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NOV/DEC 2014

THURSTON COUNTY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

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Olympia’s Pixatel: Changing Education on a Global Scale See page 14

Startup playbook: Yumi Schade & Smart Energy Today, Inc. See page 12

B UI LDI NG COMMUNITY PROSPERITY FOR 140 YEARS

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CONTENTS

CALENDAR

Page 3 ....................Chair's Column: Community Engagement

November 4

Page 4..............President's Column: Investigate. Learn. Share.

Morning Mixxer - 7:30 - 8:30 a.m. - AAA Inland, 2627 Capital Mall Dr. SW Ste 1 Olympia.

Page 5 .............................2015 LTC Class Kicks off New Year

November 6

Page 6.......................Boeing VP to Speak at November Forum

Young Professionals Network - 5:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. Mercato Ristorante, 111 Market St NE #106 Olympia

November 12

Page 6..Thurston Green Creatively Reaching New Businesses

Forum - 11:30 a.m. - 1 p.m. - Red Lion Hotel Olympia Topic: Boeing

Page 9....................B2B Team Helps Business Find Workforce

November 19 SBA Loan Seminar - 7:30 a.m. - 8:30 a.m.

Thurston County Chamber, 809 Legion Way, Olympia. Page 10 ..............................................Welcome New Members

November 20

Page 12 ...............Startup Playbook: Smart Energy Today, Inc.

Business After Hours: Patriots Landing 1600 Marshall Circle Dr. Dupont.

Page 14 .....................................................Cover Story: Pixatel

December 2

Page 24.......................................................Networking Events 809 Legion Way SE P.O. Box 1427 Olympia, WA 98507

Copyright © 2007 Thurston County Chamber ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

December 10

Forum - 11:30 a.m. - 1 p.m. - Saint Martin's University Norman Worthington Center. Topic: Boss of the Year.

December 18

www.thurstonchamber.com info@thurstonchamber.com 360.357.3362

Published bimonthly by the Thurston County Chamber.

Morning Mixxer - 7:30 a.m. - 8:30 a.m. Capital Mall 625 Black Lake Blvd., Suite 324, Olympia.

Business After Hours: The Strong Center- 5:30 p.m. 2256 Mottman Rd. SW, Olympia.

Join the conversation online at facebook.com/ThurstonCountyChamber.

These events require pre-registration at www.thurstonchamber.com

BUILDING COMMUNITY PROSPERITY FOR 140 YEARS Diamond Investors:

Platinum Investors

Anchor Bank Heritage Bank Phillips Burgess Physicians of Southwest Washington

Port of Olympia Versoria

Executive Officers Ron Bruchet, Chair GHB Insurance Mariella Cummings, Chair Elect Physicians of Southwest WA Jessica Coen, Vice Chair Xerox Company Neil Woody, Treasurer McSwain & Company P.S. Mike Marohn, Past Chair 94.5 ROXY

Capital Medical Center FORMA Construction Key Bank Lucky Eagle Casino & Hotel Mills & Mills Funeral Home & Memorial Park Morningside TwinStar Credit Union Washington Business Bank Xerox

CHAMBER BOARD & STAFF Board of Trustees

George Barner, Port of Olympia

Bryan McConaughy, Puget Sound Energy

Michael Cade, Thurston EDC Jean Carr, SCJ Alliance David Cullen, David D. Cullen Dick Cvitanich, Olympia School District

Drew Phillips, FORMA Construction Cheryl Selby, Vivala Kevin Stormans, Stormans Inc. Ann Sweeney, Red Lion Hotel

Cheryl Fambles, PAC Mountain Workforce

Faith Trimble, The Athena Group Elyse Villanueva, Heritage Bank

Development Council Perry Hanchey, Diamond Technology Innovations Sandi Wilson, Thurston First Bank

Editor: David Schaffert Layout & Design: Natasha Ashenhurst of Mosaic Marketing Studio Cover Photo: Courtesy of Pixatel. Printing: Print NW 2 • Nov/Dec 2014 Thurston County Chamber VOICE

Gold Investors

America's Credit Union • Cabinets by Trivonna Columbia Bank • Complete Nutrition The Creative Office • D Zines Express Employment Professionals First Citizens Bank • GHB Insurance Great Wolf Lodge • Iron Heights Jessica Jensen Law PS • McSwain & Company PS MB Solutions • Nisqually Red Wind Casino Olympia Orthopaedic Associates Pardiman Productions Providence St. Peter Hospital • Puget Sound Energy Red Lion Hotel Olympia • Saint Martin’s University SCJ Alliance • TAGS

Chamber Staff David Schaffert, President/CEO Sytease Geib, VP Workforce Development Marny Bright, VP Member Services Alisha Blain, Events Coordinator Laurie Bjerke, Admin. Assistant Debbie Burk, Business2Business Kathleen Cooper, Business2Business Beth Johnson, Member Services Judy Reynolds, LeadershipThurston County Rachael Lebon, Business2Business Pam Singleton, Finance Officer Matthew Sult, Member Services Martha Wagner, Member Services Michele Winn, Camo2Commerce www.thurstonchamber.com


M E S SAG E F RO M B OA R D C HA I R

Share Your Real-Life Experiences with Policymakers By Ron Bruchet, President GHB Insurance

Ron Bruchet

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ne of the many challenges we face as business owners and leaders is finding time to get more engaged with issues facing our community, participating in the ongoing dialogue with our elected officials, advocating for public policies that promote a healthy and vibrant economy, and being good stewards of our environment. Many of us are busy running our business, or we ignore the issue and hope it goes away, or we simply don’t know what to do. This idea of engagement has been the focus of discussions the Thurston County Chamber Board has been having for the past couple of months, starting with Board members getting more engaged themselves, and it is not the only organization having this conversation.

