Ryno lands 'Portlandia' cameo
By Christina Williams
Sustainable Business Oregon editor
Portland-based Ryno Motors featured its one-wheeled electric vehicle on Portlandia this month. CEO Christopher Hoffmann says being made fun of is good for business.
When "Portlandia" directors put out a casting call for wacky products that are made in Portland, Ryno Motors Inc. CEO Christopher Hoffmann didn't hesitate to submit his company's eye-catching, one-wheel electric vehicle.
He got a call from the television show, which pokes fun at Portland's culture, two hours later.
"They asked me down to their building and I did a demo in the parking lot," Hoffman said.
Ryno's cameo aired Feb. 17 and added to a growing list of media attention for the Portland startup.
In the skit, "Portlandia" costars Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen play a couple trying to spice up their love life with motor vehicles. Brownstein's character then rolls up on Ryno's distinctive electric unicycle and hilarity — depending on your definition of humor — ensues.
Humor, Hoffmann figures, is good for business. Ryno is in the midst of raising $1 million in private capital, he said, and is on the verge of going into production of the one-wheeled electric vehicle once that money is raised.
Even though the vehicle ends up as the punchline of jokes, Hoffmann said he still is regularly fielding requests from media from around the world.
"We've got such a solid following, so many people saying 'It's the coolest thing I've ever seen.' We kind of like the fact that it's being made fun of in a way," Hoffmann said.
After Ryno announced last September that it struck a deal to test its one-wheeler with the Portland Police Bureau, talk show host Jimmy Fallon included a reference to the fact that Portland police officers would start riding unicycles in his monologue on October 3.
In April, GQ magazine will feature photos of the newest Ryno model, which Hoffmann describes as akin to "a screamin' Ducati with one wheel."
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