March 21, 2024: Q&A with Sonny Kakar, Founder/Executive Director of the SevaTruck Foundation + Weekly Business News Digest

Doing Good in the Community: Q&A with Sonny Kakar, Founder/Executive Director SevaTruck Foundation

Born in India and raised in suburban Maryland, Sonny Kakar is the founder of three Fairfax County businesses and organizations: Founder/CEO of SevaSpaces co-working spaces; Founder and former CEO of Sevatec, a national security technology company; as well as the Founder/Executive Director of the SevaTruck Foundation.

Formed in 2015, SevaTruck Foundation, a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, focuses on helping eliminate food insecurity in the Washington, D.C. metro area. SevaTruck, a fully licensed commercial food truck, and the only fully dedicated mobile free meal service in our region, aims to serve free meals where and when needed, mainly at Title 1 schools.

To date, SevaTruck has served about a half a million warm meals over the past 7.5 years.

Kakar sat down with Fairfax County Economic Development at SevaSpaces in Merrifield to tell us about why he launched that coworking space company, as well as Sevatec, and why he started SevaTruck.

Click here to read the interview. 

Weekly Business News Digest

Setting the Pace: Tysons-based Aravenda and Reston-based TruWeather Solutions placed on DC Inno’s list of “10 Startups to Watch in Greater Washington” – its annual list of companies that are “setting the pace and challenging the status quo.” Aravenda, founded in 2018, is a business-to-business software-as-a-service startup. “Continuing our growth by leading technology innovation in this fast-growing space. We are the first resale software to be rolling out AI use cases to streamline processes unique to resale, which will continue to support our expansion,” said Carolyn Thompson, CEO, Aravenda. Founded in 2015, TruWeather Solutions is a supplier of weather data analytics and weather risk management products to federal agencies. “TruWeather is working to help reshape the nation’s approach to integrating weather data and services across diverse transportation modes, encompassing air, land and marine. We are collaborating with key entities such as the Federal Aviation Administration and NASA, driving innovations in policy, technology, science and operational practices. Our focus includes the development of weather sensor infrastructure, leveraging technologies from academia and private businesses, and fostering essential public-private partnerships to actualize shared visions between government and industry,” said Don Berchoff, CEO, TruWeather Solutions. Click here to read more in DC Inno subscriber-only content.

Grounds Away from Grounds: The University of Virginia is broadening its with plans to open a new campus in Fairfax County, according to a feature article in Cavalier Daily. U.Va. Northern Virginia will host an array of degree programs and classes for students of all ages, with a focus on professional studies and accessibility for part-time or working students. The new campus is slated to open January 2025 in Merrifield, though it will host some programming, including a summer camp, prior to that date. According to the article, the University hopes the Fairfax campus will function as a “Grounds away from Grounds,” rather than being dedicated to a single school.  The new location’s primary purpose is to foster connections between the University’s main campus in Charlottesville and Northern Virginia, according to Leanna Yevak, assistant director of communications at U.Va. Northern Virginia. “The Fairfax campus will not be specific to an individual school, but rather serve as a cross-University hub,” Yevak said. “Our main charge is to connect U.Va. in Charlottesville with Northern Virginia and vice versa.”

New Lease on Life: Employment agency Quadrant has renewed its 23,000-square-foot lease at 1881 Campus Commons Drive in Reston, reported Commercial Observer. TF Cornerstone acquired the 245,755-square-foot office building in September for $25.1 million, adding to a larger campus it has been assembling since 2015.

Harnessing the Power of AI: Tysons-based Zephyr AI, a healthcare technology focused on precision medicine, announced that it has closed on $111 million in Series A funding. Investors in the round included DC-based Revolution Growth, Eli Lilly & Company, Jeff Skoll, EPIQ Capital Group and others. Using data tools and AI, the company is working on breakthroughs and insights for oncology and cardiometabolic diseases. “The US has the highest rate of avoidable cancer and cardiometabolic-related deaths among any high-income country. We must do better,” said Grant Verstandig, co-founder and executive chairman of Zephyr AI. “At Zephyr AI, we are harnessing the power of AI to extract novel insights to better define patient stratification and response predictions as well as improve federation of real-world data…. We are now well positioned to support our mission of democratizing precision medicine, enhancing both the speed and success of clinical trials.” Potomac Tech Wire picked up the release.

Inspiring the Next Generation: The Aerospace Corp., which has a major regional location in Chantilly, and the Space Foundation are partnering to expand the Space Workforce 2030 program, reported SpaceNews. Aerospace started the Space Workforce 2030 initiative in 2022, forming a coalition of about 30 member companies — including several Fairfax County-based space companies, such as Blacksky, Hawkeye 360, Northrop Grumman, and Spire Global, with the goal of promoting a more diverse and inclusive workforce within the space industry, and to help inspire and prepare the next generation of scientists and engineers. New initiatives will include increasing outreach to underrepresented groups; providing educational opportunities such as internships; and working with companies to promote inclusive hiring practices.

