February 3rd, 2011
Why an Argentinean serial entrepreneur moved to Portland to run his business
[Editor: Here's another guest post in the "Why Portland?" series. This time, it's from Zeke Camusio.]
I grew up and lived the first 23 years of my life in Buenos Aires, Argentina, a beautiful 18-million person city. That was too big for me, so I decided to move to Aspen, Colorado, where I met my wife and we lived for four years.
We finally decided to buy our first home. We were really excited, but that excitement didn’t last long. The most affordable home in the market was a 1-bedroom that was selling for $1.2M. We realized it was time for us to move somewhere else.
So, how do you decide what city you should move to? Easy: you use Google! We Googled “best places to live in the US” and we found five potential candidates: San Francisco, Boston, Chicago, Austin, and Portland. We decided to check out all five cities and then choose our favorite one. The first city we visited was Portland. That was the end of our search. We LOVED IT!
I’m now working on convincing my out-of-town friends to move here. Moving is a huge decision for most people, so I made a list of my favorite things about Portland so my “pitch” can be more effective.
- Size. Portland’s size is perfect. It’s big enough that there are always things going on: music, business events, sports, etc. But, at the same time, it’s small enough that you get the sense of being a part of a community.
- “Weirdness.” Last week I saw a great bumper sticker that said “Keep Portland Weird”. I loved it! I think that’s the best way to describe Portland and its unique bars, neighborhoods and people. There’s a guy in town that paints his face and beard blue and wears blue clothes all the time. Have you seen him? My wife called me the other day and asked, “guess who I just saw?” I knew the answer: “the Blue Man!”
- Portlanders Aren’t Into Appearances. When I used to live in Aspen, if you dared to go to a restaurant wearing a T-shirt, people would give you “the look”. They made you feel really uncomfortable. So, I started wearing expensive clothes to fit in. I mean, who wants to be the worst dressed person at a party? When I moved to Portland three months ago, a potential client called me and asked me to meet up. I showed up on my most expensive suit. He was wearing sweat pants! No, I’m not kidding! I kept showing up overdressed for a few more meetings until I realized that people actually cared about how I could help them, not the clothes I was wearing.
- Entrepreneurial Scene. Being an entrepreneur is hard and you often feel a little lonely. To me, connecting with other entrepreneurs is very rewarding. I had no idea how big entrepreneurship was in Portland. I joined OEN and YPOP as soon as I moved into town and I’ve met the most amazing people through these networks. As a part of my non-profit program supported by my Internet marketing agency I taught a few online marketing seminars and I was shocked by the number of people who showed up. Last time we didn’t have enough chairs for everybody!
I’ve lived in 12 cities all over the world and I’ve never met so many successful entrepreneurs in one place. Not only have I made extremely valuable connections, but I’ve also made some long-lasting, amazing friends.
When I try to convince other entrepreneurs to run their companies in Portland and hire local talent, they like the idea but almost all of them come up with the same objection: “All that sounds great, but it rains a lot!” This is how I overcome this objection: “Yes, it does, but that’s a great thing! You can go to the movies, invite your friends over for dinner and have a great breakfast in bed. In fact, all these things are much much more enjoyable on rainy days!”
In the last three months, Portland has given me a lot. I’m working on giving Portland back as much as I can. I do that by hiring local talent, helping local clients and teaching business owners, for free, how to grow their revenues using Internet marketing.
(Image courtesy StuSeeger. Used under Creative Commons.)