Month: March 2009

REMINDER: Oregon startup? Want to be? Interested in $250k funding? Chime in

Welcome to the “How many questions can I ask in one headline?” edition of Silicon Florist.

Just a reminder that the submission form for “Startup Now” will close today at 11:59 PM.

How about you take a few seconds to provide some details about one, two, or 12 of your current side projects? Take a moment to reflect on what you could do with $250,000 in the next year, to help bring your product or idea to fruition.

Don’t think you’re worthy? Not interested in getting funding? I’d still encourage you to take a few moments to respond. Really, what could it hurt?

The point is this: rising water floats all boats. And our state treasurer needs convincing that we have a viable entrepreneurial environment filled with viable startups just waiting to take form. What’s more, if these folks can pull off putting together a $100 million fund for Oregon startups, it’s going to help all of us.

Come to think of it, I don’t even care if you live in Oregon right now. If you’d be willing to relocate to Oregon to start your business, you’re more than welcome to fill out the form, as well.

I’m looking forward to seeing you get some money to bring that idea to fruition. And if we can all work together to help the state understand the, um, state of our startup scene, it just might happen.

More than 50 startups—in addition to those who presented at the event—have provided details on how they would reinvest $250,000 in funding in Oregon over the next year. Why haven’t you?

How would you use that money? Complete the Startup Now form.

Ada Lovelace Day: Celebrating Portland women in technology

Ada LovelaceToday is Ada Lovelace Day, a day to celebrate women who are excelling in the world of technology.

Who was Ada Lovelace, you ask?

Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace was born on 10th December 1815, the only child of Lord Byron and his wife, Annabella. Born Augusta Ada Byron, but now known simply as Ada Lovelace, she wrote the world’s first computer programmes for the Analytical Engine, a general-purpose machine that Charles Babbage had invented.

That got me to thinking. I’m incredibly lucky to get the chance to work with a number of extremely talented and technically adept women. And I get the chance to work with many of them on a weekly basis, which is awesome. Many of you are just as lucky as me.

So I thought I’d list some of the cool female geeks in Portland whom I am proud to know:

Selena Deckelmann

She’s the co-founder of Open Source Bridge, has had code committed to PostgreSQL, attends and speaks at any number of conferences, served as one of the original board members for Legion of Tech, and provides some exemplary guidance on killing chickens.

Audrey Eschright

She’s the other co-founder of Open Source Bridge, a founding member of Legion of Tech, a celebrated Rubyist, the driving force behind Calagator, and one of the most creative thinkers in the Northwest.

Dawn Foster

She’s a wizard with Yahoo! Pipes, a sage with community development, a hardworking startup type with Shizzow, one of the founders of Legion of Tech, and from what I understand, one mean werewolf player.

All of these women have been an absolute inspiration for me. And I’m truly honored that I get the chance to work with them on a regular basis.

And just as I’m in the midst of writing this post, I see a tweet come across from Steven Walling, validating my choices—and adding Amber Case, who is amazing in her own right.

Steven Walling Ada Lovelace Day recommendations

But for as much as I love the local scene, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention two other incredibly inspiring women in the tech scene who have gained—and will continue to have—my utmost admiration.

Kathy Sierra

She’s an incredible speaker and thought-provoking writer whose Creating Passionate Users completely changed the way I thought about marketing and writing—and was a direct inspiration for Silicon Florist.

Beth Kanter

She’s taught me how to think about the power and the promise technology holds for doing good. And her Gnomedex performance, last year, remains one of the coolest technological experiments I’ve ever seen—even though it had very little to do with technology and everything to do with people.

Which women are excelling in technology in your world?

If there are women in technology who inspire you, I’d love to hear about—and I’m sure they would, too. Who are the other women in Portland technology or Silicon Forest technology who deserve some recognition? Why not take a few minutes to write something up? There’s still time.

(Image courtesy Anyaka. Used under Creative Commons)

Sweet Sixteen Lunch 2.0 at ISITE Design

Update: The date has changed to June 24 to avoid a conflict with Open Source Bridge, which begins June 17. You’d think I could have foreseen this problem before setting the date. Sorry for any inconvenience. Please plan accordingly.

