Month: February 2009

Portland Ten: Incubating 10 $1 million startups by 2010

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.

Carolynn writes:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Lunch 2.0 at TechShop Portland

Update: TechShop had to change the date. It’s now April 22. Please plan accordingly.

If the lucky 13th episode of the Portland Lunch 2.0 series needed a name, I would call it “Back to the ‘Burbs: Welding for Giggles at TechShop Portland”.

I don’t have to name them, but how else can I inject pizazz into a simple event announcement?

Anyway, we’re heading back to Beaverton for an off-cycle Lunch 2.0 on April 22 March 25 at the recently opened TechShop Portland. There’s no official schedule really, but as you know, we usually do this once a month. After the OTBC Lunch 2.0 in January, Denney Cole, of the TechShop, wanted to get on the calendar as soon as possible to get people excited about the TechShop.

Maybe you remember the excursion he and Wm Leler organized during the OTBC lunch, or maybe you were too busy chatting up new people.

Well, if you missed it, Denney’s opening the doors to show everyone all the cool stuff he has in there.

Sorry, I made an assumption there, i.e. you also think large power tools and welding equipment are cool. I know I do. In fact, the phrase “welding for giggles” came up when I was trying to understand what the TechShop does. Turns out they provide equipment, space and tools that members can use for all kinds of projects, even if you’re just welding pieces of rebar together and giggling to yourself.

That’s what I’d be doing.

Here’s the official about:

TechShop is a membership-based DIY workshop that gives you access to a huge variety of tools and equipment, tons of friendly and easy classes, and a community of amazing people who share your interest in making things.

Oh, and Wm will soon be opening an Open Tech Space there soon, which will be free to anyone. So, if power tools and arc welding don’t do it for you, there will also be geeking out available.

techshop_logo_portland.pngHere are the details:

Hosts: TechShop Portland

Where: 10100 SW Allen Blvd. Beaverton, OR, 97005

When: March 25April 22, 2009 from 12:00 PM to 2:00 PM

Please RSVP on Upcoming so the hosts can get an idea of how much grub to get. If you’re vegetarian or vegan, drop a comment on the event page for planning, unless you don’t want to eat.

Upcoming Portland Lunch 2.0s

Save these Dates

These haven’t been officially announced yet, but they are happening. Stay tuned for details.

Big thanks to all the hosts who have hosted or plan to host Lunch 2.0. Drop a comment (or tweet @jkuramot) if you want information about hosting one. It’s easy.

FreeRange acquired by Kansas City’s Handmark

FreeRangePortland-based FreeRange—one of the leaders of the Portland mobile scene with customers like the Blazers, paidContent, and The Wall Street Journal—has been acquired by Handmark, a mobile entertainment company headquartered in Kansas City, MO.

Last year, I wrote:

If any company is the “founding father” of the burgeoning Portland mobile scene, FreeRange is it. With customers like the Wall Street Journal and the Portland Trail Blazers—and one of the most impressive mobile feed readers on the market—FreeRange is sure to keep Portland associated with mobile apps for a long time to come.

Oopie. Allow me to rephrase that. “Handmark is sure to keep Portland….”

According to the release, FreeRange is a “strategic addition” for Handmark, which has been recognized for its “mobile development expertise and management of a variety of desktop and on-device mobile stores full of the industry’s best games, applications and ringtones.”

“This is an exciting turning point for our company and we are proud to become part of the Handmark organization,” said Jon Maroney, FreeRange CEO. “Handmark has built a large network of happy customers across a wide range of mobile devices. This offers a great opportunity for FreeRange partners to expand their reach, adding tremendous value to content delivered via our publishing platform.”

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

For more information on the acquisition, see the FreeRange blog.

(Hat tip Jason Grigsby)

Celebrate Portland Lunch 2.0’s First Birthday Wednesday at AboutUs

120px-aboutuslogonew.pngIt’s been nearly a year since AboutUs hosted the first Portland Lunch 2.0 back in late February 2008, and we’ll be back there again this Wednesday, February 11.

The last year has been busy, in a good way, for the AboutUs crew. Since we lunched with them last, they’ve been busy raising money, no easy feat in this economy, and staying atop the Portland Startup Index.

I’m looking forward to checking in with the gang and with all of you, natch. You are coming, right? What better way to kick off what Bram has dubbed the “Busiest Day in Portland Tech“. He would know.

So, it’s settled. Just please make sure you RSVP over on Upcoming so they know how much food to get and drop a comment there if you’re a vegan or vegetarian.

