OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

college of business

Advantage Accelerator “graduates” moving toward successful new businesses, jobs

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Four promising startup companies in fields ranging from social media to chemical manufacturing are among the first “graduating class” of the Oregon State University Advantage Accelerator, upon completion of a program designed to help lead them toward commercial success.

Organizers of the new program say it’s off to a promising start in efforts to bring more university research and community ideas to the commercial marketplace. This and other elements of the OSU Advantage form partnerships with industry and work to boost the Oregon economy, while providing invaluable experiences for OSU students involved in many aspects of the program.

“Our program has unfolded as well or better than we had hoped, and we now plan to increase the output,” said John Turner, co-director of the Advantage Accelerator. “Completion of this program means that companies have an increased chance to succeed and have a step-by-step plan to approach the future.”

“Based on our experience in the first year of this program, we’ve decided to conduct two cohort groups each year rather than one,” Turner said. “The coming year will result in about 15-20 new startup companies.”

Success in a tough and competitive commercial marketplace is not automatic, however, and not all companies have the will and strength to complete the rigorous program.

The first graduates have completed a “portfolio” of accomplishments, Turner said, that included training to attract investors, a validated business model, a schedule for future steps, and an initial product to show prospective customers, investors or manufacturers. A few clients are already attracting attention through the sale of products and generating profit.

The OSU Advantage Accelerator provides mentoring with industry and entrepreneurial experts, consulting sessions, access to seed grants and the OSU Venture Fund, meetings with active investors, workshops on various topics, networking events and many other activities.

One of the early participants in the program, Onboard Dynamics of Bend, Ore., plans to market technology that could ultimately revolutionize the way America drives. It has developed systems that compress natural gas right in the vehicle and take advantage of the enormous current supplies of low-cost natural gas. The innovation is able to cut automobile fuel costs to the gasoline-equivalent of less than $1 a gallon.

“An intern working with the Advantage Accelerator performed a lot of tasks relating to market analysis and startup activities that were incredibly helpful to the company,” said CEO Rita Hansen.

“We’re in an excellent position right now, having been formally selected by the Department of Energy for a $2.88 million award, and our initial target markets are the underserved, small, light-duty commercial fleets,” Hansen said. “We’re very bullish about widespread adoption by these fleets of our products.”

A few other companies that have completed the program include:

  • Pikli, a student-based company based on social media that allows individuals to involve their friends and family in their shopping experiences;
  • Waste2Watergy, which is commercializing a microbial fuel cell technology to reduce or eliminate significant wastewater costs and produce electricity from the resultant effluence; and
  • Valliscor, a chemical manufacturing company that licensed technology developed at OSU to produce high-value chemicals for the pharmaceutical, agricultural, polymer and electronics industries.

“The OSU Advantage Accelerator program was very helpful and their mentorship was really first-rate,” said Rich Carter, professor and chair of the OSU Department of Chemistry, and CEO of Valliscor. “They helped us develop the necessary tools to become a functioning company, and whenever you needed advice all you had to do was pick up the phone.”

Carter said he’s “very optimistic” about the company going forward, which is already producing and selling its first products.

The OSU Advantage Accelerator is one component of the Oregon Regional Accelerator and Innovation Network, or Oregon RAIN. With support from the Oregon legislature, collaborators on the initiative include OSU, the University of Oregon, the cities of Eugene, Springfield, Corvallis and Albany, and other economic development organizations. All the participants are focused on creating new business, expanding existing business, creating jobs and helping to build the Oregon and national economy.

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John Turner, 541-368-5204

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New company

Valliscor research

Social shopping via mobile app: do you like the mint green or coral?

CORVALLIS, Ore. – A new business concept aided by the Oregon State University Advantage Accelerator will get its first test run on Tuesday, Jan. 21, when about 120 OSU sorority members get a chance to see what all their friends think about the new shoes they may buy – and which color looks best.

It’s the beginning of Tally, a mobile app developed by two recent OSU graduates to make shopping or just getting dressed a more fun, interactive and social experience.

With Tally, users can receive side-by-side images of their friend’s shopping options, vote on their favorite image and get results delivered in real time.

The developers of this company will also be interviewed on Jan. 30 at OSU by Alexis Ohanian, the co-founder of Reddit.com, one of the world’s leading web sites.  Ohanian will be speaking about his new book, Without Their Permission, as part of a 77-university tour about Internet entrepreneurship, at the LaSells Stewart Center beginning at 7 p.m. It is free and open to the public.

“Our release of the app to the OSU sororities is really exciting, and we’ll be very interested in their feedback as we try to fine tune the user experience,” said Ryan Connolly, a graduate last year in marketing and entrepreneurship in the OSU College of Business, who co-founded the company with Andy Miller, an OSU computer science graduate.

