News Column

Startups Racking Up Revenue

April 3, 2013

D.K. Row

The Oregonian has profiled dozens of small businesses in its weekly Startup column. Here's how a few are faring now:

It's in my Heart

Since July, growth has been the theme of Chris Chapman's startup, It's in my Heart.

The maker of recreational cycling apparel -- the company's central design reinterprets the locally known green heart in Oregon sticker created by Portlander Chris Bucci -- has been picked up by 20 more vendors across the country, including Made in Oregon and REI. The REI order alone is worth about $130,000, he said.

That's helped the startup double its revenue since it was profiled by The Oregonian in July, and puts it on track for $500,000 in sales this year.

Chapman's apparel line also continues to be available at such Portland-area stores as Bike Gallery, Western Bikes and River City Bicycles.

Although it's still a one-man operation, he said, "I'm getting to the stage where I'm going to need help."

Chapman may indeed need more hands if his negotiations with the city of Portland -- which he describes as "positive" -- are fruitful. He wants to make apparel using the "Portland Oregon" design owned by the city.

CoPatient

The startup that audits medical bills for cost savings on behalf of consumers has been growing for several months.

Although co-founders Katie Vahle and Rebecca Palm declined to disclose revenue data they said CoPatient has seen the number of individual accounts surge twentyfold.

The company recently began working with Miller Paint Co., which self-funds its employee health plan. The Portland-based paint company has about 350 employees, each of whom now has a CoPatient account. That means every employee is paired with a CoPatient billing expert to examine healthcare expenses for errors or overcharges.

CoPatient recently hired a business development specialist and brought on a senior medical billing advocate in January. It expects to hire about 20 full-time employees in the next year.

The company isn't profitable yet and is weighing several offers for additional capital investment.

The Digits

Scotty Iseri's startup -- an app-based and online video education series that teaches children about math -- has had a busy nine months.

Since July, The Digits has launched on several platforms, including YouTube, Android, IOS, iTunes and Kindle. Iseri says the educational app has been selling particularly well at the Kindle store.

The startup also formed a partnership with an educational program that Skype is rolling out. The free program allows students to watch math lessons from "The Digits" via Skype, and then ask characters from the show follow-up questions.

Iseri says the startup has accrued income from app downloads, merchandise and subscriptions. The second season of "The Digits" is also in its concept stage.

Solutions YES The startup run by Sean Bell and his management team saw its customer base surge in 2012. Business has been booming for Solutions YES, the Portland-area startup that sells and leases office hardware like printers, scanners, fax machines and copiers, and also helps companies transition into paperless documentation.

The company doubled its revenue and grew its customer base by more than 500 percent by the end of 2012. It also expanded into Central Oregon. The company expects to double its customer base in 2013.

"We have grown significantly, and intend to continue growing significantly," says founder Sean Bell.

Bell says the startup has grown because many competitors have consolidated purchasing, warehousing, distribution and other parts of the operational chain to areas outside of the Northwest. Customer service has suffered as a result.

But Solutions YES, Bell says, emphasizes customer service, and that's one reason why the company has maintained a customer retention rate of 99 percent.

Househappy

The free, photo-driven site that lists properties for sale around the world -- specifically homes, apartment buildings (one-to-four units) and land -- launched March 27, more than a month after Portland-based Househappy was supposed to unveil its comprehensive website.

The reason for the delay? Quality assurance testing for the global rollout took longer than expected.

The social networking site that enhances the Pinterest experience by giving members the ability to poll other users for advice on what to buy is generating revenue.

Favery founder Anne Nichols won't specify how much, but says the number of site users has quadrupled since mid-November. Nichols says Favery is picking up revenue from Nordstrom, Zappos, Anthropologie, Saks Fifth Avenue and American Eagle Outfitters.

Favery also has introduced new content and features on the site in order to give readers ideas about the "shopping experience."


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Source: (c) 2013 The Oregonian (Portland, Ore.) Distributed by MCT Information Services


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