The Mazama pocket gopher.

Shoreline Master Program.

Homeless housing.

Olympia Comprehensive Plan.

www.thurstonchamber.com

Thurston Thrives.

the knowledge and real life experience that only individuals in our business community possess." - Ron Bruchet

On a local level, the Chamber — with the leadership of David Schaffert, the Board of Trustees and the Business &Economic Committee — has been a consistent voice for the business community. With a steadfast focus on promoting a strong privatesector, education, leadership and workforce development, the Chamber has recently been engaged in: Individual business advocacy.

Olympia Artspace Alliance.

At a state level, the AWB — along with its partners at Washington Alliance for a Competitive Economy, Washington Research Council, and Washington Roundtable — published their 2015 Competitiveness Redbook. Although there "However, there are times are positive indicators about Washington’s overall when our public officials economic health, there are significant challenges, and community leaders some of which have been around since they might need to learn from started doing this study 15 years ago.

I recently attended a workshop in Seattle where the president and CEO of the Seattle Chamber, Maud Daudon, was the guest speaker. When asked what she needed from the business community, her response was, “More engagement.” Similarly, during his address at the recent Chamber Forum, Association of Washington Business (AWB) President Kris Johnson suggested we “stop sitting on our hands” and that a “grassroots effort” is needed from the business community.

• Washington employers pay 54 percent of the total taxes collected, making it the ninth highest state in business taxes paid as a share of all taxes and gross state product.

Washington’s minimum wage is the highest in the nation.

Washington ranks 47th in higher education enrollment.

Washington is a net exporter of college-bound high school graduates.

Washington ranks the highest in workers’ compensation paid benefits.

The Chamber and its partners will always play an important and necessary role in advocating for a vibrant private-sector. However, there are times when our public officials and community leaders might need to learn from the knowledge and real life experience that only individuals in our business community possess. There are times when a larger group from the Chamber membership might be needed in order to make a greater impact. And, there are times when the Chamber might simply need your financial support in order to bring the necessary talent and expertise to the table on a particular issue. All of this is needed to make sure that Thurston County emerges from the recession with a vibrant economy and enhances the overall quality of life in our community. ●

Thurston County Chamber VOICE  Nov/Dec 2014 3


M E S SAGE F RO M TH E PR ES I DE N T

Investigate. Learn. Share. By David Schaffert, Thurston County Chamber of Commerce President/CEO David Schaffert

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ransportation funding. Climate change. Fishing consumption regulations. Education funding. Minimum wage. These are the issues that state policymakers might address in the upcoming 2015 legislative session.

The Thurston County Chamber was recently invited by the Association of Washington Business (AWB) and its public policy partners – Washington Roundtable and Washington Research Council, collectively known as WashACE – to hear from Thurston County business leaders on issues of concern. What does this mean for business in our region? That is hard About 20 individuals attended the meeting and provided to predict, but we do know it will be thoughtful comments. "...it will be more important more important than ever for businesses than ever for businesses to to communicate with state elected The roundtable is part of a larger effort to communicate with elected officials on the potential impacts of engage local business and communities offi cials on the potential impacts pending initiatives and policies so our in an effort to increase communication of pending state initiatives and on major issues that impact business. The policymakers can make the best and policies so that our policymakers Chamber is committed to WashACE to balanced decisions possible. can make the best, balanced, continue this dialogue, as well as provide This is not about business winning or decision possible." an avenue of communication to Chamber losing, it is about the ability of the state -David Schaffert members through our partnerships. and its citizens to fully benefit from a healthy and diverse private sector doing what it does best – creating jobs At the Chamber's October Forum, AWB President Kris Johnson that generate wealth, which in turn generates tax revenue for the said that people trust in this order: small business, small business government to provide critical services. organizations, firefighters and teachers. You are small business; the Chamber is your small business organization. Where should you start? First, research the issues. Understand how these issues impact you and your business. Next, share your Be generous in providing your story and point of view, not just story with your representatives. with decision makers, but your community as well. ●

SAVE T H E DAT E ! Distinguished Leader Awards Wednesday, February 25, 2015 Red Lion Hotel Olympia 5:30 p.m.: Reception 6:30 p.m.: Dinner and Program Please join us in honoring leaders who demonstrate outstanding initiative, inspire others, and make a significant impact in our community: Eileen McKenzie Sullivan, Senior Services for South Sound Roy F. Heynderickx, Ph.D., Saint Martin’s University Brian Fluetsch, Sunset Air

A Night on the Town Friday, April 3, 2015 Red Lion Hotel Olympia 6 p.m.: Social 7:30 p.m.: Dinner 9:30 p.m.: After Party Price: $100 per person $800 table of eight Stay the Night! Only $89 + tax, includes breakfast for two. Presented by:

Presented by:

