An entrepreneur’s solution for bedsheet problem


Micha Weinblatt, founder of Betterific, has teamed with Dormify to solve a long-standing problem with fitted bedsheets. (Amanda Zuckerman/Amanda Zuckerman)

The entrepreneur who brought you Georgetown’s irreverent Crooked Monkey T-shirt company is now bringing innovation in the bedroom.

Yep.

Better sheets.

Micha Weinblatt, 31, a Potomac native and University of Maryland graduate, has a new tech company called Betterific, which has teamed with Dormify, the college dorm room decorator, to solve a long-standing problem with those annoying fitted bedsheets that confuse you about which way is up.

“We have suggested a length and width indicator on the sheets that will say [which side is] ‘long” or ‘short,’ ” said Weinblatt. “It is simple and it makes life so much better.”

Weinblatt approached Karen Zuckerman, the local marketing maven and founder of Rockville-based HZDG advertising agency and of Dormify.

Zuckerman loved the idea.

“It’s the first product that has been created from a Betterific idea, and that is what’s cool about it,” Zuckerman said. “It is Dormify’s mission to make dorm living and college life easier. That is why this was a perfect fit, both for us and the bedsheets.”

The one-inch labels, which say “long side” or “short side,” have been placed in Dormify’s full production run for this school year.

Zuckerman started Dormify three years ago with her daughter. The company began with a focus on girls’ dorm rooms, but started a “guys” section this year on dormify.com. It also has expanded its product line to include seating, rugs, storage, desk accessories and bath items.

Dormify employs an army of high school and college-age girls to blog and serve as brand ambassadors in what is known as its “style adviser program.” More than 600 young women have gone through the program in over 150 campuses.

Zuckerman said the company, which has several local investors, hopes to be profitable by this time next year. Dormify is headquartered in Rockville, but has offices in New York City. It is looking to raise up to $5 million from strategic investors to scale the company.

Factoid of the week

574That is the number of sandwiches sold last Tuesday at Mike Isabella’s G concession at Nationals Park, compared with 384 on an average night. G sells four types of sandwiches at its ballpark location, including a roasted cauliflower, the Drewno, Italian hero and chicken Parmesan. The record sales came on one of the stadium’s most crowded days: announced attendance was 40,686. People lined up four hours early to qualify for one of the 25,000 Jayson Werth garden gnomes, which were given away. The gnomes were selling on e-Bay within hours for nearly $100.

Presto, a new name

Alexandria-based Taxi Magic has a new name and a new chief executive, both part of an effort to compete with ground transportation competitors Uber and Lyft.

The firm has 80 local employees and rebranded itself as Curb, supplying e-hailing technology to 35,000 taxis. It also hired technology veteran Patrick Lashinsky, 46, to run things.

Curb is owned by Concur, a Seattle-based provider of travel and expense management services.

The Buzz called Lashinsky last week to ask him some questions. The responses are edited for content and length.

Why are you located in Alexandria?

It is very centrally located and easily accessible to top technical folks and engineers. We draw from both the District and Northern Virginia, and have found that being centrally located is a real advantage for employees and potential employees.

What is the technical talent market like in D.C.?

Improving. There is a nice balance between smaller, more agile start-ups [like Curb], and larger companies that have very narrow subject experts. That is augmented by the strong presence of the government’s technical teams. Between all three, smaller companies, larger companies and government, there is a healthy balance of opportunity and developed experienced talent.

Are you similar to Uber?

We have been around since 2007. They just are a little bit better at marketing and growing a little faster.

Is the traditional taxi business model outmoded?

No. Consumers are still looking for functionality. There are better ways to do it and more efficient ways, but consumers are slow to change their behaviors.

Your background is real estate. Does that help you run a transportation company?

In both cases, the goal is to provide technology that provides consumers with a more efficient and better process while helping suppliers, which in real estate is agents and transportation is drivers, be more successful and efficient.

The Buzz hears:

First Potomac Realty Trust of Bethesda leased a full floor at 10320 Little Patuxent Pkwy., Columbia, as a new headquarters for SK Research, a research provider for financial companies. Formerly of Baltimore, SK is taking 12,000 square feet in the 12-story office building, which underwent an $8 million renovation last fall. The move-in date for SK Research is June 1, 2015.

Thomas Heath is a local business reporter and columnist, writing about entrepreneurs and various companies big and small in the Washington Metropolitan area. Previously, he wrote about the business of sports for The Post’s sports section for most of a decade.
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