It’s been a year now, with ten Lunches 2.0. Or is it Lunch 2.0s? Rick will know.

Here are a few of my personal highlights.

Do you have a Lunch 2.0 highlight? Share it in the comments.

Upcoming Portland Lunch 2.0s

Save these Dates

These haven’t been officially announced yet, but they are happening. Stay tuned for details.

MioWorks needs a place to host their lunch. I guess their tiny office can’t hold 100+ people for lunch. So, if you have suggestions about where they could host, drop a comment, or noodle on it and wait for the official announcement.

Big thanks to all the hosts who have hosted or plan to host Lunch 2.0. I hope we can keep the Lunch 2.0 train rolling this year. Drop a comment (or tweet @jkuramot) if you want information about hosting one. It’s easy.

Twestival: A Portland Tweetup on which lives depend

We need to get on this, Portland.

Next Thursday—a week from today—a worldwide gathering of Twitter types called (somewhat unfortunately) Twestival will be taking place in various cities around the globe. Portland, Oregon, is one of them.

The goal? To provide clean drinking water to the people who don’t have it.

As Portlanders we’re well aware of water. It surrounds us. It falls on us. And it bubbles up clean and clear from the Benson Bubblers.

But there are more than a billion of people who aren’t so lucky. Twestival is designed to fix that.

On 12 February 2009 175+ cities around the world will be hosting Twestivals which bring together Twitter communities for an evening of fun and to raise money and awareness for charity: water.


Think about it this way: What if you had to drink directly from the Willamette instead of your tap? Not so pretty.

I’m always proud of what we’ve been able to achieve as a community. Whether it’s gathering to chat. Learning about technology. Or figuring out how to build a better community. To me, this seems far more important and worthwhile than that.

Making this happen would be a great way to start another amazing year for the entire Portland Twitter community, tech oriented or otherwise.

Some of you may be way ahead of me on this one. (It wouldn’t be the first time.)

Questions? @mssonicflare and @smashedlife are heading up the efforts for Portland. Or, for additional details, visit the Portland Twestival page.

I’m looking forward to seeing you there. [UPDATE] RSVP for the Portland Twestival on Upcoming or get more details on Calagator.

No-name iPhone agency starts with two big names: Raven Zachary and James Keller

Why is the Brady Bunch theme song running through my head?

Maybe it’s because I’ve just heard the story of a man named Raven and a woman named James who’ve decided to combine their incredible talents.

Raven Zachary started his own iPhone consultancy last year. And he’s been overwhelmingly successful. Being involved in the Obama iPhone app can do that to you. And helping with something like iPhorest only continues the momentum.

So, he decided it was time to do something more.

“Since the Obama app, I’ve encountered some amazing brands and amazing opportunities,” said Raven. “And they were affecting my ability to remain an independent advisor in the iPhone community. It became very clear to me that there was the opportunity to build an iPhone agency.”

Enter James “@semaphoria” Keller, a wizard at Interaction Design, Information Architecture, and User Experience with a rich agency history. Her most recent gig? Serving as Interactive Strategist at Wieden + Kennedy.

“I love technology and how companies communicate with their community,” said James. “Getting to really dig deep and find a place for that within such a new—and gorgeous—platform is really a dream come true. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime, follow-your-heart pursuit.”

Now, they’re joining forces to form a strategic iPhone agency.

James Keller on the new gig

Why an agency model instead of pure app development? Raven and James are both interested in helping people develop and interact with their communities. The iPhone platform is a means to that end—albeit an incredibly creative platform for doing so.

The agency will also likely build apps of their own—Andrew Pouliot and Jonathan Wight, the lead dev on the Obama app, help round out the team—but it’s the strategy on which they will focus the majority of their time and effort.

Not only is this big for all of them, it’s big for Portland and its continued place in the mobile space.

“I think it’s a great fit for Portland because of the long history of creative services and technology,” said Raven. “We’re focusing on both. It’s really more of an agency than a development shop. But it’s really a small, small boutique agency.”

“I think you can be creative and strategic and develop well,” James said. “It’s a uniquely Portland thing.”

So what’s it called? Well, they don’t know yet. But you can find them at Raven.me.

“Maybe instead of Raven.me [Raven’s current consultancy], we can call it Raven.us?” said James.

At the very least, Todd gets his wish.

TiEsQue on Raven and James

Don’t forget your Ig… Nevermind. Ignite Portland 5 sells out in 5 minutes

Well, well, well.