That’s right, Portland Lunch 2.0 will be having a Sweet Sixteen when ISITE Design hosts the 16th lunch on June 17 24.

ISITE is in Old Town, at least I think that’s considered Old Town, where we’ve had four other lunches. We haven’t been down (or up, depending) that way since September, and it’ll be good to return to the old neighborhood.

Andy Van Oostrum of ISITE is spreading the Lunch 2.0 vibe to another company. He also organized the 2nd Lunch 2.0 at eROI about a year ago.

He and the folks at ISITE are excited to give you free lunch and good conversation.

What does ISITE do? Glad you asked. In their words:

We are an interactive agency serving global clients from offices in Boston, Dallas and Portland. Our goal is to create and protect your competitive advantage online.

Check out their about for more. It also looks like they might be hiring here in Portland.

Here’s the skinny:

isite.pngHost: ISITE Design

Where: 115 NW 1st Avenue, Portland, OR 97209

When: June 17 24, 2009 from 12 PM to 2 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.

Quick reminder, the Techshop Portland Lunch 2.0, originally scheduled for this week, has been moved to April 22.

Don’t forget these Lunch 2.0s, coming soon:

As always, 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.

Geek Bat signal: Oregon entrepreneurs need to act now! No, really. I mean right now.

Last night, an endless volley of entrepreneurs and would-be startups stepped up to a mic at Nedspace and provided a 2-3 minute pitch on what they would do with $250,000 over the next year.

And man, were there some incredible ideas—some incredibly cool, some incredibly wacky—but all incredible nonetheless.

There was only one problem: I didn’t see you up there.

I can watch the video again, just to be sure. But I’m fairly certain you won’t appear.

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I mean, sure. I got to see Ron Barrett, Carolynn Duncan, Dave Howell, Scott Kveton, Sasha Mace, John Metta, Chris Logan, Bob Uva, Ken Westin, and Steve Woodward. I love all of those folks. And I’ll applaud anyone who gets up in front of a crowd to speak, because I certainly don’t relish it.

Heck, somebody from the Office of the State Treasurer for Oregon even showed up.

But I didn’t see you. And that made me kind of sad.

But, then again, I’m all about second chances. So how about this? How about you take a few seconds to provide some details about one, two, or 12 of your current side projects? Take a moment to reflect on what you could do with $250,000 in the next year, to help bring your product or idea to fruition.

Don’t think you’re worthy? Not interested in getting funding? I’d still encourage you to take a few moments to respond. Really, what could it hurt?

The point is this: rising water floats all boats. And our state treasurer needs convincing that we have a viable entrepreneurial environment filled with viable startups just waiting to take form. What’s more, if these folks can pull off putting together a $100 million fund for Oregon startups, it’s going to help all of us.

But don’t just take my word for it. David Abramowski has some great insights about what funding Oregon startups could do for the local economy.

Come to think of it, I don’t even care if you live in Oregon right now. If you’d be willing to relocate to Oregon to start your business, you’re more than welcome to fill out the form, as well.

So maybe you’re trying to build a music service or a calendar aggregator or a niche social network or a new form of CRM or an iPhone agency or a mobile development shop focused on usability or a better support tool or charting where you’ve been or figuring out where your friends are or providing space for your peers to work and socialize or archiving the Web or finding happy hours or producing a weekly podcast or providing information about every Web site ever.

Maybe what you’re really interested in doing isn’t even geeky. Maybe you’re more interested in building out a photography business or covering the Portland scene or building some tangible product or creating a new kind of agency.

I don’t really care. We just need smart people like you to share their ideas about what could be done, if the money was there.

And I know you’ve got some ideas.

But here’s the catch: you need to respond, now. And I mean right now. The team pursuing the fund wants to get this information assembled by Wednesday, March 25.

So take a deep breath and dive in. I’ll keep this form open until Wednesday at midnight. Then, I’ll gather up all of the responses and ship them off to the folks working on this. They, in turn, will crate them up and dump them on the Oregon Treasurer’s, the Governor’s, and the various Mayors’ desks.

Remember, there were some cool ideas pitched, last night. But none of them were as cool as yours.

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Thank you

I just wanted to take a second to say “Thank you.”