“We are very optimistic about the app and anxious to see what’s in store for the future,” Connolly said. “It’s free for people to download and use, and will help make shopping a more social experience, even if your friends live in another city or on the other side of the country. People can see what their friends think before they make a decision, and in our tests about 65 percent of our current users vote on each new poll within 20 minutes.”

The OSU Advantage Accelerator, which was recently formed to help this and other small business enterprises get the assistance they need to move out of academia and into the private sector, was a great help, Connolly said.

“The Accelerator gave us two mentors to work with, helped flush out our revenue model, introduced us to investors, and gave us exposure we wouldn’t have otherwise had,” he said.

The business concept of the company is to develop a large and active user base, Connolly said, and then approach clothing retailers and brands as a pinpoint marketing platform. Information will be acquired about merchandise, style, color and product preferences that would be of value to retailers, manufacturers and brand owners. The company web site is at tallyfashion.com

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Ryan Connolly, 503-961-5778

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Choices to make

Shopping choices

Die-hard fans view ads linked with rival teams negatively

CORVALLIS, Ore. – A new study concludes that it doesn’t matter how compelling an advertisement may be, most die-hard Oregon State Beavers fans will simply not purchase a product associated with the Oregon Ducks.

Researchers at Oregon State University and California State University, San Marcos asked college students, who were a mix of average sports fans and “highly identified” fans, or super fans, to look at a generic ad that that featured an association with either the home or a rival team and included either strong or weak arguments about product quality.

The “less identified,” or average fans, responded positively to the strong advertising message regardless of team affiliation. However, even though the super fans were able to recognize which ads made a more compelling case, it did not sway their negative attitude and intentions toward the advertisement when there was an affiliation with the rival.

The study, co-authored by Colleen Bee, assistant professor of marketing in OSU’s College of Business, and Vassilis Dalakas, associate professor of marketing at Cal State San Marcos, was published online this month in the Journal of Marketing Communications.

“We found that less identified fans responded positively to strong, credible arguments,” said lead author Bee. “What we found interesting is that this effect went away for super fans when the ad featured a rival affiliation. Whether an argument was weak or strong did not make a difference – all that mattered was the association with the rival team.”

Study participants were either shown an ad with weak messaging, such as “Simply great!” or an ad with strong messaging, such as “Recommended by Consumer Reports.”  Fan identification was then assessed by asking respondents to rate themselves based on how they and others see them as team-specific sports fans.

Bee said this is the first study to consider the combined effects of fan identification, sponsorship affiliation, and message characteristics. Since sports sponsorship accounts for 77 percent, or $39.17 billion in revenue, of worldwide sponsorship spending, knowing potential pitfalls is important.

“Highly identified fans incorporate the team as part of their identity, which means it really influences and biases the way they process information much more than other consumers.”

Bee said sponsorship is still a highly effective and lucrative means of advertising and branding. She said that companies should just be aware that their message – and thus their product – may be viewed negatively when they align with certain teams. For this reason, she said savvy firms use brand loyalty to their advantage. One car rental company, for instance, with strong ties to the New York Yankees only ran ads promoting its alliance to the team in New York City. 

“When you associate your product or brand with a team logo, you need to keep in mind that you will alienate the super fans of the rival team, and potentially lose customers,” she said. “On the other hand, you can also leverage that social identification to win over those sports fans who will view this sponsorship favorably simply because it is their team.”

The study was funded by a grant from the OSU College of Business.

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Colleen Bee, 541-737-6059

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Colleen Bee
Colleen Bee

Expert to discuss startup business issues, patents

CORVALLIS, Ore. – A national expert on patents and startup businesses will speak in Corvallis on Wednesday, Dec. 3.

John Cabeca, director of the Silicon Valley United States Patent and Trademark Office, will hold an interactive discussion on several topics related to startup businesses, including micro-entity filings, pro bono assistance, law school clinics and other topics.

The event is free and open to the public, and will be from 2:30-3:30 p.m. in the Metolius Room of the Microproducts Breakthrough Institute in Corvallis. It is located at 1110 N.E. Circle Blvd., and directions to the building can be found online at http://mbi-online.org/directions

The program is sponsored by the Oregon State University Advantage program and the Regional Accelerator and Innovation Network, or RAIN-Corvallis.

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Tracy Elmshaeuser, 541-737-3888

OSU partnership forms new center for software development

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Two organizations at Oregon State University have joined forces to create a new center offering expanded services in product testing, software development and hosting.

The Center for Applied Systems and Software in the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science was formed by the partnership of the Open Source Lab and the Business Solutions Group. For several years, both groups have been delivering products and services to clients while providing training opportunities for students on real-world projects.

