Month: November 2016

Spurred by Giant Order, Fireside Audiobox Now Ready for Mass Production

If you attended this year’s unConference, then you probably saw runner-up Tyrone Hazen’s invention, the Fireside Audiobox. Tyrone introduced his wireless speaker with flames that dance to the music at the conference. He was coming off the heels of a successful Kickstarter, which raised $38,000 last summer.

Since then, interest in the Fireside Audiobox has ignited. It’s hot! Damn hot! (Does anyone get this movie reference? Anyone?) Retailers want it. I recently chatted with Tyrone to learn more about his progress with his fun invention that has transformed into a real business.

Here are a few of the most recent developments:

  • Grey Street, the company that makes the Fireside Audiobox, received an order for 10,000 units, from a major retailer.
  • Thanks to this gigantic order, Tyrone had to figure out how to make 10,000 units — fast. He’d been making the units here, but doesn’t have the capacity to scale production that quickly.
  • So he reached out to a friend at RuffWear for guidance. And because people in Bend’s business community remain exceptional helpful as a rule, that friend connected him with a U.S. company in China that specifically helps businesses find appropriate manufacturers.
  • Then Tyrone went to China for two weeks.

It was a productive and eye-opening visit. Thanks to the aforementioned connection, he was able to set up a relationship with a manufacturer there in short order, and is now awaiting samples of the Fireside Audiobox to approve.

Forbes Highlights Bend’s Outdoor Startups — and the Role of ‘Friendliness’ in our Ecosystem

Do you know what’s been fun to watch? Bend’s outdoor product startup community gel and then just take off. No doubt that some fantastic companies including HydroFlask and RuffWear provided a solid foundation for this burgeoning cluster.

Then add in the intentional development of startups via the Bend Outdoor Worx accelerator, the creation of the Oregon Outdoor Alliance, the debut of the Venture Out Festival  and the collaborative energy between these growing companies and the more mature ones. It reads like a masters class in industry development. And that’s all happened with the last few years.

So it’s no surprise that Bend’s outdoor startups are garnering some attention, and the latest kudos comes from Forbes. Contributor Gretchen Fox, co-founder of Made To Order, a social media agency, discovered Bend’s outdoor startup community via her husband, who happens to be the founder of Ashland-based Fat Chance Bikes. That company is in the current class of BOW.

Shopping Small Business Saturday or CyberMonday? Put These 8 Bend #Startups on Your Shopping List

Not to freak you out, but the holiday shopping season is … here. Yes, Safeway has had holiday decorations out since the day after Halloween. Yes, some exceptionally organized people actually buy gifts year round so that they don’t face a gift buying frenzy come December. But if you avoid Black Friday shopping like the plague, then Small Business Saturday (Nov. 26) and Cyber Monday (Nov. 28) offer up a great opportunity to explore gifts from some of Bend’s newest companies.

Consider purchasing presents from these eight growing, local startups:

1. Broken Top Candle Company maker of lovely scented candles.

2. Hydaway creator of these collapsible water bottles.

3. Cairn offers a subscription box for outdoor enthusiasts.

4. Zealios sells sunscreen and body products for endurance athletes.

Why You Don’t Tell the Ripclear Founders That Something Is Impossible … #50startups

It’s conventional wisdom that the best products and companies come from people who were trying to solve their own problems. That seems to be the case with Ryan Doherty and Zach Hines, co-founders of Ripclear, a Bend startup that creates (actually invented) adhesive ski goggle protectors.

Ryan was working at Mt. Bachelor as an inventory controller in 2013, basically making sure that the resort’s various lodges had all the food and beverages they needed to serve their customers. An avid snowboarder, he’d often snowboard between the mountain’s lodges and buildings.

“I was scratching up to three or four pairs of goggles a year,” he says. He thought that there had to be something he could adhere to the front – like a cellphone screen cover – that would prevent the damage. But after a lot of Internet searching, he found exactly nothing.

Want to Work in Tech in Bend? G5 Hiring for 9 Positions

If you’ve wanted to work in tech in Bend — or know someone who does — then we have some real opportunities for you. G5 has posted nine open positions in the job board, ranging from Chief People Officer and VP of Client Success to a Test Engineer and Creative Accounts Manager.

