VetCap Recap – The Ins-and-Outs of Seeking Capital

Bunker Labs DC teamed up with Vets in Tech to present the ins-and-outs of seeking capital and get inside the heads of those who lend and invest. One of the most common and frustrating challenges start-ups face is access to capital. And for veterans in particular, their military experiences do not often bring them into…

Bunker Labs DC teamed up with Vets in Tech to present the ins-and-outs of seeking capital and get inside the heads of those who lend and invest.


One of the most common and frustrating challenges start-ups face is access to capital. And for veterans in particular, their military experiences do not often bring them into this area. While many veterans can relate to “end-of-year spending” in record time (legally, of course!), most have never asked others for money to build a scalable and sustainable business.

Held at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in Alexandria, VetCap is part of a national series of workshops to help train veteran entrepreneurs on where and how to raise capital, as well as to connect them to a network of financing sources. Our November event consisted of a 90-minute panel followed a number of pitches from local start-ups. DC’s panel featured experts across six different types of capital:

Here are some of the nuggets we heard from our panel:

The first step of successful fundraising for your business is determining the right target audience

All capital providers have different profiles of companies they will fund. Deciding who you’ll approach for raising capital depends on: the size and stage of your business, your business sector, your path to profitability, and how much you need to raise.

Not All Funding is the Same. Here’s What Each Type Looks Like:

  • Venture Capital (VC): invests for a minority share of stock in your company; usually preferred stock security; typically $3-30 million; will be very active in your operations, typically invests over 5-8 years and exits upon IPO or acquisition
  • Angel: Generally three types of angels: 1) friends & family, 2) organized angel groups (Angel Capital Association maintains a list on its website), and 3) accredited platforms; usually a “simplified” version of the equity a VC buys or a loan that converts to equity when the company raises its next financing round.
  • Venture Debt: This is debt financing for venture equity-backed companies that lack the assets or cash flow for traditional debt financing, or that want greater flexibility. Generally structured as a three-year term loan (or series of loans), with warrants for company stock.
  • Peer/ Marketplace Lending: “Crowdfunding for debt.” Replaces the bank with individual lenders and investors. The StreetShares model is 1) Shark Tank: borrower “pitches” to investors (online picture and paragraph), 2) eBay: investors bid/compete to lend; Combine best offers into single loan
  • Crowdfunding: a new approach to raising capital for new and existing projects/businesses by presenting offerings to a large number of contributors or investors, typically over the internet. Gives entrepreneurs an opportunity to attract funds through social media, affinity groups, industry portals.
  • S. Small Business Administration (SBA): Equity financing including Guaranteed Loan Programs (Debt Financing), Bonding Program (Surety Bonds), Venture Capital Program

Here are the Types of Companies that Each are Looking to Invest In:

  • Venture Capital: Companies with the potential to grow rapidly (50-100%+ per year) that are targeting a large market (usually $500 million or more). Companies that are creating a new market or disrupting a big, existing one. Fast growth, productive, high margin.
  • Angel: Most likely looking for high-growth companies with a great team and traction.
  • Venture debt: Often tech companies with strong management teams who have raised a large seed or Series A round with reputable investors. Looking for serial entrepreneurs with a track record of success, strong management teams, and the ability to execute. Also like companies that have reputable investors and well-known funds that offer more than just money.
  • Peer/ Marketplace Lending: Any small business/startup with: at least 1 year in business, some revenue, principal with reasonable credit. Looking for companies that have generated revenue, are creditworthy and have a great story.
  • Crowdfunding: Varies by stage of development – Crowdfunding outlets are developing for all stages. Looking for good leadership, a clear idea and ask, and a clear strategy.
  • S. Small Business Administration (SBA): Like all lenders, SBA is looking for candidates with the 3 c’s: credit, character, and capacity. Looking for planning, creativity, ethic and preparation.

For the final portion of the evening, the panel listened to pitches from a number of start-ups to include: Bunker Labs DC start-ups SRV’D, Snowcreek Consulting, RECON and locals Steptoe Group, LLC, Pair, MATBOCK, and ReVest.

“VetCap was a great event. The panel was top-notch and did a great job explaining the “how” and “why” behind what investors are looking for. The opportunity to pitch and connect with local investors was well worth it,” said Snowcreek Consulting Partner Suzanne Dougherty.

