2020

IDAHO DEAL FLOW REPORT

A COLLABORATIVE REPORT PRESENTED BY:

We are pleased to present the 2020 Idaho Deal Flow Report. This is our seventh annual report, showcasing many of the companies that are starting, growing, and thriving in Idaho. Even with the challenges presented during the COVID-19 pandemic, there were 151 deals with over $5.2 billion of capital flow. The report confirms that Idaho continues to experience rapid growth and is one of the best places in the country to live and grow a business.

The Deal Flow Report presents capital flow throughout the state, highlighting businesses, capital providers, and supporting organizations. The data collected shows the resilience of the Idaho economy and adaptability of local entrepreneurs. We continue to see population growth across the state, which drives a burgeoning talent pool. Idaho’s growing talent gives us confidence that our state will continue to be fertile ground for entrepreneurs and startups. 2020 was a particularly exciting year with multiple high-value deals spanning a variety of industries: Ericsson’s $1.1 billion dollar of Cradlepoint in the Technology/Software industry, Albertsons $1.7 billion funding and IPO in the Consumer/Retail space, and Vacasa’s exciting $108 million venture round in the Services industry.

This year was proof that Idaho has what it takes to build, grow, and reinvest in the local ecosystem, and shows that investors—both in and out of Idaho—are eager to invest in Idaho businessesThis report is published to shed light on the many versatile, strong entrepreneurs and businesses here in our state. We are confident that Idaho will adapt to the new landscape in 2021, and we are excited to see what new innovations local founders bring to the marketplace.  

THE PEOPLE

Capital Connect + Deal Flow Committee

Blake Hansen
Co-chair, Alturas

Alison Johnson
Co-chair, Holland & Hart, LLP

Jay Larsen
Idaho Technology Council

Christina Slaughter
Idaho Technology Council

Laura Squyres
Holland & Hart, LLP

Lucas Henken
Alturas

Maggie Hyde
Alturas

Coltin Barney
Alturas Intern

Carter Scoresby
Alturas Intern

Blake J. Hansen
Alturas 
Deal Flow Co-Chair

Alison G. Johnson
Holland & Hart LLP
Deal Flow Co-Chair

OPENING REMARKS

Dear Friends,

It is an honor for me to introduce the 2020 Idaho Deal Flow Report, a publication we eagerly await every year because it spotlights many of the industries flourishing in Idaho along with their investment partners.

When the COVID-19 pandemic began at the start of 2020, no one knew what to expect. But together, Idahoans worked to protect our loved ones and our economy, and the hard work paid off. Idaho has the strongest economy in the nation, and we are poised for even more prosperity in the months and years ahead!

Idaho’s success is demonstrated in the strength of our technology sector. Despite the pandemic, Idaho experienced another year of growth. The market continues to recognize the innovation of our entrepreneurs and mature companies are getting bought and sold. The acquisition of homegrown Cradlepoint in 2020 is a great story of an Idaho startup experiencing a billion-dollar exit.

For those who have called Idaho home for years – and for many of us, a lifetime – it is no wonder companies and people from other parts of the country and the world are choosing the Gem State to invest, do business, and live life. Our communities share in the excitement of an entrepreneur starting a business. We root for innovation and investment in our existing businesses, large and small. We extend open arms to anyone wishing to come here from somewhere else to retire, raise their families, or expand or relocate a business.

I appreciate the Idaho Technology Council and all the volunteers and organizers for contributing to the 2020 Idaho Deal Flow Report. You have put together a resource that summarizes trends in business activity and identifies where we excel and where can improve.

Together we will remain intently focused on public policies that support economic growth and prosperity because the next generation of Idahoans need the same kind of job opportunities in Idaho that they can find in large cities. With your help, we will continue to make Idaho the place our children and grandchildren want to stay.

Sincerely,

Brad Little
Governor of Idaho

DEAL FLOW SNAPSHOT

$ 0 +
Billion

TOTAL CAPITAL

0
Total Deals

TOTAL DEALS

$ 0 +
Billion

M+A DEALS

BIGGEST DEALS OF 2020

Private Placements

$ 0 B
Growth Equity
$ 0 M
Growth Equity
$ 0 M
Series C+

Mergers + Acquisitions

$ 0 B
Acquired by Ericsson
$ 0 M
Acquired by First American
$ 0 M
Acquired by Alpine 4 Automotive

Public Offering

$ 0 M
IPO

DEAL FLOW FINDINGS + DATA

Data Overview

Despite COVID-19, Idaho experienced another great year of growth. There were 151 deals that accounted for $5.2 billion in capital flow. While the number of deals was nearly identical to last year, there was almost $800 million more in capital flow. This points to an increase in the size of each deal and, that despite COVID-19, startups are getting funded and mature companies are getting bought and sold. 

PUBLIC OFFERINGS

Only one company pursued an IPO last year, but it was an exciting start to a new chapter for Albertsons. In June of 2020, just as the COVID-19 pandemic was raging, Albertsons went public. Check out our conversation with former Vice President Andy Scoggin.

Albertsons

A Conversation with Andy Scoggin, former Executive Vice President

The story of Albertsons is woven tightly into our community. Founded in Boise in 1939, Albertsons experienced success, failure, and a rebirth that led to the company going public in June 2020. While the history of Albertsons is storied, many will remember the uncertainty heading into the 2006 restructuring and successful turnaround that followed.