I wanted to thank you for caring about what’s happening in the Silicon Forest. To thank you for keeping your eye on the Web and mobile startup scene. To thank you for giving all of the amazing developers in the area the attention they so richly deserve. To thank you for giving the entrepreneurs of Portland, Corvallis, Eugene, Bend, Ashland, Hood River, Vancouver, and all of the Oregon and Washington towns in between the opportunity to wow you with the products they’re building and the problems they’re solving.

I’m constantly reminded of how incredibly lucky I am that I get the opportunity to write about this stuff. And even luckier that you swing by to read about it. So thanks for letting me into your browser or feed reader or mobile device every once in awhile to share what people are sharing with me.

SXSW Interactive always reaffirms my belief in how lucky we are to have the community we do.

Thank you for being part of it.

Shizzow shouts at Twitter

ShizzowI know you’re busy. Updating Twitter, blogging, running around from coffee shop to coffee shop, updating Shizzow. The list goes on and on.

If only there were some way to combine a few of those things to save you a little time.

Well, we can’t move the coffee shops any closer together, but the folks at Shizzow have come up with a way to keep your location—and your Twitter friends—up-to-date on your latest whereabouts.

Thanks to the magic of OAuth, Shizzow now shouts to Twitter.

Simply enable the feature in your External Preferences and you’ll be able to post your location update and shout to Twitter from within Shizzow.

Just want to update your location and not bug your Twitter followers? Don’t add a message. No message, no tweet.

As you may have seen, I got to test the feature down at SXSW while it was still top secret, and it performed flawlessly.

Shouting from Shizzow to Twitter

If only AT&T had performed as flawlessly, Shizzow would have been invaluable at SXSW. Unfortunately, with the Edge network cratering under the sheer girth of iPhone traffic in Austin, neither Shizzow nor Twitter managed to live up to their potential.

But now that we’re back in the land of the speedy connections, Shizzow will no doubt shine. And since many of us monitor Twitter far more than we monitor Shizzow, maybe just maybe we’ll have some more of those chance meetings that Shizzow was designed to facilitate.

For more information on the new feature, see the Shizzow post. To enable the feature for yourself, go to your Shizzow profile.

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What I learned at summer camp SXSW, Portland edition

SXSW InteractiveI’ve spent the last few days in Austin, TX, at SXSW Interactive, the annual gathering of some of the best and brightest Web types sharing their experience and ideas.

But it’s not all about the presentations. Truly, it’s all about proximity. Because every presenter, every leading thinker, and every attendee have plenty of time to talk with one another over meals or over a beer.

Suffice it to say, if you’re looking to get the chance to chat with the folks who are influencing the Web, this is a target rich environment.

This year, I went to SXSW with the intention of learning more about other entrepreneurial communities. To uncover ways that other metropolitan areas were trying to make their communities stronger in order to capitalize on the talent of creative developers.

I managed to make some great connections and learn a thing or two. Here’s what I took away from the conversations.

Portland is not a special snowflake

It’s no secret that I think we’ve got a phenomenal Web, mobile, and open source community. I think the mix we’ve got is special. And there’s little doubt that I think we have the single most amazing technology community anywhere.

But I also admit that I may be a little biased.

Still, for all the love I have for Portland, we’re not unique in our struggles to foster an entrepreneurial community that helps the brilliant people of the Silicon Forest earn a living doing something that they love.

There are communities all over the US trying to make this work. Some of them are taking steps similar to Portland. Some of them are coming up with new ways to deal with the solution. Folks from Asheville, NC, are finding ways to fund projects with government dollars. Boulder is running a series of Ignites that are continuing to draw the community together time and time again. People in Houston and Kansas City are using coworking spaces to get members of the community working together and sharing ideas. DC is using things like Tech Cocktail to help facilitate connections—and the tech scene is getting the opportunity to advise the local government on issues. And the guys at Silicon Prairie News are pulling in some amazing speakers for Big Omaha, an event that will help solidify their entrepreneurial community.

I’m hoping to spend more time with these folks over the coming months, visiting their communities, learning more about what they’re doing, and sharing more about what Portland is doing.

It looks like the trip to Seattle Lunch 2.0 was just the first of many diplomatic missions.

