The Buzz: A Web site for solo travelers

February 17, 2013

Washington private equity investment banker Elizabeth Avery is monetizing her lifelong love for travel.

Two months ago, she started Solo Trekker 4 U in a ninth-floor office on I Street NW. The company is aimed at the underserved market for single travelers who want to find deals in the upscale travel market.

Avery, 64, sees the market as a big opportunity. According to her research, “solo travel” Internet searches are up 60 percent.

Avery, who attended Georgetown Law and worked at the Securities and Exchange Commission, founded Kalorama Capital in 2000. The company raises funds for small private equity firms.

“Addressing this underserved market builds on experience gained raising small private equity funds in the middle of the 2000 tech crash and the 2008 post-Lehman crisis,” she said in an interview.

Solo Trekker’s business model is transaction based, with revenue streams from hotel and tour referrals. Advertising and premium subscriptions will be added, Avery said.

Avery is the start-up’s founder, president and sole employee. She has several independent consultants that include a Web developer, as well as experts in search engine optimization and social media.

The Buzz hears:

American Capital is breathing a little easier following the power blackout during this year’s Super Bowl. The Bethesda-based investment firm owns SMG, the company that has managed the New Orleans Superdome for the past 35 years. That exhale you hear is when Entergy, the New Orleans electric utility, acknowledged that its equipment was responsible.

David Adelman’s ReelGenie is headed to Texas. The start-up is among eight companies — and the only one from Washington — selected out of more than 200 applicants in the social technologies category to be part of the 2013 South by Southwest Accelerator next month in Austin. ReelGenie creates family histories by turning photos, documents, text and voice narration into films.

Bethesda-based ProFunds, which manages $26 billion, was all over the Inside ETFs conference in Hollywood, Fla., last week. Founded in 1997, ProFunds is a proponent of exchange traded funds, which trade on stock exchanges, much like stocks. ProFunds Chairman Michael L. Sapir participated in a panel discussion on “The Future of ETFs.” Joanne Hill, head of ProFunds investment strategy, talked about “Leveraged and Inverse ETFs” for another panel. ProFunds’ head of capital markets, Stephen Sachs, talked about ETFs on CNBC with Vanguard founder Jack Bogle.

Going-away pay

Two of Lockheed Marti n’s executives are departing with million-dollar-plus pay packages.

Linda R. Gooden, who is stepping down April 1 as executive vice president of the defense contractor’s information systems and global solutions business, will receive a $1.2 million payment, less taxes, when she leaves the company, according to a Lockheed filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Gooden, who is a resident of Maryland, is staying on an extra month, until May 1, at her current annual base salary of $686,500, to help with transition, according to the filing.

Joanne M. Maguire, who is stepping down April 1 as the executive vice president of Lockheed Martin’s space systems business, also will receive a $1.2 million payment, less taxes, when she leaves the company, according to SEC filings.

Maguire, who is a resident of California, will also stay on the company payroll until May 1 to help with transition. She will continue to collect her current annual base salary of $701,400 during the extra month, according to the filing.

Carlyle watch

The private equity giant has recently poached senior Capitol Hill staffer Barrett Karr to become Carlyle’s point person for state and federal legislative and regulatory issues. Karr, who has been Republican staff director for the House Education and Workforce Committee, succeeds Bryan Corbett, who will work under Carlyle co-chief executive William E. Conway in Carlyle’s executive group.

Factoid of the week

2.3MThat’s how many people rolled through the turnstiles at the Verizon Center in 2012. The Capitals and Wizards may be flat, but concerts are hot. Last July set the arena’s record for most tickets sold in a month at 146,000, including Coldplay, Rod Stewart, Stevie Nicks, Enrique Iglesias and Jennifer Lopez, and the “How to Train Your Dragon Live Spectacular.”

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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