was at Delaware’s Dewey Beach last summer.

While taking pictures of his girlfriend and SnapDash co-founder, Meredith Balenske and one of her friends, Hanks began yelling out things for them to do while he took their picture. Others on the beach noticed, started joining into the fun, and the pictures were distributed across Facebook.

Hanks never thought much about starting a company, but his and Balenske’s vision for SnapDash inspired him to make the jump.

And with experience in investing in technology, paired with Balenske’s marketing and public relations background, the co-founders think they’re in good position to make good on that vision.

“We truly believe we are the first and only app that does what we do, using randomness and unpredictability to set the stage for social media interactions, as opposed to adding context afterwards,” Hanks said.

SnapDash will be at NY Tech Day 2013, and is working on an Android-version of their app. You can see SnapDash in action by watching this Meet SnapDash video.

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by April 1, 2013 at 9:00 am 0

"Work District"

WorkDistrict at 14th Street NW. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Nick Barron. Follow him on Twitter @nbarron; email him at nick[AT]

There was a time, not long ago, when a co-working space amounted to desks, WiFi and complimentary coffee, but a newcomer to DC’s shared office scene is taking co-working and jacking it up a notch.

WorkDistrict, at 14th Street and Florida Avenue NW, offers co-working space, computer coding classes, and potential resources for companies interested in raising money through crowd funding.

On the learning-to-code front there’s CodeDistrict, WorkDistrict’s answer to what they say is demand from the community to learn how to program websites and mobile applications. You don’t need to be a WorkDistrict member to take a class.

The first CodeDistrict class is coming April 20, and will cover the basics of developing a mobile application for Apple’s iOS platform. (iOS is what your iPhone and iPad use.)

Then there’s the potential crowd funding piece for WorkDistrict. Crowdfund Capital Advisors (CCA), a firm working to make crowd funding a reality in the U.S., is one of the founding members of WorkDistrict.


WorkDistrict CEO Patrick Menasco. (Luis Gomez Photos)

More Than a Work Space

In fact, WorkDistrict CEO Patrick Menasco explains the idea behind WorkDistrict was firstly crowd funding.

“The vision was to focus on crowd funded businesses,” Menasco said. “While awaiting the SEC regulations (implementing crowd funding), we’ve focused on pure co-working, as well as the new educational play with CodeDistrict.”

Once the federal government allows crowd funding, Menasco expects WorkDistrict members to benefit from the co-working space’s relationship with CCA.

“If and when those regulations come out, we will provide informational resources to help startups with their crowd funding efforts,” Menasco said.

And what about the co-working space itself?

It’s 3,000-square-feet with work from DC artists on its walls, private offices, a kitchen, free coffee and, of course, WiFi. Current members include CCA, Fission Strategy and the technology think tank TechFreedom.

WorkDistrict offers three membership options: Drop-in, Monthly and Private Office.

For organizations and freelancers looking to work in a communal, urban environment, WorkDistrict may be a good fit.

“Our environment is communal, with members open to sharing their products, ideas, experiences,” Menasco said. “We’re young, urban and edgy, centrally located and cheaper than any other nearby co-working space.”

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by March 25, 2013 at 10:00 am 0

From Nick Barron. Follow him on Twitter @nbarron; email him at nick[AT]


BlackStartUp, helping close the gap on funds. (Screen Shot)

A challenge faced by many minority entrepreneurs is access to money, and now a DC entrepreneur and his team are working on something they think can help.

The company,, is targeting an April launch, and will use crowd funding to try and close the African-American Startup Gap, in which aspiring African-American entrepreneurs lack access to the financial capital they need to start their businesses.

“Our community just doesn’t have the kind of wealth to start their own companies,” CEO Nathan Bennett-Fleming said.

An entrepreneur will submit their company to the site, and the team behind Black Startup will review each proposal before publicly listing it on the site for others to fund.

Once a company’s proposal is visible on the site, anyone can give money to fund it.

