How one Missoula tech company used COVID-19 funds to support local businesses

Event, #SpreadTheChed begins April 6

The Missoula Art Museum pictured on December 20, 2020.

Fifteen years ago, we started what became because we believed the community wanted a centralized place to know what was happening when, and that we could build and strengthen our city through a new kind of online platform.

Fast forward to March 2020, when events across Montana were widely canceled or moved online, and hundreds of artists, musicians, nonprofits, and small fitness studios and retailers faced an uncertain future. Our business was hurting too, and we weren’t alone.

Thankfully, more than 5 million American small businesses received PPP loans, including nearly 30,000 in Montana, including ours. Gatherboard, the parent company we co-founded that powers and 40 other online calendars around the country including 10 in Montana, might not have survived the pandemic’s economic fallout without the federal and state support we received. All told, we received nearly $90,000 in COVID-19 relief funding.

The confidence to keep growing and innovating through the past year wouldn’t have been possible without the Montana Business Stabilization Grant program, which distributed $200 million in the state, and the Montana Innovation Grant program through the governor’s office. The innovation grants were designed to help companies like ours scale up, improve capabilities, or drive expanded distribution of products or services developed in response to COVID-19.

By accepting this “government cheddar,” we felt strongly that we had a responsibility to pay it forward through the additional services we built to enhance our online calendar software. Starting April 6, Missoulians can experience CheddarBoard, and it includes a new beta set of features that make it easier for local artists, nonprofits, and businesses to accept community contributions (and soon ticketing) through livestream and on-demand pre-recorded events.

Keeping more money in the local economy is also important to us as parents. Like many of our peers in the tech industry, we have mixed feelings about the impact of technology, especially social media, on our children’s lives. Around the time we were applying for grant assistance, we  watched the “Social Dilemma” and the heartburn about giving our money and private information to giant companies like Facebook only increased. That influenced our wish to build CheddarBoard in a way that puts the pocketbooks of local people and businesses first and keeps more of the revenue associated with hosting top-notch online events within the community.

CheddarBoard interfaces with YouTube, YouTube Live, Facebook Live, Zoom and other video platforms. The vast majority of each donation will go to the local event creators, with a small processing fee, which can be covered by the donor.  Payment options are powered by Stripe, and after the beta release, additional options will include Venmo, PayPal, GooglePay, ApplePay.

Missoula’s #SpreadTheChed launch week events include everything from art tours and classes to free virtual Oula dance fitness classes to a concert with Tom Catmull and Travis Yost.  Launch week ends on Saturday evening, April 10 with a feminist comedy show at Zootown Arts Community Center featuring Sarah Aswelll. We hope you’ll join us in building community online, and in real life again soon.

To join #SpreadTheChed, visit

Molly Bradford is the CEO and Co-founder at GatherBoard, the company behind Molly takes community connection seriously as an active member of the Missoula startup ecosystem and is heavily involved in her children’s scholastic and community endeavors. Molly is an avid yet amateur gardener, cook, skier, and hunter who likes to put up mass quantities of food for the winter and race her husband and kids down the slopes. She makes telecommuting from Mexico a family priority.

Colin Hickey was coming off a long stint as the front man for the International Playboys and promoting music in Montana,  when he started a free community events calendar called In 2005, the site morphed into, and by 2013, GatherBoard was born. Colin is both the COO at GatherBoard and a COO at VidCon.  He believes “that online video is the most important cultural force since the motion picture. We are in the very early, defining moments of an extremely powerful global force. VidCon is and strives to continue to be the physical center of that revolution.”

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