Spokane Journal of Business

LaunchPad INW becomes tech-focused news source

Company drops previous social networking niche, unveils redeveloped site

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LaunchPad Inland Northwest LLC, a Spokane company known for its online professional networking and business development efforts, has retrenched as a news aggregate website geared toward covering startups and companies adopting new technology, says co-founder Bill Kalivas.

The website, which Kalivas unveiled late last month, was developed by Zipline Communications Inc., doing business as Zipline Interactive, a Web development company here that donated it's time to create the site. He says he had envisioned LaunchPad would be a news site for years, but only started that transition about six months ago.

"Innovation to me is almost boundless for any type of organization or institution," Kalivas says. "(Spokane is) definitely not Silicon Valley, or Seattle, but our first step is to acknowledge what we do have. There are a lot of startups here that are doing some cool stuff."

LaunchPad plans to release weekly email newsletters on Mondays with content it creates, and stories it gathers from other sources about businesses, and institutions here that use technology in creative ways, or are engaging in research and development activity. It released its first newsletter last Monday, he says.

LaunchPad no longer has a physical office downtown, Kalivas says, adding he spent "thousands and thousands of dollars a month" running the business and leasing space.

Although Kalivas is the company's only employee, he says LaunchPad is edited by Paul Dillon on contract. Dillon is a contributor for the Down to Earth blog with ties to the Spokesman-Review.

"When I went back to work in October, I just put LaunchPad on hold," Kalivas says. "I waited to do the switch until I found the right person."

Kalivas took a position in October as senior sales executive with 2nd Watch Inc., a Liberty Lake-based cloud computing company, transitioning day-to-day operations of LaunchPad to other employees.

He left 2nd Watch about a month ago, he says, and now works as an Inland Northwest territory manager with Aruba Networks Inc., a Silicon Valley information technology company. Operating here, Kalivas says the position enables him to travel less frequently.

Kalivas says LaunchPad, which amassed almost 6,000 members before developing the new website, converted those members to subscribers of its newsletter, and gave users an option to unsubscribe.

"Overall, we're pretty happy with the stats," Kalivas says. "Our goal is obviously to get more subscribers, but we started off with a pretty good base."

Kalivas says other divisions of LaunchPad, such as event planning, now are referred out to other businesses, and the site will focus exclusively on news content.

He says the eventual goal is to produce, gather, and distribute daily content, as opposed to weekly.

"We're looking at adding some new features, expanding the features we currently offer, and we're hoping to get feedback from the local community and our subscribers," Kalivas says.

Kalivas says the company will generate revenue through sponsorships with other businesses, which in exchange will be featured in the newsletters and on the website. He says LaunchPad previously generated revenue through sponsorships, paid memberships, and training and workshop events.

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