The BlackStartup team consists of five, including Fleming. (If Fleming’s name seems familiar to you, it’s because he’s also DC’s Shadow Representative.) All five met as students at Morehouse College in Atlanta, and now reside in different locations.

While they’re looking to raise an initial seed round of investment, BlackStartup has been accepted into two entrepreneurship programs, Venture Creation and a summer fellowship at Yale University.

The company plans to make money by charging a 5 percent fee on each funding transaction, and potentially by offering advertising opportunities on its blog.

Though making money can alone be a taxing goal for a startup, it’s the social mission piece of BlackStartup that could be most challenging.

“At the end of the day, we’re testing our hypothesis,” Bennett-Fleming said. “We think we have a good solution to a systemic problem, but we won’t know until we get it out to our customers.”

It’s important to note the intent of Black Startup isn’t to fund companies looking to raise huge amounts of capital.

“The type of businesses we expect on the site are the kinds of businesses that don’t need a large amount of capital,” Bennett-Fleming said.

Fleming estimates most companies on BlackStartup will try and raise between $8,000 and $10,000. A company will only receive money through the site if it’s able to reach its fundraising goal.

Along with for-profit organizations, Black Startup will also host community-based projects people are looking to fund.

In this way BlackStartup could become a competitor of Kickstarter by offering a demographically focused crowdfunding platform for non-profit endeavors.

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by March 18, 2013 at 11:00 am 0


RidePost team Marty Bauer, Blair Decker, Robert Pearce and Nik Budisavljevic. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Nick Barron. Follow him on Twitter @nbarron; email him at nick[AT]

Innovation is happening in how you get from point A to point B, and a company now in a DC startup accelerator, RidePost, wants to help you cover long distances while having memorable experiences.

RidePost lets you do two things: Make money off the empty seats in your vehicle by making them available to travelers headed where you’re going, and grab a ride with someone traveling to your destination with an open spot in their vehicle.

There are 2.3 billion car trips in the United States each year, according to RidePost co-founder and CEO Marty Bauer, 80% of which are single occupancy. RidePost wants to create inventory out of all those empty seats.

“That’s where we see ride sharing,” Bauer said. “Capitalizing on people taking the same trip every day who have empty seats.”

Getting There

Drivers can make a little money, and riders can get where they’re going more affordably than through other transportation options. The basis of the idea, getting money from those riding in your car, isn’t new, as anyone who’s taken a college road trip with friends can attest.In fact, it’s on a college campus that RidePost started, at the University of South Carolina, where Bauer and co-founders Blair Decker and Nik Budisavljevic were graduate students.

Bauer came back from a stint in Europe, where he traveled by taking car trips with strangers, thinking there may be an opportunity to enable large numbers of people to do the same in the U.S.The three founders started RidePost in Greenville, S.C., and were soon joined by Robert Pearce, who left a good paying job in Charleston to give RidePost a shot as Chief Technology Officer.

RidePost was accepted late last year into The Fort, a startup accelerator run by Fortify Ventures out of 1776, the new startup epicenter run by Evan Burfield.

Getting to DC was a goal for RidePost, who sees DC and its proximity to other East Coast cities as a key part of their company’s success.

Now having moved to DC, it’s up to the RidePost team to realize their company’s vision of getting large numbers of people to use RidePost.

If the company’s successful, one day your trip to Philadelphia may be via RidePost and not a discount bus line.

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by March 15, 2013 at 8:00 am 1 Comment


Find available Wi-FI with TouchdownSpace’s new app for iPhone. (Screenshot of app)

From Nick Barron. Follow him on Twitter @nbarron; email him at nick[AT]

As remote working is under assault by companies like Yahoo and Best Buy, a DC-based company is making it easier for mobile workers to find locations with Wi-Fi.

A new feature to TouchdownSpace’s iPhone app allows anyone to locate more than 2,000 Wi-Fi hotspots in the DC area.

Wi-Fi location is the latest addition to TouchdownSpace’s app, which already made on-demand office space available to mobile workers from an inventory of 240 professional workspaces.

