LoudounPreneur entrepreneurial newsletter

Information for the Innovative, Enterprising and Brave 

July 2013

Popular Ignite Event Comes to Loudoun/Fairfax
"Ignite Loudoun/Fairfax," which takes place on July 17 at 6:30 p.m. at the Alamo Drafthouse in Ashburn, is going to be a lot different from your usual networking event.

Ignite events have been held in more than 100 cities around the world, and this is the first one in our area. At Ignite events, you have a series of speakers who do five-minute Power Point performances about their particular passion. They must use 20 slides, and the slides automatically advance every 15 seconds. It's a fun, fast-paced and entertaining way to learn about interesting topics, and more importantly, local business leaders who may be able to help your business grow.

"Ignite Loudoun/Fairfax" will feature eight speakers, including AOL's Paul Singh, Reston Limousine's CEO Kristina Bouweiri, the Loudoun Hounds' communications director, and other business leaders.

Dinner is included with your registration. You'll also be able to buy beer, wine, cocktails, spirits, and unique "adult milkshakes" that you can enjoy while you watch the presentations.

This event is being brought to you by the National Capital Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America, which has nearly 1,500 members in the D.C. area. "Ignite Loudoun/Fairfax" will kick off PRSA's new Loudoun-Fairfax group.

Tickets are $25 for PRSA members and $30 for nonmembers. Seating is limited; register now at

Marketing Manager for the Loudoun Department of Economic Development Lois Kirkpatrick helped spearhead PRSA's reach into Loudoun County and will chair the new Loudoun-Fairfax committee. Anyone interested in serving on the committee can contact Kirkpatrick at 703-737-8385 or by email.


1 Million Cups
Join us for this weekly program that features presentations from two local startups. The java flows, and each business shares a short presentation, followed by an open question-and-answer session. Each week we always ask, "How can we help you?" This program is open to all types of businesses. Come join the 1 million cup movement.

Date:    July 10, 2013
Time:    9 to 10 a.m.
Place:   Mason Enterprise Center, 202 Church St., Leesburg
Cost:    Free


Business Showcase Breakfast
Breakfast and networking will begin promptly at 7:30 a.m. at the Belmont Country Club. The Loudoun Chamber of Commerce Business Showcase Breakfast is considered the group's "best networking event." To ensure an accurate headcount, please register online by
2 p.m. on Wednesday, July 10.

Date:    July 11, 2013
Time:    7:30 to 9 a.m.
Place:   Belmont Country Club, 43750 Tournament Pkwy in Ashburn
Cost:    $25 to $35 to register online
, $10 extra at the door

The Power of Angel Investing

Join The Entrepreneur Center @NVTC for an interactive program highlighting best practices in angel investing. This full-day seminar, facilitated by John May of New Vantage Group, will provide an overview of the angel investing process, including finding, evaluating, and structuring deals, and will explain how to develop angel-entrepreneur relationships that lead to success.

Date:    July 11, 2013
Time:    7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Place:   GW Virginia Science and Technology Campus, Ashburn
Cost:    $199; register online 

Be a Winner

Reach out to Alexandra Mannino with your business retention question by close of business July 3 and be entered to win an autographed copy of "Tubes: A Journey to the Center of the Internet." Please copy LoudounBiz@loudoun.gov on your email. Good luck! 

Congratulations to Jerri Wiseman of StageCoach Theatre Company, who won last month's contest by promoting Loudoun Small Business Week on Twitter. Thanks for playing Jerri!

People You Should Know

This Month: Alexandra Mannino, Business Retention Manager
Alexandra Mannino -- "Ally" for short -- a longtime resident of Loudoun, has watched the county grow and transform. For the last eight months, she has also helped the existing business base grow through her role at the Department of Economic Development. Here's how she can help your business.

What types of businesses do you assist?
"I work with any existing business. I find business connections and business growth can happen organically, so it's important to try to help everyone. For example, I recently met with an IT support company that expanded after years in an original location. Now that I know this business, if I work with a company in need of IT help, I can make that connection. I can also work with this IT company down the road. The day may come they want even larger space. It's all about the common goal of a thriving commercial tax base."

How do you assist our existing businesses?

