Queen Rania of Jordan stopped by 1776, the District-based tech start-up incubator, for an unofficial visit last Tuesday. A spokeswoman for 1776 said the queen toured the facilities and met with about eight of the 75 start-ups that are housed in the building at 1133 15th St. NW.
Queen Rania, who used to work for Citibank and Apple, has been a longtime proponent of technology and entrepreneurship. In 2001, she founded the Queen Rania Center for Entrepreneurship, a business incubator based in Amman, Jordan.
After her visit to 1776, the queen tweeted to 2.7 million followers: “Inspiring visit to @1776dc, a start up campus in DC — energy, innovation and creativity in one great space!”
— Abha Bhattarai
Hands-on factory workers are often known as “touch labor” in the manufacturing world.
And that label might be even more apropos in the future.
“You’ll be carrying an iPad,” Allan McArtor, chairman of Herndon-based Airbus Americas, said as he described the line worker of the future during a panel discussion on “America’s New Manufacturing,” hosted by Washington Post Live last week.
After a machine finishes riveting together a couple of pieces of metal, for instance, “you take a photo and compare that to the prototype,” the software analyzing the images to make sure the work was done correctly.
“There will be places for automation and places for trained workers.”
— Dan Beyers
The Mid-Atlantic Venture Association is expanding its start-up pitch competition for early-stage ventures.
The organization held the inaugural TechBuzz in 2011 as part of its annual Capital Connection Conference. Executive Director Julia Spicer said MAVA will host three events this year, including the one last week at the Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club. The next TechBuzz will take place at Capital Connection in June, followed by a third event in the fall.
Last week, 16 entrepreneurs were given just four minutes to sell a panel of judges on their ventures, which ranged from software that archives social media, to a device that harnesses renewable energy, to software that simplifies loan refinancing. There was no cash reward.
They were judged by two separate panels that included: Joe Payne, chief executive of Eloqua; Tom Weithman, vice president and managing director of CIT GAP Funds; Tom Cox, vice president of corporate development at Gannett; Wayne Jackson, chief executive of Sonatype; and Julia Taxin, an associate at Grotech Ventures, among others.
Anwar Saleem has seen the hard times on H Street NE — drugs, prostitution and a retail vacancy that as recently as 10 years ago was 30 percent. He nearly lost the two buildings he owns, 1005 and 1017 H St. NE, to foreclosure. “I had to struggle just through the hard times just like everyone else on H Street,” he said.
How long ago that seems now. H Street has become one of the most happening strips in the city, with a boom of new restaurants and bars creating 1,579 net new jobs and 189 rehabbed buildings since 2001. Only 2 percent of storefronts are vacant. The country is taking notice, as Saleem’s Main Street program joined Rochester, Minn., and Ocean Springs, Miss., in winning the “Great American Main Street Award” from the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Days after accepting the award in New Orleans, Saleem said he’s beginning to address a new issue: How to make sure the corridor doesn’t fill up completely with bars. “That’s going to be what’s next. How do you balance H Street out so it’s not just restaurants and night life?”
— Jonathan O’Connell
Advisory Board employees went on a scavenger hunt last week. But instead of collecting an assortment of trophies, this hunt involved giving back. Nearly 50 employees formed groups of six and took two hours to accomplish tasks such as reviewing high school student college applications, cleaning up a park or writing a letter to a student learning English. “This is a way we can make a small difference in a fun way,” said Graham McLaughlin, senior director at the Advisory Board. The event was in celebration of National Volunteer Week.
— Vanessa Small