Month: December 2014

BT Moves: Odysys Hires Jon Vlasak as Designer

Odysys recently hired a Jonathan Vlasak, the former creative director for Central Oregon Communications, as a designer.

Founder Kent Schnepp is building out the SaaS company’s team as he readies for an early 2015 debut of its hotel marketing platform. (Learn more about Odysys in this #50startups post.)

In his previous position, Vlasak headed the redesign of Central Oregon magazine as well as designed each issue.

He joins Julia Rudisill, a UI/UX designer who previously led the design team at Think Possible. Rudisill has worked with clients such as Jive Software and Razorfish.

Justin Rubaloff leads the company’s engineering team. Rubaloff came from Kaleidescape, where he managed internal and external websites. He also engineered web-based ordering systems for dealers and internal sales teams.

Marketing Blog Highlights LeadMethod as App of Week

LeadMethod, a Bend-based startup that specializes in lead management software for companies that use channel sales, is the App of the Week on the Heinz Marketing Blog.

Robert Pease, CMO practice lead at Heinz, a Seattle marketing agency that focuses on sales acceleration, writes:

…if your business includes selling through distributors and channels, take note.  LeadMethod gives companies visibility and feedback on the leads shared with their distributors. Founder and CEO Justin Johnson has done a great job building a company that solves a huge pain in a very elegant way.

Pease also cited an article from Industrial Distribution Magazine, which describes LeadMethod’s software.

“LeadMethod has created a powerful, easy-to-use, web-based system that allows manufacturers to automate their lead capture and distribution process while offering their distributors a tool to easily organize their leads and provide feedback on their sales opportunities. The software also provides manufacturers with powerful analytics to understand what is happening with their leads, as well as their sales opportunities, sales forecasts and distributor performance.”

SOAR Oregon Launches New Site for UAS Test Ranges

When it comes to testing Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), Oregon is geographically rich, boasting forested valleys, farmland, rivers, ocean beaches, large dry-land agricultural sites, bays, and a mountain peak reaching 10,000 feet.

SOAR Oregon has highlighted three primary test ranges along with their locations and capabilities on their new website ( Here’s a quick highlight of the three test environments:

Warm Springs

The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs UAS Test Range encompasses 645,000 acres or 1,000+ square miles along reservation borders. Test in diverse forests on more than 2/3 of the land base, 27 different plant associations, an annual precipitation range of 10” to 110” and elevation ranging from 1,000’ to 10,500’.  The populated areas are concentrated, leaving most of the reservation uninhabited.

#50startups: JUJU App Like ‘Emoticons on Crack’

Julia Junkin found herself at a juncture a few years ago. A licensed artist, she’d created designs for major retail brands via her ceramic company with product being sold throughout the country. But she wanted to change course and do something new.

The result: JUJU, an app Junkin created that allows individuals to essentially remix existing art from artists to create their own artistic expressions sent through postcards, text messages, e-cards and more. BendTECH recently sat down with Junkin to learn more about JUJU, its pending SXSW debut and the opportunity the app presents brands for customer engagement.

Startup: JUJU
Started: June 2013
Team: Founder Julia Junkin; Matt Kern, CTO; Ben Kinzer, lead designer; Jacqueline Smith, PR and marketing director; Natalie Puls, art manager
Headquarters: Bend
Employees: 8

#50startups: Former Dice Exec Founds Whurk to Connect College Kids and Brands

Bend-based startup whurk has been chugging along in stealth mode, signing up its first clients and hiring a sales and executive team. But considering its founder’s brand-name resume, half-million in seed funding and an advisory board that includes some experienced tech and media veterans, this startup’s low profile likely won’t last long.

Rob Dumas recently started the company with an eye toward improving the numerous campus rep programs run by brands. From being one of the first employees of Monsterboard (i.e. Monster) to spending a decade in executive positions with Dice Holdings to joining the advisory board of Internmatch, Dumas has a long history of helping brands find talent.

With whurk, he aims to connect companies big and small with students who can help promote their products. Think of it as a task rabbit for college kids. BendTECH sat down with Dumas to learn more about the challenge brands have in hiring and managing a remote team of students, and whurk’s plans to make it much easier.

Meet our #50startup quiz winners!

During the Thanksgiving holiday, we had a little contest, a battle of the brains if you will, to see who really, really knows about Bend startups. We posted this quiz. And people submitted their answers in hopes of winning a prize package that included: their picture on this very blog, a coffee card AND one hug from yours truly.

Now’s time to meet the lucky winners. First up, is Laura Sligh, client manager with LeadMethod, a Bend-based SaaS company that provides a lead management platform for industrial manufacturers that sell through distribution.

Laura got all 10 questions right.

A little bit about Laura: She moved to Bend from Tacoma, she loves Doctor Who and has a Tardis coffee mug, earrings and a Tardis Yahtzee dice shaker. “But it would be really great to have my own life-sized Tardis,” she says. Here is her face when she learned she won.

Free Advice: Hey Startups, Here’s How to Get More Press

It seems like I can’t swing a dead cat (I’ve really been wanting to write that lately) without hitting a local startup that is wondering how to get more press. The question poses a conundrum for enterprising founders who see the benefit of increased exposure but have limited time, money, resources and money to focus on PR.

That’s why a targeted approach is so crucial. And yet … and I say this with love … many of you are doing it wrong. I am not a public relations specialist. But I have spent 15 years writing for all manner of publications from teeny tiny weekly newspapers to wire services to national magazines to this very blog.

By my rough estimate, I’ve probably read or heard about a bazillion story pitches from entrepreneurs. So here is my free, mostly unsolicited, advice for how to improve your press strategy and hopefully score some valuable coverage for your fledgling company.

#50startups: Onboard Dynamics and How Your Home (or Biz’s) Natural Gas Line Can Fuel Your Car

You know that natural gas line that serves your house or small business? What if you could also use it to fuel your car or truck? Onboard Dynamics is aiming to commercialize a technology that provides for natural gas compression on board your vehicle, basically allowing you to refuel anywhere there’s a low-pressure natural gas line.

So, BBQ some burgers. Then use the same source of gas that fuels your grill to fill up your Ford F-150. BendTECH caught up with Onboard Dynamics CEO Rita Hansen to hear about her whirlwind year of fundraising, OBDI’s recent visit to Detroit and what’s next for this Bend-based startup.

Startup: Onboard Dynamics
Started: Oct. 2013
Founders: Chris Hagen, CTO; Rita Hansen, CEO; and Jeff Witwer, VP of Engineering
Employees: 4
Headquarters: Bend, OR