Capital Buzz: Squash, anyone? Developer hopes to score from the game’s revival.
By Thomas Heath,
Anthony Lanier, whose EastBanc owns Kafe Leopold, L2 Lounge, a computer technology company and seemingly half of Georgetown, is getting into the sports business.
Lanier, 59, is launching Squash On Fire, an upscale development with eight squash courts that he will open in 2014 at 23rd and M streets, N.W.
The cost is estimated at $4 million to $6 million.
“That’s a lot of money,” said the wealthy developer.
To draw attention to the sport, Squash On Fire is sponsoring a professional women’s squash tournament at The Ritz Carlton’s Sports Club L.A., Aug. 30 through Sept. 4, at 22nd and M streets. There is $6,800 in prize money.
Lanier’s 17-year-old daughter, Camille, a student at National Cathedral School, is a top squash player, traveling the world — Germany, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Egypt, France — with mom and dad to play in tournaments.
“This is a kid who is going to drive me crazy and has lots of energy,” he said.
Lanier said squash has been making a comeback after getting, well, squashed, several decades ago by tennis and jogging.
“There was a time when Washington was full of squash courts.”
And what about profit?
“I don’t think I will make money on it. However, I am not going to lose money either. I am trying to emulate [enterpreneur] Mark Ein with his World TeamTennis,” Lanier said.
Ein, a local businessman recently spotted in the Hamptons, owns the Washington Kastles, the WTT team that went undefeated this year, the first time a WTT team has done that in the league’s history.
The talk at Terk Tech
About 20 techies and entrepreneurs gathered at Ralph Terkowitz’s hilltop spread Aug. 14, where they dined on salmon, rice and grilled beef filet, topped off with soft ice cream for dessert.
The Terk Tech group of around 20 included local telecom attorney Hank Levine, GeniusRocket founder and former AOLer Mark Walsh, and Brian Loew of Inspire, a health Web site.
Levine’s son, Dan, a 23-year-old Yale grad (where he was a sprinter), was also there. Dan Levine works for Silicon Valley-based Accel Partners, where he focuses on early-stage investments.
Dan Levine said activity in the Washington-area venture capital sector is still behind San Francisco/Silicon Valley and New York City, but it’s growing fast.
“D.C. is starting to get more of the ingredients of a tech ecosystem,” Levine said afterward in an e-mail. “D.C. has always had a large, educated populace with many engineers and access to capital. Now more of those engineers are doing startups rather than defense contracting.”
Levine was visiting family, but also met with LivingSocial chief technology officer and co-founder Aaron Batalion and Sean Glass, a venture partner at Novak Biddle, the Bethesda venture capital house. Glass co-founded the Yale Entrepreneurial Society and hit his first home run with Higher One, which helps colleges manage their finances.
“One of the big needs now is a thriving early-angel ecosystem and guys like Sean Glass and Aaron Batalion are helping fill that void. With more access to early capital, more people will become founders. Hopefully that will lead to more successes and more entrepreneurs-turned-investors like Glass and Batalion.”
Accel has investments in several Washington-area companies, including sports blog SB Nation, energy data company Opower, and softwaremakers Parature and Sonatype.
The Buzz Hears:
* Zips Dry Cleaners will be opening its 30th store in the next couple of days. That store is in Elkridge and will double as a franchisee-training center. Kind of like Zips’s version of McDonald’s “Hamburger U.”
* Tasti D-Lite, the lower-calorie frozen dessert chain, opens its first D.C. sweet spot, in September at 2029 P St. NW in Dupont Circle. A second location is slated for Columbia Heights at 3100 14th St. NW in November. At least 25 are planned.
Annapolis resident and area businessman Greg Karanzalis, 28, is one of the entrepreneurs behind the two stores in D.C. Karanzalis is joined in the business venture by old friend Tom O’Leary, who is the owner of four Chevys Fresh Mex restaurants.
* Broad Run Recycling is doing its part for the Chesapeake. Actually, the recycling firm is allowing Waste Management to pick the porcelain bits — think bathtubs, sinks, toilets — from Broad Run’s conveyor belts. Seems the Chesapeake Bay Foundation had contacted Waste Management about using porcelain to dump into the bay, helping spur the creation of oyster beds.