Q&A with Mike Williamson, General Manager, Paladin Data Corporation

BEND, Ore. – September 9th, 2015 – Mike Williamson, General Manager of Paladin Data Corporation, shrugs his shoulders when asked how Paladin will celebrate 35 years of business. “We might have to find a great pizza recipe and fire up that pizza oven in the break room.” No small accomplishment, Paladin has been getting things right for many years and continues to grow its business through a keen focus on customer service.

EDCO: What does Paladin do?

MW: Paladin specializes in point of sale (POS) software for hardware stores, lumber yards, retail stores, and pharmacies. Our straightforward POS system helps these types of businesses manage their inventory, cost and margins, while also saving them a lot of time.

EDCO: You’re celebrating your 35th Anniversary this year. Congratulations! How have things changed over the years and what has Paladin done to adapt?

MW: Prior to 1980 when Paladin was founded, Central Oregon was all about lumber. When the recession hit, the logging industry was hit hard and the town was basically being boarded up. We had no other industries here.

About that same time, the modern PC was being invented and company founder, Dan Nesmith, saw an opportunity to create software programs utilizing that new technology. Our POS software allowed businesses to manage a lot of physical inventory and we’ve been continuing innovation ever since. We’re currently working on a suite of mobile applications that will enable our customers to access our software from anywhere on their mobile devices.

EDCO: How does Paladin differentiate itself from its competition?

MW: It’s all about our people. We believe that customer service is the best way to differentiate yourself from your competition and to do that well, you need great people. We’ve been lucky in that regard. We’ve found amazing people through referrals and word-of-mouth, so we tend to hire within families and friend groups. In fact, we’ve got a few married couples that work here.

Paladin also does a great job of adopting the culture of each vertical we work with. Whether it’s a hardware store or a pharmacy, each one has its own set of products, terminologies, and challenges. We make a huge effort to understand each culture as well as their business needs.

EDCO: How has EDCO helped your company grow?

MW: EDCO helped us secure funds through the Deschutes County Economic Development program and helped us locate and secure our new facility. The money we received helped drive some of our recent business decisions to relocate and hire more people. We moved from 12,000 sf at the Bend airport to our current 19,000 sf “campus” on Awbrey Butte. And, we now have 44 employees.

EDCO: Any advice for start-ups hoping to be as successful as Paladin?

MW: Work hard, stay focused, hire good people, and continue to find ways to add value for your customers.

Free Advice: 5 ways to improve your start-up pitch

Brian Vierra, EDCO’s Venture Catalyst, provides five ways to improve your business pitch. Vierra has both pitched — and sold — a business to investors. He exited a corporate training company he founded in 2007. He also happens to be on the investor committee for the Oregon Angel Fund. In that capacity, he reviews dozens of pitches a month to determine whether they are worthy of investment.

And finally, as the organizer of the upcoming Bend Venture Conference, he’s currently helping review pitches from both the launch and concept stage companies. It’s basically all pitches, all the time. So here is Vierra’s free advice for making your pitch stand out.

1. Clearly state the problem your business is going to solve.

Before you even go into what your company does, Vierra wants to know what problem you’re addressing and why your business is coming into existence right now. “I’ve gone through a couple of companies where it doesn’t look like there’s a problem to solve,” Vierra says. “You have to hit people at their pain points. That’s one of the success factors.”

2. Use more pictures in your presentation.

“Every once in a while I’ll see a slide that is 10 different bullet point,” Vierra says. “No one is going to read all that.” Vierra likes to see pictures, graphs and charts that illustrate the problem your business is trying to solve and your solution. “Investors want it to be easy to move forward,” he says. “If it’s a struggle and they need to make a huge effort to understand what you do, you decrease the odds of them becoming involved.”

3. Assume in your revenue projections that you’ve already received funding.

“I’ve seen two kind of projections, one that shows what happens if they get the funding. And another where the founders assume they won’t get any funding and then project what their numbers are going to look like,” Vierra says. The latter fizzles because it reveals no ambition. “If you’re asking for $500,000 or $1 million, I want to know what you’re going to do with it and what that will look like,” he says.

4. Focus, focus, focus.

Entrepreneurs have big ideas. Usually lots of them. But they often forget that this is the first time an investor is being exposed to their first and best idea, and the speed right past it.

“You can’t immediately jump into your other streams of revenue and other partnerships and how you can do this thing or that,” Vierra says. “Slow down. Go back to what is the first business idea and how big can that get.” Once you set the hook, you want to reel those fish in, instead of trying to bait them with even more hooks.

