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Stepping Inside Boise’s Startup Scene

Stepping Inside Boise’s Startup Scene

Editor’s note: Over the next few months, we’ll be taking a virtual tour of U.S. cities to see how the 2008 financial crisis has changed the entrepreneurial landscape, for better or worse.

Boise isn’t exactly a bustling metropolis. Yet, its entrepreneurs know how to think big. Chalk it up to the nearby mountains, towering trees or a get ‘er done frontier mentality. Either way, for a city its size — about 210,000 people — Boise has an impressive roster of innovators bent on disrupting everything from online advertising to outdoor lighting.

Like many cities in the West, Boise climbed the housing boom and fell hard off the other side. Entrepreneurs who had counted on home equity, stock portfolios and bank loans suddenly had to look elsewhere for funding. Yet, in retrospect, many say the financial crisis worked in their favor. Not only did it force them to hone their ideas and recruit top talent, it prompted the city to rally around their ideas and the promise of new business. (Please see related story, “Boise Attracts Startups Seeking Quality of Life.“)

Here’s a look at a diverse mix of Boise entrepreneurs.


Founded: 2007
Employees: 30

The world has changed quite a bit over the last 60 years, but the street lighting hasn’t seen any significant improvements in decades. Enter Inovus, which makes solar-powered street lighting that resembles the old-fashioned kind only with net-zero energy use.

Whereas traditional street lighting requires such measures as underground trenching, wiring and conduit, Inovus’s off-the-grid lights are self-contained. Solar energy, which is captured by flexible panels wrapped around the poles, charges the internal batteries by day. The batteries power LED fixtures by night. In addition to easier installation, lower operating costs and smaller environmental footprints, Inovus says its lights offer something else — they stay on when the power goes out.

The company, which has been doubling every year, now has installations throughout the United States and in nearly a dozen other countries, including Australia, Brazil and the United Arab Emirates.

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