Rigado’s lineup of Bluetooth modules. (Rigado Photo) , a nine-year-old Portland, Ore. startup that builds commercial IoT products and services, to Swiss wireless company . Rigado sold off its , a group that builds hardware components to enhance wireless connectivity and make it easier to link up Internet of Things devices, the companies said Wednesday. As part of the deal, Rigado CEO Ben Corrado and six other Rigado employees will join u-blox’s Short Range Radio product strategy team. Rigado’s Salem, Ore. office will become a North American engineering center for u-blox. , Corrado said Rigado co-founder will stay on at the startup and lead its technical vision as chief technology officer, and will step into the role of president. Going forward, Rigado will focus on its “edge-as-a-service” solution providing connectivity for smart buildings, asset tracking, connected retail, and other applications. “We’re very proud of both our market-leading modules division and Rigado’s fast-growing edge infrastructure gateway business,” Rau said in a statement. “The value we capture from the acquisition of the modules division will allow us to further accelerate Rigado’s growth in the gateway market — especially in key solution areas such as smart building and asset tracking.” Rigado was founded in 2010 and it raised a lifetime total of $20 million, including a just over a year ago. It has amassed more than 300 customers around the world for its edge-as-service products and connected more than 5 million commercial IoT devices. Rigado has offices in Portland, Salem, London and Shenzen, China.
Rad Power Bikes’ RadBurro model. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser) , the Seattle e-bike startup, alleges in a new lawsuit that Phoenix-based competitor ripped off its website layout and e-bike designs. Rad calls Bam a “copycat company” and alleges it could not “succeed in the e-bike marketplace on its own merits,” so it had to mimic Rad’s look. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle this week, alleges that Bam launched a “knockoff” website in March that confused customers because it was so similar to Rad’s, making them think the two companies were related in some way. From the court documents: Bam apparently cannot succeed in the e-bike marketplace on its own merits. Bam instead hoodwinks an unwitting populace into the false impression that Bam has already achieved Rad Power Bikes’ prominence and reputational stature in the e-bike industry. Bam thoroughly mimicked Rad Power Bikes’ website content and e-bike designs in order to give the copycat company an unwarranted head start in the e-bike marketplace. Rather than compete fairly, Bam cuts marketing and design corners through siphoning Rad Power Bikes’ excellent reputation and goodwill in the burgeoning world of e-bike commerce. In addition to claims of copyright infringement and false advertising, Rad alleges that claims of patented technology made by Bam and its parent company, JHR Electric Transport, are misleading because the patents could not be found in U.S. Patent and Trademark Office databases. Throughout the filing, Rad shows images of the two companies’ websites side-by-side to emphasize the similarity in layout and product offerings. One image shows the tagline “Built for Everything. Priced for Everyone,” displayed prominently on both sites. Rad Power Bikes included this side by side comparison of the two companies’ home pages in its filing. (Photo Via court documents) When GeekWire visited the sites this week, taglines on both homepages had been changed. Bam also appeared to make tweaks to other areas of its website that previously looked similar to Rad in court documents. Rad alleges it got complaints from customers who thought its products were generic, since nearly identical models could be found on Bam’s website. Rad is asking for the court to put a stop to any elements of Bam that infringe on copyrights “in order to correct and end the misimpressions being foisted upon an unsuspecting public through Bam’s deliberate replication of Rad Power Bikes’ website design and business persona.” We’ve reached out to Bam and will update this post if we hear back. Rad declined to comment. Ty Collins, left, and Mike Radenbaugh, founders of Rad Power Bikes. (Rad Power Bikes Photo) has become one of the best-known e-bike brands in North America over the past four years, with revenues expected to double to $100 million this year, GeekWire previously reported. Last month, the company in Zulily co-founders and . The startup now sells its e-bikes in the U.S., Canada, and 30 European countries to both consumers and commercial in industries such as logistics, law enforcement, deliveries, and more. It has taken advantage of the direct-to-consumer model to shorten its supply chain, bypass traditional bike shops and create a tight feedback loop with customers to constantly improve its limited line of e-bikes that sell for around $1,500. On Bam’s website, parent company JHR calls itself “the leader in developing and manufacturing electric power vehicles in America.” It has been building electric vehicles since 2004, and according to the website is the company behind the “most popular mobility products in the world – EWheels.” Bam says it has been building e-bikes since 2009, and it offers four different models, all priced at $1,599. The company also builds several different types of e-scooters, ranging in price from $349 for a small folding scooter to $2,345 for the more powerful “Chopper Trike.” Here is the full lawsuit from Rad: by on Scribd