More information about upcoming events can be found at www.thurstonchamber.com. 4 Nov/Dec 2014 Thurston County Chamber VOICE

www.thurstonchamber.com


T H E CH A M B E R F O U NDATI ON

2015 LTC Class Kicks off New Year By Judy Reynolds

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hat are the essential elements for a healthy, thriving, and prosperous community? What is needed from community leadership (skills, abilities, actions, values) to make this happen? What are the challenges to making this happen? These are just a few of the questions this year’s Leadership Thurston County (LTC) class will tackle during the coming year. At the opening retreat in September, the 35 members of the 21st LTC class got acquainted and launched their year of networking and exploring connections in Thurston County. Highlights of the day included team-building activities facilitated by The Evergreen State College challenge course team and lively discussions with LTC Board members concerning opportunities and challenges in our community as well as prioritizing goals for the coming year. Sandra Kaiser, Director of Communications, Washington Department of Natural Resources, wrapped up the day with slides showing available local media resources. In October, the class embarked on a whirlwind bus tour of the county. After a presentation of “Thurston County at a Glance” by Annette Roth, Marketing Manager for the Thurston County

www.thurstonchamber.com

Economic Development Council, the first stop was a visit to the historic Tumwater Brewhouse with City Administrator, John Doan. Heading south, class members learned about the Rochester Boys & Girls Club from Mike Babauta, Olympia Branch Director, and the history of Rochester from Donna Weaver of Dream Weavers Real Estate. The group traveled on to a meeting and lunch with the Chehalis Tribe administration; learned south county history from Rainier City Administrator Charmayne Garrison; discussed agritourism with County Commissioner Sandra Romero; talked with City of Yelm Mayor Ron Harding and City Administrator Shelly Badger; learned about Lacey’s Regional Athletic Complex (RAC) and plans for the Woodland District with Capital Projects Manager Wade Duffy; and ended the day with a tour of the Port of Olympia with Port Commissioner Bill McGregor. Next, the class will explore issues concerning education in November and government in December. For information about LTC, visit LeadThurstonCounty.com or call 360.357.8515.● Judy Reynolds is the Program Coordinator for Leadership Thurston County. Contact: 360.357.8515 or ltc@thurstonchamber.com

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Forum - Wednesday, November 12

Boeing VP to Keynote Forum

Thurston County Chamber Forum Wednesday, Nov.12, 11:30 a.m. Red Lion Hotel Olympia

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oin the Chamber's November Forum to hear from one of the region's foremost experts, Boeing's Bill McSherry, discuss aerospace and job-creation issues impacting our region.

Bill McSherry is vice president of State & Local and Global Corporate Citizenship for Boeing Commercial Bill McSherry Airplanes. Named to his position in June 2014, McSherry is responsible for Commercial Airplanes’ state and local operations, including Global Corporate Citizenship, in the Northwest and South Carolina regions. He leads a team of specialists who manage relationships with elected officials and business leaders, advocate for key issues that advance Boeing’s business objectives, and find philanthropic opportunities to give back to the communities where Commercial Airplanes employees live and work. Prior to his current assignment, McSherry was director of State & Local Government Operations in the Northwest region. Before joining The Boeing Company in 2010, McSherry served concurrently as special advisor to Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire, and as director of Economic Development at the Puget Sound Regional Council. Forum is held at the Red Lion Hotel Olympia. A buffet lunch begins at 11:30 a.m., and then the program will start at noon. Reservations are requested at thurstonchamber.com General admission is $35 and prepaid Chamber members are $25. Members at the door are $30. ● Forum Sponsors

Reaching Businesses that Practice Sustainability By Farra Vargas

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he Thurston County Chamber’s Green Business Program is a county-wide designation program that recognizes area businesses who are taking significant steps toward sustainability. Program partners include representatives from the cities of Olympia, Lacey and Tumwater, Thurston County, Intercity Transit, LOTT Clean Water Alliance, LeMay, Inc., Puget Sound Energy, Thurston Energy, Thurston Climate Action Team, and the Northwest EcoBuilding Guild, among others.

Farra Vargas

Over the summer months, the Chamber’s Green Business Program has been reaching out to different business sectors to encourage them to apply for a designation. Each of the program partners listed above have unique products and services for local businesses, including assistance with energy efficiency, water conservation, waste reduction/ recycling, green building, transportation solutions/commuter assistance, and buying/selling green products. Site visits can be scheduled for businesses to learn more about the benefits of the program, the free resources that are available, and the value of receiving a Thurston County Chamber Green Business Designation. Every April the Chamber hosts a Green Business Awards ceremony where businesses who have received a designation are publicly recognized for their efforts. In addition, the committee reviews each application and selects a small, medium and large business, as well as a jurisdiction, that has gone above and beyond to create a sustainable workplace. 2013 recipients were Furniture Works, Sound Native Plants, Nisqually Red Wind Casino and Intercity Transit. I am honored to serve as the Chair of this committee and am looking forward to partnering with the jurisdictions and the business community moving into 2015.●

6 Nov/Dec 2014 Thurston County Chamber VOICE

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WO RKFO RC E DEV ELOPMENT

Five Counties Strong: Business 2 Business is Bridging the Gap Between Government Workforce Programs and Business By Sytease Geib

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he Business 2 Business (B2B) team is out in the community every day talking to businesses and conducting one-on-one needs assessments to better understand the business and identify key areas to provide assistance. Over and over we hear the same three concerns: •

We don't have enough applicants to fill our job openings.

We cannot find job seekers with the right training/skills to fit our needs.

