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|Articles - October 2011|
|Thursday, September 22, 2011|
Page 1 of 3By Ben Jacklet
One night several years ago, Chris Ulum was driving to the Oregon Coast with his 10-year-old daughter when she asked him to explain the project that had been keeping him so busy on evenings and weekends. “So I finally explained it to her,” he says, “and at 10 years old she completely grasped the business opportunity and the value proposition. You don’t have to convince anyone of our dependency on fossil crude oil and the merits of having a drop-in replacement for fossil crude. And if you can get that from a garbage stream that’s already being picked up and handled by someone, then it’s not hard to sell the supply demand aspect of the proposition. It just makes intuitive sense.”
By that point, Ulum’s business partner, chemist Kevin DeWhitt, had figured out the technical challenges involved in converting waste plastic to crude synthetic oil. But before DeWhitt could scale the concept to produce significant amounts of oil, he needed money, and to get money he needed a business plan. That was Ulum’s job: to turn a great idea with solid science behind it into a great business.
Ulum, a 48-year-old graduate of Oregon State University with an MBA from Duke University, met DeWhitt through a colleague at Sun Microsystems in November 2004. Their weekend and evening meetings grew more common throughout 2005 and ultimately convinced Ulum to take the plunge and leave his job to launch a startup. They originally called the business Plas2Fuel, and have since renamed it Agilyx (pronounced “Agile-ix”). Recession notwithstanding, they have raised more than $26 million and formed partnerships with key players in the oil and waste industries while building a 35-person company poised to grow into a market leader.
The first step was to prove that their system worked. They accomplished that fairly quickly, raising $300,000 in seed capital in April 2006, building a prototype system at an industrial property in Tigard and extracting their first batch of crude oil from waste plastic several months later. That quick success enabled them to raise more money on better terms.
Friday, November 14, 2014
BY JESSICA RIDGWAY
Oregon entrepreneurs reveal their favorite caffeine hangouts.
Thursday, December 11, 2014
There’s a fascinating article in the December issue of the Harvard Business Review about a profound power shift taking place in business and society. It’s a long read, but the gist revolves around the tension between “old power” and “new power” as a driver of transformation. Here’s an excerpt:
The authors, Henry Timms and Jeremy Heimans, don’t necessarily favor one form of power over another but merely outline how power is transitioning, and how companies can take advantage of these changes to strengthen their positions in the marketplace.
Our Powerbook issue might be viewed as a case study in the new-power transition. This annual book of lists provides information on leading businesses, nonprofits and universities in the state. Most of the featured companies are entrenched power players now pursuing more flexible and less hierarchical approaches to doing business. Law firms, for example, are adopting new technologies and fee structures to make legal services more accessible and affordable.
This month we also take a look at a controversial new U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission rule requiring public companies to disclose the median pay of workers, as well as the ratio between CEO and median-worker pay.
Part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law, the rule will compel public companies to be more open about employee compensation, with the assumption that greater transparency will improve corporate performance and, perhaps, help address one of the major challenges of our time: income inequality.
New power is not only about strategy and tactics, the Harvard Business Review authors say. “The ultimate questions are ethical. The big question is whether new power can genuinely serve the common good and confront society’s most intractable problems.”
That sounds like a call to arms. Or a New Year’s resolution. Old power or new, the goals are the same: to be a force for positive change in the world. Happy 2015!
Friday, October 31, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR
Why are there so few transportation startups in Portland? The city’s leadership in bike, transit and pedestrian transportation has been well-documented. But that was then — when government and nonprofits paved the way for a new, less auto centric way of life.
Saturday, December 13, 2014
A look-in on the life of Norris & Stevens' president.
Thursday, December 11, 2014
BY JESSICA RIDGWAY
Lawger upends the typical hourly based fee model by letting clients determine the cost.
Sunday, December 07, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER
On Friday, Uber switched on an app — and with one push of the button torpedoed Portland’s famed public process.
Thursday, December 18, 2014
BY MEGHAN NOLT
VIDEO: Under the radar — complete with a soda counter, the traditional Paulsen's Pharmacy looks to compete with big box retailers.
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While the Bend City Council ultimately upheld the approval which enables OSU-Cascades to move forward with the 10 acre site, it did also thoughtfully consider the nature of its code requirements, resident concerns and OSU-Cascade’s efforts and suggestions and crafted conditions of approval to address potential impacts of the site in the area.