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Updated: December 14, 2020 On the record

On the Record: For Torey Penrod-Cambra, co-founder of HighByte, success is more than an idea

Photo / Jim Neuger Torey Penrod-Cambra, co-founder and chief marketing officer of Portland-based startup HighByte, says the industrial software firm began with a team rather than an idea.

Torey Penrod-Cambra is a co-founder and chief marketing officer at HighByte, a Portland-based industrial software startup with seven employees. She chatted with Mainebiz about how HighByte started in 2018, the pandemic’s effect on business and what’s ahead in 2021.

Mainebiz: What brought you to Maine and what was your career path before HighByte?

Torey Penrod-Cambra: My wife and I moved to Maine from Ohio in 2011 so she could pursue a graduate degree from the University of New England. I spent the first year working remotely for a pharmaceutical marketing firm in Ohio with clients in Irvine, Calif., and was frequently flying across the country. In 2012, I joined Kepware, an industrial software company in Portland. I led the marketing organization and was part of the core leadership team that helped sell Kepware to PTC in 2016. I spent two years at PTC following the acquisition as vice president of marketing, steadily taking responsibility for a broader portfolio of software solutions until I left the company in 2018.

Mainebiz: What does HighByte do and who and where are your customers?

TP-C: HighByte helps manufacturers collect and model raw industrial data generated from the plant floor and transform it into trusted, ready-to-use information for all who require it. Our secret sauce is our codeless data modeling engine that has been specifically designed for the unique qualities of industrial data. Our customers are mid-sized to large global manufacturers producing automotive parts, industrial products, consumer packaged goods and pharmaceuticals.

MB: What inspired the business idea, and how did you connect with your fellow co-founders?

TP-C: Most companies begin with an idea, but HighByte began with a team. The three of us have worked together since 2012 (first at Kepware and then at PTC post-acquisition) and have more than 50 years of combined experience delivering software to this market. We recognized that data integration and management were becoming increasingly complex — and believed we were the right team to tackle these issues. I feel fortunate to be working with two people whom I deeply trust and respect [CEO Tony Paine and Chief Business Officer John Harrington].

MB: What do you like most about your role at HighByte?

TP-C: Marketing is sometimes pigeonholed as customer demand generation, but I like exploring how my communication skills and attention to detail translate to other areas of the business like investor relations, talent recruitment, internal communications, and operations. I enjoy coming to work every day and wearing many hats.

MB: What was the hardest part of getting this business off the ground?

TP-C: We released HighByte Intelligence Hub, our core product, to market at the end of January 2020. We could not have imagined what the year ahead would hold. It’s a predictable response, but launching a new product to market that requires on-site installation during a global pandemic has certainly been the hardest part of getting this business off the ground. COVID-19 has had a major impact on our business. It’s affected sales forecast, demand generation, travel, hiring plans, investment strategy and inter-company communication. However, it has also accelerated digitalization among our target customers, which will ultimately benefit our business in the years to come.

MB: As a first-time entrepreneur, what has surprised you the most about starting a business in Maine?

TP-C: I was pleasantly surprised by the number of financial and strategic resources available to entrepreneurs in Maine. We’ve been fortunate to work with great organizations like the Maine Venture Fund, Maine Technology Institute, Finance Authority of Maine and Startup Maine. Our professional service partners have also been exceptionally supportive. From local angel inventors to fellow startup founders, I’ve found Mainers to be so generous with their time and connections.

MB: What’s next for HighByte and where do you see it in a year?

TP-C: We are really just getting started! If I had to make some predictions, I believe 2021 will bring substantial sales growth, multiple product releases and new international partnerships. Our company has the potential to double in size by the end of next year, and we don’t take that responsibility lightly. We currently have seven employees, including the three founders, and expect to double our total headcount by the end of next year.

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