May 31st, 2008

Why Portland? Intrigo succumbs to serendipity


[Editor: For those folks outside the Silicon Forest who stumble upon this blog, I tend to get a bunch of questions about Portland: What makes Portland so special? Why do I keep hearing about Portland? Should I move there? Can I stay at your house?

It goes on and on.

But they're all really asking the same thing: Why Portland?

So, I'm starting a new series of posts entitled---appropriately enough---"Why Portland?" In so doing, I hope to provide some different viewpoints what makes Portland, the Silicon Forest, and the whole startup scene around here so special.]

Intrigo succumbs to serendipity

IntrigoGo to practically any Legion of Tech event or a Beer and Blog or a Portland Lunch 2.0, and more likely than not, you’ll have the pleasure of meeting someone from Intrigo, a small Portland-based development shop focused on helping startups get their products and sites to market as quickly as possible.

And Intrigo isn’t just participating. They’re sponsoring. They’re pitching in to help. They’re part and parcel of the burgeoning Portland startup scene.

They must have been around here forever.

Not exactly.

In reality, the first footsteps that Tucson, Arizona, founded Intrigo set in Portland were last October.

“Four days of rain,” said Nathan Bell, who helps run Intrigo.

They were here as part of a search for a new home for Intrigo. But at that point, Portland wasn’t really even on the list.

“We were looking to get out of Tucson,” said Bell. “We had a list of places we were exploring: San Francisco, Seattle, New York, Boston, Boulder, and Austin. But a couple of us were interested in looking at Portland.”

And yet, lo and behold, here they are in good old Portland. What won them over?

“Portland is so dense compared to the other cities. So focused in a small area with a very tight community,” said Bell. “Even with the weather, that visit had us putting Portland near the top of the list. And after a few conversations with the team, that was that.”

So, Intrigo packed up its entire company and began to relocate to Portland. Because, in their opinion, Portland had things that Tucson lacked, among them a good technology sector and growing startup scene. Things that were important for their business to succeed.

But the interesting thing was that that decision preceded their first face-to-face interactions with the Portland tech community. Even more interesting? At the point in time they were making that decision, the now exceptionally collaborative Portland Web startup community had just barely begun to gel.

But it was starting to gel. And there was one particular event that marked the beginning of that startup community getting more collegial: Ignite Portland.

And as serendipity would have it, that event was Intrigo’s introduction to the Portland startup scene.

“One of our first hires sent us a YouTube video from Ignite Portland,” said Bell. “And that led us to getting involved with the Legion of Tech. Because we wanted to support that kind of thing.”

And they’ve been continuing to support it ever since.

So, now Intrigo is indeed part of the startup scene that coincidentally seemed to come together even as they made their plans to move to the Rose City. They’re an anchor for events. And a definitive presence in the community.

They’ve helped make the Portland Web startup community what it is today. In effect, defining their own future. And they will—no doubt—continue to do so.

So, now, what does Intrigo see for Portland’s future? And what are they looking for from Portland?

“I’d like to see the Portland Web startup scene gain more and more critical mass,” said Bell. “I’d like to see this become a self-sustaining movement that attracts more and more companies to Portland.”

And as that happens, what is Intrigo’s role?

“We’re still maturing and working to find our niche,” said Bell. “We’re still figuring out how we’ll fit into the ecosystem around here. One thing is for sure, we’ll keep focusing on what we do well: building deeply technical Web apps for startups.”

If this is the way Intrigo spends its first six months in town, I can’t wait to see what they’re capable of doing once they’re settled.

For more on Intrigo, follow the Intrigo blog. To keep tabs on Nathan Bell, follow nathanpbell on Twitter.

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4 Responses to “Why Portland? Intrigo succumbs to serendipity”

  1. Gary Walter says:

    I think this article singlehandedly took out Intrigo’s website.

  2. Yay for awesome companies participating in the Portland tech scene. Yay for companies that put their money where their mouth is (thanks Intrigo for sponsoring events).

  3. [...] And the “Why Portland?” series—which began with Intrigo and continued with Tim Kadlec—continues with Heather Nordeen of Strands. What’s [...]

  4. [...] not that Nathan Bell. That’s Nathan P. [...]


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