Cole Brodman. , a Seattle-area networking startup led by former T-Mobile executive , was acquired last month by , a new company led by former Qualcomm CEO and chairman Paul Jacobs. The news was revealed Monday by in a story that details how Jacobs dropped plans to take Qualcomm private and is now focusing on San Diego-based XCOM. M87 launched out of Austin, Texas in 2014 and . That’s when Brodman, who spent 17 years at T-Mobile — including stints as CMO and CTO — took over as CEO. M87 develops technology to help wireless carriers improve network performance by creating dynamic device-to-device mesh networks. It’s similar to what Jacobs, whose father founded Qualcomm, and a group of former Qualcomm execs are building at XCOM: “giving everyone’s phones the ability to route traffic like a cell tower,” as WSJ reported. Paul Jacobs. (XCOM Photo) “We believed in the XCOM thesis of edge networks and compute, and Paul’s vision on how device-to-device technologies will enhance wireless networks,” Brodman told GeekWire in an email Monday evening. “That’s been our thesis all along, so it’s a great match. Plus, the XCOM team has some fantastic engineering talent and track record in wireless technology to help amplify our go-to-market and product roadmap.” M87 was folded into XCOM but will continue developing its technology, Brodman said. The company’s 20 or so employees are staying onboard, including Brodman. “XCOM likes the access to telecom and software talent in the Seattle area and is keeping an office here,” Brodman added. XCOM had about 30 employees before acquiring M87. It raised additional investment to buy the Seattle-area company, per the WSJ. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. M87 had raised around $12 million. It reeled in a $5 million fundraising round in 2016 led by Madrona Venture Group, with participation from Qualcomm Ventures, the company’s VC arm, and Trilogy Equity Partners, the Seattle-area firm where Brodman holds a position as partner. “It can be a really interesting business,” Brodman said in 2016. “There aren’t a lot of solutions today to help wireless carriers solve coverage capacity problems and most require them to build new cell sites. I’m excited about software-based solutions to approach this problem.” Brodman and spent the next four years as a board member for a handful of startups. Len Jordan, managing director at Madrona, told GeekWire he’s excited to see M87 “realize its vision for extending the power of networks all the way to the edge.” “The acquisition by XCOM is a great outcome for everyone involved,” he said. “The combined team has the experience and skill to reshape an industry.”
ASG MarTech CEO Steve Reardon. (ASG MarTech Photo) , a Silicon Valley investment firm that acquires and then operates software-as-a-service companies, is swooping up six startups and forming a new marketing tech organization that will be based in Bellevue, Wash. The new company, called ASG MarTech, will consist of the six acquired startups and an existing Alpine SG portfolio company called Grade.Us. They will continue operating as standalone offerings as part of ASG MarTech, which will serve digital agencies and brands with a suite of marketing tools. Here are the six acquired startups, with descriptions from Alpine SG: and , managed by Mike Ciaglia, are software platforms for brands and agencies that allow firms to effectively and accurately monitor, test, measure and prove SEO strategies to their customer bases. , lead by CEO Ben Carpel, is an all-in-one online performance dashboard that helps marketers easily monitor and analyze vital enterprise data in one place. , founded by Jack Yu and Nori Yoshida, helps businesses operating multiple locations engage customers quickly and identify opportunities to improve through its monitoring and management platform. The business is a powerful complement to Grade.Us’s presence in the online reputation management market. , founded by Zach Anderson and Jeff Schwerdt, is a marketing platform that enables local business owners to easily control and expand their online reputation. , founded by Vitaly Veksler is a full-service social media management platform that offers both social media monitoring and scheduling of content. ASG MarTech will employ more than 50 people and will be led by CEO , who previously oversaw Alpine SG subsidiary Bill4Time and Grade.Us. “We are incredibly fortunate to be partnering with such quality businesses,” Reardon said in a statement. “Each business has been infused with the passion and energy of an incredibly talented founder and are well positioned to accelerate their already considerable growth.” Alpine SG is backed by Alpine Investors, a private equity firm. In September it Seattle startup Record360 and has bought 18 companies since 2016.
(GeekWire Photo / Nat Levy) Seattle-based tax compliance company Avalara has acquired Indix, a Seattle startup that had accumulated vast amounts of data on product information. Indix CEO Sanjay Parthasarathy. (Indix Photo) Avalara, which went public this past June year, will use Indix technology to bolster its tax content database that includes everything from international product codes and classifications to taxability rules. “We believe the combination of deep product knowledge, broad product content, and artificial intelligence technology will allow us to provide our customers the information they want and need to factor compliance into their business decision-making, and for Avalara to address more compliance requirements to support their growth,” Avalara CEO Scott McFarlane said in a statement. Founded in 2013 by former longtime Microsoft executive , Indix developed an intelligence platform that helps businesses analyze and visualize product information across various industries. The company had raised more than $30 million from investors. “From day one, we built Indix to collect, organize, and structure the world’s product information using artificial intelligence,” Parthasarathy said in a statement. “With the addition of the Indix expertise, Avalara will be able to efficiently and rapidly refine its content to meet the expanding and evolving needs of its customers.” Parthasarathy is well known in Microsoft circles. He into the tech giant’s product group in the early 1990s. The Indix homepage now redirects to Avalara’s site. We’ve followed up with Avalara and Indix for more details about the acquisition and will update this post when we hear back. Last month Avalara Compli, a California-based company that helps makers of alcoholic beverages comply with government rules and regulations. Avalara has grown to more than 1,500 employees across 12 offices around the world. Avalara a net loss of $9 million on revenue of $69.5 million for the third quarter. Its stock is down about 10 percent from its IPO price. The company will report fourth quarter earnings next week.