While the company has recently experienced growth and success, it has been years in the making.

Built In Idaho had the opportunity to sit down with former Executive Vice President Andy Scoggin to discuss the 2006 restructuring, and how Albertsons, its employees, management, and customers put the company on path to go public.

What was your role at the company and what challenges did the company face during this era?

DEAL FLOW PROFILE

Albertsons


Private Placements

FEB 2020
$750,000,000

MAY 2020
$1,750,000,000

Public Offering

JUNE 2020
$800,000,000

I worked my way up in the ranks of Albertsons Inc. from the time I joined in 1993 through the dissolution of the company in 2006. During this time, the company executed a pretty aggressive growth plan through organic growth and acquisition. While we did acquire several great companies, one of the challenges was the additional strain that executing multiple integrations at the same time put on the company. Most of the companies that Albertsons Inc. acquired had different systems in place whether it was POS, supply chain management, or something else. And, culture integration was often the most challenging factor. So that put stress on Albertsons as did the additional debt of acquisition. While there were many reasons that led to the dissolution of the company and sale to Cerberus and SuperValu, among others, the challenges of integration and debt were two big drivers.

What was the situation when you stepped into your role with Albertsons LLC, the company formed by the Cerebrus led private equity group to acquire the underperforming Albertsons stores?

At that point, SuperValu purchased about two-thirds of what was left of Albertsons. SuperValu acquired the part of the company that many considered to be the most profitable and stable portion of the business which left the ‘bottom’ third of the company. But I, and others who had worked at Albertsons prior to this, knew that what was left still had a great foundation, mainly because of the people, who really cared about their stores. So a group of Albertsons executives got together, and with the backing of the Cerebrus consortium, acquired the remaining third.

Others thought that the stores your group acquired were past the point of no return; what did you see and how did you make it successful?

The stores we acquired were primed for success, they just had not been given the opportunity. In total, it was about 650 stores spread throughout the U.S. from Florida to Texas, Louisiana, Arizona, Colorado, among others. All but one of these stores were Albertsons stores prior to our acquisition which means they had good systems and processes, and some of the best employees you could find. The real drawback, was that these individuals had not been given the capital or incentive structure to capture opportunity and find success.

Cerberus first recruited Bob Miller, who was in retirement but had spent the first thirty years of his career with Albertsons rising to the position of Executive Vice President of Operations before leaving to take the position CEO of Fred Meyer and later Rite Aid. Bob is one of the most respected leaders in retail grocery, but more importantly, he was trusted by our employees and cared deeply about their success and for them as people. If we had not had Bob, it would have been incredibly difficult to do what we did.

In addition to Bob, we also brought in industry veterans and promoted from within to elevate those who demonstrated leadership, vision, and care for their employees and colleagues. These divisional presidents and Bob helped realize the untapped potential of our stores and employees.

The key to our success were our employees. What we did as a management team was give our regional divisions independence by trusting their judgement in local markets and decentralize the decision-making process. We also set ambitious goals focused on EBITDA and sales targets that helped to motivate the divisions to exceed expectations.

Albertsons: An Idaho Company through the Decades

Jul 1936
First Albertsons Opens

Founder Joe Albertson opens the first Albertsons at 16th and State streets in Boise.

1951
First Combined Food + Drug Store

Albertsons opens its then-largest store – 60,000 square feet, featuring both a food and a drugstore.

1964
Alberstons acquires grocery chain

Albertsons celebrates 25 years and enters Southern California by acquiring a 14-store chain. Albertsons becomes the 25th largest grocer in the United States, with 127 stores and more than 5,000 employees.

1975
Historic Sales

Sales top the $1 billion mark for the first time, and Albertsons has more than 16,000 employees across 250 stores.

1999
1,000th Store Opening

The 1,000th Albertsons store opens at 3614 W. State in Boise. The 1,000th store is a one-stop shop: Customers can use banking services, pick up dry cleaning, grab dinner or file a police report.

1999
Top 3 Grocer

Albertsons completes the merger with American Stores company in June, making it one of the top three grocers in the nation.

2006
Divestiture + Dissolution

Albertsons LLC is formed from acquiring 660 Albertsons stores, following the divestiture of Albertson’s Inc. to three separate buyers.

ACME Markets, Jewel-Osco, Shaws, Star Markets, and the balance of Albertsons stores are sold to SuperValu.

MARCH 2013
Acquisition of SuperValu

Albertsons LLC successfully acquires all of the remaining assets purchased by SuperValu in 2006, re-establishes the corporate headquarters in Boise.

JAN 2015
Acquisition of Safeway

Albertsons and Safeway Complete Merger Transaction; The newly combined private company will operate 2,200 grocery stores in 33 states and the District of Columbia.

JUNE 2020
IPO

Albertsons Companies, Inc. completed its initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol of ACI.

How did the management team approach the rebuilding?

After getting things stabilized in the first 5-6 years, we decided to sell off some of our stores to really focus in on our true value drivers. This put us in a stronger position to go after the stores that SuperValu was looking to offload in 2013. Even though SuperValu got the ‘better’ stores back in the mid-2000s, they struggled to maintain profitability which gave Albertsons LLC the opportunity to buy them back which we did in 2013. In just three months, we took those stores positive in sales.

