Calling All Tennis Aficionados – The Game Set Match App is Here!

As is often the case with entrepreneurial ideas, the Game Set Match (GSM) app was born from the irritation of a persistent problem. “My partner, Chief Technologist, and avid tennis player, C.J. Bordeleau, struggled to find similarly skilled playing partners to himself as he traveled the country on business” says Marsh Sutherland, CEO of GSM. Additionally, the US Tennis Association’s (USTA) National Tennis Rating Program (NTRP) for individual players proved inconsistent across geographic regions. The problem demanded a solution – and that solution became Game Set Match. Game Set Match is one part community forum for the tennis world and one part player improvement tracker. Currently boasting more than 300 users, most in Spokane but with pockets in Boston and New York City as well, the app allows players to find and communicate with each other to set up matches. A recent adopter and promoter of the app is Jeff Urie, Director of Tennis at the Spokane Club. “This app is a great way for members and other players to play more challenging matches, making them more prepared when USTA leagues and tournaments roll around” says Jeff. Marsh and C.J. are working to increase usage of the app and take advantage of the more than 13,000 private tennis courts in the US, all of which are listed in GSM. Unique to this app is its utilization of the Elo Rating System which, originally used to rank chess players, is being introduced to the tennis world for the first time through GSM. The basis of this system, which takes into account the skill level of an opponent when ranking a player based on wins and...

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...