We look forward to co-hosting our next VetCap event in fall 2016. For those who are interested in future sessions like VetCap, consider becoming a member of Bunker Labs DC to learn more from similar experts and founders. Please contact Mary Iafelice at [email protected].


The Value of Local Small Business Partnerships

  • “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” — Henry Ford

Alexandria is home to countless diverse, dynamic and successful small businesses. This is the story of how two of small businesses partnered up and were able to create a unique professional development opportunity for many others.

by Reggie Holmes of Enthuse Creative and Beth Lawton of Canoe Media Services

We met at an Alexandria Small Business Development Center Small Business Roundtable in April 2014. The roundtable provides a monthly, facilitated topical forum that allows small business owners and leaders to gather and discuss a range of issues related to small businesses in the Alexandria area. It provides a free networking opportunity, as well.

Neither of us had attended an ASBDC roundtable event before, and we had no idea how valuable it would be or who we would meet.

Meeting for the first time ever at that roundtable was serendipitous. It turns out we lived in close proximity to each other on Alexandria’s west end, so we met at a local Starbucks and got to know each others’ businesses. Through our talk that day, we recognized the synergy of our industries and discussed how we could work together.

A desire we both had was to be recognized as thought leaders and resources in our respective industries. One way to do this is to provide workshops and presentations that add value to clients and the community. Doing a Lunch and Learn workshop had been on both of our minds, but having a partner at the ready pushed both of us forward quickly.

Our encounter at the ASBDC provided an opportunity for our organizations to connect and we were able to follow up on that with additional meetings, capitalizing on the opportunity to do together what we could not do independently — or at least not as easily or effectively or inexpensively. We needed to leverage each others’ knowledge, relationships and skill sets to make all the moving parts of the event come together smoothly. Important business connections would continue to play a huge role in getting the workshop from idea to reality.

As solopreneurs, finding partners to motivate you, bounce ideas off of and encourage you is critical to success. By motivating and relying on each other equally and focusing on each other’s strengths, we made huge progress in a short time with finding space and time, collaborating on marketing and outreach and preparing the presentation.

We were fortunate to have Jay Thomas from Alphagraphics print up marketing postcards for us — another person we met through ASBDC — and Mark Whitaker of Intelligent Office provided us with space and additional marketing support.

In the end, that room at Intelligent Office Alexandria was nearly filled to capacity. We had 17 small business owners and professionals attend, from several different industries and backgrounds, including real estate, consultants, finance and health services.

Some new relationships started in that room, too. Those have led to new collaborations and business opportunities for both of us, and the feeling of community in that room made us feel proud to be members of such a supportive business community in Alexandria.

It was in many ways a team effort, and a testament to the collaborative spirit of small businesses in this region. The Lunch and Learn was a very rewarding experience. One of the main lessons we learned is that working collaboratively and creatively, we strengthen the economy by strengthening small businesses in Alexandria and beyond. The workload was shared among many and so too was the benefit. The acronym TEAM, “Together Everyone Achieves More” is true in this case.

Owning It

Owning a small business is like starting a family but often I feel like a single parent with quintuplets.

When I first began my business in 2012 I filed out all of the correct paperwork. As it would seem, I did so in the most backwards order I could imagine. This was not by my poor planning as much as it was my overall lack of knowledge about the entire process, which between you and I is not incredibly obvious even after having gone through it. I do have to give credit where it is due and I owe a lot to the Small Business Development Center as I may not be where I am today without their guidance.

As a small business owner I have had to wear many hats and to keep my costs low I have had to wear all of those hats on my own.Meghan

The Photographer As a lead photographer I have enjoyed the ability to be as structured or organic as I like and have been able to be creative with on the spot changes due to weather, venue and wardrobe mishaps. I feel that this is my strongest role and one that I am constantly improving and honing. A big thanks to friend and fellow photographer Sam Dingley for my stunning headshots. That comes off like I am bragging about me, but I promise I am bragging about his photography skills.

The Website Designer In all fairness the bare bones of my website was originally created by a friend Kendall Totten Design who is an incredible developer but is now ran almost entirely by me. I try to check in with her once or twice a year to do an overall update to my site when I need assistance with code or say, I accidently delete a section of content. Oops. But other then that, all content, now comes from me in all of my glorious grammatical errors.