This positioned us well to make a move on Safeway when they started exploring a sale in 2014-2015. In acquiring the Supervalu stores and the Safeway chain, Albertsons LLC grew rapidly from 20,000 employees, 192 stores, and $4 billion in revenue to 250,000 employees, 2,000 stores, and over $60 billion in revenue. These acquisitions put Albertsons, which we renamed as Albertsons Companies, on the path to our public offering.

Most importantly, we didn’t change the way we managed even when we acquired these companies. We had to change some of the processes and systems, but our values of independence, decentralization, decomplication, trust, and rewarding our people never changed.

“The key to our success were our employees. What we did as a management team was give our regional divisions independence by trusting their judgement in local markets and decentralize the decision-making process.”

— ANDY SCOGGINS, FORMER EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT

How did Albertsons get to the point where going public made sense?

We, of course, were thinking about going public for many years, but we really started to think about the possibility of going public after our acquisition and integration of Safeway. As many know, we were in negotiations to acquire Rite Aid in 2018 which would have brought Albertsons public through acquisition. That didn’t pan out, but it put us in a position to work with Apollo Global Management in 2020 which did ultimately lead us to the public market.

The partnership with Apollo really brought two main things to Albertsons: a highly reputable investor demonstrating confidence in the company and an established valuation of the company that positioned us for our IPO.

What impact do you think Albertsons going public had on Boise and Idaho?

Albertsons going public means that the company is more stable and more likely to stay headquartered in Boise. Albertsons also has more capital behind it now which makes it a more active player in the M&A space, which will help local startups and companies find success. And, in my opinion, one of the greatest benefits of Albertsons going public is the benefit to employees who can now be incentivized with liquid equity – something they didn’t previously have as an option. 

What advice would you have for smaller businesses and entrepreneurs?

  • Keep decision making as close to the customer as possible
  • Make life as uncomplicated for employees as possible (focus on what they need to do) 
  • Trust those around you and get out of the way
  • Give them enough capital to do what you want
  • Never lose sight of what your capital is buying
  • Don’t spend money on things you don’t need to!
 

Albertsons

Consumer/Retail
June 26, 2020
County: Ada
City: Boise
Region: Southwestern
Headcount: 265000
CEO: Robert Miller
Albertsons Companies, Inc. completed its initial public offering on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol of ACI on June 26, 2020. The total proceeds, before expenses, to the selling shareholders is $800 million.
$800,000,000

PRIVATE PLACEMENTS

Private placements led the count with 86 deals. Of those publicly available, most of these deals were in the Seed/Angel category at 43, which shows a strong number of early-stage companies gaining traction throughout Idaho. 

Not only are early-stage companies gaining traction, but early-stage companies are also raising significant equity rounds propelling them into the next level. There were five Series A, nine Series B, and two Series C+ funding rounds. 

Two Series A rounds that caught our attention were Proud Source Water and Tackle.io. Proud Source expanded nationally with a production facility in Florida while Tackle.io closed their Series A in June 2020, then closed a $35 million Series B in March of 2021. 

Private Placements by Industry

Like 2019, Technology and Software companies made up many of the Private Placement Deals. In 2020, the industry accounted for 30 total deals. There were 19 Seed or Angel investments with the remaining 11 deals split between Series A (4), Series B (4), and unclassified (5). 
 

Materials & Resources and Consumer & Retail account for 15 deals each. Materials & Resources were spread evenly from Seed/Angel through Series C+ indicating that the industry is seeing success from startup to maturity. Consumer & Retail saw 6 deals in Seed/Angel while the remaining classified deals were Series B (2) or Growth Equity (3). These deals were largely associated with Albertsons as it prepared for its IPO. 

The remaining industries accounted for the remaining 26 private placements with 12 Seed/Angel rounds, 2 Series Bs, and one Series C+ with the remaining deals unclassified. These industries, while experiencing fewer deals, did see significant investment in early-stage companies which may appear in future deal flows with follow on funding rounds.  

Iron Mule, Inc.

The History of Iron Mule, Inc.

Iron Mule, Inc. is the product of two formerly independent, Boise-based coffee companies: Ironside Roasting Co. and Café MuléThese wholesale focused companies merged in 2018, and founders Matt Bishop and Colin Seeley decided to continue selling roasted coffee under the separate brands they had originally foundedTaking that a step further, in late-2019 they began plotting the launch of a third major brand, one that might address a number of challenges both for them as a company and for the smallholder farmers from whom they source specialty coffee.   

DEAL FLOW PROFILE

Iron Mule, Inc.


Seed Funding

MAY 2020
$25,000

Direct Access – Coffee Reimagined

Direct Access is the brand they decided to pioneer as the new flagship for their company. They realized that small “local” coffee roasters often saturate the market in their immediate area but fail to implement a strategy to achieve meaningful scale. To address this, Seeley and Bishop decided from day one that Direct Access needed to target growing customer demand and have a strategy to achieve national scale. They chose to focus on the rapidly growing specialty and single-origin coffee market while providing a unique value proposition through a strong social mission. Seeley and Bishop also recognized that many craft roasters price themselves out of the market, setting prices so high that they can only sell online and severely limiting their potential scaleFor that reason, they decided to pursue a grocery first strategy, offering a premium yet affordable coffee for conscientious consumers. 

