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Updated: August 2, 2021

Portland industrial software startup HighByte sets out to win the ‘tech talent war’

Photo / Jim Neuger Tory Penrod-Cambra is co-founder and chief marketing officer of HighByte, a Portland startup with a global customer base

Torey Penrod-Cambra is the co-founder and chief marketing officer of HighByte, a Portland-based industrial software startup launched in August 2018. HighByte has 11 employees and aims to grow to 58 by the end of 2024. She knows it won’t be easy, speaking of a “tech talent war” onstage at the Gorham Savings Bank LaunchPad competition in June; HighByte won, taking home $50,000 in prize money. We asked her about HighByte’s hiring plans and her advice for tech entrepreneurs thinking of moving to Maine, as she did a decade ago from Ohio.

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

Torey Penrod-Cambra: Our software helps manufacturers collect and model raw industrial data generated from the plant floor and transform it into trusted, ready-to-use information. The modeling engine and codeless user interface make the software truly unique. Our customers are mid-sized to large global manufacturers producing industrial products, consumer packaged goods and pharmaceuticals. Our software is currently deployed in eight countries with trials in 24.

MB: What are HighByte’s near- and longer-term hiring plans?

TP-C: Today, we are a team of 11. Sales growth and the LaunchPad grant will help propel us to 16 full-time employees by the end of this year. We aim to create 29 jobs by the end of 2022 and 58 jobs by the end of 2024. Most of these positions will be in R&D, technical sales and customer success.

MB: In addition to the technical skills required for many of the positions you hire for, what soft skills do you consider most important and why?

TP-C: Collaboration and curiosity are two of our core values, and we really lean on them during recruitment, onboarding and performance management. We’re looking for great communicators who enjoy working with our internal team, customers and partners to solve complex problems. We are tinkerers. We ask a lot of questions. When you hire for collaboration and curiosity, you build a team that’s always growing and inspired by the work.

MB: How are you putting the $50,000 LaunchPad prize money to use?

TP-C: Less than 24 hours after the win, we met to re-evaluate our recruitment strategy and allocate the funds across several open positions. The prize money enabled us to provide more competitive salary offers and get more aggressive with our hiring schedule. In fact, two new employees have signed offer letters since the LaunchPad event, both of whom are based here in Maine. We wasted no time putting the money to work.

MB: Looking back at the competition, what was the most valuable part of participating?

TP-C: While the prize money was of obvious value, the exposure has been invaluable. Our “careers” web page traffic shot up 98% in the week following the event. We’ve hired two new employees and we’re currently interviewing some exciting candidates. Beyond HighByte, I think the win also signaled tech’s growing momentum in Maine. There is value in that collective momentum.

MB: What should tech entrepreneurs thinking of a move to Maine know about Portland?

TP-C: Portland is a vibrant little city with so much to offer you, professionally and personally. Of course, you will bring great ideas, but don’t forget to let Maine change you as well. After 10 years in Maine, the grit, resourcefulness and respect for nature I’ve learned from the people here have made me a more well-rounded entrepreneur.

MB: And once they’re here, what startup resources would you point them to for making connections?

TP-C: Maine is fortunate to have great resources for startups, including Startup Maine, Live + Work in Maine, Maine Startups Insider, the U.S. Small Business Administration, Maine Technology Institute, Mainebiz events, interesting co-working spaces, and so many more. This community is so generous with their time and support. Let’s all continue to pay it forward.

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