Month: May 2008

Portland Startup Weekend: Five startup projects launched in 54 hours

Portland Startup WeekendWhat did you do this past weekend?

Yeah, really? Oh? You don’t say. Oh, that sounds nice. Me? Oh, you know. The usual.

Say, you’ll never guess what a bunch of our peers did over the weekend, though.

Oh, not much. Just started five separate startup projects.

That’s right. The group that gathered for Portland Startup Weekend managed to launch five startup projects: Get Gathered, Life Grant, Mugasha, Startup River, and TreasuRecycle.

They’re all in various states of startupedness, currently. But, rest assured, I’ll be dedicating posts to each of these projects as they gain their footing.

For now, let’s focus on Portland Startup Weekend, itself, with a good ol’ fashioned Silicon Florist round up:

No doubt more posts will be emerging as the participants recover from the weekend. And I’ll work to capture them here.

If you’ve posted something that I’ve missed, please comment and I’ll make sure to link it up.

WebVisions 2008: Rounding up the posts

WebVisionsWell, another WebVisions is in the books. And given that I wasn’t able to attend, I’ve been really happy to see a ton of write-ups on the event.

I can’t keep all this goodness to myself, so I thought I’d provide a round-up on all the comments and posts I’ve found.

Did you write something that I missed? I’d love to read it—and I’d love to link it up. Please add your post to the comments below, and I’ll add it to the list.

Silicon Florist’s links arrangement for May 24

It’s not about awards, but they are nice

Via the Substance blog “Substance picked up three awards at the first annual Webvisionary Awards event on Thursday, May 23, 2008. We were recognized for Oden or Durant (Advertising category), bambu (Business category) and Logobama (Viral category).”

Silicon Florist’s links arrangement for May 22

My Dotcom Journey

Tom Turnbull writes “It kinda/sorta started back in 1989 when I was attending law school at the University of Washington. One of the students decided to go work at an outfit called Microsoft. My little 512K Mac and I smugly thought that was a silly idea. Of course this was way before the rise of them Internets.”

Portland Startup Weekend now being held at Vidoop offices

Heads up! There has been a last second location change for Portland Startup Weekend. The event will now be held at the Vidoop offices in Old Town. The event begins tonight, May 23, at 6:00 PM.

On a side note, I’m not sure if a Twitter hashtag has been proposed (or if Twitter will even be functional), but I thought I would propose one for those folks watching from the sidelines. How about #pdxsw?

[Editor’s note: As much as I’d love to be in attendance, I’ve been sidelined by illness. That said, I will definitely try to swing by during the weekend. Best of luck to the participants.]

Silicon Florist’s links arrangement for May 21

WebVisions 2008: Schedule

WebVisions will be held at the Oregon Convention Center’s E Series Meeting Rooms. Speakers and schedules for workshops and sessions are subject to change and seating is provided on first come, first served basis.

Twitter has had a rough week

Jack writes “I have this graph up on my screen all the time. It should be flat. This week has been rough.”

SAO lures Harvey Mathews back

From the Silicon Forest blog “Harvey Mathews, who resigned in March as the head of the Software Association of Oregon, has decided to stay on after all instead of leaving May 19 as he had planned.”

New Platial Feature: Zoom to Location

Tracy Rolling writes “Last week we updated the site and added back in our old ‘Zoom to Location’ tool. This is a really useful tool if you are looking at a big map that has a lot of markers on it all over the world and you just want to see what is close to you. You can type in the name of your city or plug in your zip code to jump the map over to the spot you need.”

Let’s set a date. – WordCampPDX

Aaron Hockley writes “We’re looking at 9/27 as the tentative date for WordCamp Portland.”

Silicon Florist’s links arrangement for May 20

IBM Lotus Connections Evangelist now works at Jive

Gia Lyons shares “My passion is to help people figure out how to work better with each other, to do better things together. And it’s not just about giving them the right tools. It’s about showing them how to change their culture so that they can become the truly collaborative and innovative organization they want to be. But, to do this, you need to start with great tools, or folks will never use more than the email or the phone.”

db clay Version 3.1

Mr. Diggles writes “db clay has officially switched over to the rails platform which is why this was a big launch for us. we still have a long way to go with the back-end stuff but holy hell our new system is slick.”

Ruthless Simplicity

Raymond Brigleb writes “Much has been made about Steve Jobs’ return to Apple, about ten years ago now, and how he turned the company around. Basically, a big part of his strategy for getting Apple back on track was drastically reducing the number and variety of computers they sold. While I am quite familiar with the story, I’ve never seen it illustrated as well as in the Timeline of Macintosh models on Wikipedia.”

Portland Startup Weekend: It’s still a “Go!”… are you?