A New Model – Disrupting the Supply Chain

A significant differentiator for Direct Access coffee is its disruptive new supply chain model that provides better returns to smallholder farmers. Typically, coffee is purchased from farmers for low prices, dictated by a highly volatile commodity market. Over 45-years, commodity prices for coffee have not appreciated, while farm-level inputs have risen greatly.  This dynamic is squeezing farmers. While margins are getting ever smaller at the farm, the retail price of premium coffees continues to rise. Realizing these dynamics, Seeley and Bishop engineered a way for small farmers to maintain ownership of their coffee until it is sold to the end consumer. They are doing this by harnessing the power of development minded financiers who are willing to lend to small farmers.

In turn, farmers hire the Iron Mule team to operate a vertically integrated supply chain on their behalf and get the product on shelves under the Direct Access brand. The Iron Mule team turns a profit as a service provider. And importantly, participating farmers can pin their financial outcome to a steady and relatively robust retail price rather than being subjected to the whims of the commodity market. For farmers, it is the difference of consistently positive returns with Direct Access or the prospect of marginal returns and years of being under water with the traditional coffee trade. 

The Funding

One of the most important items that the Iron Mule team realized they would need to be successful in their launch of Direct Access was outside funding.  A company needs to be well capitalized to launch and support products with major grocers such as Whole Foods or Target.  Within the coffee space, the competitive nature of online direct-to-consumer sales has similar requirements for marketing spend.  To meet their immediate needs, the Iron Mule team opened up a convertible note in spring 2020.  To date, they have closed $540,000 of this seed round, closing out the round that originated from accredited investors in Idaho.  Bishop and Seeley believe they will need $4.5 Million in outside funding over three years to scale nationally in multiple grocery banners and anticipate a future Series A and Series B round of funding. 

Tackle.io

Tackle’s focused strategy has been evident from the beginning of the tech company’s swift 4-year lifespan. Founded in 2016, Tackle’s Cloud Marketplace Platform allows software companies to optimize the Cloud Marketplace experience to list, market, and sell quickly, easily, and cost-effectively. The company has helped hundreds of software providers accelerate revenue through Cloud Marketplaces like AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud, all with zero engineering resources required.  

Due to the recent shift in remote work across the globe, 80% of a typical software provider’s sales cycle has moved to digital environments. This caused many companies to host their applications on the public clouds like AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud and also enable their workforce to access cloud-based applications. Tackle has been fortunate to see rapid tailwinds due to this shift over the last 12 months. 

DEAL FLOW PROFILE

Tackle.io


Series A

JUNE 2020
$7,250,000

Tackle shared some insights on doing business in Idaho and their recent Series B round:

What makes Idaho a great place to do business?

Other local entrepreneurs in Boise have been incredibly helpful and supportive as Tackle has grown. The tech scene here is much more tight-knit than many other cities, and we love collaborating with others who share our values. The biggest testament to the Boise startup scene is that we’ve had a handful of folks we hired in other cities around the country who have decided to move their families here after just visiting once or twice. That isn’t something that happens in most other cities, and it is something that will only become more common as major tech companies continue to embrace remote work.

“This investment from Andreessen Horowitz and Bessemer Venture Partners is an enormous validation of the impact Tackle has had on the Marketplace purchasing experience. We’ll continue to make it painless for sellers to get started without the need for developers so they can focus on innovating on their own products. Our vision remains to revolutionize the way software is bought and sold, and this funding will rapidly accelerate our ability to deliver on that.”

— JOHN JAHNKE, CEO

How did the Series A round lay the foundation for the most recent Series B round?

We actually have not spent any of the money from our Series A round as we doubled our customer count and tripled revenue in 2020. Given there is so much demand for our Cloud Marketplace Platform, we saw the Series B as an opportunity to accelerate the execution of our ambitious product roadmap to further help software companies sell through Marketplaces. Our partners, Andreessen Horowitz and Bessemer Venture Partners, are perfectly aligned with our mission to give the software industry the ideal platform to establish, generate, and scale revenue through the cloud.   

Tackle.io’s Cloud Marketplace Platform Dashboard

What will the funds be used for and what has it allowed Tackle to do that it would not have been able to otherwise?

In general, our philosophy has always been to keep the company very well-capitalized, to give us options as we scale so we can make the right decisions for the company and our customers. This new capital enables us to accelerate our investment in meeting market demand for our products and platform. We are constantly evaluating investment decisions and prioritizing on the next best investment for Tackle to make. We want these decisions to be logical, easy for our existing customers to consume, and for our existing team to support.  While we see an enormous opportunity to build, we need to keep this simple, logical expansion thinking in mind and take calculated expansion bets as we scale. One of our main priorities is to scale our talent to accommodate our new timeline. We started this year with 56 employees, and our plan for 2021 is to grow to approximately 120 employees.

We’re excited to continue innovating our platform, bring exciting new things to the industry, and hire top talent from across Idaho and the U.S. to make it all possible. 

Private Placement Deals

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MERGERS AND ACQUISITIONS

Mergers + Acquisitions

There was also significant activity in the M&A world, which accounted for 66 deals. Strategic buyers were particularly active in 2020, accounting for 45 of the total M&A deals. This was driven in large part by companies looking to expand their product and service offerings, geographical footprint or increase capacity.  

Materials & Resources (which entails construction and construction related companies) saw 15 total deals making up 36% of total M&A deals. 8 of the deals are classified as financial while 7 are strategic. These numbers reflect the significant population growth in the Treasure Valley and throughout Idaho and associated construction needs.  