5. D.U.A (Don’t Use Acronyms)

Investors consider lots of pitches from a wide variety of industries. It’s challenging to stay current on the all the acronyms and jargon in your business. Instead of boggling their mind with an alphabet soup, make it easy for investors (and, ahem, bloggers) to understand what you do. “As an investor, when you start hearing about things you’re unfamiliar with, you begin to question whether you know enough to jump in and be of help,” Vierra says.

Interview with McConnell Labs CEO, Jim McConnell

First, your girlfriend (now your wife) comes up with an idea for your business that ends up turning into your life’s work. Then your business grows and you become more and more successful. What’s the next step? You decide to relocate your business to the community where your in-laws have moved. After all, in a very direct way, they are responsible for so many good things in your life.

However, moving a successful manufacturing business from Eugene to Bend is not a simple process. There’s finding a site, seeking tax credits, moving and recruiting employees. “The people in Redmond made it as easy as possible to relocate,” says Jim McConnell, CEO. “From the realtor who dropped everything to send me pictures of the building we ended up buying that very day he sent the pictures, to the REDI people who helped me fill out enterprise paperwork, to the fire marshal who volunteered to stop by on her way home from work to just to give some quick feedback on how we were setting up the manufacturing lines.”

Three years later, Jim and his wife, Lezlie, along with their children and her parents are an integral part of Central Oregon’s family. The benefits to Jim are clear – an integration of his work and family life. The benefit are also clear in the community – an entrepreneur dedicated to growing his business that exports throughout the country and the world plus a local business owner invested in his community.

Visit the McConnell Labs website for more information!

– This Move business story brought to you by Lisa Dobey, EDCO Volunteer

Ochoco Arms – Where are they now

Ochoco Arms, 2013 Bend Venture Conference Concept Stage Winner

Less than a year ago, Prineville-based Ochoco Arms won the Bend Venture Conference Concept-Stage Division, taking home the $10,000 prize presented by BendBroadband. We touched base with CEO Sam Lambert to get an update on the company and learn what has transpired in the past year.

When it comes to the outdoors, Central Oregon is overflowing with opportunity. From Mount Bachelor to the high desert, businesses are building up around the area’s recreational bounty to take advantage of what our region has to offer.

Sam Lambert is one of those entrepreneurs who has taken his recreational passion – in his case, hunting and shooting sports — to invent a laser sight to improve shotgun accuracy. That vision spawned Ochoco Arms, the Bend Venture Conference Concept Stage winner in 2013.

Competing in last year’s Bend Venture Conference, Lambert thought that he might be able to get experience presenting his business plan, make some connections, and meet investors.

“What I didn’t anticipate was the awareness and recognition that winning would get from the major players in the firearms industry. They discovered Ochoco Arms because of BVC,” said Lambert. “We’ve been discovered by key advisors, engineers and potential partners. BVC has opened the floodgates of interest and that took us by surprise.”

Ochoco Arms is one of many businesses in Central Oregon that form a hub of innovation in the firearms industry, which is seeing great success and draws national and international attention to the region.

“BVC has become such a prestigious event that it brings a lot of attention to the young companies that present there,” says Lambert. However, for Ochoco Arms, the tremendous attention has caused some challenges.

“Ochoco Arms has been approached with a lot of opportunities for strategic partnerships. Not all are a great fit, but the attention is opening doors that will benefit us when we get our product into the market. Entering BVC was the single best decision I have made for my company,” said Lambert.

Ochoco Arms is in the final stages of engineering its shotgun laser site and is on schedule to launch in early 2015.

Watch Lambert’s BVC winning Ochoco Arms presentation. For more information on Ochoco Arms, visit the website, Facebook page, or follow them on Twitter.

$500K estimated BVC investment could break angel conference record in Oregon

Craft3 adds $26,500 to the 2014 BVC Fund, and launch stage finalists are announced

BEND, Ore. – October 2, 2014 – Economic Development for Central Oregon (EDCO), host of the annual Bend Venture Conference (BVC), has selected the 5 launch stage companies that will go on to compete for an estimated $500,000 at the 2014 BVC as Craft3, a CDFI lender that expanded operations to Central Oregon last year, adds a $26,500 investment to the BVC Fund.

“In BVC’s eleven year history, there have been eight cash awards amounting to over $1.25 million dollars,” said Brian Vierra, EDCO Venture Catalyst. “In its 11th year, to have close to half a million dollars up for grabs, speaks to the strength of the entrepreneurial investment community in Central Oregon, and the sophistication of the type of businesses that have found success here.” Jason Moyer, Fund Manager for the 2014 BVC LLC added: “With record investment and venture capital quality deals, the BVC has gone pro.”

