By Hope Belli Tinney, Washington SBDC
WASHINGTON – Andrew DePaula, founder and president of intelliPaper, a technology company in Edwall, Wash., that has developed a type of “smart paper,” met with Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers on Monday (March 16) to talk about innovation, entrepreneurship and small business.
The visit to Capitol Hill was arranged by the Washington Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Network as part of its annual meetings with U.S. legislators.
“Andrew is such an incredible example of what small businesses can do, not just for the economy in general, but for their communities in particular,” said Duane Fladland, state director of the Washington SBDC Network.
The Washington SBDC (http://www.wsbdc.org) is hosted by Washington State University and receives funding from the U.S. Small Business Administration. Additional support comes from other institutions of higher education and nonprofit economic development organizations.
Novel communication tool
DePaula, an electrical engineer, worked with his SBDC business advisor Alan Stanford to obtain $770,000 in financing from Craft3, a nonprofit community development lender. It was the next step toward growing his company from a low-budget startup to a well-financed technology and manufacturing enterprise with both national and international sales.
DePaula’s invention, a paper USB drive, makes it possible to deliver reams of information – including images, sound, documents or video – on a strip of paper embedded in a business card, greeting card, trade show handout or recruitment brochure.
“I am continually inspired by Eastern Washington entrepreneurs like Andrew DePaula, whose innovative small business, intelliPaper, enables people to communicate and share information in ways never before possible,” McMorris Rodgers said.
Small businesses make a difference
The typical route to finance a technology startup is to find traditional investors, said Stanford, who came to the SBDC after a long career in banking. But, he said, DePaula’s challenge was to find a lender who would make a significant loan and still allow him and his advisory board to continue calling the shots, including basing the business in rural Edwall, 35 miles west of Spokane.
“We are delighted that Craft3 believed in what we are trying to do,” DePaula said. “Their support at this stage of our growth is going to make a huge difference down the road in the type of company intelliPaper (http://www.intelliPaper.info) becomes.”
“Andrew’s business plan is very purposeful,” Fladland said. “He wants to make a difference. That’s a trend we are seeing among small business owners these days.”