"I do a lot of the connecting businesses to other businesses. Anytime a business needs a service, I can try to make that referral. The need for help with workforce is big, so I also make a lot of connections to the Loudoun County Workforce Resource Center. I've been involved with the Loudoun Chamber of Commerce for three years, so with our tech companies, I can help them get involved with the Chamber's Technology Coalition, or the chamber as whole."

What about businesses considering expansion?

"I can assist any company out there with preliminary site selection, and making sure they are comfortable in their space. I ensure they have a strong rapport with their property manager, and work to facilitate that important relationship. I can also serve as a liaison between expanding companies curious about state economic incentives and the Virginia Economic Development Partnership."


What advice do you find yourself giving often?

"I think community involvement is key to a business's success and connection. I urge companies to stay involved with a nonprofit organization in the hopes that they can give back. Loudoun is such an incredible, well-rounded community; we really are all blessed to live and do business here."

"Spy on Your Competition -- Legally" 

Small business owners typically do not have large budgets (or time) to conduct extensive competitive research. However, there are several easy, inexpensive, effective and legal ways to "spy" on your competitors. Here are 10:
  1. If a competitor has a physical location, visit it in order to experience their product, service, and/or shopping experience from the viewpoint of your target customer.
  2. Visit competitors' booths at tradeshows. Collect their marketing materials and inquire about pricing. Attending tradeshows is also a great way to stay in tune to industry trends.
  3. Buy your competitor's product or service. This will give you firsthand knowledge of the quality of the product or service and enable you to make an honest assessment of how your product or service stacks up.
  4. Call your competitor. Ask a salesperson questions to determine how your competitor positions and markets its product. Pay attention to the benefits and features they promote and how they communicate their brand image.
  5. Visit your competitors' websites regularly. Competitor websites can help you identify new competitive products and services while monitoring their pricing and branding strategies.
  6. Sign up for newsletters and mail promotions to receive updates on marketing campaigns and pricing strategies.
  7. "Stalk" your competitors on social media. Watch how your competitors interact with their customers. Listen to what customers are saying in order to identify competitors' strengths and weaknesses.
  8. Tools such as SEMRush.com can show you how customers are finding your competitors online. Identify keywords that your target market is using, and use this information to improve your search engine optimization.
  9. Use Google Alerts to monitor competitive activities by setting up customized searches for your competitors and keywords specific to your business/industry.
  10. If you are in a technology or innovation-driven industry, search patent and copyright records to identify new products that competitors may be launching. If you are developing new products, you should be conducting patent searches anyway to identify potential infringement issues.

Effective competitive research can give you a better understanding of your competitors and your target customers. A greater understanding of your competitors can help you better position your business and potentially avoid mistakes that your competitors have already made. Your research should be an ongoing process in order to keep your business a step ahead of the competition.

Content created by Ryan Pingel, State of Ingenuity SourceLink.

Read It and Reap

This month we are highlighting Andrew Blum's fascinating peer into the world of technology, "Tubes: A Journey to the Center of the Internet." When your Internet cable leaves your living room, where does it go? Tom Vanderbilt, bestselling author of Traffic, says after reading Tubes "...You will never open an email in quite the same way again." Check it out from the Loudoun County Public Library, or win an autographed copy in our "Be a Winner" section.

Gut-Check From a Guru

"The most valuable thing you can make is a mistake - you can't learn anything from being perfect." - Adam Osborne, author and computer designer who created the first commercially available portable computer, the Osborne 1, in April 1981. His pre-announcement of the Osborne 2 new computer caused a catastrophic collapse in demand for older ones, and became known as the Osborne effect.

Pay It Forward

This monthly email newsletter is published by the Loudoun, Virginia Department of Economic Development to inform and connect Loudoun's thriving entrepreneurial community. As a leader with influence, please help our community by forwarding this newsletter to your business colleagues. Thanks!

Quick Links





Debi Roder   
Loudoun Virginia
Economic Development Entrepreneurship
Manager Debi Roder

SourceLink Loudoun
Find us on Pinterest
 Visit our blog
Like us on Facebook
  Follow us on Twitter
  View our profile on LinkedIn 
View our videos on YouTube





Join Our Mailing List!