Any user who needs an office for as little as an hour or as much as a day, can use TouchdownSpace’s app to book a space. The startup makes available to users real estate companies’ unused inventory.

In other words, TouchdownSpace is the latest in a number of companies in the collaborative consumption space. Others include Airbnb, Zipcar and Uber.

TouchdownSpace’s goal of helping mobile workers flies in direct contradiction to moves made over the past month by Best Buy and Yahoo, companies who are ending their remote working programs.

Those moves have ignited a war between those who see value in working remotely, and those who believe remote working diminishes an organization’s productivity and value.

While TouchdownSpace CEO Caleb Parker thinks Yahoo and Best Buy are missing the mark in making their decisions, he’s seizing the opportunity.

“I’m personally inviting any Yahoo employee to work from any of our locations for free,” Parker said. “I’m serious. It started out as a joke in one of our internal meetings, but I’m dead serious. Reach out, we’ll get you hooked up.”

Whether or not any Yahoo employees take Parker up on his offer, there are increasing numbers of mobile workers nationwide.

According to the Mobile Work Exchange, more than 135,000 people pledged to work from home during Telework Week in the first week of March. Doing so reportedly saved these workers $12.2 million, and prevented 7,842 tons of pollutants from entering the atmosphere.

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by March 4, 2013 at 10:30 am 0

From Nick Barron. Follow him on Twitter @nbarron; email him at nick[AT]


Jonathan Levin, CEO of L2 Federal Resources. (Luis Gomez Photos)

Government is complicated, but a Dupont Circle-based business works on keeping professionals up-to-speed on the latest and greatest in government contracting.

The company, L2 Federal Resources, provides training webinars on everything from regulatory updates to accounting best practices and even marketing to the federal government.

“Our customers are generally executives, counsel or contracting professionals that are actively engaged in federal contracts with the government,” said Jonathan Levin, CEO of L2 Federal Resources. “We have also trained every branch of the military and personnel from 18 federal agencies.”

Jonathan is co-owner with his father, Paul Levin, their shared surnames being responsible for the “L2” in the company’s name.

While Jonathan manages the day-to-day, it was Paul whose inspiration led to L2 Federal Resources.

“He owns a separate company (WPL Publishing, Inc.) that produces training and publishes newsletters for the construction industry,” Jonathan said. “After a long career as a civil engineer and construction consultant, he felt that with some tweaks his successful company could be replicated to provide training for federal government contractors.”

Being in the business of keeping others informed about what’s new with the federal government may seem like a chore, but L2 Federal Resources takes a three-pronged approach to staying informed.

The Levins continuously read the news and trade publications, they attend trade shows and take advantage of their government contracting association memberships, and network with those in the government contracting industry.

To this end Jonathan started and runs a Meetup for young contractors called Next Gen Government Contractors.

Another way L2 stays abreast of what it needs to knows is through an active customer development channel.

“We have dialogue with the firms that we have developed relationships with to hear what issues they are working on for or hearing about from their clients,” Levin said.

In fact, customer service is one of the differentiators Jonathan says separates L2 from its competitors. The company also allows its customers to stream its recorded webinars from any Internet-connected computer, including mobile or tablet devices. And they try to recruit engaging, expert speakers to deliver the webinars.

According to Jonathan another way in which L2 stands apart from others in its industry is by being a family owned business.

The next phase for L2 Federal Resources is a focus on producing webinars or eLearning for the government itself. “eLearning is a capability we have that we do not deploy to the private market because we found that it just wouldn’t sell, but that government agencies and large corporations are investing heavily in,” Jonathan said.

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by February 25, 2013 at 10:00 am 0

From Nick Barron. Follow him on Twitter @nbarron; email him at nick[AT]


Donna Khalife from (Luis Gomez Photos)

If you’ve tried to entertain kids, you know learning to perform heart surgery in the dark with a hand tied behind your back may be easier.

