Startups report progress at PubTalk

Firms that made pitches at earlier meetings return Thursday

By Gordon Oliver, Columbian business editor



Thursday’s Clark County PubTalk offers a forward look at six companies who pitched their business plans at earlier gatherings of the group. Their return offers an optimistic view of an eventual payoff for entrepreneurs who stay the course with their business development.

If you go

What: Clark County PubTalk, a networking and business development group for entrepreneurs.

When: 5-8 p.m. Thursday.

Where: Artillery Barracks building, 600 E. Hatheway Road, Fort Vancouver National Historic Site.

Cost: In advance: $20 for Oregon Entrepreneurs Network members and $25 for non-members; $30 at the door.


Leaders of the six startups will briefly discuss their successes and challenges, followed by audience questions.

The evenings presenters are:

• Bowserwear, maker of bandages and orthopedic products for dogs and cats;

• Helidyne, developer of an energy-efficient converter that can replace conventional turbines used in geothermal plants;

• Oasis Diagnostics Corp., manufacturer of tools that use saliva as an alternative to blood draws for disease diagnosis;

• Seattle-based Hydrovolts, which is producing small-scale turbines to draw power from irrigation canals;

• RedPoint International, a maker of low-cost intravenous sleeves for use in medical procedures;

• GroEasy, which has developed soft-sided planter boxes for gardeners.

Kevin Kerlin, co-founder, with his father, of Helidyne, will be among the speakers offering progress reports. He said his initial PubTalk presentation connected the company to potential investors and to attorneys who provided valuable legal assistance to protect the company financially in negotiations. Kerlin said Richard Biggs, a business consultant and PubTalk volunteer, helped him develop a business pitch accessible to a general audience. An engi

neer, Kerlin said he’d struggled trying to explain the company’s obscure product.

Bowserwear president Terri Entler also said her PubTalk pitch increased her exposure to the business community and investors. She won a competition at her PubTalk event, bringing her free services from other local companies. “Now we have a professional video and updated website, and things that are critical to my business,” she said.

Kathy Sego, a Clark County business owner and consultant who helped launch PubTalk, said in its first two years the networking event has given a boost to local entrepreneurs. “Our main goal was to try to stimulate growth in Clark County,” she said.

Besides offering a showcase for startups to pitch their products and services, PubTalk volunteers offer support services to help companies refine business plans and create clear public presentations, she said. That assistance is a big plus, and not offered at the much larger Portland PubTalk, Sego said.

Sego said the local entrepreneurial scene has been a mixed bag in the period since the first PubTalk in December 2009. While many companies that offer support services to startups attend the networking event, there have been fewer startups ready to pitch at PubTalk than Sego had hoped. “We’re still having to look for companies that want assistance to get to the next step,” she said.

Clark County has attracted entrepreneurs who moved here from Portland, Sego said, but so far no area of Clark County has developed the kind of start-up buzz that infuses Portland’s Pearl District or technology sector-rich suburbs such as Beaverton and Wilsonville. “I think we have the talent, but I’m not sure we have as many people putting together companies as Portland,” she said.

“That may change,” she added. “A lot of people come over from Portland and they get really excited and are more energized. I think that we will make an impact.” She hopes that over time the county will become home to an innovation center or business accelerator that will bolster the start-=up scene.

The PubTalk gathering runs from 5-8 p.m. Thursday, opening with about one hour of networking followed by the presentations. It will be at the Artillery Barracks building, 600 E. Hatheway Road. Advance cost is $20 for Oregon Entrepreneurs Network members and $25 for non-members. Cost at the door is $30. Registration is available through the Columbia River Economic Development Council at