Portland Startup WeekendRoughly six months ago, the Portland startup community put its collective effort into casting votes for “Portland Startup Weekend,” a local version of the successful Startup Weekend events designed to test our collective entrepreneurial mettle by challenging participants to form a company in a 54-hour period.

Thanks to that collective voting effort, Portland was among the first cities selected for the 2008 series of Startup Weekends. And those who were interested in the event—myself included—were, for lack of a better word, “psyched.”

In the following months, the Startup Weekend team expanded to support its rapidly growing popularity. Founder Andrew Hyde stepped aside to hand off the planning for Startup Weekend—including Portland Startup Weekend—to the someone who could focus on the events full-time.

Everything seemed to be moving in the right direction.

But then, things got quiet. Too quiet.

And now, Hyde has informed us that Portland Startup Weekend—scheduled for May 23-25—has fallen victim to some organizational issues:

Sorry for the lack of communication, the person that was in charge of putting together this weekend quit last weekend without notice, and the lack of communication was worse than I realized. If you have any questions, please email me at andrew@startupweekend.com and I will get right back to you. I am very sorry for the inconvenience this has caused everyone.

It’s unfortunate that any Startup Weekend encountered these difficulties, let alone our Startup Weekend.

But, Andrew and his team are working overtime to recover the fumble.

Jeremy Tanner, who has now taken the lead on Portland Startup Weekend planning, had this to say:

This is disappointing to the planning process, but not breaking the spirit of the event (This being Startup Weekend and all). This is an incredibly talented group, and I can’t wait to see what the group can accomplish in just 54 hours….

The real goal of Startup Weekend is community, and I can’t wait for SWPDX to show what it has. Plan on meeting some brilliant folks, working with those you have only known through twitter, and showing what you can do. Don’t expect to create the next Google, unless you are on my team, which, then it would be totally cool.

What now?

But now, comes the real question: How will this stumble affect attendance?

If you were planning to go, are you still going? Have you opted out? Never thought about participating?

I’ve heard some rumblings about attendance on Twitter—both positive and negative—but that’s far from conclusive. So I thought I would take the opportunity to launch a quick poll. Just to gauge the interest—and possible attendance—this weekend.

[polldaddy|626477]

Please take a second to respond, either via the poll or the comments.

I’d really appreciate hearing from you on this topic.

Silicon Florist’s links arrangement for May 18

WhereCamp 2008

Audrey Eschright writes “I think we really, absolutely have a WhereCamp Portland. Let’s say in October. There’s just too much interesting mapping and location-geekery happening here to not do it. Who wants to help make this happen?”

Submit an Ignite Proposal & Complete the LoT Survey Now!

Dawn Foster writes “Ignite proposals are due on May 28th! That means you have only 10 days to come up with an awesome, killer idea for the Ignite Portland event in June. We don’t have very many submissions so far, so
your chances are good!”

Portland Startup Weekend is Friday

Andrew Hyde writes “Sorry for the lack of communication, the person that was in charge of putting together this weekend quit last weekend without notice, and the lack of communication was worse than I realized. If you have any questions, please email me at andrew@startupweekend.com and I will get right back to you. I am very sorry for the inconvenience this has caused everyone.”

The Portland Internet Effect

[Editor: Nino Marchetti, a local freelance technology writer, recently put together an article about the local Web community. And while it’s a little strange to see myself quoted in an article on my own blog, I was happy to oblige. Thanks to Nino for offering up this story.]

The Portland Internet Effect
By Nino Marchetti

What makes Portland such a hub of potential for Internet companies? Is there something in the water? Do factors like a well-established creative class, support for open source, and a lower cost of living make this a place for Web outfits to call home?

I recently set out to find answers to some of those questions. I spoke with local Web company owners, analysts, and investors. The answers vary but one thing is clear—Portland is making plenty of waves sandwiched between the tech power houses of Seattle and the Silicon Valley.

In the realm of Portland Web companies, Jive Software could arguably be considered one of the more established enterprises. Jive, which focuses on “online collaboration tools that make it easier for people to work together,” came to the local market via New York City. CEO David Hersh feels the area offers his company the right mix of things to make it easy to call this home.

“Portland has the best mix of lifestyle, business clients, and software cluster,” said Hersh. “It is less expensive and easier for us to grow a company here then in the Bay Area or Seattle.”

Hersh added Jive feels there is a good local software programmer group to draw from, but that the downside is there aren’t as many talented bodies as one might hope for—deeper pools of potential programmers exist in other markets. The local talent that is available, however, is potentially quite entrepreneurial—there is a group of Jive employees who might at some point strike out and start their own operations.

“There are plenty of opportunities,” said Hersh. “Anybody with a big vision can make it happen here.”

A smaller Web-based operation which has been trying to make it happen here is SplashCast. This company offers what vice president of business development Tom Turnbull calls a “rich media advertising and syndication platform” for media companies and brands like Sony to connect with consumers in popular social networks such as Facebook.