From left to right: Racheal Lebon , Kathleen Cooper, Sytease Geib, Debbie Burk and Helaina Kennedy.

Key members of our management/executive team are retiring and we have no one to replace them.

These are real workforce issues that can severely impact a business’s ability to operate successfully, and needs to be addressed. Our B2B team is working daily with employers throughout the region to address these concerns. Give our team a call and let us help you with: •

Internship development.

Wage analysis.

On the job training opportunities.

Employer workshops.

Reducing L&I cost.

Recruitment assistance.

Hiring events.

Employee retention.

Contact your B2B county representative today: Thurston & Mason County: Debbie Burk 360.357.3362 dburk@thurstonchamber.com

Lewis County: Kathleen Cooper 360.740.3993 kcooper@esd.wa.gov

Sytease Geib Thurston County Chamber VP Workforce Development 360.357.3362 sgeib@thurstonchamber.com

Grays Harbor County: Racheal Lebon 360.538.2372 rlebon@esd.wa.gov Pacific County: Helaina Kennedy 360.875.9470 hkennedy@esd.wa.gov

Sytease Geib is Vice President of Workforce Development at the Thurston County Chamber and can be contacted at sgeib@thurstonchamber.com www.thurstonchamber.com

Thurston County Chamber VOICE  Nov/Dec 2014 9


The Chamber Welcomes New Members who Joined in August & September 4th Recess

Bob McGinley www.4threcess.com (360) 455-4165 Computers - Software & Services

Advance Environmental, Inc.

Jacob Simmons (360) 357-5666

Biohazard Cleaning Always Safe & Lock, Inc.

Jeffrey Trinin www.alwayssecurity.com (360) 357-8500 Locks & Locksmiths

Arriba Construction

Benton Cook (360) 352-0155

Construction - Commercial

Cartridge World

Jenette Anderson www.cartridgeworldusa.com (360) 753-0380 Toner. Cartridges.

Clutterbusters!! WA, LLC

Lynn Lee www.clutterbusterswa.com (360) 539-9097

Organizing Products & Services Eastside Big Tom

Michael Fritsch www.eastsidebigtom.com (360) 507-1295 Restaurants Espresso Yourself

Elizabeth Popwell www.espressoyourselfinc.com (360) 359-0032 Caterers

Audacity Athletics

Cody Chapman www.audacityathletics.com (360) 402-1510 Health & Fitness Clubs

Baskin & Robbins - West Olympia

Mike People (360) 943-1231

Jaron Banks

Jaron Banks www.russellchirocenter.com (253) 381-9053 Chiropractors, D.C.

Jimmy John's

Ryan Wildy www.jimmyjohns.com (360) 455-1111 Restaurants

www.bavarianwindowcleaning.com

(360) 701-0644

Karen St. Clair www.yournextmoveteam. yourkwagent.com (360) 402-9033 Real Estate Agents

LegalShield - David Fenn

David Fenn www.legalshieldassociate. com/info/davidsfenn (253) 225-3693 Legal Services

Lyoness

Carl Carlson (360) 302-0490 Direct Marketing - Merchant Affiliation

Maid Perfect

Drew Freemantle www.maidperfectolympia.com (360) 402-7642 Cleaning Services-Commercial and Residential

Max J. Kuney Construction

Daniel Kuney www.maxkuney.com (509) 535-0651

Construction - Commercial MB Solutions

(808) 497-1796

McNeal Baptiste www.mbsolutionswa.net (360) 556-3978

Business Consultants

Safety Consultants/Drug Testing

Bavarian Window Cleaning

Bill Oplinger

Keller Williams - Karen St. Clair

Karen Barr

Oly Smokes

Mark Childs www.olysmokes.com (360) 972-6348 Agriculture

Parr Byerly PLLC

Victoria Byerly www.parrbyerly.com (360) 357-3036 Legal Services

PGA Learning Center at the Home Course

Brent Hathaway www.pgacoachingclub.com (407) 678-8382 Golf Courses & Ranges

Samy's Health Mart Pharmacy

Sunil Dulla (360) 878-8174 Pharmacies

Sound Native Plants, Inc.

Ben Alexander www.soundnativeplants.com (360) 352-4122 Nurseries & Garden Centers

TLC Realty

Lisa Cosmillo (360) 480-7917 Real Estate Companies

Window Washing

Five Dynamic Leads Groups to Network for your Business LEADS AT LUNCH Tuesdays; 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Ramblin’ Jacks 520 4th Ave, Olympia TOP FLIGHT Thursdays; Noon to 1 p.m. Pellegrino’s Event Center 5757 Littlerock Rd SW, Tumwater WIRED Thursdays; 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. Paisely's Cafe 625 Black Lake Blvd. SW, Olympia 10 Nov/Dec 2014 Thurston County Chamber VOICE

CAPITOL LEADS Wednesdays; 7:45 to 8:45 a.m. Elyse’s Catering 3238 Capitol Blvd. S., Tumwater WOMEN'S REFERRAL GROUP 2nd and 4th Thursdays 5:15 to 6:15 p.m. Cooper Point Public House 3002 Harrison Ave. NW, Olympia,

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Thurston County Chamber VOICE  Nov/Dec 2014 11


STARTUP PLAYBOOK: Yumi Schade & Smart Energy Today, Inc. By Natasha Ashenhurst

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umi and Rex Schade are both twenty-somethings, have three children, ages three and under, and their Olympia-based start-up, Smart Energy Today, Inc. was recently named one of the fastest growing private companies in America by Inc. 500. Impressed?