The Ad Executive I do my best to funnel all social media traffic back to my website but at this time do not use any paid advertisements to gain clients. My social media presence is crucial to my image so I do my best to keep my brand consistent. My logo was again created by a dear friend Mindy McPeak Illustration and my business cards and header by another Graphic Designer friend Danielle Webb who I think I traded the designs of for wine and cheese. Overall my business is driven by word of mouth. My clients return year after year and tell their friends about their experience with me and in turn become new clients.

The Attorney I cannot afford one at this time and so I am my own legal counsel. I have done my best to be upstanding and have tried to protect myself by using contracts and holding a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC). I even keep my business bank account separate from my personal account. I figure there is no excuse for being careless so I might as well be prepared.

The Salesman I like to pride myself on my ability to sell. I used to sell for J.Crew and could sell corduroys and chino’s like it was my job. And at Cheesetique I used to sell cheese and wine like it was my job, because at one time it was my job. But now, I am in the business of selling myself. Gasp. And this is not easy for me. I believe I am an incredible artist and yet it takes everything in me, to sell me. It is not like I bathe in confidence but I do have to overcome myself sometimes and sell my experience, skill and artistry.

The Accountant I file my own taxes. I create my own budget. I try to keep my advertising costs and business expenses low. I pay sales tax in three states and currently for an LLC in one. I file everything on my own that I need to keep my business running and upstanding with the law.

The Balance I am a full time wife and mother and so it is essential that I maintain a balance with my work. I tend to work nights (editing) and weekends (photographing) when my partner can be with our little one. The lifestyle of a Wedding and Portrait Photographer lends itself well to my available schedule.

Starting Your Own Business? Ask for Help The Small Business Development Center of Alexandria was an excellent resource for me when I began my business and they helped to point me in the right direction and showed me where to file my LLC, Business License, Trade Name and Sales Tax. I also had to set up an Employer Identification Number (EIN) with the IRS and I would not have known this had it not been for their assistance. I also took advantage of their social media counseling which has proven to be priceless.

You can reach me at:


(202) 681-9848

[email protected]


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Del Ray Wedding Venders

Earlier this year I met with Katie Wannen, fellow Small Business Owner and Wedding Planner at The Plannery and we decided to start a group for wedding vendors in Del Ray. Over the Summer we collaborated on the logistics of the group and then after some interest from quite a few folks, a website was born. Del Ray Wedding Venders is a one stop shop Del Ray For Your Wedding Day!Print

I am so excited to open  this group up to all of you who may be looking to tie the knot and who may also have an interest in supporting predominately Small (Local) Businesses.

If you are looking for specialty wear for flower girls look no further than Darling Betty who offers handmade 1950’s fashions for little girls. For gifts, we feature truly life  who not only make their own skin care products but grow the ingredients and loofahs in their own backyard. It does not get much more local than that! And for invitations, the unique and truly talented duo at Sediment Press. See our other blog about their printing process here.

If you are looking for local vendors look no further. If you are a local vender and you want to join the group please contact us here.

A special thanks to Katie, the brainchild of this group and the creator of our beautiful new Del Ray Wedding Vendors website. And to graphic designer Maud Bentley of Maud Bentley Design the for beautiful creation of the DRWV logo.

I am Meghan Stewart, a photographer and small business owner of Shot In The Dark Photography.

You may reach me at:

(202) 681-9848

[email protected]


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Small Business Webinar: Creation, Collaboration, Sharing and Storage in the Cloud

Beyond Google – Marketing and Managing on the Web Webinar Series

Creation, Collaboration, Sharing and Storage in the Cloud

Cloud storage: a confused but evolving market
Cloud storage: a confused but evolving market (Photo credit: joe.ross)

Thursday, December 12, 2013 12:15 PM – 1:15 PM EDT

The Internet has created so many benefits for Small Business…from leveling the Web marketing playing field to offering countless free software for business productivity. But one of the strongest tools to be developed yet was the idea of “Cloud” storage and its collaborative abilities.

What is the Cloud? In practical terms to Small Business, the Cloud allows you to create, co-edit, share and store almost anything on the Web, so that you and your team can access it from anywhere you have Internet access. In this Webinar, Ray Sidney-Smith, Web & Mobile Strategist and President of W3 Consulting, will take us through the in’s and out’s of using Cloud storage and their major features. We will cover the basics, but also discuss some of the more intermediate concepts in Cloud solutions.