Funding for Portland projects must come from investors in Portland

Another conversation that repeated itself throughout the conference was the discussion about how to fund an entrepreneurial environment. And time and time again it came back to one simple point: for funding to work, it has to be local.

Now this works one of two ways. You either make your locality where the money is—by moving to the Valley for example—or you find local money to fund your project, local angels to invest in startups, and local funds to support larger investments.

Obviously, I’m leaning toward the latter. (And that’s what makes tonight’s Nedspace event especially well timed.)

Portland has a great deal in common with China

You heard me right. Yes, yes. It surprised me, too.

I didn’t intentionally go to the conference to learn about the entrepreneurial environment in China. But as I began to learn more and more about it, I realized that the Portland startup scene had a great deal in common with the Chinese startup environment.

They’re building phenomenal products in China that none of us know about. They’re pushing technology in ways that rival or eclipse our ability to deploy it. China is perceived to have a wealth of development talent that outside companies want to tap. They’re attracting more and more entrepreneurs who see China as a land of opportunity. And the Chinese want to do business—but they want to do it on their terms.

Sounds pretty familiar to me.

Portland can succeed in Portland’s own way

Finally, the overarching theme of the conference sounded eerily similar to something I’ve tried to champion in Portland: Work hard at doing what you love and you will succeed.

No matter if it’s Zappos shipping happiness or Gary Vaynerchuk hustling wine or a bunch of volunteers putting together an open source conference or the Bac’n guys selling premium pig parts. It doesn’t matter. Doing what you love—and working your ass off to do it—will lead to success.

And I don’t know anyone who works harder at doing what they love than the folks in the Portland startup scene.

Thanks, again, SXSW for making me think even more about Portland

So that’s what I got out of SXSW, this year. No doubt the 60+ Portland types who were there each got something completely different out of it.

But that’s the magic of SXSW. And that’s the primary reason I’ll keep going back to SXSW as many times as I can.

So I go all the way down to Texas to think about Portland some more. But that’s just how I am. Did I make some incorrect intuitive leaps? Do you disagree? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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You may have already won a quarter of a million dollars

Money in OregonNo, this isn’t some spammy email. It could prove to be true for startups in the Silicon Forest if everything goes right.

And it all begins with a very simple question: What could you accomplish with $250,000, this year? That’s what the folks at Portland-based Nedspace are asking, this Thursday.

Why? Because you may actually have the chance to get your hands on those funds.

Most importantly, though, the goal of this event is to prove to the State of Oregon that there are enough jobs, compelling ideas and entrepreneurs to warrant an immediate investment of $100,000,000 for start ups that want to hire local talent.

We are working to raise a $100M fund that makes small investments in Oregon-based companies who hire Oregon-based employees. Now, in 2009. Not next year or some point in the future. In growing these new startups, we are investing in innovation, creating jobs and building Oregon’s brand with innovators and entrepreneurs.

Oh, so now that question seems a lot more interesting, doesn’t it?

The event is a combined effort of Capybara Ventures, NW Technology Ventures, NedSpace, Oregon Angel Fund, Oregon Entrepreneurs Network, Reference Capital, Software Association of Oregon and Starve Ups. It will be held Thursday evening at Nedspace—right next door to the Lotus on SW 3rd.

If you would like to participate—and just between you and me, I think you should—be prepared to answer the following questions:

  • Could your company hire $250,000 worth of Oregon-based talent in 2009 to get it to the next level?
  • What could your company achieve during 2009 with a $250,000 investment?
  • How many new jobs would be created if 400 new Oregon startups were funded?
  • How would you like to see $100,000,000 invested in Oregon startups?

For more information or to RSVP, see “Startup Now: What Would Your Startup Do With $250,000 in 2009?

[UPDATE]

Can’t make the event? They’ve set up a live stream.

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(Photo courtesy mashmal. Used under Creative Commons.)

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OpenSourcery Lunch 2.0 Recap

Update: Thomas collected some shots of the lunch. This one of Rick pointing, presumably at the bus as it bears down on him, is a hoot. Thanks Thomas.

OpenSourcey graciously opened the doors of its newish office yesterday to about 150 people for the 12th iteration of Portland Lunch 2.0.

