Can Portland become a startup hub? It’s a question that we discuss time and time again.
We have the hackers, but can we attract the right kind of investors? Can we create a startup environment that meshes with the Portland—and Silicon Forest—culture? Can we build a sustainable startup engine?
I believe we can and I know I’m not alone in that regard.
It’s an interesting argument. But what I found most interesting was this (emphasis is mine):
How well this scheme worked would depend on the city. There are some towns, like Portland, that would be easy to turn into startup hubs, and others, like Detroit, where it would really be an uphill battle. So be honest with yourself about the sort of town you have before you try this.
So now, it’s not just obvious to us, anymore. It’s obvious to the outside world, as well.
It seems like there’s an opportunity here. And we shouldn’t squander it.
Via Shizzow “First, we’re going to spend some time at Beer and Blog from 4pm – 7pm to talk about how Portlanders can keep in touch at SXSW and find the best parties. I’ll even share one of my secrets about parties at SXSW. Hint: the big parties suck. After Beer and Blog, we will be gracing the Strange Love Live couch again to talk about SXSW and Shizzow.”
Via VentureBeat “Jive Software, meanwhile, helps big-name corporate like Nike and John Deere collaborate within a company, with partners, and with customers using Web 2.0 tools like blogs, wikis, and forums. (The Sequoia-backed company has also been integrating with other applications and offering tools that make it easier to use its software even when you’re out of the office.)”
Via Tagalus “Here’s the deal – I’m asking you guys to define as many #hashtags as possible – yours, other peoples, tags you’ve seen, tags you’ve used, tags you’ve never used, tags you think should exist – it’s up to you! Also, if you like the service, perhaps consider tweeting about it and pointing your followers toward the site?”
John Nastos writes “OAuth is meant to address these security concerns by allowing users to authenticate with Twitter and then give permissions to certain applications to access their account. I won’t go into an entire example here, because the point of this point is to address some concerns I have with the inner workings, rather than describe the whole process. This also means, that from here on out, this will get pretty techie/geeky/insider.”
Luke Lefler writes “Fresh out of the digital tinder box and into your analog hearth, a warm and sparking round-table discussion at the Blog Pavilion at Business Leader NW 2009. Dawn Foster and Marshall Kirkpatrick elucidate, Alex H. Williams moderates, we aggregate.”
Via Beer and Blog Portland “It’s been a whirlwind year, with the last Friday of February fast approaching. And honestly? After brainstorming with my Beer and Blog buddies to plan March’s fun, I can barely wait to tell you what we have in store. But I’ll only tell you a little, for now. You’ll have to wait for more details until Friday, when we meet once again at the Green Dragon for happy hour.”
Elia Freedman writes “I’m very proud to announce the release of FastFigures Mobile, our first iPhone/iPod Touch application and the first release of our companion to FastFigures Online. FastFigures Mobile runs on iPhone and iPod Touch devices without requiring an Internet connection. FastFigures modernizes the calculator.”
You see, if there’s one thing I love about Portland, it’s our entrepreneurial spirit. We weren’t just going to sit around and cry in our microbrewed beers about it. We Portlanders are going to figure out how to do something else. We’ll show them.
And true to form, here’s Open Source Bridge, a new grassroots-organized open-source-developer-oriented conference that’s slated to be held in Portland, next summer.
Costs? You can attend the three-day conference—June 17-19—for $175. But you have to act quickly. That early bird rate expires on April 1. And if you’re coming from out of town—heck if you’re coming from Beaverton—you can get a room at the Hilton for $139/night.
Why would you stay at the Hilton? Four words my friend. Well, actually one number and three words: 24-hour hacker lounge.
Personally, it’s been an incredible experience, thus far, working with the amazing people volunteering to pull this off. Open Source Bridge is a different kind of conference. And it’s yet another incredible event that’s going to put Portland on the map.
Different how? It’s about open source culture for developers. It’s about being open source citizens:
We’re planning a conference that will connect developers across projects, across languages, across backgrounds to learn from each other. We want people to experience something beyond “how to use tool X” or “why databases keel over when you do Y” (even though those topics are important, making up our tools and trade, and will be a central part of the conference content). We’d like to share what open source means to us, what it offers, where we struggle, and why we do this day in and day out, even when we’re not paid for it.
Hopefully, you’ll put up with me continuing to blather on about it. Because I think it’s yet another example of the Portland community doing things in a very Portland-y way and—as usual—wildly succeeding.
It’s always good to see new Silicon Forest based products being launched—especially when there’s a launch party involved. So, don’t forget that Communit.as will be unveiling their product, tonight.
What’s Communit.as? According to the founders, it’s an “open source web application that provides a foundation for building custom community and social network sites.”
That’s about all I’ve got, because I haven’t seen it yet, either.
Oh okay. Here are some other details:
There are certain core features any community or social network site needs: user accounts, access control, database abstraction, template rendering and a few other essentials. While you could certainly build these things from scratch every time you build a site, this seems like kind of a waste of effort to us. With that in mind we set out to create a reusable, upgradeable foundation that can shave the first few weeks of development off of any custom community site.
“Custom” is really the operative word there. Communit.as is generally intended for building sites with lots of custom functionality. Instead starting with the functionality we think you want and forcing you to hack the crap out of it, we take care of the tedious stuff and give you a great set of tools for adding your own features. If you want a generic blog or a social network that does everything out of the box, there are better solutions for those things.
This isn’t to say you don’t get a running application out of the box. You do. We provide a simple and robust installer that will have you up and running in minutes.