What we will discuss in this Webinar:

  • What is the “Cloud?”
  • How is the Cloud beneficial to Small Business?
  • Overview of some tools to create, collaborate, share and store documents with your team from anywhere in the world connected to the Internet.
  • Guidelines for effectively using Cloud storage and collaboration tools.

Who should attend:

  • Small business owners, professionals, solopreneurs, micropreneurs and entrepreneurs
  • Office managers
  • Marketing Directors and Sales Executives
  • Executive assistants, administrative assistants and secretaries


For more information please contact Tracy Nayar at [email protected]

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Area Resources to Help Your Business

Alexandria Small Business Development Center
Many of you know that the Alexandria SBDC is your local business resource to provide information on how to start, manage and grow your business. We are always looking to see what additional regional resources there are to help our clients and area entrepreneurs. George Mason University and Arlington Economic Development, along with several other entities, have teamed up to present three upcoming events that provide entrepreneurs the opportunity to hear from global thought leaders, learn cutting edge concepts and build their entrepreneurial networks and toolkit. To see what is happening at this spring’s “Venture Camp Entrepreneurship Speaker Series” at the Arlington George Mason University campus, go to the Events Calendar of Arlington Economic Development. This is an example of just one of many worthwhile programs you can find on Alexandria SBDC’s “Regional Workshop Schedule.” I encourage you to regularly review the Workshop Schedule to see what is available to help you or your employees learn new things, update skills or broaden your network. Go to Alexandria SBDC’s website and click on “Events.” As always, feel free to contact Alexandria SBDC with any of your business needs!

Patricia (Pat) L. Melton, Counselor

Pat Melton joined the Alexandria Small Business Development Center in 2006 as a Counselor focusing on providing business research to the center’s clients, after working with the Virginia Economic Development Partnership on its International Trade Team.  She then worked at Virginia’s Center for Innovative Technology helping northern Virginia technology companies grow.  Both organizations exposed her to numerous resources available to help Virginia businesses.

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From the Catwalk to the Storefront: Beauty Trends for Small Business Women Entrepreneurs

From the Catwalk to the Small Business StorefrontAs the seasons come and go the latest beauty trends go just as quickly, if not faster.

So how can you as a busy business owner possibly keep up? And what impact does beauty really have on you and your business?

Well, although you might not frequent the latest red carpet event, as a business owner you do have opportunities to attend networking events, chamber meetings, and of course interact with your customers and clients. Doing business in such a progressive and transient city like Alexandria means not only staying ahead of your industry’s trends, but also staying ahead of or at least in step with the national beauty trends.

If your makeup look or lack thereof feels outdated and your idea of getting ready for work is washing your face and throwing a tube of chap stick in your back pocket, then keep reading…these recommendations are for you. And even if you do take an extra moment to apply a bit of concealer and powder before you hit the office, these recommendations can further enhance what you are already doing.

Yes, I know the trends are sometimes overwhelming to re-create, from the “classic red lip” to the sultry “smokey eye”, but here are three Summer 2012 trends that are simple to incorporate into your oh so busy schedule:

  1. The “Nude” Lip: This simply means that you wear a lipstick that shows up about a shade or two lighter than your natural lip color. This allows you to have a very light wash of color on the lips that is neutral yet polished. Depending on your preference you might try one of the following lipstick formulas available:
  • Classic Matte Lipstick ( dry texture, most staining on the lips, and absolutely shine free)
  • Satin Lipstick (provides a little bit more moisture than the matte formula, but is still shine free)
  • Crème Lipstick (indicative of its name, soft, creamy, rich, and well pigmented with a bit of shine)

Once you choose your nude lipstick shade and texture, feel free to add a little glamour to your lips by applying a sheer, creamy lip gloss for finishing touches. This trend is an easy one to keep in step with once you find the color that best complements your natural lip complexion. Wear this color when doing daily business and attending weekly networking events and meetings. You will look well put together and the image of your business will benefit also.

  1. Voluminous Eye Lashes: This is an easy way to give the appearance of more open and awake eyes. Connect eyes with your team and customers, giving them your full attention. Studies show that as much as 93% of a message’s meaning is communicated non-verbally, with eye contact being one of the most expressive. Since eye contact is as important of a communicator for your business, why not explore some of the ways to make your eyes stand out in your next meeting.