“It’s a partnership that made sense and it was the right time to make the move,” said Carlos Jensen, director of the new center and associate professor of computer science at OSU. “We have an assertive, aggressive, optimistic view of the future that will drive innovation.”

Although the Open Source Lab and Business Solutions Group will retain their identity and function, their combined skills can provide clients with complete software solutions, including design, development, testing and hosting. They can take on a larger variety of projects that would have been beyond the scope of either one alone.

For instance, although neither group had previously created a mobile application, the first project undertaken by the new organization includes two iOS and Android apps for Oregon Sea Grant. “Oregon Catch” will be an app to help visitors buy fresh fish directly from ocean fishermen, and “Working Waterfronts” will provide educational information about industrial sites on the coast to tourists.

Beyond software services, the new center will provide clients an opportunity to develop working relationships with students for potential future employment. Industry representatives can gain quick and cost-effective access to students who will assist with projects, without the need to directly supervise them, as they would with a conventional internship.

Media Contact: 

Rachel Robertson, 541-737-7098

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New OSU center

Center leaders

Study: State, federal role in electric utilities’ labor issues should be reexamined

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Power outages have never been more costly. Electricity is critical to communication, transportation, commerce and national security systems, and wide-spread or prolonged outages have the potential to threaten public safety and cause millions, even billions, of dollars in damages.

“It doesn’t seem that dire until a storm hits, or somebody makes a mistake, and then you are risking a blackout,” said Inara Scott, an assistant professor in the College of Business at Oregon State University.

“You have to consider the magnitude of the potential harm to the public. Without power, you can’t pump gas. Cell phones may not work. Water systems are threatened. These are big problems.”

That’s why it may be time to re-examine the role of public utility commissions and the effect of the National Labor Relations Act in labor disputes regarding electric utilities, Scott suggests in a new study.

Public utility commissions have more authority than some existing court decisions suggest, but they tend to take a conservative approach and there is a strong presumption that they can’t get involved, Scott said. Modifying the NLRA to more clearly define the states’ powers might be needed to change that mindset, she said. The changes would affect both sides – labor and management – equally, she said.

“The current law does not reflect the times,” Scott said. “The courts need to look at these cases differently, because the role of electricity in our lives has changed.”

Many public utility commissions have concluded, based largely on court decisions under the NLRA, that they’re prohibited from intervening in labor disputes even when public safety is threatened, Scott said. PUCs are the state agencies that regulate public utilities.

That interpretation of the federal law does not reflect the critical role electricity plays in people’s lives and livelihoods today, said Scott, whose study of the issue was published this week in the “Energy Law Journal.”

“If workers strike or are locked out of their jobs during a labor dispute, a utility might operate just fine, or there could be a major problem,” said Scott, an attorney who spent 10 years practicing energy and regulatory law before joining the OSU faculty.

“The problems caused by an electrical outage are not easy to predict and the consequences can be severe,” said Scott, whose research focuses on the transformation of utility systems, clean energy, energy efficiency and utility regulation.

Scott began studying the National Labor Relations Act and the role of public utility commissions in labor disputes involving electric utilities after following a 2012 labor dispute involving Consolidated Edison of New York.

Con Edison management locked out more than 8,000 employees after labor negotiations broke down. Union members warned the move would leave the utility with inadequate safety monitoring, deferred maintenance and threats of unsafe conditions.

But the state’s public utility commission, the only regulatory agency with authority to oversee the safety and operation of Con Edison’s system, announced that it lacked jurisdiction to end the lockout or get involved in the negotiations.

As the lockout wore on and severe summer weather threatened the power grid, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo urged the New York Public Service Commission to get more involved.

The dispute was ultimately settled but the case underscored the high stakes of labor disputes involving electric utilities, as well as the potential danger to public safety and the need for clarification of the authority of state public utility commissions, Scott said.

Scott’s study was supported by OSU.

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Inara Scott, 541-737-4102, Inara.Scott@bus.oregonstate.edu

Top Oregon family businesses to be honored at Nov. 20 event

PORTLAND, Ore. – Several Oregon family businesses will be honored at the 2014 Excellence in Family Business Awards ceremony on Thursday, Nov. 20, at the Sentinel Hotel in Portland.

Bill Chambers, owner of Stahlbush Island Farms, Inc., and one of this year’s honorees, will speak at the event, which is sponsored by Oregon State University’s Austin Family Business Program. Chambers and his wife, Karla, of Corvallis, were selected as the Dean’s Family Business Leadership Award winners for 2014.

“We’re so fortunate that Bill will be joining us to share his advice and insights about three generations of enterprises in the Chambers family,” said Sherri Noxel, director of the Austin Family Business Program.

Founded in 1985, the Austin Family Business Program at OSU is a family business program providing inspiration, education, outreach and research to support the success and survival of family businesses.