So if you’re intrigued, make sure to show up at CubeSpace, this evening from 6-8. There will be drinks, snacks, and demos galore.
Paul Graham writes “One of the things I always tell startups is a principle I learned from Paul Buchheit: it’s better to make a few people really happy than to make a lot of people semi-happy. I was saying recently to a reporter that if I could only tell startups 10 things, this would be one of them. Then I thought: what would the other 9 be? When I made the list there turned out to be 13”
Via Social Media Club PDX “Wow. What an amazing turnout for our very first event. We had nearly 100 people crammed into a room that was certainly not meant to hold that many. It was great to see so many people interested in learning and sharing ideas about social media. Despite some technical difficulties we experienced, there was some interesting debate and great conversation.”
Via Versionista “To help document the role of online news stories in the election, and beyond, Versionista now lets users sift through edit histories of the Drudge Report for the past several months. Users can view side-by-side comparisons, visually transformed to show what has been added and deleted from one revision to the next.”
My understanding then was that Mathews was looking for a more involved, engaged board — and that he got it. He’s since recruited new board members, boosted membership and sponsorship, started a health care plan for SAO member companies, and helped create interest groups and social networks within the organization.
I haven’t heard back from Mathews himself, so for the moment at least the reasons for his sudden departure will remain a little mysterious.
Harvey’s departure has been confirmed. Here’s the press release:
SOFTWARE ASSOCIATION OF OREGON PRESIDENT STEPS DOWN
Portland, Ore. – February 25, 2009 – The Software Association of Oregon (SAO), the primary trade organization for Oregon industry driven by software, announced today that its president, Harvey Mathews, has resigned. The organization’s board and Mathews are working together to identify potential candidates to fill the role.
Over the past decade, the software industry has evolved dramatically. Once a minor tool for many businesses and consumers, software now drives both much of our economy and personal lives from financial services and environmental sustainability to online social networking and mobile communications. Differing views of the SAO’s role in the continuing evolution of the software industry between Mr. Mathews and the Board have resulted in Mathews’ decision to step down.
“The SAO’s board is tremendously thankful for Harvey’s vision and leadership,” said Michael Phillips, chairman of the SAO board and partner of David Wright Tremaine LLP. “He has increased significantly membership and sponsors in the past year alone, created new special interest groups such as the Clean Tech Alliance, and developed a new health care program for members. His contributions have been invaluable.”
“I’ve really enjoyed my experience working with the Oregon technology community, from large software companies to impassioned entrepreneur-developers,” said Mathews. “It is my belief that the next great period of innovation and economic development will be powered by software, and the SAO is the organization to lead the effort in the Northwest.”
Sarah Gilbert writes “The team at iPhactory is making that happen with its new iPhorest app, announced (but not yet launched) at TED. A joint venture between Raven Zachary, iPhactory and the Conservation Fund, iPhorest will plant a tree on your iPhone as the Conservation Fund plants a honest-to-gosh real tree in one of its renewal projects, beginning with a vulnerable wildlife habitat along the Gulf Coast. As your tree grows on your phone, you can send seeds to other phones and begin a forest, err, phorest.”
Via Zapproved “Since the launch of our beta, Outlook integration has been one of the most requested features from our users. They have wanted to have the ability to create proposals without leaving their email client since they would often begin an email and realize that they were actually meaning to send a proposal.”
Via the GadgetTrak blog “GadgetTrak Inc. the leading innovator of theft recovery and data protection technology for mobile devices, today announced it has been awarded a patent by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) entitled Portable Host-Pluggable Appliance Tracking System, U.S. Patent No. 7,496,201. The subject of the patent deals with tracking stolen portable electronic devices such as external hard drives, MP3 players, flash drives, digital cameras and others when connected to a PC.”
Via Substance “Substance and Pinch, along with the Flash PDX User Group, invite you to an evening of show and tell. We know that you have been working diligently on the next big thing, so we want to give you the opportunity to brag about it a bit. So on Tuesday, March 3rd at 6:30 pm, at Substance, we will be hosting an event where you can come and share what you’ve been working on.”
Dawn Foster writes “We had a great pre-sxsw party here in Portland on January 19 organized by the official staff of the sxsw interactive event. We had such a great time, that we decided to do a community organized, unofficial party exactly one week before the big event in Austin.”
I’m happy to report that GadgetTrak and WeoGeo have been selected for the final round of OEN Angel Oregon 2009 competition, “the nation’s premier investor/entrepreneur matchmaking event.”
That puts the two companies in the running for a first place prize of $150,000 or a second prize of $75,000.
For those of you who haven’t yet encountered these two cool Portland companies, GadgetTrak is “the company that turns your stolen electronic devices into a sentient Neighborhood Watch for nabbing thieves.” While WeoGeo “supplies surveyors, engineers, cartographers, and scientists with the ability to conveniently store, search, and exchange global mapping and geo-content.”
For many “side project” entrepreneurs, the most difficult part of getting an idea off the ground—and out of the garage or basement—is finding that business partner that complements their skillset.
Business people with good ideas can write all the business plans they want, but they’ll eventually need a developer. And developers can crank all the code they want, but eventually they’ll need some way of approaching the market or getting more funding. But how are they supposed to find one another?
After some networking time, we’ll have each idea person looking for a team give 2 or 3 minute elevator pitch, have each of them head to their own corner of the room, and let people circulate around to check out the startups that sound interesting to them.
The first speed dating event will be held Saturday, February 28 from 1 – 4PM at the OTBC (located in The Round in Beaverton, right on the MAX line). Best of all? It’s all free.