The 2014 BVC award will be the largest in the region at an estimated $500,000 of commitments to invest in the 5 launch state finalists. Here is a break-down of the tally to date:

  • BVC LLC Fund Angels – $100,000+
  • Cascade Angels Fund – $121,900
  • Seven Peaks Ventures – $100,000
  • Oregon Growth Account – $50,000
  • Oregon Community Foundation – $25,000
  • Craft3 – $26,500
  • Additional side investments – commitments currently at $75,000
  • Mandala Fire Starter Marketing Program – $50,000 worth of services awarded to any or all of the 5 finalists
  • Palo Alto Live Plan – $1,500

“Craft3 is proud to invest in the Bend Venture Conference Fund,” said Turner Waskom, Craft3 Senior Business Lender. “This investment is another way that Craft3 can help to start and grow small business while strengthening economic resilience in the region.”

The Bend Venture Conference is divided into two categories that consist of five launch stage and five concept stage companies vying for investment and cash prizes. The concept stage finalists compete for a $10,000 cash prize from BendBroadband while the launch stage finalist could collect what is currently a nearly $500,000 investment, with funds still coming in from our angel investors.

In alphabetical order, the launch stage finalists are:

  1. Amplion provides business intelligence solutions that give pharmaceutical and diagnostics companies strategic control of the complete clinical biomarker landscape.

 

  1. Bright.md lets primary care providers deliver remarkably efficient remote care, increasing capacity by 30%, efficiency by 80%, and margin by 5x.

 

  1. CrowdStreet is a crowdfunding platform connecting accredited investors with high quality, professionally managed investment real estate.

 

  1. Homeschool creates the most durable highly breathable outerwear available keeping you warm and dry from the inside out.

 

  1. PoachedJobs is a hiring platform disrupting the jobs market for industries with high turnover rates – starting with the restaurant industry.

 

In alphabetical order, the concept stage finalists are:

  1. Bird Dog Bioventures is a veterinary/human biology start-up, researching and licensing underserved areas of animal health.

 

  1. Cairn introduces outdoor enthusiasts to new brands and products through a monthly subscription while also collecting market data for the companies they work with.

 

  1. Free Range Equipment manufactures light, durable, simple, functional backpacks for the performance focused athlete.

 

  1. KidRunner is reinventing running and exploring with kids hands and arms free, featuring performance, safety, and beauty.

 

  1. Volcano Veggies LLC grows organic vegetables and fish indoors with proprietary biotechnology solutions, providing cold-weather communities with fresh, nutritious local food year-round.

 This is the fifth year EDCO has managed BVC. Learn more about EDCO at www.edcoinfo.com and register for the Bend Venture Conference at www.bendvc.com.

 About Economic Development for Central Oregon (EDCO)
Founded in 1981, EDCO is a non-profit corporation, supported by private and public members and stakeholders, whose mission is to create middle-class jobs in Central Oregon by recruiting new employers to move to the region, helping entrepreneurs start new, scalable businesses, and working with our businesses that are already here to grow their operations.

 

About Craft 3
Craft3 is a nonprofit community development financial institution with a mission to strengthen economic, ecological and family resilience in Pacific Northwest communities. We do this by providing loans to entrepreneurs, nonprofits, individuals and others who don’t normally have access to financing. We then complement these financial resources with our expertise, networks and other advocacy for our clients. Over the past 20 years, Craft3 has invested more than $284 million in over 4,158 people and businesses in the Pacific Northwest. Learn more at www.Craft3.org and www.Craft3.org/Videos.

 

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The next frontier: unmanned aerial vehicles

If you imagine the horse and buggy era, the only thing that comes to mind is hitch your horse and go — no required training, rules or technology. Now, fast forward to the automobile era. Freeways, traffic signals, licensing, navigation aids — everything is technological.

Next up on the frontier: unmanned aircraft vehicles.

SOAR Oregon has pushed towards the fast-track evolution of the unmanned aircraft systems and unmanned aerial vehicle industry in Oregon. The nonprofit works across the state to create economic development in aerial robotics.

“We are trying to jump from a horse and buggy era to today’s automobile era,” said Mark Morrisson, executive director of SOAR Oregon. “From Henry Ford and building the roads and interstate highways, which took four to five decades. We are going to do the evolution, which took decades, in just one decade. That’s what is so exciting about the UAV/UAS industry and SOAR Oregon.”

