July 31st, 2014 10:48 am | by REBECCA TURLEY News | Posted In: Tech

Startup of the Week: Project Skyhook

Four guys in North Portland built a Bitcoin ATM

Founders: Jon Hannis and Tim Schuuman

Year Founded: 2014

Location: 7600 N Interstate Ave.

Valued at: Undetermined

Need to turn your cash into Bitcoin? Four men in North Portland's Portsmouth neighborhood have created one of the nation's first Bitcoin ATMs.

This month, inventor Jon Hannis and three partners started selling the ATM from a warehouse along North Interstate Avenue.

The machine, called Skyhook, is slightly bigger than a breadbox—15 inches tall—and accepts U.S. dollars, turning them into the Web-based cryptocurrency. (It doesn’t dispense dollar bills, however.)

The company, Project Skyhook, began in Hannis’s Portsmouth home in January, before he and his three partners started leasing the Interstate building this month.

Now the team works at mismatched tables, lodged between ladders, construction materials, and old furniture strewn about the building. Project Skyhook chief operating officer Kyle Drake sported flannel pajama pants during an interview.

“We’re nerds at heart,” Drake says.

Skyhook is not yet profitable, and hasn’t had any outside investors. But Hannis says the six-month-old company is quickly moving towards a profit.

He invested early on in the currency, when $10 could buy one Bitcoin. Today, one Bitcoin is worth about $600.

“It’s been a huge boom for early investors,” Hannis says. “It’s allowed us to reinvest into the community.”

The portable, white machine allows anyone with a Bitcoin account to put cash in and get Bitcoins online. An account can be set up on a smart phone within minutes.

The Skyhook machine takes dozens of national currencies, including euros, yuan and pesos.

Drake and Hannis say they envision small businesses using the ATM because it doesn’t charge a transaction fee, unlike some credit card companies.

Drake says they’ve sold 200 of the machines in the past two months—most of them outside Oregon, though a Portland hacker space, BrainSilo, has one.

“We’re not really in this to make money, but to build an awesome thing," says Drake.

A Skyhook costs $999. That’s a far cheaper price than other companies offer.

Project Skyhook's COO Kyle Drake (left) and co-founder Jon Hannis. (Photo by Rebecca Turley.)

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