BY LINDA BAKER
DongleKong founder Shashi Jain
// Photo by Adam Wickham
Intel veteran Shashi Jain was at the Portland Digital eXperience conference last year watching speaker after speaker have a tough time connecting their laptops to the projector. He shared their pain. “I was at Intel 14 years, and I had my fair share of blown meetings where I couldn’t connect,” says Jain, 38. Those frustrations came up again this past December during Portland’s Startup Weekend, where Jain was teaching a course on lean startups, with a focus on customer validation and product-market fit. “I started talking about dongles, and how it’s embarrassing to try and sell a product and then have your presentation shut down because you don’t have the right cable.” As it happens, Jain says, “a bunch of people asked me: When is the product going to be ready?” Thus was born DongleKong, a startup that builds adapter kits for computers and mobile devices. Working out of an office in Portland’s Old Town, Jain pulls together dongles — an old computing word that refers to an adapter or security device — for MacBooks and UltraBooks. If a customer has a MacBook Pro, Jain asks what year, then produces a kit specific to that date at a cost of about $125. He also creates kits on a limited basis for phones, tablets and projectors. Early next year, Jain plans to debut an all-in-one product so people don’t have to cart around several cables and connectors at the same time. So far, Jain says, he’s “not seen any competition.” DongleKong, he observes, “thinks about dongles so you don’t have to.”
Product: Adapter kits for laptops
Founder: Shashi Jain
Money Trail: So far DongleKong has only one full-time employee — Jain — and is self-funded. Jain hopes to tap local angel networks for the next product launch and is applying to an incubator program through the Oregon Technology Business Center.
Sales Pitch: DongleKong has about 50 customers, “mostly people who travel a lot, startup entrepreneurs purchasing them for sales teams.” Jain has made a few sales back to Intel and markets through Google AdWords and Amazon.com. “The first half of the year, marketing was word of mouth so I could fine-tune the product,” Jain says. “Now I’m doing a slow marketing push to get the word out.”