We were happy to see a lot of familiar and new faces at StartupBend’s first Demo & Drinks. The event featured the founders of CodePen and PulsedLight/Garmin sharing insights about their products as well as their own startup stories. More than 50 people turned out.

Bend's tech crowd turns out.
Bend’s tech crowd turns out.

Sabat entertained with an exploration of CodePen’s free and Pro code editor for front-end web developers. The product is massively popular with nearly 500,000 users, who have created more than 6.5 million pens — or code snippets. It’s used by teachers and students, as well as groups within several, very large companies.

Tim Sabat, co-founder of CodePen, presenting.
Tim Sabat, co-founder of CodePen, presenting.

He talked about the founders’ philosophy of creating a product that serves all their customers, instead of trying to satisfy individual users. It sounds simple, but it’s crucial to survival for a business whose largest subscription comes in at about $400/month.

Bob Lewis, co-founder of PulsedLight, which was recently acquired by Garmin, shared his decades of experience with startups including “a few of the million ways to die.” The latter included ceasing to innovate your technology, diluting your company’s IP over time until you have nothing of value and remaining so fixated on a business path that you can’t see the opportunities.

Bob Lewis, co-founder of PulsedLight, talking about startup challenges.
Bob Lewis, co-founder of PulsedLight, talking about startup challenges.

He also talked about his bootstrapped strategy for success including the value of using consulting gigs to pay the bills while your business gets off the ground. In true bootstrapped fashion, Lewis noted that at one point he sold his car to fund his startup. He also noted the importance of finding the right investment partners and of being patient and persistent.

To the latter point: Lewis, and his co-founder Dennis Corey got real about the startup grind — the never-ending mountain of work, the discouraging moments — and how to deal. From the back of the room, Corey told the crowd that often it was a matter of breaking big goals into smaller tasks. Lewis noted that sometimes “you just had to get through the next week or even just the day.”

The event was sponsored by BendBroadband Business, who also provided awesome gifts for our presenters (lap top cases made from recycled fishing nets) and hosted by BendTECH and the 1001 Tech Center. Stackhouse stayed open late to serve drinks. We appreciate it all!

We’d like to continue D&D. Please let use know if you any feedback or suggestions for how to improve the event. And stay tuned for the next one.