People were wondering, “Is Ignite going to keep up its momentum?”, “Has it peaked?”, “Can we sell out the Bagdad again?”

Well, if the initial interest in tickets is any indication, I don’t think we’re seeing much of a wane.

Ignite Portland 5 tickets—all 560 of them—sold out in 5 minutes.

REMINDER: All your Ignite Portland 5 tickets are belong to you tomorrow at 10 AM

Ignite Portland 5 ticketsTomorrow, Ignite Portland will open ticket “sales” for Ignite Portland 5 at 10:00 AM sharp.

Ignite Portland 5 on February 5th. Get it? It’s a mnemonic device.

No, not that Mnemonic device. This mnemonic device. And the 10? 5 + 5 my friend. Easy easy easy.

Now where was I?

Oh yes. I say “sales,” because you don’t have to pay anything for the tickets. They’re free.

Okay okay. I don’t want to get into some kind of neo-sociological argument about how you pay for Ignite with your attention and social capital and whatnot. They’re the “don’t cost you any cash” free. That kind of free.

Or as the hip (drinking age) kids like to say “Free as in beer.”

To quote a famous Portlander, “Free is a very good price.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m going to be camping out in front of my computer—all night long—just to save my place in line. No cuts.

To join me, visit Ignite Portland.

[Editor: For those left scratching their grammarian heads at my headline, I assure you that I have not lost it. Wacky headline courtesy of my bastardizing a popular meme.]

iPhorest: New iPhone app launching at TED has Portland connection

iPhorestIf you’re in Portland and involved in a the Web and mobile startup scene, any mention of “iPhone” is usually immediately followed by a mention of “Raven Zachary.”

Portland isn’t alone in that regard, the iPhone consultant—who helped create iPhoneDevCamp before there was even such a thing as iPhone development—has seen more and more attention for his services as the burgeoning iPhone market has come into being.

And it’s thanks in no small part to his involvement in a little iPhone that played a role in putting Barack Obama in office. The other part is that he’s one of the most intelligent and well-spoken people I know. And of course the final part is that he’s one of the nicest guys you’ll get the chance to meet.

Well, now Raven has his hand in another app that’s sure to increase the iPhone limelight for him. Meet iPhorest, a new iPhone app launching this week at TED, the premiere “cool leading edge technology thinking and stuff” conference.

Raven Zachary on iPhorest

And Raven isn’t the only one excited about it. There’s this guy you may have heard of named Kevin Rose who told his 98,700 (and counting) Twitter followers about it.

Kevin Rose on iPhorest

And then there’s Ashton Kutcher’s wife. She likes it, too.

Demi Moore on iPhorest

It’s clear that iPhorest is on to something.

What’s not so clear is exactly what iPhorest does—since it’s not yet available in the App Store. But it has something to do with planting trees. On the iPhone.

By downloading the app, the user activates a seedling both virtually and physically. As the seedling on their phone grows, users can also send seeds to other phones, starting a new forest.

For each virtual tree planted, The Conservation Fund will plant a native tree in real life – starting with restoration of vulnerable wildlife habitats along the Gulf Coast. They will work with the nation’s leading public natural resource agencies to ensure the long-term protection of each iPhorest.

iPhones and sustainability? What could be more Portland-y than that? [UPDATE] More Portland people of course! Raven adds:

The lead developer and designer, Andrew Pouliot @andpoul, is in Portland, as is the 3D modeler, Alex Jetter. Thanks to Bram Pitoyo for the recommendation for Alex.

It’s a very cool concept. I’m looking forward to getting the opportunity to test drive it—and help a few flowers bloom trees grow.

As soon as I know more, you’ll know more. But I wanted to congratulate Raven on iPhorest as soon as I could.

Software Association of Oregon adds familiar faces, Twitter

Software Association of Oregon - SAOThe Software Association of Oregon has recently announced a new Board of Directors. And I’m happy to report that those new Board members include a number of familiar faces from companies that have graced the pages of the Silicon Florist.

“Who?” you ask?

Well, hold your horses and I’ll tell you:

Congratulations to the SAO and all of the new Board members. It’s nice to see some of the Web startups here in town getting a seat at the table.

Not only that, it’s a good direction for the SAO to be moving to ensure that they remain relevant with all of the various “tech community”s in town.

In other news, the SAO now has a Twitter presence. Coincidence? Yeah, probably. But interesting anyway.