Our July/August 2014 Launch article features bnd Products, Outdoor Project and Pacific Northwest Kale Chips.

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launch-BND Guitar Stand7187Music Men

bnd Products
Co-founders: Patrick Triato & Drew Downie
Launched: 2014
HQ: Portland

A former touring musician, Patrick Triato hated lugging around concert gear, especially those pesky guitar stands. “The one that I had broke into four different pieces and all those pieces wouldn’t strap together,” says Triato, 33. “I ended up going through two or three guitar stands before I said, ‘To Hell with this; I’m just not going to use a stand anymore.’

So Triato, who has a background in product design, fashioned an alternative: The bnd:one, a bendable stand made of two quick click parts to ensure a seamless set up. “I had this idea for something that was easy to wrap up like a guitar cable that you could throw in your bag or guitar case,” Triato says.

His partner, Drew Downie, brought another aspect to the startup, now in the middle of a Kickstarter campaign. “We wanted to bring a mission or cause to this company without just starting it for a product purpose,” says Downie, 27, whose mother is a former elementary school art teacher. 

“Music education and arts education got us to where we are today,” Downie says. “We know that a lot of young kids don’t get the opportunity to learn music as much as they should, so we’re bringing the cause of supporting great music from the ground up to the product.”

“bnd is just a little play on words: bend without the e,” Triato says. “It  was very easy to trademark and it fits really nicely with our logo. The bnd is in the hand.”

Slow and Steady
“We’ve learned from prior companies we’ve helped launched that growing too fast and getting into retailers too quickly can cause a lot of trouble,” says Downie. “Our sales strategy is to first get funded on Kickstarter, and second, to piggy-back off those backers and go directly into direct online sales, as well as growing organically through smaller retailers who can actually talk a little bit more about the product to our customers.”

Launch-Ills-0714-1Nature Play

Outdoor Project
CEO: Tyson Gillard
Launched: 2013

The concept is simple: “Take the most comprehensive outdoor resource — the guidebook — and give it an update for the web era,” says co-founder and COO Jared Kennedy.

An online platform, the Project organizes activities by adventure type — camping, kayaking, hiking. Search results display photographs contributed by the community. “We have a group of about 50 contributors who take on the bulk of adding content to the website,” Kennedy says. “These are qualified outdoorsman, photographers, videographers and adventurers.”

The site launched with 300 adventures and now features over 1,000 trips across Oregon, Washington and California. Kennedy is focused on boosting online engagement by allowing users to plan activities with friends, outfitters, restaurants and bars.

Launch-Ills-0714-2Snack Central

Pacific Northwest Kale Chips
CEO: Sarah Pool
Launched: 2012

The scoop: Marathon runner Sarah Pool wanted an easy-to-carry, plant-based snack to fuel her workouts. “I had nuts and seeds and other vegetables and kale all in a bag, jam-packed with nutrition,” she says. “I thought: ‘What if there was this flavor, or that flavor?’ So I figured I’d create it.”

The debut: With $15,000 and three original flavors, 29-year-old Pool hit the ground running. Today, the dried kale chips come in six varieties — including Lava Rock Sriracha, Snoqualmie Macaroon and Glacier Peak Greens. In 2013, annual revenues exceeded $500,000.

The latest: Made In Nature, a Colorado-based organic dried fruit maker, acquired Pacific Northwest Kale in early July. The deal resulted in a new Portland-based enterprise, Pacific Superfood Snacks. “Made In Nature leads in healthy and nutritious snacking,” observes Pool. “We saw this as an opportunity to bring superfoods snacks to more people.