What began as a gimmick to promote his real estate business has turned into one of the area’s largest bar trivia providers.
Now, District Trivia founder and Potomac native Nick Groves is on the verge of a unique advertising partnership with Comcast SportsNet Washington that he hopes will put his Bethesda-based trivia company on top of a surprisingly competitive local industry.
The idea is to help Washington area bars advertise to the coveted 25-34 year-old audience that watches Capitals games, Wizards games and other sports programming on the Bethesda-based sports channel. Comcast will begin advertising District Trivia’s two season-ending tournaments (one in summer and one in winter) and up the prize money to $5000 and free beer for a year.
The partnership will also allow bars that use District Trivia for their trivia nights online and digital advertising that’s typically too expensive.
“It’s a level of exposure for the bars, that up until this point has been essentially out of reach,” Groves said. “It’s really getting all the bars that get in on this package in the game. We think it’s really good for the bars.”
It’s also really good for Groves’ company, which he started almost by accident three years ago.
Bethesda-based Dr. Barbara Van Dahlen and her Give An Hour nonprofit had a big 2012, but her mission may only be increasing in importance.
In 2005, Van Dahlen founded Give An Hour, a network of mental health professionals who volunteer to donate their counseling services to troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Since, the group has grown into a nationwide collection of 6,500 psychologists, social workers, psychiatrists and others.
In April, Van Dahlen was named as one of Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People.” She was invited to the White House as one of five winners of the Joining Forces Community Challenge and also attended the Clinton Global Initiative conference last summer in Chicago.
Yet even as U.S. troop involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq has decreased, the number of veterans seeking Give An Hour’s help has grown.
“We expect as the folks come home, as the service members are cut back because of budget cuts, we have more people dumped into communities who were serving multiple tours who don’t have a focus like they did before,” Van Dahlen said. “They’re often transitioning. We expect to see the ripple effects for the next five years.”
Give An Hour has gone from giving at least 3,000 clinical hours a quarter to at least 10,000 hours in the last few quarters of 2012.
“Our country thinks, ‘OK, the wars are over, this is great,'” Van Dahlen said. “But for those of us who are in this work, we all talk about how we’ve got this window until maybe a year from now when the country is going to turn away and think everything is done.”
A California native, Van Dahlen moved to the Washington to get her Ph.D. at the University of Maryland and settled in Bethesda, where she first saw a need to help troops returning home.
“I grew up during the post-Vietnam era. I didn’t want that again. I didn’t want a whole new population of veterans on the streets,” Van Dahlen said. “I knew if I would be available to do this, there was a possibility that this would catch fire.”
Before the holidays, Give An Hour signed a formal agreement with the National Guard. Providers register with the organization, which then connects them with veterans in their area in need of help.
Last year, Give An Hour offered services to victims of Hurricane Sandy and those affected by the Newtown, Conn., school shooting. Van Dahlen said she had providers offer to fly to the town on their own dime to help.
The simplicity of the process and the need for help has meant tremendous growth and visibility.
“I think the overall concept is very appealing and very easy,” Van Dahlen said. “We’re already looking at expanding into other populations. There’s kind of no end in sight.”
Video via Time 100
The 22-year-old graduate student with a clever idea for a bar crawl is now 44, four years married and “pretty far removed” from the college days that inspired all this.
In April, Dave Lindenauer celebrated 20 years of his Bethesda-based Lindy Promotions company, which has grown in to a well known purveyor of Washington parties large and small, from the weekly happy hour to last year’s 5,700-person strong Downtown Countdown.
He doesn’t get out to as many events as he used to, but said he’s experienced enough to know what works in a rapidly gentrifying market where competition for the entertainment dollar of 21- to 35-year-olds is heated as ever.
“People want to let off steam,” Lindenauer said. “People are still going out. This business, knock on fake wood, is recession proof.”