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Meet five D.C. start-ups that aim to build a business on mobile

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Indeed, the Reston-based company has its own application store that contains blank forms that might be used in industries as varied as hospitality, education, utilities and government. There's a form to track users' diabetes and yet another for their golf scores.

Canvas counts about 1,000 paid users, Quigley said, a number that continues to climb month over month. "We're hoping with the growth that we're seeing now, which has been very dramatic, that we'll be able to fund our growth from our own revenue."

Quigley said many of his customers are companies that use the forms internally. But a nascent use that the firm continues to develop is for the surveys or evaluations that retailers, restaurants and others can send to customers via mobile phones.

Happy hour

The sidewalks of the city's popular bar districts are littered with folding signs that boast happy hour specials, dishes of the day and live music offerings. Venga fits them all in a user's pocket.

The brainchild of co-founders Reg Stettinius, Sam von Pollaro and Winston Bao Lord, the application serves as a marketing tool for local establishments that pay a monthly fee to keep users abreast of daily happenings like two-for-one beer specials, a live jazz band or a fresh catch of mahi-mahi.

"We see this as the next evolution of marketing for restaurants," Lord said. "What we've tried to do is take all the best practices from all the previous marketing platforms out there and apply them to Venga."

Derived from the Spanish verb meaning "come," Venga will launch in April pending Apple's approval and the trio has already partnered with the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington to tap its 700 members across the region as prospective clients.

Stettinius said District-based Venga was initially conceived as a mobile app rather than a Web site so consumers can view a bar or restaurant's specials and events while on the go or in unfamiliar neighborhoods. Regulars can also maintain a list of their go-to haunts and swap recommendations with friends.

"The information is all there at their fingertips the moment they are making a decision of where to go," Stettinius said.

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