M+As by Industry

Sunroc

Their familiar red and blue logo can be seen on many heavy trucks driving around the state, and you’ve likely seen their machinery at construction sites across the Mountain West. Sunroc is a construction company with services including earthwork, utilities, grading and paving, as well as production and sales of masonry products, sand, gravel, asphalt and concrete. Since its founding in Utah in 1938, the company has become a giant in the Intermountain West, servicing Utah, Idaho, Nevada, and Wyoming. 

Sunroc made big moves in 2020 despite the pandemic, including the acquisition of the assets of two Idaho companies: Depatco of Idaho Falls and Hi-Grade Underground of Meridian. Due to the essential nature of the construction industry, Sunroc  maintained their busy work schedule throughout the year. 

DEAL FLOW PROFILE

Sunroc


Acquisitions

AUG 2020
Acquired Depatco

OCT 2020
Acquired Hi-Grade Underground

Sunroc’s President, Scott Okelberry shared their experience expanding in Idaho and how they plan to move forward with the recent acquisitions: 

What makes Idaho a great place to  do business? 

Idaho’s strong economy, low taxes, easy regulatory environment, and skilled workforce all make it a great place to do business. Idaho is one of the fastest growing states in the nation, so there is a great need for construction. The people in Idaho also make it great. There are a lot of well-established roots when it comes to contractors and developers, so if you are in the industry, you know everyone and can develop strong relationships. It is a smaller state, with smaller communities, which makes it a great place to live. The strong growth means it’s a great market with the values of a smaller community.

How does Sunroc stand out in the construction industry?  

We stand out because we continue to diversify our product line to be a full-service operation. We have lived by our core values even through all the acquisitions, and we find companies that have the same values and assimilate them. Sunroc is usually a partner with a general contractor for a job – so customers get a complete turnkey solution. Your project is our project, and building trust, confidence and peace of mind is important to us. We consistently offer higher quality products and services than our competitors so it is worth doing business with us because you can trust our products, services and professional people. 
What customers like about Sunroc and Depatco is that customers can usually do the entire scope of work within our company without having to sub out much of anything. Additionally, if they run into any problems our word is our bond, so they know they can trust us to make it right. If there’s an issue, and it’s on us, we take care of it, no questions asked. That’s why we have so many repeat customers.   

What  does this deal mean to both  Sunroc  and  Depatco? 

It expands Sunroc’s opportunity and footprint in the market, expands our presence within the state of Idaho and provides more areas we can expand into.   It allows Depatco to continue to expand with more resources than they previously had.  Depatco had grown to a certain level and was looking for an experienced partner with the expertise to help them with that growth.  Sunroc had gone through those growing pains already and was positioned to help them navigate future growth through existing processes and procedures that they didn’t have. They looked at it as an opportunity to continue to grow and achieve a faster learning curve. 

What has happened since the deal  closed? 

We brought Depatco into the Clyde family brands, changed their organizational structure, and allocated their resources a bit so they can use parent company resources for administrative purposes and workflow. They will still be doing business under the Depatco brand.

“With an alignment in company values and construction services, this acquisition is a natural fit and important step in our growth. Depatco has built a great culture and reputation in the Eastern Idaho market, and Sunroc operates with those same values and standards that Depatco is known for – continuing Clyde Companies’ vision of Building a Better Community.

— SCOTT OKELBERRY, PRESIDENT OF SUNROC

We worked with owners to establish a policy that the best business practices will rule the day, whether it was something  Sunroc was doing or something Depatco was doing. One thing that Depatco did well (that Sunroc has now implemented) is that Depatco kept benefits active for their employees even during a seasonal furlough or layoff. That’s a good way to attract and retain people, especially in the construction industry. Sunroc has now rolled out a furlough program as well. An employee can go on unemployment but is still eligible for benefits while they are furloughed. This was a huge win that Depatco brought to the table. We’ve also cut significant costs by implementing things that Sunroc has learned along the way that can improve Depatco’s processes – especially in areas where Depatco was still very “green.” We helped them achieve a straight-line learning curve instead of taking a long time to get to that point. 

eTT Aviation

eTT Aviation was created when a former pilot saw a need to provide airline crew members with a better quality of life. The prototype, eTripTrader, was created in 2002 by founder Tom LaJoie and his oldest son, Chris. eTripTrader helped pilots find trips that fit their lifestyles and preferences, and ultimately paved the way for the current company’s product which provides trip trading services and streamlines airline operations. eTripTrader lives on in the ‘eTT’ part of the company name as tribute to its humble beginnings. 

Founder Tom LaJoie shared eTT’s founding story and lessons from their 2020 acquisition of Eagle Cap Software: 

DEAL FLOW PROFILE

eTT Aviation


Acquisition

DEC 2020
Acquired Eagle Cap Software

What was the pivotal moment when eTT turned into a fully-fledged company?

I was furloughed in May 2003 from United Airlines in the midst of the 9/11 industry draw-down. I knew for a year that the layoff was coming and that there would be no pilot jobs because pilots had been flooding the market for 18 months. How was I going to feed myself, wife and five kids? I had to make eTT successful because my family depended on me.  

Why is this acquisition important to the broader community, and why was it the right time to acquire?  

