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Spokane startup Barters Closet hits up Indiegogo to raise funds for mobile app

Those crazy guys who recently launched online bartering platform Barters Closet (www.barterscloset.com) are now looking to beef up their piggy bank to move the company forward. They recently started an Indiegogo effort to raise $70,000 to build a mobile app.

They describe the company's business plan as: a place where people can barter for a new wardrobe in a social network setting.  The company leases office space in the Buchanan Building in downtown Spokane.

The privately held firm, with Connor Simpson at the helm, is working the crowdsourcing angle in hopes of  creating a mobile app to help folks sell items via their phone.

As of today, the Indiegogo campaign had raised almost $700.

Barters Closet is a previous winner of Startup Weekend Spokane and has raised about  $150,000 from members of the Spokane Angel Alliance.

One board member is Tom Simpson, Spokane's venture godfather and biological father of Connor Simpson.

A Barters Closet handout said: “The mobile application will allow users to take pictures of their clothes and upload them for barter, sale or donation; right from their phone!  Users will also be able to connect with other users by following them, messaging them and thriftying them.  Buyers will be able to shop through everything uploaded to Barters Closet to find that one-of-a kind item they are looking for.”

WSU will pay for up to 70 students to attend the next Startup Weekend

Starting Friday, March 1, is the third Spokane Startup Weekend. We described it in a Spokesman.com story last week.

Here's the notable update. Washington State University is backing the idea for its students. The school will pay the total entry fee for up to 70 WSU students from across the state.

The general student fee is $55. For others, it's $85 (and includes meals over the Friday-Saturday period). Any other student from area schools is also invited to register.

The WSU “scholarship” plan comes from a grant from the WSU CougParents Program made to the WSU Spokane student government. Students can take advantage of that registration option at http://www.signupgenius.com/go/70A0C4BAAA929AA8-startup.

Notably, that link says only 25 slots have been taken. That means 45 remain to be filled at no cost.

Startup Weekend, a video primer

Spokane's next Startup Weekend goes live March 1 to March 3, at the WSU Health Sciences Building. Today's SR had a story covering the event, plus highlighting three firms that have sprung to life from prior weekend boot camps.

The term Startup Weekend is trademarked, created by partners who launched the idea on the East Coast several years ago. It's since turned into a national and international for-profit effort. There have been hundreds of Startup Weekends in the past two years, from St. Louis to Lithuania.

Check out the video to get an overview. The link above also gives information on how to register.

A pictorial salute to Bernard Daines; four images from the SR archives

It was probably one of 2012's high points for me to have the chance to meet up with Bernard Daines this past month, and include him in our end-of-year “Catching Up With” series at Spokesman.com.

This collage shows four file photos, On top left, Daines back in 1997 as he was developing Packet Engines. At the right on top, an image from before Daines moved from Silicon Valley to Spokane, which appeared in the San Jose newspaper.

Below left, a staff photo back in 2002 as Daines was guiding Worldwide Packets. On the right, a recent photo taken by Jesse Tinsley.

Red Lion Hotels revamping website to get more booking revenue, using hyperlocal content

Spokane’s Red Lion Hotels is revamping its website in hopes of getting more people to book visits there instead of through online travel sites.

Company Executive Vice President Harry Sladich said the makeover will affect the main Redlion.com site plus 44 microsites for the chain’s individual hotels.

The goal is to save money by gaining more online reservations at its own sites instead of through online companies such as Expedia or Hotels.com.

“When (guests) make reservations through online travel agents, we take a substantial discount on the money they’re spending,” Sladich said.

The discount varies depending on how big the booking site is. Big sites like Expedia or Travelocity get close to 35 percent; smaller sites are taking cuts in the 20 percent range, Sladich said.

All bookings made at Red Lion’s site stay with the company.

To read the full story, go to Spokesman.com starting after 9 p.m. on Friday, May 4.

Spokane’s Green Cupboards comes close, doesn’t get tech award

Spokane's hot young ecommerce company Green Cupboards came close but didn't take home the top award in an annual  tech awards contest last week in Seattle.

Sponsored by the Washington Technology Industry Association, the 2012 Industry Achievement Awards are presented to recognize bright and aspiring firms in the state.

Green Cupboards, which sells organic, “green” and eco-friendly items, lost out in the best early stage company category to Big Door, a Seattle firm that “gamifies” other company websites.   Green Cupboards was started by seed money and a team of GU grads who conjured up the company idea during a Hogan Entrepreneurial Contest hosted by the school a few years ago.

No other East Side companies got any recognition in the achievement awards.

Red Lion Hotels trying to sell properties in Missoula and Medford

Spokane-based Red Lion Hotels Corp. announced they're preparing to sell two of its hotels in Medford and Missoula.

Both hotels were part of a group previously leased from iStar Financial Inc. of New York.

Last week Red Lion purchased the hotels to end the leases. The company said at last week's announcement it would sell some of the hotels and keep others.  Keep in touch to see which other hotels in the group will also go on the for-sale block.

Jon E. Eliassen, president and CEO, said, “We will continue to look for ways to strategically position Red Lion with hotels that fit the brand going forward. Selling these two properties also furthers our effort to restructure our balance sheet, which will give the company more financial flexibility and increase shareholder value.”

 

Boise’s Highway 12 Ventures to stop future investments

Boise-based venture capital firm Highway 12 Ventures announced it's not going to continue raising money.  Highway 12 was one of the few intermountain Western VC operations that could claim to be doing major investments.

A recent blog post said its partners will continue to manage the first two funds it created. It also said the firm would not shut down, The entry also noted family considerations by some founders played a role in the decision. 
 
Tom Simpson, Spokane-based manager of Win Partners and manager of Northwest Ventures Associates, said he has participated in several investments with the Highway 12 group.
 
“It reminds me of the old song 'Another one bites the dust,' ” Simpson said.

What keeps Eliassen ticking? Sunday’s story looks into his post-retirement career

Jon E. EliassenPeople who know Jon Eliassen say he's the busiest retired person they know.

In Sunday's Business section of The Spokesman-Review, we take a look at how Eliassen, who retired in 2002 after 33 years at WWP and Avista, has become a very busy executive around the area.

Eliassen has plenty to say about retirement and what he expected to do once he left Avista.

He continues serving, for the time being, as CEO and president of Red Lion Hotels Corp.