Roundup: Kick, UW STEM Programs, Funds for Indochino, World CNG

3/22/13Follow @bromano

[Corrected 3/26/13, 12:00 pm See below.] In addition to Decide’s $8 million funding round, local companies Indochino and World CNG raised capital this week. Meanwhile, new resources are being added to the front end of the local business and technology pipeline with expanded technology education programs at UW Bothell and UW Tacoma, and a new “on ramp” for would-be entrepreneurs. We’ve got the details:

—If you’re even thinking about being an entrepreneur in Seattle, you’re running out of excuses not to take the plunge. Kick is the latest addition to a range of very accessible programs designed to help people take their ideas to the next level. Launched by Michael “Luni” Libes—the force behind the Fledge “conscious company incubator”—Kick is an eight-week program beginning this summer and open to anyone with a business (or nonprofit) idea they want to develop, with one caveat: The $2,000 tuition must be raised through a crowd funding campaign including at least 10 contributors as proof of an entrepreneur’s sincerity and viability. Libes says Kick fills a gap between programs like Startup Weekend and the more selective accelerators such as TechStars. In the vernacular of Chris DeVore’s taxonomy of a healthy startup ecosystem, Kick sounds like an advanced “on ramp,” something that could prepare an entrepreneur for a “rocket launcher” like TechStars.

—Two University of Washington satellite campuses are bolstering their technology education offerings in response to growing private- and public-sector demand. From its existing computing, software systems, science, and technology programs, the UW Bothell created the School of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), calling it the first in the state to combine the disciplines under a single heading. Some 600 students are currently enrolled and a new building will make room for 1,000 more in 2014. UW Tacoma, meanwhile, introduced a Master’s in Cybersecurity and Leadership degree, developed with help from Camp Murray’s National Guard cybersecurity unit, which needs people trained in these skills.

—Vancouver, BC-based Indochino, which melds bespoke tailoring with online shopping, has raised $13 million from the Highland Consumer Fund and existing investors Madrona Venture Group, Action Capital Partners, and company chairman Jeff Mallett. The Series B funding will finance continued hiring in management and operations, as well as marketing and product development. Also, Highland managing general partner and Staples founder Tom Stemberg is joining Indochino’s board.

World CNG, the Kent, WA-based company doing natural gas vehicle conversions, has landed a $5 million investment from Seattle’s Union Bay Capital to finance expansion to Las Vegas and Chicago and continue to develop technology. The company—which some people categorize as cleantech, or at least cleaner tech—says it has converted more than a thousand vehicles, including some 200 Seattle taxis and airport shuttles, and is on pace to triple revenue this year from 2011. It was founded in 2008. [An earlier version of this paragraph mistakenly said the investment is from Union Bay Partners. The investor is Union Bay Capital. We regret the error.]

Placed, the Seattle retail researcher, is launching a new business line to grow its pool of location-based data and generate a new, non-advertising revenue stream for mobile app developers. Through Placed Affiliate, developers can add code to their apps that collects location data—after explicit end-user notification and permission—and channels it to Placed for market research. The company used this sort of location data in its recent “showrooming” study. Placed will pay app developers for the data.

Benjamin Romano is editor of Xconomy Seattle. Email him at bromano [at] xconomy.com. Follow @bromano

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