Turnbull, like Hersh, sees positives and negatives to Portland as a Web company cluster location. On the positive, the company loves the area for things like creativity, a growing Internet community, and less expensive house prices. He has never thought about relocating anywhere else. On the downside though, many of its clients are elsewhere.

“We pay a soft price for being in Portland,” said Turnbull. “The media companies that we partner with are not located in here. Most of the ad agencies are located in the bigger markets. Therefore, we are familiar with Jet Blue’s red eye to New York and make trips to California on a regular basis.”

Even very small Web companies are finding some success and challenges in the Portland area. One of these is Values on n. This outfit, founded in March 2006, has had some success in developing Web services which focus on “personal and small group productivity with a particular emphasis on harnessing everyone’s de-facto productivity tool: email.” This is according to company founder Rael Dornfest, who reflected on some local start up thoughts.

“By being even such a short distance from the Silicon Valley,” said Dornfest, “Portland start-ups are buffered to a certain degree from the ‘startup scene’ and so tend to spend more time thinking about building community and customer base—and, at least within the group of start-ups we know, those are viewed as fairly synonymous. There’s just something about the Portland startup gestalt that’s different—in much the same way as Portland itself feels different somehow to those who visit (and almost invariably want to stay).”

In looking at what seems to make Portland tick for Web companies, tech consultant Marshall Kirkpatrick has made some interesting observations. Kirkpatrick, who said he consults “on everything from product road mapping to site usability to social media marketing ,” has made a name for himself in the online world, writing for tech industry blogs like TechCrunch and ReadWriteWeb.

“I think there’s an unusual feeling of camaraderie among startups here,” said Kirkpatrick when asked to compare Portland to other tech hotspots like San Francisco and Seattle. “It’s less nasty than San Francisco and less obscured in the shadow of a monolith than Seattle.”

Kirkpatrick highlighted that a lot of local programmers are involved in “pseudo-geekish” technologies like RSS and wikis, as well as there being a strong community of open source developers. This all adds up to a lot of “self-made Web application power users here.”

You can, of course, have local Web outfits, consultants, and others promoting the values of Portland as a tech spot on the radar, but without venture capital funding many projects remain in the garage. Portland, until late, has definitely flown under the radar in this area and one could say it still has some growing to do.

“In terms of fund raising,” said SplashCast’s Turnbull, “Portland has a bit of a bad reputation in the startup community. There are certainly fewer VCs here. That being said, we are having great success in the Portland angel investment community and are very optimistic about our future VC prospects.”

Kirkpatrick echoed Turnbull in the VC perception of Portland, saying “venture capitalists are sometimes hesitant to invest in startups based in Portland, because of the perception that this is a place you move to enjoy the quality of life—not to ruin your life giving everything you’ve got to a startup.”

Not all VCs are hesitant though about Portland Web company investment opportunities. Erik Benson, managing director of Voyager Capital, sees local outfits as offering great potential products for end users, though he also feels they “could stand to aim for a bigger scale.”

“We are enthusiastic about the level of passion and creativity that’s coming out of the Portland Web scene, particularly around Open Source and social Web technology,” said Benson. “JanRain, the leader of the OpenID movement, and Values of n, a social-Web-enabled personal assistant, are examples that highlight those areas.”

Other early investment stage firms also see Portland as potential funding grounds. One of these is Mount Hood Equity Partners, managed by Bob Wiggins.

“There are a number of companies in the Portland area I’ve looked at that I would consider quite interesting,” said Wiggins. “There’s a good pool of talent both on the engineering side and, to an extent, on the executive side as well.”

Wiggins has observed a lot of local Web companies focused on using the Internet as a tool for taking care of some kind of problem. This can range from online collaboration like Jive does to managing multiple fast food locations as a franchisee.

Also observing the Portland Web scene are analysts like Raven Zachary of The 451 Group and bloggers such as Rick Turoczy of Silicon Florist. It is observers like these which can fan or quench the flames of potential hot companies with their comments.

“With this many highly-independent, intelligent people in Portland,” said Zachary, “you’re going to see a lot of startup activity here… Portland is becoming a destination for the California tech scene as they grow up and want to settle down and have a family while continuing to pursue tech.”

He also noted, realistically, Portland is not the “center of the tech universe.”

“That won’t change,” said Zachary.

Turoczy, for his part, maintains feverish coverage of local Web companies as information is passed along to him. This perhaps gives him one of the most insider views of all on what works locally and what doesn’t.

“I think the Silicon Forest—if we define the Forest as stretching from the coast over to Bend and quite a ways down south and up past Vancouver—has the potential to be a hot bed for Web startups,” said Turoczy. “I don’t think we have really realized its true potential, yet. We’ve taken steps. And I think we have a good start.”

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