It allows us to continue to grow. We have increased from a staff of 17 to 51 in just 25 months. Many of those new hires are right here in the Boise valley.  
It wasn’t great timing due to the pandemic, causing the airline industry to downturn, but acquiring Eagle Cap was just too good an opportunity to pass up. They had spent five years creating their IP which was a perfect fit into our suite and were only on the market due to Covid-19 which caused their revenue to dry up. We were fortunate to be in a position to complete the acquisition and are now working towards implementing the software at launch.  

“What makes us unique is that we can offer an airline a full suite of airline management software, but at a much lower price point than our competitors and support it with the best customer service in the industry. That’s a tough combination to beat, as evidenced by our rapid growth the last few years.”

— TOM LAJOIE, FOUNDER OF ETT AVIATION

How did you choose the investors in your latest round?  

have known Kevin Learned for 15 years and knew he was running a new fund called Sage Growth Capital offering revenue-based financing (RBF). It’s great that we didn’t have to give up equity to get the funds we needed, nor did I have to provide collateral or a personal guarantee. RBF is a new type of financing that entrepreneurs definitely need to learn about if they are unfamiliar with the pros and cons versus other investment opportunities.  

Cradlepoint

Ericsson acquisition brings together leaders in 4G and 5G mobile network operators’ cellular infrastructure and enterprise wireless edge routers

To Idahoans, Ericsson’s acquisition of Boise-born Cradlepoint in fall 2020 was the latest example of startup business success in the Treasure Valley. For the business world, this deal meant something even bigger: the formation of a market-defining company that is uniquely positioned to drive adoption of 5G cellular technology by businesses around the world as they race headlong into digital transformation.

Founded in 2006, Cradlepoint’s wireless edge routers deliver flexible, highly reliable 4G and 5G Internet connectivity for more than 25,000 SMB and enterprise businesses, including stores and offices, vehicles, and technologies such as kiosks, surveillance cameras, and sensors.

DEAL FLOW PROFILE

Cradlepoint


Acquisition

SEPT 2020
$1,100,000
Acquired by Ericsson

To meet the needs of this new hyper-connectivity, a new “elastic edge” is required on the wide-area network (WAN) — one that can be deployed, expanded and evolved at the speed of business. Cradlepoint is right in the middle of a massive network transition that is making the Wireless WAN a reality, including hyper-connectivity, 5G’s arrival and ability to cost-effectively expand the speed and versatility of last-mile networks, and a growing scarcity of wired infrastructure due to the cost and complexity. Cradlepoint is right in the middle of it all. 

Ericsson is more than 100 years old and has been at the forefront of global communications ever since. Today, Ericsson is the world leader in the proliferation of 5G cellular infrastructure at leading mobile network operators worldwide. AT&T and Verizon are examples of MNOs that rely on Ericsson 4G and 5G technology to power their cellular networks. Cradlepoint, now part of Ericsson, operates as a standalone business entity within Ericsson focused on the enterprise space. 

As 4G and 5G cellular network technology — in both public and private form—– continues its accelerated adoption across many industries, recent innovation through cellular broadband networking will only evolve and expand. Just as 4G has transformed how we use our mobile phones to access services that have changed everything (think: Uber, DoorDash, Instacart, and mobile boarding passes), 5G will do the same for business applications, and the level of transformation and the economic impact will be significantly larger. Imaging remote robotic surgeries, immersive retail experiences, and efficient supply chains with end-to-end visibility are just a few of the realities that await us in a 5G for business future. 

Ericsson’s acquisition of Cradlepoint is a big deal for Idaho and businesses around the world. How often does a Boise-based company truly change how the world connects and take on some of the biggest networking players in the process? 

Preco Electronics

PRECO Electronics,  now  a Sensata Technologies company

In July of 2020, PRECO Electronics®, a market-leading vehicle safety technology company headquartered in Boise, Idaho, was acquired bySensata Technologies, Inc. (NYSE: ST), a leading provider of sensor-rich solutions in the automotive, heavy vehicle & off-road, industrial, and aerospace industries, to support rapid growth demands and bolster the high-technology boom of publicly traded companies in the Treasure Valley. 

Joining Sensata will complement PRECO’s existing client base of heavy-duty vehicle manufacturers, fleet operators, OEMs, and foreign and domestic dealers. With the support of its nationwide network of engineers and global partnerships, PRECO maintains its position as the industry benchmark for advanced safety technologies. 

DEAL FLOW PROFILE

Preco Electronics


Acquisition

JULY 2020
Acquired by Sensata Technologies

Edwin R. Peterson started PRECO Electronics in 1947 with the vision to manufacture electronics and eventually bring reliable safety solutions to the construction, trucking and mining markets. In 1962, the company invented the first Vehicle Electronic Backup Warning Device, also known as the first backup alarm for heavy-duty vehicles, securing supplier contracts with big-brand operations like CAT, John Deere, Komatsu, and Volvo over the years.   Ed’s son Mark Peterson took over the company in 1990, investing in a variety of business endeavors which later led to the decision to embark upon new, emerging radar blind spottechnology markets. 

The radar safety business took off with the development of a breakthrough award-winning, purpose-built radar product line, including PreView Sentry®, PreView Side Defender®II, and the new PreView Sentry®X. Built to perform in all-weather environments, the proprietary radar blind spot detection systems are designed to meet off- and on-road medium and heavy-duty vehicles’ safety needs. They are customizable and engineered to easily integrate with other advanced safety technologies in the global marketplace today.  

