Benjamin Youngand Greg Colemandon’t speak a word of Portuguese. For most Silver Spring-based upstarts, it’s not exactly a pressing skillset.
But the duo has seen their fitness application for smartphones, called Nexercise, gain inexplicable steam in Brazil. Now they need a translator. Rápido.
“I just didn’t realize that fitness in general in Brazil is really big,” Young said. “I guess with the weather and the culture, people just want to be in shape.”
Young said the app has risen to the top five in Brazil’s iPhone app store and the firm has seen as many as 500 downloads a day from the South American country.
Still a tiny enterprise, Nexercise has done limited marketing in the United States and absolutely none overseas or in the non-English-speaking world, Young said. But this newfound demand has prompted the founders to reconsider their opportunities.
“Brazil was a very hot country for social network sites,” he said. “I think that their culture is kind of inherently latching onto technology and ... if you look at a lot of countries outside the U.S., a lot of people are accessing mobile technology.”
Online education company 2tor is officially planting its flag in the ground in the Washington region, shifting its headquarters from New York to Landover as Chip Paucekassumes the chief executive title.
The changes are largely ceremonial. Paucek, one of the company’s co-founders, has been at the helm of day-to-day operations for much of the past two years and the bulk of the company’s 350-person staff already works from the Landover office.
Co-founder John Katzman, formerly of The Princeton Review, will remain with the company as executive chairman. Paucek said 2tor will keep an office in New York, as well as its offices in Los Angeles, North Carolina and Hong Kong.
2tor, pronounced “tutor,” partners with universities to design online degree programs that mirror their curriculums and often use their instructors. Last year, the company partnered with Georgetown University’s nursing school to offer several online degrees, and Paucek said it now enrolls more students thatn the brick-and-mortar counterpart.
But the programs come at a cost. Each can require from $10 million to $20 million in venture capital to get off the ground, Paucek said, so the firm has started only one or two a year since 2009.
“We don’t need to raise additional capital for our current programs, but raising capital is a question mark every time we talk about growth,” he said. “The quicker we talk about the pace of program growth, the more capital we will consume.”
The next academic disciplines on its agenda: public administration, engineering and pharmacy, among others.
Zvi Bandheads to the Silicon Valley incubator 500 Startups this week with a little extra money in his company’s coffers. Contactually , an electronic tool for businesses to manage their customers and other contacts, has secured $215,000 from seed investors.
Local financiers Sean Glassand David Steinberg are among a host of angel investors who put $165,000 into the company. 500 Startups, which makes seed investments in companies and offers them co-working space, contributed $50,000.
A proponent of local entrepreneurs and co-creator of Proudly Made in D.C., an online network for local start-ups, Band plans to return to Washington after several weeks at the incubator. Contactually’s co-founders include Tony Cappaertand Jeff Carbonella.