Call it speed-dating for businesses.
Vasiliki M. Johnson, a contract specialist for the Federal Reserve, was on the hunt for a translator.
Andrés Echeverri, chief executive of Rockville-based ACSI Translations, was looking for new work.
They might just have been a match.
But, they say, it’s too soon to tell. The two met less than a week ago as part of the Greater Washington Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s matchmaking session for local businesses and suppliers. Organization officials say the event has grown in popularity in recent years, as more and more companies look to contract with minority- and woman-owned businesses.
“It’s a great opportunity to connect businesses and suppliers,” said Angela Franco, president and chief executive of the chamber. “For our members, one of the biggest areas of need is access to contacts, and this is one way for us to help.”
About 15 area businesses and government agencies — including Amtrak, Washington Gas and Freddie Mac — took part in the two-hour session. They were matched, for 15 minutes at a time, with dozens of suppliers that provide everything from IT support to cleaning services.
“It’s exactly like speed-dating,” Johnson said. “It’s like, ‘What do you do? Here’s what we offer. Let’s see if we can make this work.’”
The matchmaking session was part of the chamber’s annual business expo, which was held at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center last Tuesday. More than 1,500 people attended.
“We typically use the vendors that we meet here more than once,” said Nik’Kia Carver, outreach coordinator for the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission. “We buy everything from paper clips to pipes, and we need everything from architectural services to plumbing, so this is really useful.”
Richard Mendizabal, who works for Fast Signs of D.C., said it was his first year at the expo.
“I’ve talked to almost everybody here,” he said. “I’m trying to put my name out there.”
As for Echeverri of ACSI Translations, who has attended two previous matchmaking sessions, he said he has yet to close a deal with someone he met through the chamber’s events. But this time, he has a feeling it might work out.
“You never know how things will go,” he said, “but we have a couple of deals in the works.”