The Smith family takes a break from their entrepreneurial ventures to go on vacation. (Photo courtesy of the Smith family) Soojung Smith thought entrepreneurship was a grownup pursuit. Then her sons schooled her. The up-and-coming Generation Z-cohort that includes her two boys, “tend to be more independent minded and have seen the success of starting a business from social media and their icons,” Smith said. “And they have less fear. They’re like, ‘Hey, I want to try this.’” And that’s just what they’re doing. Soojung and her 17-year-old son Douglas are co-CEO of , a Bellevue-based education startup. Her 12-year-old Jonathan works on technology for the company. All three are co-founders, and the boys’ dad, Doug, is their advisor as well as a business development executive at Microsoft. They launched KuriousMinds last year. Their first effort is a program called Young Sharks that’s focused on teaching kids the fundamentals of starting a business, including building a business plan and pitching it in front of a simulated panel of investors. “There is no shortage of ideas,” Smith said. “But whittling them down to something meaningful that will really bring value to their intended audience, that is something that they really struggle with.” The program targets kids in later elementary years and middle school — a sweet spot where there are few options for young entrepreneurs, Smith said. Her sons have additional ventures already under their belts. Douglas launched a tutoring business in eighth grade, and Jonathan has created two aquarium products: a filter diffuser showcased at the 2016 and an automatic fish feeder with AI integration that he’ll debut at this year’s fair. Soojung Smith has worked as a product and marketing executive at Dr Pepper/7 Up, Anheuser-Busch, AT&T and Microsoft where she helped incubate new products and businesses. Smith said that Douglas plays a key role in developing curriculum for Young Sharks and figuring out which digital tools are best suited to the students. Soojung and Douglas co-teach the program. They collaborate well, she said — at least most of the time. “We’re family. We are very passionate individuals. He gets passionate and I get passionate and sometimes we need a time out,” Smith said. “And sometimes my husband jumps in and serves as a referee.” We caught up with Smith for this Mother’s Day edition of Startup Spotlight, a regular GeekWire feature. Continue reading for her answers to our questionnaire. Explain what you do so our parents can understand it: “We are on a mission to help enable Generation Z to become a generation of confident future entrepreneurs.” Inspiration hit us when: “I’ve always had a dream of building something impactful and long lasting as a family.” Soojung and Douglas Smith, the mother-son co-CEOs of KuriousMinds. (Kurious Minds Photo) VC, Angel or Bootstrap: “We are an entirely self-funded, bootstrapped business. Client work in education coaching is funding our work for the design and delivery of the Young Sharks program. This is our second startup, and we are determined to build a solid foundation by growing at a measured pace.” Our ‘secret sauce’ is: “The deep involvement of our kids provides us with a unique view into effective learning styles for this generation. In addition, we are building an active local community of mentors and coaches with domain expertise who can guide and support young student entrepreneurs.” The smartest move we’ve made so far: “Working with partners in the community is integral to our success. We deliver our project-based experiential entrepreneurship program in partnership with city governments, educational institutions, homeschool co-ops and camp organizers with the programs tailored to the student profiles for their communities.” The biggest mistake we’ve made so far: “Building a business as a family comes with both opportunities and challenges. Trust, loyalty and shared values are the ones that glue us together. Of course, there are challenges when stress and pressure from the business side sometimes spill over into family relationships. We have learned to leverage each other’s strengths to get the benefit of operating as a family while minimizing the stress.” Would you rather have Gates, Zuckerberg or Bezos in your corner: “Bill Gates because he is such an inspiration to everyone not only for his business success, but, more importantly, his philanthropic work to provide opportunities through education. His work in this area speaks to us most in terms of who we’d most want to back our endeavors. We admire Bill and Melinda’s commitment to impacting the lives of others and investing in a better world.” Our favorite team-building activity is: “Cooking as a family. We try to improvise and create our favorite dishes including crossovers between Korean and Mexican food.” The biggest thing we look for when hiring is: “We look for curiosity, creativity, passion for entrepreneurship, empathy and strong success in working and connecting with kids.” What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to other entrepreneurs just starting out: “Ideas on a piece of paper without sufficient experimentation won’t help you to build a business. Planning is critical, but implementation is king. Be proactive about learning from your customers, partners, competitors and everyone around you. Be gracious about receiving feedback from them.”