Capital Buzz: More companies to watch in 2012

December 25, 2011

The Buzz asked local businesspeople which companies and individuals they are keeping an eye on for 2012 and beyond. We published the first round of responses last week. Here are some more:

Radio waves

As I am thinking, the first is WTOP. For the first time in 30 years they are going to have legit competition [in an all-news station from CBS]. Think of it. No competition for 30 years. It’s why WTOP is one of the most profitable stations in the country. The competition from New York knows what they are doing. It will be interesting to see what it looks like a year from now.

— John Kane, president of the office moving firm, The Kane Company

Here comes the ... Web site

I am excited about the growth of Bethesda-based Weddingwire.com. With strong partnerships with Martha Stewart and a few rounds of recent funding, Weddingwire.com is like Yelp for today’s bride. And with Tim Chi leading the charge, I am convinced that it will soon be the market leader.

— Heidi Kallett, president of the
The Dandelion Patch stationery store

Burritos and shirts

Two small businesses that I’m very excited about and are watching for 2012: one is a small burrito restaurant called Boloco, and they are expanding to D.C. and Bethesda next year. The founder and chief executive is John Pepper.

The quality ingredients that they use and the creativity behind their burritos make the experience truly amazing.

The other is upstart shirtmaker and designer called Ledbury, based in Richmond, and founded by Paul Watson and Paul Trible. A friend of mine turned me onto Ledbury shirts a few years ago, and now I can’t get enough of them. Their shirts are tailored with the sophistication of Savile Row, but designed for the American culture.

— Duke Cheng, chairman of the
customer support firm Parature

Buying and giving

A new competitor in the daily deal space is the recently launched Recoup in Georgetown. The social commerce site’s business model is similar to Living Social’s but with a more philanthropic mission. Every purchase made on Recoup benefits a charitable agency of the buyer’s choice, and socially conscious merchants that are selling on Recoup can also contribute a portion of each sale to charity. Additionally, unlike it’s daily deals competitors, Recoup doesn’t charge businesses up front, resulting in less risk for the advertiser.

— Catherine Meloy, president,
Goodwill of Greater Washington

Able to work

The company on my radar is Arlington-based Linden Resources, which is issuing a challenge to businesses throughout the Washington metro region to include people with disabilities in their workforce diversity definitions and increase the number of people with disabilities they employ by 15 percent. Linden will raise the bar for this challenge by: 1) connecting employers to highly skilled and trained, ready-to-work employees and 2) augmenting Linden’s current successful commercial printing business that employs people with disabilities by launching the only secure document destruction business in the region that exclusively employs people with disabilities/wounded warrior veterans.

— Helen Stefan Moreau, president of staffing company Midtown Group

Tennis anyone?

Ray Benton, who is the CEO of the Tennis Center at College Park —the new and highly successful tennis facility out at the University of Maryland. Ray is a former lawyer, agent and businessman in tennis, and he has had some terrific prospects grow and graduate from the program, such as Denis Kudla, who is currently playing the pro circuit as a 19- year-old and having good success on the ATP Tour.

— Donald Dell, group president of sports agency Lagardere Unlimited

Cyberbusiness

Fairfax-based Invincea is one of our companies and is on a roll. Chief executive Anup Ghosh is a thought leader here. They are protecting desktops from malware using a clever virtual machine solution.

Rockville-based Spotflux is another very interesting company (we are not yet investors, but are trying to be!). They also are running a closed beta test, but with $300 in marketing, they have acquired 75,000 users in 121 countries. They keep your data safe and encrypted on public WiFi networks, keep your surfing private by preventing marketers from dropping unwanted cookies on your computer, and give you the freedom to access any Web site you want from anywhere in the world.

— John Backus, managing partner of New Atlantic Venture

Back on the farm

Keep an eye on John Guevremont, a 20-year Marine and retired chief operating officer of Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation. He retired to start a farm, beef and dairy business, and vineyard in Virginia called Reality Farms. There is an old silo on the property converted into an overnight accommodation in the foothills of the Blue Ridge mountains.

— Professor Stewart McHie, director of the Master of Science in Business Analysis program, Catholic University of America

A new broker dealer

Scott Dreyer, president of Compass Point Financial, is one to watch. This firm is about 3 years old and is growing like crazy. This is a new broker-dealer with offices on K Street NW in Georgetown. Scott Dreyer was one of the original Johnston and Lemon crew who started FBR. Scott was head of trading at FBR and faced SEC charges. He did not settle, fought all charges and was exonerated. He kept his good regulatory standing sufficient to register a new broker-dealer, and it is a huge success story. Employs a lot of folks, pays rent and taxes, and makes money. Pretty cool.

— Michael Farr, president of Farr, Miller & Washington financial consultants

Patent man

Ray Kwong is the founder and president of Annapolis-based optical engineering company called Scram Technologies, and has over 25 years of entrepreneurial experience in high technology. Ray has been instrumental in the concept of Scram’s LED illuminated Pico projector product line and is credited with several patents.

—Marvin H. McIntyre II, managing director, Capital Wealth Management Group, Morgan Stanley Smith Barney

Social fundraising and ...

Arlington-based Alumni Fidelity is run by a couple of smart young men, working night and day trying to grow an idea for social fundraising — the American way. Purcellville-based TimeRazor, a stealth mode startup, is an innovative idea with great people and with lots of growth potential.

—Jim Millar, president, Hitt Contracting

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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