The Bend tech company provides digital marketing for real estate companies via its G5 Marketing Cloud platform. The company raised $76 million last year to help accelerate the development and growth of its marketing platform and buy out some of its early investors. Pennsylvania-based Peak Equity Ventures led the round, gaining a majority stake in the company.

With 225 employees and offices in downtown Bend, the company has been listed on all sorts of good lists: Deloitte’s list of fastest growing tech companies; Oregon Business’ Best Places to Work; and Outside Magazine’s Best Places to Work to name a few.

ICYMI: Tom Gonser, DocuSign Founder, Joins Bend-Based Seven Peaks Ventures, Notes that Startups Don’t Have to be “in Big Cities to Succeed”

Tom Gonser, founder of DocuSign, announced earlier this week that he’s joined Seven Peaks Ventures as a partner. Not only is Gonser keen on helping founders launch and grow their startups, but he told GeekWire that he specifically liked the Bend-based VC firm’s geography and ‘rise of the rest’ approach.

The latter refers to the idea that startups can — and should — launch and grow outside of expected places such as Silicon Valley. It’s good for communities, good for founders and as Gosner and Seven Peaks are exploring, hopefully good for investors.

From GeekWire:

“I think smart people will realize that the gains in baseline standard of living are so much higher just one hour away from major metro areas, that we will see a flock of really smart founders decide to build the next great company in a location that allows a better balance, and is actually much more efficient,” he said.

Upcoming LEGO Robotics Tournament Needs Volunteers and Sponsors

This December 11, Mountain View High School is hosting a LEGO robotics tournament. More than 20 teams of students from across Central Oregon will compete. But to pull off this awesome event, the organizers need sponsors and volunteers.

So if you love robotics and/or are interested in helping out, here’s what you can do: Become a sponsor. Your tax-deductible donation will help offset expenses associated with running the tournament. Sponsor banners can be displayed in the Mountain View High School gymnasium where families and spectators gather to watch robot matches, and they receive a verbal “thank you” during opening and awards ceremonies. Typical expenses include office supplies, competition table materials, and refreshments for volunteers. The tournament’s annual budget is $1,000. Become a volunteer. Community members are needed to serve as judges and referees. No previous experience is needed. In addition to the tournament day, there may be a small time commitment required in order to complete online training associated with the roles and attend an orientation with the rest of the volunteer team. Lunch and refreshments on the day of the tournament are provided. Volunteer registration is online on the FIRST website. If you’re interested in either, contact the tournament director Jen Floyd at 541-480-6492 or email [email protected]com.


The Central Oregon FIRST LEGO League Tournament (aka LEGO Robotics) When: Sunday, December 11, 2016    *Tournament setup tentatively planned for 6 p.m. on Saturday, December 10, 2016 Where: Mountain View High School, 2755 NE 27th St, Bend, OR 97701 What: FIRST LEGO League (FLL) is an international competition for elementary and middle school students, ages 9 through 14. In August, the League announced its 2016 theme, “Animal Allies.” Using LEGO Mindstorms kits, students will design and program a robot to complete tasks set forth in the challenge. The students will also develop their own research project, working out solutions to various problems observed in their community, in alignment with the theme. In December, approximately 20 teams from across Central Oregon will meet at a regional tournament in Bend to share their knowledge, compare ideas, and display their robots. Raises $2 Million in Seed Round from Palo Alto-based True Ventures, the Bend-based robotics software startup, announced that it has raised a $2 million seed round, notably all from one Bay Area-based VC. made a big splash a few months ago when the startup announced that it was developing software that allows a robot to monitor multiple 3D printers and other machines in a dynamic fashion.

We’ll dig into that more in a minute, but first’s funding is particularly encouraging not only for the founding trio, but also for other aspiring, high-growth startups in Bend and beyond. Marc Silliman, the company’s CEO and co-founder, says that the significant seed round reveals that Bend companies can go after some of the largest VCs in the world. True Ventures operates a $1 billion fund, has invested in nearly 200 early stage companies and is helmed by several notable entrepreneurs including Toni Schneider, who was previously the CEO of a little business called Automattic, which makes WordPress.