The Excellence in Family Business Awards recognize the achievements of family businesses in entrepreneurship, community involvement and multi-generational planning. More than 200 companies have been honored since the awards began in 1988.

This year’s awards feature new categories that reflect sound family business practices. Two of those categories honor winners from both established and emerging family businesses. Honorees are:

  • Family Harmony: Second Glance, Inc., of Corvallis, emerging family business; and Unger Farms, Inc. of Cornelius, established family business. Finalists in the category were Jag Forms of West Linn, emerging; and WSC Insurance of Forest Grove, established.
  • Generational Development: Glory Bee of Eugene, emerging family business. Finalists were Advanced Wealth Management, Portland, emerging; and Blue Raeven Farmstand, LLC, of Rickreall, established.
  • Business Renewal: Willamette Valley Pie Company, Salem. Viewpoint Construction Software of Portland was a finalist in the category.
  • Student Award: Jake Thompson of Thompson Timber.

The event begins with a reception at 5:30 p.m., followed by dinner at 6 p.m. and the program at 6:45 p.m. Tickets are $85, or $25 for children ages 3-10. The hotel is located at 614 S.W. 11th Ave., Portland.

To reserve a seat, register online at http://bit.ly/1yVW32k or contact Melissa Elmore at Melissa.elmore@bus.oregonstate.edu or 1-800-859-7609. The deadline to register is Nov. 7.

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Sherri Noxel, 541-737-6019, Sherri.noxel@bus.oregonstate.edu

Intel ‘futurist’ to speak Oct. 28 at Oregon State University

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Brian David Johnson, the ‘futurist’ at Intel Corp., will speak at Oregon State University Oct. 28 as part of the College of Business Dean’s Distinguished Lecture series.

As Intel’s futurist, Johnson’s charge is to develop a 10- to 15-year vision for the future of technology. His work, called futurecasting, uses ethnographic field studies, technology research, trend data and even science fiction to provide Intel with a pragmatic vision of consumers and computing.

In his lecture, “Humanity in the Machine: What Comes after Greed?” Johnson will explore the relationship between humanity and technology, and look at how technology reflects the mission and values of the societies that create it.

The lecture begins at 7 p.m. in the Austin Auditorium in the LaSells Stewart Center, 875 S.W. 26th St., Corvallis. The event is free and open to the public. For additional information, contact Jenn Casey, 541-737-0695.

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Jenn Casey, 541-737-0695, jenn.casey@oregonstate.edu

Oregon State University Advantage Accelerator accepting applications

CORVALLIS, Ore. - The Oregon State University Advantage Accelerator program is seeking participants for its next cohort, which begins in January 2015 and runs for five months.

Applications from innovative and high-growth traded sector companies that produce goods and services used outside the region are encouraged. Eligibility information can be found on the website.

The program offers an opportunity for entrepreneurs to expand their businesses, connect with industry professionals, gain access to OSU venture development funds, and work with an advisory team to accelerate company development.

“We are taking advantage of the many resources available for clients, and thanks to the accelerator our business is now ready to take off,” said client Stan Baker, with Baker Seed Technologies. “The accelerator is a proven springboard to success.”

The five-month curriculum uses a proven methodology to guide emerging enterprises from infancy to independence, officials say. More information and an application is available on the website, at www.oregonstate.edu/accelerator, and applications will be followed by an interview with the co-directors and a formal presentation to the entrance committee.

Source: 

Betty Nickerson, 541-368-5205

Business ethics focus of May 7 lecture at Oregon State University

John Hall, owner and CEO of 16 Degree Advisory, will discuss the importance of business ethics at a free public lecture beginning at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, May 7, at Oregon State University.  

The event will be held in the Austin Auditorium at the LaSells Stewart Center, 875 S.W. 26th St., Corvallis.

Hall’s talk, “Making Ethical Decisions When Success Is Defined by Profits,” is part of the Dean’s Distinguished Lecture Series, which brings business leaders from across the United States to Oregon State’s campus to address a variety of today’s most relevant business topics. The series is sponsored by the OSU College of Business.

Portland-based 16 Degree Advisory delivers a compass for forward-thinking business leaders who want to bring clarity to their organizational direction, who are seeking to get more from their employees and who are looking to bring increased stability and efficiency to all business functions. Taking a new approach as a “certified” ethics and compliance professional, Hall applies a servant leadership approach toward building and growing businesses.

Before launching 16 Degree Advisory, Hall was the co-founder and owner of EthicsPoint, Inc., which later became the $100 million software company NAVEX Global, where Hall was the chief ethics and compliance officer.

Source: 

Jenn Casey, 541-737-0695, Jenn.Casey@oregonstate.edu