We are too, and that is why we recently sat down with Yumi Schade, Chief Operating Officer at Smart Energy Today, Inc. to talk about her company’s success, her advice for other entrepreneurs and her thoughts on running a business with her husband (Rex is the CEO), as well as raising small children while growing a company. This is the third article in our Startup Playbook series, where we examine Thurston County startups – and the entrepreneurs behind them – in order to learn what’s working and what’s not, and search for a pattern to success. In March, 2012, just as Yumi Schade went on maternity leave, her husband was laid-off from his job in sales and marketing. For most couples, this would have spelled disaster, but the Schades saw it as an opportunity. They had officially started Smart Energy Today (SET) in 2008, but never had the time to get it off the ground, and hadn’t come up with a business model that would scale. “In 2012, the timing was right to get into renewable energy. Rex’s dad was

a general contractor and his uncle is in the energy efficient home construction industry. Given his knowledge of contracting, and our background in sales and marketing, we decided to make renewable energy the sole focus of SET.” Today, SET provides a spectrum of home improvement services, including installation of insulation, solar tubes, attic fans and Sol-Blankets. In addition, they have the products and expertise to install a new roof, new gutters and, since July, solar panels. “We had no idea that we would get into solar. It was really a customer-driven product. We started researching like crazy, established excellent relationships with vendors so that we are now able to offer Washington-made panels at great prices,” said Schade. In August, the company learned that they made the Inc. 500 list, at number 336 in the country, and number four in Washington. The list ranks companies according to the percentage of revenue growth. In the last three years, the team has grown from 2 employees to over 65. The company adds hundreds of new customers to its roster every month and

Yumi Schade, COO of Smart Energy Today, Inc.

continues to grow exponentially. The company currently serves all of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, California and Pennsylvania with plans to enter British Columbia, New York, Maryland and South Carolina in the next year. In September, SET announced plans to more than double the number of its employees over the next 18 months. Schade credits the success of their business to a number of things, including a great product line and incredible employees, but also their willingness to integrate new ideas and software into their company. Schade says, “Everything we do is in the cloud. This allows us to move quickly on things. Our office is completely mobile. Our team can work anywhere. We are not limited to our local community. We have virtual offices in California, but all of the administrative work is sent back to Olympia, and we can manage all of that under one roof.” Schade is a certified administrator for the well-known customer relationship management (CRM) software, Salesforce. “When we started this company, we knew that we would invest Continued on page 26

12 • Nov/Dec 2014 Thurston County Chamber VOICE

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How Socially Responsible Startup, Pixatel, is Changing Education on a Global Scale, and Their Challenge to Olympia By Natasha Ashenhurst

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ore than 7,000 miles away, in a small village school in India, children are learning math on hand held devices with "gamification" software developed by Pixatel out of the Thurston Chamber Small Business Incubator.

Pixatel’s founders, Prabhjot Singh and Jasmit Singh, have an unwavering vision: Help create a world where technology enables access to literacy and knowledge for everyone. Before Pixatel, Jasmit was leading the Professional Services Group for Mobile Technology at Qualcomm, and Prabhjot was Vice President of Marketing at CA Technologies. In their free-time they both volunteered for a non-profit, and that is where they met. They got to know each other and soon discovered that they shared similar goals and passions.

“We both wanted to create a socially responsible, technology-focused startup,” said Jasmit. They continued working at their fulltime jobs, Prabhjot in San Francisco and Jasmit in San Diego, while regularly talking about how they could bring their vision to fruition. “Three and a half years back, we knew we had to jump in full-time. We quit our jobs and started brainstorming,” said Jasmit. That brainstorming led to Pixatel, a technology start-up that experienced

a 500 percent revenue growth in the past year, with a mission of using technology to enable access to literacy and knowledge for everyone through the use of innovative applications and e-Learning. “We’ve been able to demonstrate that a company can focus on working to improve society and become a profitable enterprise at the same time, said Prabhjot. Pixatel has multiple locations. The development team is housed in the Thurston County Small Business Incubator and is run by Jasmit, who is Pixatel’s Chief Technology Officer. Prabhjot is based in San Mateo and is

Photo above: Richard Shapiro, VP Education & Public Policy, in Nepal. 14 • Nov/Dec 2014 Thurston County Chamber VOICE

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the company’s Chief Executive Officer. The company’s executive team includes Richard Shapiro, who heads Education and Public Policy. Pixatel also has a team in India to manage on the ground operations, as well as a growing presence in Nepal. The team is able to function at a high level because the senior-level staff communicates continuously. “Our senior management speaks with each other multiple times daily. Given we are distributed across various locations, we leverage email and a number of collaboration tools to ensure everyone is on the same page,” said Jasmit. Most of Pixatel’s solutions involve a term Jasmit uses a lot, and that word is gamification. “Gamification uses incentives such as rewards and badges to motivate users to continue playing and thus learning,” said Jasmit. “It is about leveraging the good in technology, and the idea that kids enjoy playing games.” In late 2013, Pixatel won a grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development to develop a cloud based e-learning platform. The grant supported development of a technology platform to improve the quality of education with a focus on basic numeracy and literacy. The platform’s computer-assisted learning caters to individual students by allowing them to learn according to their own ability and at their own pace. The result is software called MathWhiz, which teaches students basic math skills through a game-like interface in which students use Pixatel’s adaptive eLearning platform to advance through curriculum topics at their own pace while providing teachers with visibility on each student’s progress. “We recently went live in two schools in India,” said Jasmit. “The feedback from students, teachers and parents has been incredible. Kids are excited about doing math in their classes. It validated what we were thinking in our hearts and minds.