Now there’s a DC-based startup, SurpriseRide, that wants to help adults keep kids entertained while teaching the little tikes.

“SurpriseRide sends 7- to 12-year-old kids fun activities in the mail every month,” said Donna Khalife, who founded the company with her sister, Rosy. “Activities are theme-based and cover a wide variety of subjects, from art and history to science and technology.”

Each package, or “Ride” comes with an activity, a challenge and some extras. The activity tends to be instruction based, like building a birdhouse, and the challenge more flexible, like “build a replacement to the rubber ducky bath toy,” according to SurpriseRide’s website.

Rides come in the mail with all the supplies kids need to complete the activity and challenge. And the company is seeing growth not just from parents. “Right now, we have a mix of parents, aunts, uncles, and older cousins,” Khalife said. “Buying the right gift for kids in this age group can be difficult and we’re finding that people take solace in gifting a SurpriseRide subscription.”

The inspiration for SurpriseRide came from the Khalife’s childhood experience of having no video games or expensive toys, and an artist father with a studio filled with supplies for them to use to create and experiment. Another spark that ignited the SurpriseRide fire was the Khalife’s experiences as aunts.

“We realized that our two nephews, like many other kids, have two full-time working parents,” Khalife said. “We wanted to help kids evolve through play, much like we did, and bring these educational and fun activities to the houses of busy parents everywhere.”

Early indications are that the Khalife’s are filling a need. Within an hour of taking their site live just to test and make sure it worked correctly, they received their first order.

“It was a real person that none of us knew,” Khalife said. “We hadn’t notified any friends or family yet, so I stared at the email for a good few minutes, wondering what kind of glitch was going on in the system. I did some digging and then realized it was actually our first order.”

Right now SurpriseRide is participating in a three-month accelerator in Providence called Betaspring, but Khalife plans on keeping the company based in DC.

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by February 20, 2013 at 10:00 am 0

From Nick Barron. Follow him on Twitter @nbarron; email him at nick[AT]

A new venture-backed mode of transportation is coming to DC, hoping to give everyone in our city access to a “friend” with a car.

SideCar, currently operating in San Francisco, where the company is based, and Seattle, is actively recruiting people in DC who have vehicles to be drivers. SideCar is a mobile application for iPhone and Android phones. Users request a ride from a driver through the app.


The SideCar app is coming to DC. (Nick Barron)

Though the company also published a job posting on LinkedIn for a DC City Manager, it declined to say when it would be rolling out in the nation’s capital.

“Once the request is accepted, drivers can be viewed approaching in real-time,” says SideCar in a press release. “Riders can make a voluntary donation at the end of the ride.”

While SideCar makes a tip suggestion to users within its app, there is no guarantee a driver will earn money for providing a ride. After all, don’t we all have that one friend who never chips in for gas money?

As for safety concerns, SideCar says it vets every driver, and every ride arranged through their app is tracked. Plus, donations from riders to drivers are made within the app, so there’s no need to carry cash.

Though SideCar will be competing against other transportation startups operating in DC, like HitchRides and Uber, perhaps the company’s closest competitor is DC’s famous Slug Lines.

SideCar was founded last year in San Francisco. The company completed a $10 million Series A financing in October, and just announced on Valentine’s Day it had purchased Heyride, another ride-sharing company serving Austin.

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by February 19, 2013 at 10:00 am 1 Comment

From Nick Barron. Follow him on Twitter @nbarron; email him at nick[AT]

On a weekday stop into any DC coffee shop offering free WiFi and you’ll see the laptop armies: Folks using technology to do their jobs without being in an office.


A screenshot of the Touchdown app. (Nick Barron)

Now DC-based TouchdownSpace aims to make it easier for the laptop armies to find a base when they need it.

The company provides access to on-demand office space through their website and mobile application (iPhone and Android), allowing you to see on a map offices you can rent by the day or hour. Each listing comes with photos of the space, ratings and reviews, a schedule showing you when it’s free to book — and lets you book the space.

