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Portland startup, chooses Bend to grow business

*UPDATE* 9/1 – Choose Growth just announced it is rebranding as Red Jacket West. Read about it here.   Why Red Jacket West?

Portland’s Pearl District provided an exciting backdrop for this startup to gain momentum, but Bend, Oregon is where they chose to plant roots and grow their business.

Choose Growth Blog
Choose Growth Co-Founders, Chris Behnke (L) & Isaac Tolpin (R)

Choose Growth is a unique media company that creates dynamic methods for thought leaders to amplify their intellectual property. Isaac Tolpin and Chris Behnke co-founded Choose Growth in 2013 to support, productize and connect pioneering thought leaders with a global audience. Their unique process enables their clients to grow revenue and create a lasting impact beyond their daily activities.

Compass Commercial first connected with Choose Growth in 2012 when the company set its sight on Bend for expansion. Read more in our interview with Isaac below.

Isaac Tolpin, Founder | CEO
Choose Growth

How is Choose Growth different from other website and digital media/production companies hired by leaders/speakers to produce content?

We set up our model much differently than a traditional agency. We don’t do fee for service work, instead we stay with experts in continuing to build, support and help market their interactive digital learning platforms, because we believe this is necessary for the kind of success and impact our clients are looking for. In this way, we are able to support the growth of the online education side of their business.

We lead the industry in mastering the relationship between technology, content, production and distribution, creating and distributing interactive learning experiences people love to consume.

What kinds of clients work with Choose Growth?

We work with the world’s most innovative thought leaders that touch all kinds of industries such as sports, nutrition, business, leadership and even race car driving.

What are some of the most exciting projects/clients the company has worked with?

Ondi Timoner /Founder of Interloper Films, Barry Conchie/New York Times bestselling author, John O’Leary/one of the top motivational speakers in the world.

Choose Growth started in Portland in 2013 and expanded to a second location in Bend in 2014.  Why did you decide to expand your business in Bend?  What was it that attracted you to Bend?

Initially, it was personal, as we wanted a better place to raise our families, but it also had to be good for business. The community was overwhelmingly receptive and helpful in moving the company. Presently, we are attracting incredible talent here in Bend with 33 hires since moving.

How did Compass Commercial help you during your process of moving to Bend?

We met with Peter May at Compass and he took us on knowing we were a self-funded startup at the time and found us a space that worked well without tenant improvements. He immediately went to work with the owner to vouch for us securing an incredible space for us to expand.  Finding a great relationship with a building owner was a key piece to moving to Bend. Just a year later after hiring 33 more employees, we were able to move into another space three times larger with the support of Compass Commercial and their relationship with the building owner.

What resources does the City of Bend have to help you grow your business and network?

I’ve never seen anything like Bend. The city has incredible interest and support for businesses to come to town. There are numerous people who we met and have helped in one way or another. The leaders at EDCO exist to support business, the Bend Chamber of Commerce is vibrant, and the people you meet at the EDCO’s monthly PUB Talks all embrace new ideas. We received free consulting from Pamela Stevenson at the SBDC and Grow Oregon and gained valuable exposure through Cascade Angels and Bend Venture Funds.  Since then, we have built strategic relationships with local companies, Pneuma33, Five Talent, and Mandala Agency, as well as many local entrepreneurs reaching out and connecting.  Bend has been an incredible town to grow our company.

How has your experience been in finding talent in Bend?

I believe there’s an attraction to Bend from active, smart, independent and creative people. If you build the right culture and have work that matches their interests, they will flock to your door. So far, it has been an incredible place to find talent.

How many people do you now employ in Bend vs. Portland?

In Portland, we had 10 people working in our startup offices, and we still have 3 people in our office there, but now we have 37 people working at Choose Growth in Bend.

To what do you attribute this rapid-fire success?

It really is a direct result of building our client base, which naturally fosters a need to grow our team. We now have two larger production studios booked out week after week by Thought Leaders flying in from all over the world.

How did Compass Commercial help you in your expansion to the new space in Bend?

Compass Commercial and our current building owner were proactive in working with us ahead of time to plan our next move and we worked together to find a great solution for the next few years.

What were your requirements for the new location? Was it hard to find space to accommodate your needs? 

We were looking for 9,000 -12,000 square feet that had enough open space for up to 80 people to work in with a dozen or more private offices for conference rooms with clients. In addition, we needed to expand to two larger video production studios within the space. The building owner of our existing office happened to have a space that fit the description and Compass Commercial’s construction team supported the improvements and transition of spaces.

What advice would you offer to people dreaming of relocating to and settling in Bend —particularly entrepreneurs and companies looking to expand in an area that offers an unmatched lifestyle?

If you have a vision to do it — there are plenty of resources to help you along the way.  It’s all worth it once you get here and start to make it happen!