“Our next challenge is to scale it to deploy the technology across thousands of schools. We are also considering how we can utilize the adaptive platform to help students learn how to read better. “We chose to develop an adaptive learning platform because no two kids learn the same way. Technology has impacted every aspect of our life from how we hail a cab to how we find a place to stay during a vacation but how we teach hasn’t changed much in the past hundred years,” said Prabhjot. “Countries like India have high student enrollment in school but poor quality of education. We’re developed an adaptive platform that can tailor content based on

Photo above: Student in India demonstrating MathWiz. www.thurstonchamber.com

each child’s level of learning and give teachers or administrators the visibility they need to ensure each child can be successful.” Faculty from Columbia University and University of Pennsylvania are partnering with Pixatel to evaluate the efficacy of the platform. Based on the results of the current deployment, Pixatel plans to iterate the solution and scale both across more schools and also make their solution available through Google Play and Apple’s App Store. “In addition to our work in India, it’s been gratifying to work with schools, universities and government bodies in Continued on page 17

Thurston County Chamber VOICE  Nov/Dec 2014 15


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Continued from page 15

Nepal to deploy e-Learning systems that will provide Nepal’s students with the same type of educational resources that are available to kids in America,� said Prabhjot. “Our goal is to utilize technology to democratize education so that all students gain access to literacy and knowledge, develop responsible citizenship, and become equipped to compete globally,� said Jasmit. Pixatel’s work has not been without challenges. “We’ve experienced phenomenal growth, but as with any startup, we are always a little nervous. You are placing bets, and bets don’t always work,� said Jasmit. “One of the things we learned is that you can have great intentions, but translating vision to reality can be difficult. We had to actually work with schools to build classrooms in India. We also hired people to run the internet connection from town to the village. However, these things align

From left to right, Pixatel's Olympia team: Jasmit Singh, Steve Hipolito, Guneet Kaur, James Newman and Michael Eperson

with our mission – making technology accessible. Those are the things that make a difference.� Pixatel’s other challenge is closer to home – building a team of skilled software developers in Olympia. “We offer an intensive internship program to train recent graduates to develop the skills they need to further our work and become eligible for other great employment opportunities. We see a disconnect between what businesses need and what academia is currently offering so we took the initiative to develop the engineers we need,� said Jasmit.

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Pixatel’s development staff includes a graduate of Evergreen State College, two from University of Washington Tacoma and one from Saint Martin’s University. “When we hire graduates, we don’t just spend time training them. We give them a lot of responsibility, and then the time to learn by trying out new frameworks and technologies; discovering the need for innovation using the latest set of tools that make

development agile and iterative,� he said. Jasmit said he is committed to working with colleges to develop work-ready graduates. “I’m attending a conference at Green River Community College to talk about what skills we need to equip our students with so they can be successful in the industry. I also teach Android Technology at Highline Community College. I want to meet students who are excited about technology and how it continues to shape every aspect of our lives,� he said. Jasmit also has another goal, and that is helping other tech companies locate to Thurston County. “My wife and I lived in the Bay Area before moving to Olympia. That was 14 years ago, and we haven’t regretted the move one single day,� said Jasmit. “People are attracted to the Pacific Northwest because of our belief in work-life balance as well as our social responsibility. We need to leverage that and attract technology at the same time, but we also need to bring people together to discuss technology, exchange ideas, and allow those ideas to percolate. “Technology plays a crucial role in our lives and can create impactful change for good. I would love to see technology events happening in Olympia that pull in the larger community, including students, parents, and educators. It is about collaboration and getting people together to talk about the exciting ways it can change lives for the better.� � Natasha Ashenhurst is a freelance writer for the VOICE Magazine and can be contacted at natasha.ashenhurst@gmail.com

Thurston County Chamber VOICE ď Ź Nov/Dec 2014 ď Źď€ 17


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CH A M B E R A DVOC AC Y

Chamber Board Pledges Support to Thurston Thrives

I

n April 2013, Don Sloma and the Thurston County Board of Health joined with community leaders to create Thurston Thrives whose mission is to oversee and work to improve the health of Thurston County residents and it is doing so in a strategic way through collaboration of public and private partnerships. Thurston Thrives goes beyond traditional views of community health, to identify indicators of health and well-being, public-private partnerships to act on those identified areas, and then to measure progress. In October, the Thurston Chamber’s Board of Trustees pledged support on behalf of the business community to support the transition of executive facilitation and responsibility from public health to the broader community. In addition, a Thurston Thrives representative will provide the board with a formal update in order to map out a concrete plan of action. ●

www.thurstonchamber.com

Committee Spotlight: Business & Economic Development (B&E) The Chamber’s Business and Economic Development Committee (B&E) is the principle public policy advisory committee of the Chamber. It assists in vetting issues, and developing position statements on those issues, with the goal of generating a healthy climate for economic growth in our region. The Committee reports directly to the Chamber Board of Trustees. Recently, the Committee’s work has revolved around; City of Olympia Comprehensive Plan, Lakeside Industries Recycled Asphalt Plant and Sidewalk Rapid Rehousing. Committee members include representation from commercial real estate, financial institutions, landuse attorneys, construction, peer community business organizations and a variety of small and medium size businesses. Chaired by Mike Reid, Port of Olympia, the Committee always has room for individuals who want to participate in critical conversation on public policy issues impacting our community. Visit www. thurstonchamber.com for more information about Chamber committees and how you can get involved. ●