TouchdownSpace also offers a concierge booking service, called White Glove Booking, which allows you to tell the company what you need, when and where you need it, and they handle scheduling and booking for you.

The company’s goal is to meet what TouchdownSpace CEO Caleb Parker sees as a need for smaller businesses to lower costs typically associated with having an office.

“We believe the entrepreneur and SMB are the key to economic growth, and want to help them break free from expensive leases so they can invest in growing their companies,” Parker said.

TouchdownSpace only works with companies who offer flexible renting options, and who have staff to manage and clean office space. In other words, TouchdownSpace isn’t offering up a law firm’s extra office for you to rent.

The company got its start when Parker and TouchdownSpace’s COO Svet Voloshin were running another company called Executive Space Solutions. Their customers kept asking for temporary office space.

“Our name (TouchdownSpace) actually came from our customers, who said, ‘We need a place where we can touchdown between meetings,’ ” Parker said.

Given recent trends, the need for lower cost, on-demand office space is likely to go up.

For example, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology study a few years ago predicted freelance positions will make up at least half of new jobs created as America climbs out of recession.

Today TouchdownSpace is only operating in DC, but expects to be in New York City, Boston, Atlanta, Chicago and San Diego by the end of March.

And in a few weeks Parker says his company will add to their map of places you can book WiFi hotspots throughout the DC Metro area. These spots will not be bookable, but could be anything from a coffee shop to a library.

TouchdownSpace will rely on users to populate the map. Further down the road users will be able to rate and review the various hotspots.

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by February 11, 2013 at 10:00 am 0


Brothers Colin and Trevor Lyman of CrackedMacScreen. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Nick Barron. Follow him on Twitter @nbarron; email him at nick[AT]

You drop your iPhone, shattering the screen. What do you do? Most of us think you buy another phone.

DC’s CrackedMacScreen wants you to think otherwise. Brothers Trevor and Colin Lyman fix broken Apple product screens, from iPhones to iPads and laptops. They come to you if you’re in the immediate DC area. If not, you can ship them your broken device, and they’ll ship it back, covering shipping charges both ways.

What today can be a life-saving business for phone-toting customers started for Trevor in 2009 as a way to make a little money fixing broken computer screens for Temple University students in Philadelphia.

Trevor’s first repair was on an old Mac laptop someone was selling for cheap on Craigslist because it had a broken screen. Trevor bought the computer, taught himself how to fix the screen using an online guide, and started promoting his new-found skill to Temple students he tutored.

“I told all of the kids that I was tutoring that I could fix Macs and the following week the girl I was tutoring, her friend broke her screen,” Trevor said. “Her mom called me, I went and fixed it, made a couple hundred dollars in a half an hour, and realized that there was a business there.”

In 2010 Trevor moved with his girlfriend to DC, still holding down a day job while setting up CrackedMacScreen in the District. In August 2011, Colin opened a CrackedMacScreen branch in Nashville. The next month Trevor started doing CrackedMacScreen full time in DC. A year later Trevor needed Colin to close up shop in Tennessee and head east.

“We basically proved that we could move to any major city and start a CrackedMacScreen branch, but after a year working in Nashville business was too crazy in DC for me to do it just by myself,” Trevor said.

Along with us regular folks, CrackedMacScreen has fixed devices for members of Congress and the media. The brothers blog about the repairs they do.

But will the Lymans establish CrackedMacScreen presence in other American cities?

“We feel like we’re still proving the concept here in DC,” Trevor said. “For right now, we’re concentrating on building business here through agreements and contracts with schools, businesses and government organizations.”

While understanding CrackedMacScreen may not be a lifelong, overwhelmingly profitable business, the brothers are pleased with their success.

All this growth for CrackedMacScreen comes from a business that never accepted outside investment, a recommendation Trevor makes for other entrepreneurs.

“If you can support yourself with a full-time salary while having enough time to work on other projects then why would you ever want to take investment,” Trevor asks. “We have no pressure to succeed other than our own needs, which reduces our stresses a ton.”

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