Local Startup Spotlight: S2 Media

It may seem like an old-fashioned recipe, but the combination of a high quality product and reliable customer service was the catalyst for culture media manufacturer S2 Media’s launch. Add to the mix the Pacific Northwest’s zeal for buying local and the producers of agar-filled plates for microbiological testing had found their sweet spot. The S2 Media management team of Stephanie Bernards, Sommer Teague, and Molly Paridon first met as co-workers at Jubilant HollisterStier, local manufacturer of drug products, where they regularly handled culture media for testing purposes. “Sometimes we would find insects in the media” Stephanie says, commenting on the unreliable quality or the sometimes incorrect shipments they’d receive from manufacturers. It was in both this inconsistency of a finely-tuned product, and the lack of a culture media manufacturer in the northwest, that Stephanie and her colleagues saw an opportunity. The trio went through the business development process – writing a business plan, calculating budgets, forecasting growth – largely on their own, opening S2 Media in November, 2015 after securing a small business loan from Mountain West Bank. “We weren’t aware of the different resources available to people starting businesses” Stephanie remarked about one of the biggest struggles they faced as entrepreneurs. In addition, Stephanie identified an unrealistic expectation of conversion time for clients as another complication the company faced. “A lot of factors play into it, but clients can go six months or longer between asking for a quote and placing an order. That timeframe was longer than we had anticipated.” No startup is without its struggles, and in spite of those faced by S2 Media, they’ve...

Local Startup Spotlight: Hammr

Like most great ideas, it all started with a problem – a leaky kitchen faucet. It was the middle of fall semester dead week at WSU and the last thing Brek Goin wanted to deal with was the notorious property management company of his rental house. After hours of frustrating and fruitless internet searching for a contractor to repair the faucet and subsequent water damage, Brek thought “there has to be a better way.” The idea of Hammr was born. “It’s not so much a matchmaking site as it is a LinkedIn for contractors. We’re bridging the gap between homeowners and contractors by eliminating communication barriers” Brek says. Coming from a family of contractors, Brek has first-hand experience in the industry and understands the frustrations that exist between contractors and homeowners, primarily around communication. Different than Angie’s List or other referral sites, Hammr doesn’t charge contractors for using the service – which includes a personalized webpage for each business – nor does it charge homeowners for submitting projects for quotes or bids. Rather, Hammr is free for homeowners while contractors pay only a flat percentage upon completion of a project, what Brek calls ‘pay when they win.’ Additionally, Hammr is the only site that provides homeowners with the ability to message contractors directly, again for free. Brek has been actively developing Hammr for just over a year, with help from WSU, Startup Spokane, and Ignite Northwest. Currently Hammr exists as a landing page where homeowners and contractors can sign up to be notified when the full site is launched. “We’re still in development, but plan on beta testing in...

Local Entrepreneur Spotlight: Ginger Ewing

“I don’t like being told my city isn’t good enough. If my city isn’t good enough, I’m going to do something to change it.” For Ginger, changing her hometown of Spokane means a unique combination of advocacy for the arts and economic development. During her childhood, Ginger recalls being told many times that if she was going to be successful, or enjoy her twenties, she’d have to do it some place other than Spokane. As a result, “Spokane has been hemorrhaging its creative young people for decades” Ginger says. Something had to be done. With a BA in history from Whitworth University and over five years of experience with the Northwest Museum of Art and Culture, in 2008 Ginger co-founded Terrain, a non-profit dedicated to creating a stronger and more vibrant emerging arts community in the Inland Northwest. Created to bridge the gap between Spokane’s young artists and the more formal art establishment, Terrain has been invaluable to the growth of art sales and awareness in the region. With the steady growth of Terrain, Ginger has poured more effort into Window Dressing, a program that fills vacant buildings and unused spaces with various short-term art installations and creative enterprise. Having only been in existence since the end of 2014, the organization expanded this summer, taking on 14 local creative entrepreneurs and providing them intensive business training and one-on-one coaching. Ginger is now working with property owners to provide spaces that are currently sitting empty to nascent creative businesses for several months of low or no rent. “The idea is to give creative entrepreneurs the opportunity to test their ideas...

Mentor Connect trains the next generation of Spokane businesses

Published January 19, 2017 by Greater Spokane Inc. January is National Mentoring Month, honoring individuals who help bring up the next generation. Mentoring takes on various forms, and in Spokane, a special business mentor program through Startup Spokane, a program of Greater Spokane Incorporated, is helping the next generation of entrepreneurs get their business up and running. Mentor Connect is just one way Startup Spokane helps local entrepreneurs connect with business leaders and innovators, sharing a wealth of knowledge throughout our region. The program launched in October last year and currently has around 20 active mentors. Richard Repp, principal with Witherspoon Kelley, has served with the program since its inception, viewing it as an opportunity to pay it forward. “I have benefited from some great mentors in my career and I consider it a duty and an honor to pay it forward and help others however I can,” he said. “I view my participation as an extension of the efforts that I and a number of other members of the business community are making to build a supportive entrepreneurial ecosystem for scalable startups in our region.” Repp noted that it’s important for businesses to strike while the iron is hot, due to a number of factors, including funding availability and a competitive marketplace. With the connections provided through Mentor Connect, entrepreneurs are able to develop their business idea with years of experience guiding them along the way. Mentors can even refer entrepreneurs to another mentor in the program, helping to create the supportive ecosystem Repp sought when joining the program. For Michael Ebinger, Director of the WSU Center for Innovation, getting...

Mentor Spotlight: Dan Wadkins

Dan Wadkins is a Business and Intellectual Property Attorney at Lee & Hayes, PLLC.  In his “day job”, Dan advises a wide variety of businesses, from startups to well-established companies, in the areas of corporate, securities and financing, mergers and acquisitions, trademark and brand protection, intellectual property protection and commercialization, wine and alcohol beverage law, and commercial transactions. But, as Dan says “the most fun thing I get to do is work with startups.” He finds the passion of the entrepreneurs he works with contagious, and his passion for working with and supporting entrepreneurs and the startup community in the region mirrors theirs.  Dan is an avid supporter of the regional entrepreneurial ecosystem and can be found at supporting or participating in numerous events and programs including Startup Weekend Spokane, the Northwest Entrepreneur Competition and the WSU Business Plan Competition where he serves as a mentor, judge and resource night educator. Dan is passionate about entrepreneurial education and can be seen many-a-night during the school year in various campus classrooms guest lecturing in entrepreneurship classes including SCC’s Business Model Canvas Workshop, Whitworth’s Entrepreneurship class, Gonzaga University and Ignite Northwest.  Dan is also on the Advisory Board for Gonzaga’s New Venture Lab. Dan says the main reason he stayed in Spokane after graduating law school was “how much opportunity and possibility I saw gathering inertia in our area; with Startup Spokane and Startup Weekend and everyone coming together I see nothing but opportunity for Spokane to care out our own entrepreneurship...