Thurston County Chamber VOICE  Nov/Dec 2014 19


Forum - Wednesday, December 10

Five Years Strong: Boss of the Year Recognizes Exceptional Leaders in the Workplace Thurston County Chamber of Commerce Forum Wednesday, December 10, 11:30 a.m. Saint Martin's University Norman Worthington Center

T

he fifth annual Boss of the Year designation, sponsored by the Thurston County Chamber and Express Employment Professionals will be presented at the December 10 Forum. Criteria is based on exceptional leadership in the workplace through innovation, communication, vision, execution, ethics, service and/or knowledge. Saint Martin’s University business students will again play a key role in the selection process, interviewing finalists and gathering data for the committee. Forum Sponsor

Richard Beer, Ph.D. and Dean of the School of Business, states “This is a wonderful opportunity for our students to meet with exceptional business leaders in the community and learn more about what truly defines leadership in the workplace. Forum is held at Saint Martin's University Norman Worthington Center. A buffet lunch begins at 11:30 a.m., and then the program will start at noon.

Program Sponsor

Media Sponsor

Reservations are requested at thurstonchamber.com General admission is $35 and prepaid Chamber members are $25. Members at the door are $30. ●

Coffee and Cash: How to Finance Your Small Business

O

n Wednesday, November 19, from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., join us at the Thurston County Chamber at 809 Legion Way SE, Olympia, for a for a cup of coffee as we chat about getting financing for your business. Learn about SBA loan programs and gain insight from local lenders about what they look for when a business applies for a loan. Topics covered include: SBA loan process, eligibility, what you can use the funds for, the 5 C’s of credit, alternative financing, and supplemental free resources for small businesses. There is no fee for this seminar. ●

20 Nov/Dec 2014 Thurston County Chamber VOICE

www.thurstonchamber.com


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How Do Young Professionals Connect in Thurston County? At the Thurston Chamber YPN, of course!

A

re you a young professional interested in expanding your connections in Thurston County? If so, check out the Thurston Chamber’s Young Professionals Network (YPN). The YPNs meet the first Thursday of every month at 5:30 p.m. Visit www.thurstonchamber.com for location information. There is no cost to attend. Spread the word, open your contact list and bring a friend who may or may not be a Chamber Member. Our goal is to create a fantastic environment for our Young Professionals to meet their peers and grow their network. We will have a short, professional program during the mixer but the emphasis will be on networking. Bring your business cards and get ready to grow your professional contact list and meet some new friends. ●

Mark Your Calendar for upcoming YPN Events:

Thursday, November 6 at 5:30 p.m. 111 Market Street NE, Olympia

Thursday, December 4 at 5:30 p.m. 2300 Evergreen Park Dr SW Olympia

What Savvy Employers Do To Save Money on L&I

T

he Thurston County Chamber, in partnership with the Greater Vancouver Chamber (GVCC Retro), offers Thurston County businesses one of our state’s most successful Retro programs.

A Retro program is a way for employers to reduce industrial insurance costs through refunds from the State of Washington. Retail and professional businesses, as well as manufacturers, can join the GVCC Retro Program through the Chamber. The program is designed to help you: •

Lower your risk.

Improve your industrial insurance rates.

Have claims settled swiftly and appropriately.

Reduce your workload related to L&I claim management.

Receive refunds of varying percentages of annual premiums.

For a free assessment contact the Chamber at 360.357.3362. ●

www.thurstonchamber.com

Thurston County Chamber VOICE  Nov/Dec 2014 23 


Networking Events Morning Mixxer

November 4 - 7:30 a.m.

December 2 - 7:30 a.m.

2627 Capital Mall Dr. SW Ste 1 Olympia

625 Black Lake Blvd., Ste 324, Olympia

Breakfast Treats from Around the world Enjoy

Cupcakes & Coffee!

breakfast treats from around the world as you wander through our Travel Store and visit with our expert Travel Consultants. Bring a donation of new and unused toiletries to benefit our Soap For Hope Campaign. All donations will go to the YWCA “Other Bank” and give you an extra entry into our prize drawing….something from our fantastic Travel Store! We don’t just have tow trucks! Come and see everything AAA has to offer! ●

Morning Mixxer Promotional Sponsors

Join us for a magical brunch that includes Starbucks coffee and Miss Moffett's Mystical Cupcakes, all served by Capital Mall’s GM, Kevin Johnston and Management team members. Bring a non-perishable food donation and receive an extra entry into our prize drawing! Capital Mall was built in 1978, offering Puget Sound families a premier mix of shopping, dining and entertainment. ●

Morning Mixxer is the first Tuesday of each month, from 7:30-8:30 a.m. Locations vary. Includes coffee and pastries. Admission is FREE.

Business After Hours

November 20 - 5:30 p.m.

December 18 - 5:30 p.m. 2256 Mottman Rd SW, Olympia

1600 Marshall Circle Dr, Dupont

A Promise of a brilliant evening!