Cloud to Tactical Edge: Herndon-based cybersecurity company Everfox, formerly Forcepoint Federal, announced a strategic partnership with Microsoft, reported ExecutiveBiz. Under the agreement, Everfox’s technology will be integrated into Microsoft’s Azure cloud service offerings and that the two companies will develop new cloud products. Sean Berg, CEO of Everfox, said “By partnering with Microsoft, our combined innovation and industry expertise will realize expanded capabilities from cloud to tactical edge.”

Global safety: Tysons-based Aireon announced the release of its first Data Dashboard product: Safety Dashboard for data analytics, according to Military + Space Electronics. The Safety Dashboard is aimed at supporting and enhancing the safety assurance programs of air navigation service providers (ANSPs) by pinpointing indicators of the industry’s major operational risks. “The Safety Dashboard delivers valuable insights for the global ANSP community. Utilizing Aireon’s top-tier data, safety professionals can compare their safety performance with others and proactively identify risks before they escalate into accidents and incidents,” said Peter Cabooter, Aireon Vice President of Customer Affairs. “It’s the first global safety product featuring Aireon’s surveillance-quality data and has been tailored with the ANSP in mind.”

Cybersecurity startup: Tysons-based Red Cell Partners, an investment and business incubation firm focused on national security, cyber, and healthcare companies, is launching Eyris, a cybersecurity startup using blockchain technologies, with $3 million in pre-seed funding. Eyris, which emerged from stealth mode in 2023, was co-founded by Kevin Keaton, the former chief of innovation for the National Security Agency (NSA). Eyris is part of Red Cell’s new Cyber Practice. “Resilient and secure technological infrastructure is critical for the security of the United States as well as public and commercial entities worldwide,” Keaton said. “At Eyris, we are committed to delivering that infrastructure so we can provide an unmatched level of data protection that makes it harder for cybercriminals to inflict harm and easier for entities to safely operate and overcome attacks.” Potomac Tech Wire carried the release.

Buying Spree: Tysons-based tech company MicroStrategy continues to grow its cryptocurrency collection, acquiring more than 9,200 more bitcoins in one week in March, Virginia Business reported. From March 11 to March 18, MicroStrategy acquired approximately 9,245 bitcoins for approximately $623 million in cash, according to the company’s filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Driving Mission Success: Westminster, Colo.-based Maxar Technologies, which maintains Chantilly and Herndon locations, is gearing up to deploy the satellites it built to bolster the constellation capacity of Maxar Intelligence, according to ExecutiveBiz. Maxar said two WorldView Legion satellites will launch as early as April from the Vandenberg Space Force Base in California aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. “WorldView Legion will extend the quality and capability of our industry-leading constellation, redefining Earth observation constellation performance and providing customers with unprecedented access to timely, actionable insights that help drive mission success,” said Dan Smoot, Maxar Intelligence CEO.

Contract Wins

HII Mission Technologies (Tysons) won a $305 million Defense Intelligence Agency contract to provide intelligence analysis and operational support services for the Joint Intelligence Operations Center – Korea, assisting the United States Forces Korea. Virginia Business

Parsons (Centreville) won a $15.5 million 1-year base value contract with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for system integration and cloud management services for the Traffic Coordination System for Space. WashingtonExec

FCEDA Hosted and Sponsored Events

March 28, 20124 — Virginia Values Veterans (V3) Workforce Summit. Join us for the Virginia Values Veterans (V3) Workforce Summit, as we unpack best practices for attracting top military talent, optimizing your hiring process, and establishing employment initiatives that encourage long-term retention. Sharing their collective knowledge, our industry experts will provide key insights on marketing your job opportunities to veterans, and effective recruitment strategies that will make your workplace a preferred destination for military talent. Whether you are a V3 certified company or interested in becoming one, this event is for you! The summit will be held at the Inova Conference Center, 8100 Innovation Park Drive, Fairfax. Click here for more information and to register.

April 9, 2024 — Digital Transformation and Global Tech Leadership Spring Social.  The Northern Virginia Technology Council presents an evening of re-engagement and collaborative networking between the NVTC Digital Transformation and Global Tech Leadership Communities of Interest. Connect with the chairs and other professionals to share insights, forge valuable relationships, and help drive innovation in this ever-evolving tech world. Click here for more information and to register.

April 17, 2024 — Dulles Airport Job & Career Fair. Hosted by Committee for Dulles, with the FCEDA as a sponsor, the event will be held at Washington Dulles International Airport. Job-seekers can meet with diverse group of employers located at Dulles Airport. Career opportunities exist across a spectrum of airport operations and the aviation industry.  Click here for more information and to register.

FCEDA is Here to Help Your Business Thrive

Fairfax County EDA is here to connect businesses of all kinds to resources and information. For direct assistance, email the FCEDA at info@fceda.org, or call 703-790-0600.