Category Archives: Outdoor Gear

Bend-based DubsLabs KickStarts On-Ear, Flat Headphones, Which Allow You to Hear Your Surroundings and Music While Skiing, Biking and More

The best thing about working in a co-working space is getting to meet people doing really interesting things. Today, that person was Eric Dubs, creator of Versafit, wireless, on-ear headphones. He launched a Kickstarter for the product a few hours ago, aiming to raise $35,000, to fund the headphone production.

I couldn’t help but walk over to his desk to learn more, after hearing his team’s excitement about their first backers. I’m glad I did, and you will be too. Versafit headphones are flat, bendable headphones that rest on top of your ears.

As Eric explains, this not only makes them more comfortable than traditional ear buds, but it also allows you to still hear noise from the outside. This makes them a great, safe option for people listening to music, who also need to be aware of their surroundings, such as mt. biker, skiers, snowboarders, or people just walking down the street.

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.

#Julieselfie: 3 Tips for Entrepreneurs from the CEO of KIALOA, Bend-based paddle company

Julie Harrelson, CEO of the Harrelson Group, Fund Manager of Cascade Angels, has a beloved penchant for taking selfies with entrepreneurs, investors and people of Oregon who support building a strong Oregon through entrepreneurialism. This blog continues a series of selfies + blogs about the amazing people she’s met in the last couple of years. #julieselfie

Recently, I had a wonderful visit with Meg Chun, co-founder and CEO at KIALOA, a Bend-based paddle company. Our conversation covered the early days of the company in Hawaii and making paddles on the lanai, moving to Bend and working out of a garage, her international paddle collection and Central Oregon’s growth.

Where did the idea come from for KIALOA and why Central Oregon?

KIALOA started on Oahu. My husband Dave and I were avid outrigger paddlers and Dave felt that there was a way to improve upon the paddles that we were using. He had strong beliefs about paddle design so he started building paddles on our lanai.

#julieselfie: Why Gary Bracelin Thinks Bend Can Be Outdoor Product Innovation Hub

Julie Harrelson, CEO of the Harrelson Group, Fund Manager of Cascade Angels, has a beloved penchant for taking selfies with entrepreneurs, investors and people of Oregon who support building a strong Oregon through entrepreneurialism. This blog continues a series of selfies + blogs about the amazing people she’s met in the last couple of years. #julieselfie

Gary Bracelin is a creative force behind the outdoor industry in Oregon. He formed one of the first sales rep groups that served the action sports industry, served as the director of global sales for KIALOA Paddles and most recently founded the Bend Outdoor Worx accelerator.

I recently caught up with Gary to celebrate his birthday, check out his 50s cruiser bike and talk about Central Oregon as a hub for outdoor product innovation. Please note: the sign behind us says “Please do not climb on the tree.” I was very surprised we both didn’t immediately try!

Bend Outdoor Worx Counts Zealios, Fat Chance Bikes and Bosky in Next Class

Bend Outdoor Worx (BOW), Central Oregon’s outdoor industry accelerator, just keeps cranking out cohorts of outdoor startups. Their next group starts this September and includes Bosky Optics, Fat Chance Bicycles and Zealios.

This is the fourth group of companies to receive guidance from BOW’s industry founders. The accelerator analyzes the startups’ needs, develops a custom curriculum and then provides guidance to the startups via BOW’s founders and connections with industry experts. BOW also connects startups with legal assistance, financial planning, marketing, logistics, sales, marketing and product development.

This little-accelerator-that-could claims several very cool Central Oregon startups as alum including Cairn, The Robert Axle Project, Homeschool Apparel, Freerange Equipment and SnoPlanks. The next cohort seems like a great addition.

Hydro Flask’s Scott Allan and Cascade Angels Invest in Cairn

Cairn announced today the addition of two local investors: Cascade Angels Fund and Scott Allan, the general manager of Hydro Flask. The new investments bring the startup’s total seed round to $2 million.

“As a brand partner, I have experienced Cairn first hand. The data they provide to brands greatly informs product development, marketing and innovation. At the same time, they are bringing together a unique community of consumers, all with a love of the outdoors,” says Allan, who is also joining Cairn’s board of directors.

Hydro Flask was acquired by Helen of Troy for $210 million in February. Cairn plans to draw on Allan’s experience in creating shareholder value across outdoor products, positioning companies, commercializing technologies, building brands and managing growth.

Venture Out Festival to Offer $110K in Funds for Outdoor Startups

More startups. More funding. More fun. Bend Outdoor Worx, Central  Oregon’s outdoor industry accelerator, plans to host an outdoor product venture event to help kick off the Bend Venture Conference.

Called Venture Out — I’m having event name envy — the event will offer early and growth stage outdoor products startups the chance to compete for $110,000 in awards and investments. The event is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 12th.

Two Bros. Ventures, a Bend-based firm owned by brothers Brian and Chris Azur, will be funding a venture round of at least $100,000 to be awarded to a growth stage outdoor product company. In addition, the Bend Radio Group will be sponsoring a $10,000 Breakout Award for an early stage company.

Just an observation: The outdoor product folks seem to go big or go home and it’s generally the first. They launched this event last year — also on the Wednesday before BVC. They had three finalist companies pitch to a standing room only crowd of more than 250, and ultimately awarded the Robert Axle Project, a local manufacturer of axle adaptors for bike trailers, a $10,000 prize. Beaver Theodosakis, the founder of Prana, was the keynote speaker.

New to Bend, Personal Products Startup Zealios Targets Triathletes

Sometimes things just naturally go together, like peanut butter and jelly or puffy coats and shorts. For Zealios, a formerly Berkeley-based startup that recently relocated to Bend, it’s their line of personal products and triathletes. “The second we dipped our toe into the triathlete community, we started growing,” says Austin Britts, Zealios co-founder.

Britts and his co-founder, Kevin Fuller, started Zealios in 2009 in a quest to develop a better zinc-based sunscreen — one that  was water and sweat proof, lasted through workouts and didn’t turn your face white.

The pair were coworkers at a chemical trading company in Seattle, and they were intimately familiar with all the ingredients that go into skincare products, the good and the bad. “We wanted to create a product that performed really well and was really safe,” Britts says.