As customer demand grew, it became clear PRECO needed to support the rapid growth of global mandates, better increasing the demand for vehicle safety technology. With multiple and competitive acquisition offers on the table, Peterson chose Sensata Technologies, concluding the industrial technologies leader was the best fit to diversify and grow its product portfolio. 

“We are excited to be a part of the Sensata family,” said Jim Bean, head of PRECO, for more than 23 years. “Sensata’s global organization will leverage PRECO’s leadership in heavy-duty radar solutions to accelerate worldwide growth. The cultural fit, coupled with Sensata’s commitment to customer excellence, is a perfect match.” 

With the backing of a leading $3B industrial technology company, PRECO’s future includes expanding its core markets. It will target new sectors that complement PRECO’s existing solutions for heavy-duty OEMs, end-users, fleet operators, and foreign and domestic authorities. PRECO now has the scalability and resources to grow and serve its current customers better than ever. 

“The acquisition of PRECO further extends Sensata’s sensing content into areas related to the autonomous megatrend and builds scale in heavy-duty vehicle markets,” said Jeff Cote, CEO, and President of Sensata. “We are confident that we can capitalize on the many growth opportunities on the horizon as we strengthen our go-to-market capabilities and build on PRECO’s global reputation as the industry leader in collision mitigation and avoidance technology optimized for heavy-duty vehicles and equipment.” 

PRECO became a part of Sensata Ventures’ business unit focused on high-growth megatrends, including Autonomy, Electrification, and Smart & Connected. The acquisition advances Sensata’s Autonomy megatrend-focused growth initiative for heavy vehicle and off-road markets. 

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COMMUNITY HIGHLIGHTS

Idaho Women's Business Center

Becoming an entrepreneur is no small feat. Those who are the most successful know the value of quality training, accessing powerful resources for growth, and linking arms with mentors who have already been down the path they are embarking on.  

For many, it can be like jumping into the deep end of the pool without knowing how to swim. Thankfully, those who are willing, can be taught simple principles to build confidence, make real progress in launching their idea, and start swimming laps on their own without fear of drowning. 

The Idaho Women’s Business Center (IWBC) is a statewide organization, funded in part by a cooperative agreement through the U.S. Small Business Administration, and acts as a vessel to link small business owners with a supportive community, valuable education through training events, and connections to business and thought leaders from all across Idaho.  

“The mission of the Idaho Women's Business Center​ to serve all Women, Cultures and Communities ​in Achieving their Educational, Professional and Entrepreneurial goals. We believe in the Potential of Women, Minorities, Immigrants and Families. We choose to Educate, Train and Help them obtain Successful Business Ownership and Employment."

— IWBC MISSION STATEMENT

To deliver this commitment to underserved business owners, the IWBC has an ongoing schedule of training events called Strategic Sessions that are FREE to its members, and an ever-growing library of on-demand small business training that can be accessed any time, and from desktop or mobile devices.  

The training events cover all of the main pillars of business, including Finance, Human Resources, Marketing, and a wide range of topics in Business Development that range from legal tips to product development. All the while, infusing inspirational wisdom from engaged presenters, and providing actionable steps to empower the entrepreneur with tools that work for them. 

While many of the training events through the IWBC are one-off events, there is also a very powerful training experience offered through a program called Creative Framework. This is a small group or cohort of business owners who will work together for a 6-week session, once per week, and collectively navigate through business development strategies. 

During 2020, the IWBC was granted additional funding to expand the resources. A large component of that came in the deployment of the Connect the Dots Mentorship Academy. The IWBC feels it is critical for all entrepreneurs to align with a mentor, and has created a robust platform to match seasoned business owners with small business owners and start-ups of all industry types.  

At this time, all of the resources provided are at no cost to IWBC clients.  

One of the things the IWBC takes huge pride in is the growth of its staff. It was vital to expand the ability to serve the rapidly growing client base by filling roles for remote connectivity and six offices for walk-ins and oneonone business consulting. The IWBC now has offices in Boise, Nampa, Burley, Twin Falls, Idaho Falls, and the newest addition, Moscow.  

Boise Startup Week

Boise Startup Week 2021 returns as in-person hybrid

It’s a new year for Boise Startup Week. 

Last year’s virtual event saw incredible reach with 1,600 attendees. Scheduled the week of October 18, 2021, this year’s BSW celebration will welcome back thousands of entrepreneurs to Idaho’s capital for a hybrid in-person and virtual experience.

Boise continues to be a bright spot as a growing hub for technology and entrepreneurship. Boise Startup Week will focus on giving that fast-paced growth an outlet for the connection we all miss.

With growth and success comes its own set of challenges. Boise Startup Week looks to speak directly to the issues of our community: access to capital, mentorship, early stage investing, diversity equity and inclusion, energy, and entrepreneurship lessons learned. BSW will deliver content and connection wrapped in a memorable experience that is uniquely Boise.

Featuring more than five different pitch competitions and $100,000 in prize money up for grabs, keynotes, networking events, a block party, and a corporate dodgeball tournament, BSW will be a week full of connection. There is no shortage of opportunities to find the resources needed to grow in the Gem State.

We look forward to welcoming you back to Boise for the week of October 18!

Boise Startup Week is a community program housed within Trailhead and co-chaired with Vynyl that promotes entrepreneurship in the Boise community. Boise Startup Week provides individuals with an empowering experience as the week-long event fosters professional growth and development.