Healthy Holiday Treats & More in Store! The Strong

Come join us for a brilliant evening!

Center would like to wish you "Merry Fitness and a Happy New Rear!” To that end, join us for healthy holiday treats too good to miss. You won't believe your taste buds when we tell you our decadent treats don't pack on the pounds, and you can take home recipes to make them yourself! Plus, meet Fit Santa, get a photo with him, and tell him your holiday wishes. Take advantage of an opportunity to network with other Chamber members while enjoying good food and fun prizes. The Strong Center looks forward to seeing you at this fun filled no-exercise event, although Fit Santa may get your heart rate up.●

Enjoy the soothing sounds of piano music while sipping on a relaxing beverage. Dine on hors d’oeuvres prepared exclusively by our Chef. Guided tours will be available. Patriots Landing is the Pacific Northwest's only retirement community dedicated to serving former military personnel. ●

Business After Hours Promotional Sponsors

24 Nov/Dec 2014 Thurston County Chamber VOICE

Business After Hours is the third Thursday of each month, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Locations vary. Admission is FREE.

www.thurstonchamber.com


www.thurstonchamber.com

Thurston County Chamber VOICE  Nov/Dec 2014 25


Continued from page 12

The Smart Energy Today Team, Inc. at the company's annual New Year's Eve Company Party, December 31, 2013

in CRM software. Next, we purchased accounting software that is compatible with Salesforce. We needed to marry the accounting with the marketing. This was a crucial step for us. Financials are everything and determine where you’ll go next. It is worth the investment,” she said. When asked about access to capital, Schade told me a story. “Before we started this company, my husband and I worked very hard, saved a lot of money and paid off our house. We were making

good money, and could have bought nice things, but we said ‘no’ to all of that. We had no debt. When we started SET, we invested 100% of our cash and risked our home to get started. We obtained a line of credit, but we didn’t have to use it until we decided to invest in solar. Now that we have two solid years of financials, banks are knocking on our door. We didn’t know this was going to happen, so we had the personal resources to start and fund the business and keep it going.”

Both Schade and her husband agree that you have to create a plan, but be open to new opportunities. “At the moment we are done expanding into other markets. We are really happy about the size that we are at. Our focus now is to continue hiring great people to grow into the markets that we are in, to build a recognizable brand across the country, and a company culture that is fun and encourages creativity.”

Bring Clarity, Alignment and Action to What You Do. Let’s Get Started Today.

ORGANIZATIONAL DEVELOPMENT LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT STRATEGIC BUSINESS PLANNING PROCESS DESIGN EXECUTIVE AND LEADERSHIP COACHING BOARD DEVELOPMENT CAREER DISASTER RECOVERY TEAM BUILDING/CONFLICT RESOLUTION BUSINESS PROCESS IMPROVEMENT TRAINING, MENTORING AND COMMUNICATION

360-789-3711 VERSORIAONLINE.COM

Terry Taylor, MA, MCC

26 • Nov/Dec 2014 Thurston County Chamber VOICE

www.thurstonchamber.com


The Yumi Schade Playbook CONTINUOUS LEARNING I am always reading a book, magazine or accessing resources on-line. My favorite books include "Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap...And Others Don't," by Jim Collins, and "How to Win Friends & Influence People," by Dale Carnegie. My go-to magazines are Inc. and Entrepreneur.

MENTORS Remain humble, down-to-earth, and open to cousel from people who have gone before you, but learn how to decipher who is giving good advice and who isn’t. When experiencing a challenge that a mentor can’t help with, read books. The answer is out there.

WORK-LIFE BALANCE We are fortunate to have help with our kids. We have a lot of family nearby and we have an incredible nanny. I am beyond grateful every day. There are days when I want to be with my kids more, but they also get to see me do what I love, and are learning that they can do the same. I have many people in my life who are looking up to me and this really motivates me. My husband and I have a track record of working well together. We are Team Schade and when we are frustrated, we remind ourselves that we are on the same team; we regroup and get back on the same page.

TOOLS At work, my tools are Salesforce.com and Google Drive. At home, they are mint.com, my mobile phone and my calendar.

SAMSUNG OR APPLE? Samsung.

GIVE BACK I am a member of the South Puget Sound Rotary. We meet on Fridays at 7 a.m., which means I can attend meetings before my kids are awake. Rotary is an important part of my life. I value the service aspect, the importance placed on giving back to your community. It is also a great opportunity to build strong, lasting relationships that have grown slowly over time.

MILLENNIAL GENERATION & LEADERSHIP Our life has been about continuous change, so we adapt well to it. For example, even though SET has a smooth business platform, we never stop researching better software options. We have to keep our eyes open, and keep looking to the future in order to stay relevant. ● Natasha Ashenhurst is a freelance writer for the VOICE Magazine and can be contacted at natasha.ashenhurst@gmail.com Natasha Ashenhurst is a writer for the VOICE Magazine and can be contacted at nashenhurst@thurstonchamber.com


PO BOX 1427 Olympia, WA 98507-1427

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Nov/Dec 2014 VOICE Magazine  

Published by the Thurston County Chamber of Commerce, serving Olympia, Lacey and Tumwater Washington.

Nov/Dec 2014 VOICE Magazine  

Published by the Thurston County Chamber of Commerce, serving Olympia, Lacey and Tumwater Washington.