Capital Buzz: Merrills’s new venture is paint by numbers

Local entrepreneur Craig Merrills, owner of two Washington restaurants, the Madhatter in Dupont Circle and Cedar in Penn Quarter, is getting in the painting business.

Merrills this year bought the first Wow 1Day! Painting franchise in Washington. Vancouver-based Wow1Day! vows to paint your home or business in a single day, whatever the scale of the job.

The average franchise fee for the business is $100,000.

“There’s a lot of commonalities with owning restaurants and this paint business because it’s all about customer service,” said the Michigan native. “I am not the operating partner in my restaurants. I found this company for my wife, who loves interior decorating and color. My wife and I are 50-50 partners.”

Merrills said he has invested around $20,000 in the business, beyond just the franchise fee, including hiring a service to distribute 10,000 door hangers and buying a Mercedes Sprinter as the primary work van, painted in the orange-and-blue corporate colors of Wow.

Merrills, 46, attended the University of Maryland in the late 1980s. He was a stockbroker before buying a share of the Madhatter in 1992. He lives in McLean, with his wife, Patricia.

He said the company has 25 jobs under its belt, and is averaging three jobs a week.

The Buzz hears:

Cvent, the Tysons Corner-based software company founded by Reggie Aggarwal is preparing to go public, according to sources who were not authorized to speak publicly. Goldman Sachs and another major bank have signed on to handle the initial public offering. Aggarwal’s meeting planning company, which has gone through ups and downs the last 10 years, has been on an up for the last few. Its investor list once read like a Washington who’s who: Microstrategy’s Sanju Bansal, former AOL chairman Steve Case , Atlantic Media ’s David Bradley , investor/Obama insider Jeff Zients , Carlyle Group’s Ed Mathias , venture capitalist Jack Biddle and Hughes Networks’ Pradman Kaul , among others. Two years ago, Cvent announced $136 million in funding led by Bethesda’s New Enterprise Associates and Insight Venture Partners, with Greenspring Associates also participating, allowing most of the initial investors to cash out. Cvent spokesman Blake Rouhani declined comment.

Bill Miller is back. Miller, who helmed the Legg Mason Value Trust Fund for 18 years before stepping down after big reverses, was at Congressional Country Club last week for Marvin McIntyre’s book party.

Miller is coming off a great 2012 and a high performing first quarter of 2013 as the head of Legg Mason’s Capital Management Opportunity trust, where he produced a 12-month return (as of March 31) of 35 percent.

McIntyre, the managing director for Morgan Stanley’s Wealth Management office in Washington, hosted Miller, local sports marketer/agent Donald Dell , author Kitty Kelley and Barron’s magazine managing director Sterling Shea at the Congressional event.

McIntyre sold more than 150 copies of his second novel, a political thriller titled “Inside Out.” He’s donating proceeds to the Wounded Warrior Project.

Frontpoint Security, a wireless home security provider, signed a 10-year lease for 36,042 square feet—the entire seventh floor and part of the first floor—at 1595 Spring Hill Rd., Vienna. Frontpoint is scheduled to move in October.

Fro-Zen-Yo, the District-based frozen yogurt franchise founded by Chuck Rendelman, goes international. The company signed a franchise partner in Puerto Rico and will open a store in San Juan later this year.

Factoid of the Week

40,000 That’s the number of simultaneous unique visitors that streamed Monumental Network’s April 3, six-hour special of the NHL trade deadline, with three talking heads sizing up the field. The surge caught Monumental, which is Ted Leonsis’s new digital network, by surprise. The number of viewers — which would fill two Verizon Centers — overwhelmed the Monumental site and new viewers were redirected to Washingtoncaps.com. “The number of viewers blew us away,” said Monumental Sports executive vice president Randy Boe .

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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