After spending the better part of the year researching the Portland startup community, Carolynn Duncan has come to the same conclusion as the many of us: Portland is one huge R&D shop. Which is great for innovation. But not always as good for revenue-generating business.
- The pre-revenue, pre-funding entrepreneur community lacks a core understanding of the fundraising process, and perceives that there is a lack of seed capital.
- Local investors and funds appear to be few & far between, while investors outside the area fly between Seattle and San Francisco, without paying serious attention to what’s happening in PDX.
- Geeks prefer working on their own side projects independently, rather than joining a startup, or taking their technologies to a commercialized level.
In essence, the area as a whole interacts much like a national laboratory or research university, with results being that the entrepreneurial talent neglects to convert side projects into startups, and the geeks, while coalescing as a supportive & sociable community, tends to be underutilized/underemployed.
So how do we address that problem? Traditional venture capital models? No. How about something that better meshes with the existing startup culture? An incubator along the lines of Y Combinator.
Meet Portland Ten.
The goal? Incubate 10 Portland startups capable of generating at least $1 million in revenue per year—by August 2010.
Ten by ’10. Get it?
But Carolynn doesn’t see this as a problem at which one can just throw capital. It requires something more educational. More focused on mentoring. Using the expertise she’s gained on the VC side of the desk and her co-advisors—Mark Grimes and Josh Friedman—have gained running (and in Mark’s case, selling) their own startups.
It’s an intensive bootcamp, but there isn’t any money going to the startups. With Portland Ten, the startups are paying:
[We’re looking for] an entrepreneur right on the cusp of starting a high-growth business. A teachable entrepreneur who will commit to the required activities, and the optional activities when possible.
An entrepreneur who will consider themselves the first investor in the project and raise the funds to pay the $500/month program tuition.
Interested in applying to participate? Portland Ten is currently accepting applications for its first 12-week session, beginning February 23.
If you’ve got a side project that you’re convinced will be a viable business, it’s time to grab those bootstraps, my friend—and check out Portland Ten.
[UPDATE 2/12/2009] This post elicited some great comments and it sparked an interesting discussion on Y Combinator’s Hacker News. As a result, Carolynn has taken the opportunity to address 14 of the questions/critiques about Portland Ten.