Brammo's Bramscher sets 2015 IPO goal, targets Tesla investors
By Andy Giegerich
Digital Managing Editor
Brammo's Craig Bramscher told Portland Business Journal Power Breakfast attendees that he wants to take his electric motorcycle company public by mid-2015.
Brammo's Craig Bramscher told business leaders Thursday that his electric motorcycle company is looking to go public by the middle of 2015.
Bramscher said Talent, Ore.-based Brammo is meeting with some of the same investment bankers that helped take the Tesla motor company public.
"It's always next year, but Tesla showed there's an appetite for it," Bramscher said. "I'm hoping to do it late next year or in the middle of 2015."
Bramscher had revealed in summer 2012 that he wants to take the company public. Whereas he reportedly sought $1 billion a year ago, Bramscher put his newest fundraising target at $150 million from private and, eventually, $150 million from the public side.
Currently, Brammo's execs are raising funds to achieve profitability before the company hits Wall Street.
Oregon has had one IPO, Erickson Air-Crane Inc., since 2004. Several other companies are discussing the notion.
Bramscher, speaking to a crowd of about 150 Portland Business Journal Power Breakfast attendees, also said he could one day follow through on his original plans to produce an electric car. An EV prototype that's about 85 percent done currently sits in an Ashland-area storage facility.
Upon selling the Dream Media tech company and making a mint, Bramscher set out to build an electric car for what he calls "pro athlete-sized" clients before hitting on the motorcycle idea.
"I thought, when I sold Dream Media on my very lucky day with the stock market, I thought I'd buy a 'super-car,'" said Bramscher, himself a large man. "It turned out my 'petiteness' wouldn't fit into a Lambourgini or a Ferrari."
His team spent several years working on an electric car that would offer enough torque and speed to satisfy Bramscher, a self-described gearhead.
He also, though, wanted to do create such a vehicle for less than $200 million, a goal for which Brammo is on track.
"We had all these tools for building a very fast car, but when we built this exotic one-person motorcycle and took it on the road, we thought, this is it," Bramscher said.
"But when we started talking to investors, they were really confused. This motorcycle has a 40-mile range and goes from zero to 60 in 2.5 seconds."
Brammo has raised about $17 million over the last two years.
Bramscher said the company's innovative distribution deal with Best Buy could have paid off big-time had the big-box retailer not hit a recent rough patch.
"Motorcycle shops get about 18 million to 25 million visits annually," said Bramscher, who hit on the idea after stumbling onto a Best Buy garage bay that wasn't being used.
The motorcycles were distributed through stores in Oregon and California.
"If we could have gotten them to roll it out to all 400 stores, we'd be public," he said. Bramscher said Toyota executives told him they spent $1.5 billion to develop the Prius, with half the car's parts already on Toyota storage shelves.
Bramscher, who parlayed his tech industry success into establishing the Talent-based electric motorcycle company, carries some vaunted designations within the electric vehicle realm. For one, he was recently voted one of the business world's 100 most creative people by Fast Company Magazine.
The Kansas native, who named his company after his high school nickname, began his career in health care administration. He quickly made his way to the top of a hospital's management team before retooling his career and studying architecture. He worked for a Boston firm for several years while he learned how to design.
"I know design, but I'm not a great designer," he acknowledged, in explaining how he eventually made his way to the 3D/computer-aided design side.
Eventually, he established Dream Media, which spawned from an idea to create a hardware and maxware reseller that mostly served the entertainment industry. The company created system infrastructure and connectivity solutions for communications companies such as Warner Bros.
While Brammo earns much notice for its sustainability chops — electric vehicles account for less carbon emissions than their gas counterparts — Bramscher says he didn't set out to create a "green" company.
"It would sound better to say I was passionate about (Brammo's green traits), but I was a gearhead," he said. "Living in Ashland, it's a super-sustainable and green community. My wife says it's rubbed off on me."
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