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Bend start-up gets $3.6M to drive compressed natural gas work

Goal Is to Make the Vehicle Itself the CNG Compressor

Bend, Ore.-based Onboard Dynamics has received federal and local funding for a $3.6 million effort to commercialize an elegant concept: using the engine on a natural gas vehicle to compress the gas needed to run the vehicle.

The CNG-gasoline engine in the truck would be able to compress its own natural gas fuel, and perhaps provide it to other NGVs as well, says Onboard Dynamics.
The CNG-gasoline engine in the truck would be able to compress its own natural gas fuel, and perhaps provide it to other NGVs as well, says Onboard Dynamics.

The idea is for the engine to run on some of its cylinders while the others are used to compress the fuel. In that way fuel can be drawn from low-pressure lines, with no need for a costly compressed natural gas fueling station.

“You’ve eliminated the infrastructure problem,” says Onboard co-founder and engineering VP Jeff Witwer. Onboard’s proof-of-concept vehicle had a 5.9-liter Cummins engine converted to spark-ignition, with one its six cylinders used as a compressor.

Four Out of Eight Next

“The next version will be four cylinders of an eight cylinder engine,” Witwer says. The choice of a Chrysler, Ford or GM platform for Onboard’s next phase is to be made in the coming weeks.

The ‘dual-mode’ cylinders would revert to normal spark operation when fuel compression is completed.
The ‘dual-mode’ cylinders would revert to normal spark operation when fuel compression is completed.
Onboard has been awarded $2.88 million through the U.S. DoE’s ARPA-E/Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy initiative, says company co-founder and CEO Rita Hansen. The required cost-share for the $3.6 million total, she says, came from a combination of private investors and Oregon backers. They include Oregon BEST (the Oregon Built Environment & Sustainable Technologies Center) and ONAMI, the Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute.

The new money will enable an 18-month commercialization effort.

Onboard says that outfitting a natural gas vehicle to be able to fuel itself from low-pressure lines will be economical. “We’re pretty sure it would add less than $1,000 to the cost of a CNG vehicle,” Witwer says. A modern engine has something on the order of 4,000 parts, he explains. Onboard would change only about 100 of them.

‘Enabling the Compressor That’s Already in Your Engine’

“We’re taking a mass-produced compressor and re-programming it,” Witwer told F&F. “We’re enabling the compressor that’s already in your engine.”

The modified cylinders would be “bi-modal,” he says. They would revert to their normal spark-ignition function when it was time for the vehicle to be on its way.

Dr. Chris Hagen’s team at OSU-Cascades
Dr. Chris Hagen’s team at OSU-Cascades
Onboard has thus far worked with CNG-gasoline bi-fuel vehicles and will do so for its next phase. Hansen and Witwer concur that potential fleet customers prefer the bi-fuel approach.

Onboard Dynamics’ third co-founder is Chris Hagen, an assistant professor at Oregon State University’s Cascades Campus in Bend. He and his students developed a working prototype of the in-engine compression technology, having been helped, according to Oregon BEST, by an ARPA-E investment of $1 million in 2012.

read more…

Homeschool Partners With Mt. Bachelor Snow Park

Press Release—Tuesday September 30, 2014—Portland, OR USA—Homeschool Outerwear is helping another park crew stay warm and dry in the Pacific Northwest. Homeschool just made a deal to outfit the Mt. Bachelor Park Crew for the 2014-2015 winter. Mt. Bachelor is one of the premier resorts in Oregon and we couldn’t be happier to be working with them. Located just 20 minutes from our Bend satellite office, we plan on taking full advantage of everything their park has to offer this winter.

“I am beyond stoked to have Homeschool on board with the terrain parks at Mt. Bachelor. The brand is based in Oregon and the precedent is established that their gear stands up to northwest weather. Homeschool embodies the passion for creativity, originality and the soul of freestyle riding and fits perfectly into our terrain park niche.” Says Parker Bohon, Mt. Bachelor’s Terrain Park Manager. We at Homeschool hope that this is just the start of a long lasting relationship.

Homeschool Outerwear is a Northwest manufacturer of some of the world’s finest technical apparel. We pride ourselves on quality, durability, breatheability, and timeless design. We test our products in the harshest conditions here in the NW. Freezing fog, Waist deep snow, and of course the rain. We love snowboarding and don’t want to let the weather slow us down. It’s designed for the Northwest, if it works here it works anywhere.

Contact: info@homeschoolouterwear.com

Twitter: @HMSCHL

Instagram: @homeschool

Facebook: Homeschool Snowboarding

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