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Utility tailgate suits outside adventure fans.

COURTESY: HOODWORKS - GearGate is a Swiss-Army style tailage replacement solution to organizing your pickup.

Portland-based Hoodworks founder Matt Bader’s light bulb moment came during a drive to Mt. Hood with his family.

Along the way he noticed lines of pickup trucks with mountain bikes, their front tires awkwardly draped off the back. You know that tangled, uneasy mess of wheels you don’t like driving behind.

SOCIAL SOURCINGHe went back home and searched through 5,800 patents. No one had thought to address bike storage by changing the tailgate itself, which he began to study very closely. Six months were spent in secrecy while a licensing strategy and patents were put in place for all the parts that are novel.

GearGate, the first replacement tailgate system, was born.

Here’s how it works. GearGate replaces the existing tailgate on a pickup, swapping it out for a tailgate packed with built-in features: a bike mount holds up to three bikes; a built-in heavy duty chain lock keeps them safe; a Nanuk toolbox slides neatly into a chamber; waterproof LED lights for night time illumination; and a panel accessed by combination lock where wallet, keys, and phone can be stored. Think of GearGate as the Swiss Army knife of tailgates, transforming the tailgate into a multi-use device worthy of the action adventure TV series “MacGyver.”

“We looked at it in terms of its form,” explains Bader. “It’s a rectangle with depth. So it’s like a Swiss Army or a Leatherman knife. You can attach anything to it,” says Bader, who has a background career in logistics that took him to Africa and Europe. For Hoodworks he has linked up with two partners who also have auto industry backgrounds.

How awesome is this? There’s even a bottle opener. Small quibble: in the GearGate video the opener appears to be upside down causing a bit of beer to spill down the bottle’s neck when opened.

COURTESY: HOODWORKS - Three off-road bicycles secured via a Hoodworks GearGate.

As wasting beer is a crime in most places this will probably be addressed.

While the target consumer is the mountain biking community, there’s no reason to stop there. The company plans to design tailgates with specific adventures in mind, such as camping, fire and rescue, snowboarding and windsurfing. Different designs will have different applications: hunting, sailing or backpacking.

Installing GearGate is easy, says Bader, and can be done with an extra pair of hands for support. Hoodwooks may also provide installation if needed, he imagines. “We could do mobile installation or work out installation with someone like Les Schwab.”

Market response has been extremely positive so far. One thing the team learned is that the mountain biking community tends to own smaller, compact pickup trucks such as Tacomas. “Within a year we’ll have tailgates for all types,” says Bader. “People want it for their Japanese trucks,” as well as for their bigger trucks.

Immaculate design, strength and utility are part of Hoodwork’s vision, and they’re inspired by the values of Oregon companies such as Gerber, legendary maker of knives, axes and multitools, and CRKT (Columbia River Knife and Tool).

“People want cars to get away,” says Bader. “Let’s make the vehicle ready for whatever you want to do. The accessories that people have to use now are ugly, loud, and reduce your fuel efficiency. We’re trying to innovate around that.”

As is true with many crowd funding campaigns the company will need capital well above the campaign amount.

“We’re doing this campaign less for money than for exposure. We’re getting lots of feedback and interest already. From a market valuation perspective, we need our marketing to provide proof of concept. Then we get it in front of people and show demand,” says Bader.

January Featured Campaign

Hoodworks GearGate System

On: Crowd Supply

Goal: $15,000

Deadline: February 17

Campaigns to Watch

Commuting jacket by Sweet Clothing Distribution

On: Kickstarter

Goal: $3,000

Deadline: February 8, 2016

So far: $21,674

Looking good and staying dry while cycling the mean streets of Portland is important. Sweet Clothing Distribution makes weatherproof fashion garments designed for cities; its design studio, development, and photography are Portland-based, as is designer Nina Bucci, who owns Suite 6 Boutique on N.E. Alberta St and designs clothing for Mia Melon and One Man labels. Together they’ve launched a campaign to produce two ultimate cycling/active wear jackets suitable for any activity. Both styles have removable hoods, reflective details, cellphone pocket, internal drawstring and cozy microfleece lining. Cuffs have reveal or conceal reflective tape. Comes in a commuter hoodie or commuter jacket style. $99 backers receive a jacket that will retail at $139. What matters most to bikers? “Being seen is important,” says designer Bucci, “accessible pockets and pit zips because riders get warm. And having a design that doesn’t scream one thing, that lets you be understated when not riding.”

Espresso Machine

On: GoFundMe

Goal: $4,500

Deadline: None

So far: $1,370

Howl ‘n Growl owner Tommy Speigner poured sweat, love, and beer into building out his taproom. Now he’d like to expand his offerings by adding an espresso machine but he needs a little help before he can start pulling those shots. His GoFundMe campaign will raise money to buy an espresso machine for his Front Avenue taproom located in industrial Northwest Portland.

COURTESY: HANDFUL BRA - Athlete Jennifer Ferguson designed the first Handful Bra after she searched in vain for one that she liked, that could go from workout to weekend, or from trails to cocktails.

Handful Bra

On: Crowd Supply

Successfully raised $3,215 of their $3,000 goal on Crowdsupply.

Athlete Jennifer Ferguson designed the first Handful Bra after she searched in vain for one that she liked, that could go from workout to weekend, or “from trails to cocktails.” Now she’s got two new styles: a fixed strap bra (no hardware) with removable pads and a reversible tank that can scoop in the front or the back. The company recently started coming out with styles for different seasons in different colors.

“People often want to pre-order our products so this a good way to see how serious they are,” she says of this campaign. Handful bras are sold across the greater Portland area in places like Barre3, FootTraffic and ClubSport, among others. All Handful bras are approved for women who’ve had mastectomies. “We’re a company with a sense of humor,” she says of its name. “We’re about spirited woman who runs marathons and go out dancing.” Feeling tired from all that exercising and partying? ““We’ve got people who sleep in these bras they are so comfortable.”

Campaign Updates

Whiskey Lab


Raised $16,165 of $40,000 goal on Kickstarter

Fang Wallet


Raised $795 of $300 goal on Crowd Supply.

Best Chess Set Ever


Raised $324 of $1 goal on Crowd Supply.

Wild Rumpus Dance


Raised $2,621 of $2,500 goal on Kickstarter.


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