Here are a few of my favorite eye lash enhancers:

  • L’Oreal Paris’ Double Extend Mascara (double-sided to include a primer and black mascara to add volume, length and long-wearing lashes)
  • Revlon’s “Fantasy Lengths” self-adhesive false lashes (a fool-proof mechanism to adding immediate volume to your lashes without the hassle of an adhesive)
  • MAC Cosmetic’s Prep and Prime Lash Serum (a safe and inexpensive way to grow longer fuller lashes; this product boasts results in just 6-8 weeks)
  1. Finger Nail Care: Nail your next deal with a handful of colorful and trendy nails suitable for the most professional of interactions. With your hands always on display, it’s imperative to maintain a clean and polished finish to your nails. Now although the latest “nail accessory and fanged nail shape” trend may not fit your industry, you can still participate with color. And this season’s nail trends make it easy to do with the launch of hundreds of new colors even for the most neutral of business owners. On your next visit to the nail salon or the local drugstore choose to be in-trend with your color choice:
  • Maybelline New York’s Color Show nail polish (choose from over 30 new shades)
  • Gel Color by OPI (the latest way to give your nails a salon finish at home; instant drying and smudge proof)
  • Essie Nail Polish (offering a polish color for every woman; select one of the summer collection’s subtly bright, but office right colors)

This summer’s beauty trends are all about maintaining a stress-free yet sophisticated look in the midst of what is often a thriving time for business owners. Don’t allow the busyness of your business leave you in the dark of the awesome trends of the season; step out while the sun’s still shining.

Enjoy the remainder of the summer, and take a moment to step off your storefront and onto the runway; it’s never too late to catch up!

“Multiplying Courage and Confidence,”

Mrs. Candace Claiborn, owner of C Squared Artistry

Upcoming Events at the Alexandria SBDC [event]

Alexandria Small Business Development Center presents June 2012 Series of Events.

We so hope you will consider attending one or more of these events designed to help your business and nonprofit thrive and grow. Please note where registration is required. Remember, there is NO FEE for attending any of these programs.

As always, please contact us with your business concerns! For all these and more, just visit our website to learn more and register/rsvp.

Brown Bag Lunch “Get More Time Out of Your Day” presented by Holly Herman of Achieving Skills Resources!

Tuesday, June 5: Do you get everything on your “to do” list finished?  Do you have interruptions that derail your whole day?  Do you ever wish you had time to accomplish more?  Do you feel like you should be more productive?  If you can’t get everything crossed off your list, you’ll learn how to double your productivity and work fewer hours.  Held in our office from noon – 1:00 pm. Register online or call 703-778-1292 for more information.  Doors open at 11:45 am.

START, MANAGE, GROW WORKSHOP “Doing Business in the City of Alexandria”!

Tuesday, June 12: Over the last few years, the City of Alexandria has implemented a number of strategic changes that have made it easier for small businesses to thrive in the City.  Hear directly from: Planning & Zoning, Code Adminstration, Multi-Agency Permit Center, Transportation & Environmental Services, Department of Finance and the Alexandria Health Department.  New City Manager, Rashad Young, will be the keynote speaker and will highlight City partnerships with its much-needed economic engine: SMALL BUSINESSES!  There will be a brief Q & A and then an opportunity to talk one-on-one with officials in breakout sessions. The event location is The Mary G. Gates Learning Center, United Way of America, 701 North Fairfax Street, 8:00 am – 10:30 am.  Register online or call 703-778-1292 for more information.

Business Development Roundtable “How to Make Referral Networking Work for You”!

Tuesday, June 19: This meeting will be held in our office at 625 N. Washington Street, Suite 400 from noon – 1:00 pm. No pre-registration is necessary. If you have any questions, contact Gloria Flanagan by email or by phone at 703-778-2961.

Social Media Counseling for Alexandria City businesses!

Tuesday, June 19 & Wednesday, June 20: We offer one-on-one social media counseling with Ray Sidney-Smith of W3 Consulting.  These 45-minute individual sessions will take place in our office. If you are interested in taking advantage of this opportunity, contact Patricia Melton by email or by phone at 703-778-2960.

Save the date for these upcoming events:

Tuesday, July 10: Brown Bag Lunch noon – 1:00 pm “Building Your Identity: Branding 101”

Tuesday, July 17: Business Development Roundtable noon – 1:00 pm Topic: TBA

Wednesday, July 18: START, MANAGE, GROW WORKSHOP 8:00 am – 10:00 am “Social Media in the Retail Environment”


Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

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