IDAHO TECHNOLOGY COUNCIL

Executive Committee

Jay Larsen
President & CEO
, Idaho Technology Council

Paris Cole
Chair
,Truckstop.com

Amy Lientz
Vice Chair
, Idaho National Lab

Alexandra Hodson
Secretary
, Parsons Behle & Latimer

Dave Pattee
Treasurer
, Deloitte

Blake Hansen
Alturas Capital

Andy Scoggin
StageDotO

George Mulhern
Cradlepoint

Andy Binder
HP

Jason Huszar
Idaho Power

Jim Gasaway
Kount

Joel Poppen
Micron

J.D. Mullen
Intuit

Kristen Ruffing
AmerisourceBergen

Marcus McDonald
United Heritage Insurance

Mark Willden
Idaho Central Credit Union

Melanie Rubocki
Perkins Coie

James Haynes
Power Engineers

Reid Stephan
St. Luke’s Health System

Sean Robbins
Regence BlueShield of Idaho

Cory Vaughn
Delta Dental

Vid Mohan-Ram
Simplot

Tim Garrigan
The Garrigan Lyman Group

Tony Lima
Melaleuca

Jeet Kumar
In Time Tec

Von Hansen
Konexus

Board of Trustees

Adam Guyton
PayneWest Insurance

Alison Johnson
Holland & Hart

Ryan Allen
COVR

Bert Glandon
College of Western Idaho

Bert Roberts
Sorenson Capital

Bill Connors
Boise Chamber of Commerce

Brad Ritts
University of Idaho

Alex Baar
Microsoft

Corey Edwards
Western Governor’s University

Jason Williams
BBSI

Steve Meyer
Intermax Networks

Brian Larsen
Stoel Rives

Celynda Roach
Sparklight

Cheryl Charlton
Idaho Digital Learning Academy

Chris Johnson
Scentsy

Doug Sayer
Premier Technology

Erin-Todd Hansen
Intuit

Harold Blackman
Boise State University

James Price
Clearwater Analytics

Jeanine Daily
KPMG

Amy Gile
Silverdraft

Rich Stuppy
Kount

David Foster
Healthwise

Jeff Leonnig
Lumen

John Abreu
Portneuf Medical Center

John Stiffler
Boise Cascade

Mark Wennstrom
Saint Alphonsus

Rhonda Dahm
Tonaquint

Rick MacLennan
North Idaho College

Rick Aman
College of Eastern Idaho

Richard Ruiz
TechCU

Dejan Nenov
Panaton

Ron Teagarden
Verified First

Scott Schlange
KeyBank

Scott Snyder
Idaho State University

Stephen Cilley
Ataraxis

Steve Finsko
Hawley Troxell

Todd Schwarz
College of Southern Idaho

Jim Buie
Involta

Zach Olsen
CodeWorks Boise

Rich Raimondi
Bishop Kelly

SPONSORS

Gold

Silver

Bronze

BBSI PEO

Bingham Memorial

Boise Cascade

Clearwater Analytics

Compunet

COVR

Cradlepoint

Healthwise

Idaho State University

In Time Tec

Intermax Networks

KeyBank

Konexus

Lumen

Microsoft

New Horizons Boise

PayneWest Insurance

Premier Technology

Scentsy

Sorenson Capital

The Buckner Company

United Heritage

University of Idaho

Verified First

  • Drive outcomes in growing a knowledge-based economy through initiatives of our industry-led Committees

  • „ Influence change in our three focus areas: attracting talent, increasing capital, and developing the commercialization of ideas „

  • Receive discounts on event and conference attendance, including our flagship conferences, events, peer-to-peer forums, and ITC leadership round tables throughout the Gem State „

  • Talent initiatives related to software computing technologies and advanced manufacturing
    „
  • Opportunities to network with other members, nationally recognized thought leaders, and civic officers „

  • Serve as the collective voice of the technology ecosystem „

  • Provide a nexus for capital

Strategy

ITC advances workforce development and the talent pipeline as a critically important initiative as we continue to grow more high-paying, quality jobs for Idahoans. Strategic workforce development provides a uniform entry point into K-Career education and creates solutions for future opportunities.

ITC creates a network for advancing companies in Idaho and connects to national and international networks. ITC events provide a perfect venue for expanding networks locally and nationally.

ITC provides a strong voice in Idaho for investing in technology through basic research and development. These form the foundation for new innovations needed to grow companies and keep them competitive and create product disruption.

 

Align

ITC unifies diverse corporate and government interests into a single value proposition for all of us, building a competitive work force, driving research that creates new products and services, growing capital into our companies, and providing a powerful venue for expanding our networks.

 

Advocate

ITC is instrumental in building support needed to convince our legislators and private industry to invest in high return initiatives that are necessary to propel new companies, retain and grow existing companies.

ABOUT ITC

The voice of Idaho’s Technology Based Industry. Driving Idaho into a knowledge based economy with initiatives around Talent, Access to Capital and Commercialization.

ABOUT ALTURAS

Alturas owns and operates multiple companies and real estate assets. Everything is centered around creating value for our partners, employees and customers.

ABOUT BUILT IN IDAHO

Built in Idaho is a digital community for Idaho business owners, investors and entrepreneurs on a mission to amplify investment and entrepreneurship within our state.