How Arlington snagged civic-tech startup Phone2Action - Technical.ly DC

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Aug. 5, 2016 10:42 am

How Arlington snagged civic-tech startup Phone2Action

Incentives, incentives, incentives (and location).

In Phone2Action's new offices in Rosslyn.

(Photo by Tajha Chappellet-Lanier)

Phone2Action, the civic-tech company that creates digital advocacy software, officially celebrated a new HQ in Rosslyn and a $4.7 million Series A raise with a swanky party last month. There was plenty of food, an open bar, a live band and even a custom Snapchat filter.

Fancy. (Screenshot)

Fancy. (Screenshot)

It all made an impression — when Technical.ly visited the offices a few weeks later, employees still cited the party as one of their favorite memories of the summer.

Phone2Action was previously based in Chinatown, but turned to Virginia as they began to look for a bigger home for a growing team. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, present for the party, could barely contain his excitement at having “won” over D.C.

Cofounder Ximena Hartsock, for her part, expressed that it wasn’t an easy decision to move across the river. Having worked for years in the D.C. government, Hartsock has a lot of ties to the city. But at the final analysis, Virginia was able to offer the right incentives — cash.

Through a Virginia jobs investment project, Phone2Action will receive $900 per “eligible” job created and filled for 90 days, up to a total of 142 jobs or $127,800. Hartsock told Technical.ly the company has around 20 employees now, but plans to grow quickly to 30 by the end of August and 50 by the end of 2016.

Another reason Phone2Action moved to Rosslyn lies in the relative value of office space.

“We were looking for a combination of open space and small offices with lots of natural light, parking and garden area and we were able to get that a a third of the price that we would pay in D.C.,” she told Technical.ly in an email. The company’s creative, cozy HQ certainly seems to fit this bill. The team is happy to be in the new space, but Hartsock said she won’t be surprised if the company needs more real estate by next year.

Beyond cash and space, the welcome from Virginia and Arlington officials hasn’t gone unnoticed. “The Governor, the Secretary of Commerce, State Representatives, the entire Arlington Economic Development were here at our opening which shows that they want us here and that matters to us,” Hartsock wrote.

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Despite moving over the river, Phone2Action maintains close ties with the District. The company even still has some space at the WeWork in Chinatown, their old stomping grounds. “We love D.C. and will continue to do business there but when looking at a place where to maximize our resources VA is right now the best option,” Hartsock told Technical.ly.

And Phone2Action has important resources to maximize — namely that aforementioned Series A round. The money will go toward building even better advocacy tools (the company’s whole MO, of course) and, as mentioned above, building out a bigger team. Now, the company has a brand new office to welcome new team members, and any partners, into.

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