Thomas King handled the hosting duties for OpenSourcery. Their open workspace was perfect for a large crowd, mingling and eating. I heard from several people that this was a really good event, and we’re on a roll because I heard the same thing after AboutUs last month. Large open spaces seem to be very conducive to fluid chatting.

Or maybe the format is evolving.

Nah, it was pretty much the same formula. Thomas did his welcome opening. I stumbled through the brief schedule of upcoming events; I’ve given up on explaining what Lunch 2.0 is, which is for the best. We are putting a Portland stamp on it after all.

Then, I got to throw Rick under the bus, a recurring meme, to talk about our pet project, the Open Source Bridge conference. Then back to Thomas for the unveiling of an OpenSourcery project, CLOVE. David Abramowski, our host for the next Lunch 2.0 on April 8, summarized it nicely:

Opensourcery (our excellent hosts for today’s event – a big thank you to them) told us about a new application they wrote called “CLOVE”. This application is planned to be made available under the GPL open source license. From the really short demo, it appears that the application helps you understand if you are giving your clients the love they deserve. (that was a paraphrase from the demo-dude) Although not ready just yet, Opensourcery will provide links to the application once it is out there for everyone to use. I’ll make an update when that information becomes available. It does however look like a rather interesting way to keep track of all that pesky email that it takes to keep a business relationship moving forward.

Finally, Bryce Yonker from the Software Association of Oregon (SAO) talked about the new healthcare program they are offering members for any size company, even single person shops.

A lot of good information, crammed into a short amount of time, and then, we were back to mixing and mingling. Everyone seemed to have a good time, at least, Twitter search for “lunch 2.0” said so. Apparently, the leftovers were donated to a soup kitchen too. Good on ya OpenSourcery!

Unfortunately, a large crowd is not so conducive to writing code; some of OpenSoucery’s developers bailed to find nearby wi-fi spots to GSD. Sorry to displace you all, and thanks for letting us take over your workspace.

Among those not in attendance was Amye Scavarda of OpenSourcery, who helped plan the event. She was home sick. Get better soon, and thanks for helping put on the lunch.

I’d love to share pictures of the gathering, and I know they’re out there. There were a bunch of people shooting stills and video, but alas, my tweet for help garnered nada. I think everyone is either off to SxSW or on some other mission. Twitter has been a bit quiet today.

Don’t forget these Lunch 2.0s, coming soon:

  • April 8 hosted by MioWorks at the Green Dragon
  • April 22 at TechShop Portland in Beaverton
  • May 20 hosted by WebVisions at the Oregon Convention Center

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.

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Big day for Open Source Bridge

Open Source BridgeThe word of the day for the Open Source Bridge team? Serendipity. Or maybe serendipitous.

Either way, it was quite an interesting day for the volunteers working to bring an open source conference to fruition here in Portland in June.

We were excited to get a mention from Dawn Foster in Web Worker Daily as she interviewed Audrey Eschright on community organized conferences:

I’ve worked on FOSCON (a free Ruby event that took place during OSCON in previous years), BarCamp Portland, Ignite Portland, WhereCamp Portland, and now Open Source Bridge. The camps (unconferences) were all quite similar to each other to organize, but Open Source Bridge is much bigger than anything else I’ve worked on. There’s a lot of extra planning involved in doing a 1,000-person conference compared to a 300 person BarCamp. You can pull off an unconference in a short period of time, with fairly limited resources, but a big conference requires more structure.

Then the folks at OpenSourcery were kind enough to give us a few minutes to talk about the conference during a packed Lunch 2.0. Unfortunately for me, Jake Kuramoto successfully threw me under the bus again, much like Seattle Lunch 2.0.

Then, little did we know that, while we were enjoying OpenSourcery’s hospitality, something incredibly—well serendipitous—was happening at the same time.

Dave Winer tweeted:

Dave Winer on OSCON alternate

And then he found Open Source Bridge. And then he wrote a post called “An Alternate OSCON?” offering:

Then someone sent me a pointer to http://opensourcebridge.org/ which is in Portland on June 17-19. Now I have an incentive to see if people want to go there. San Jose is closer to Berkeley, so I’d rather go there, but a really open OSCON would be something that’s worth supporting. There are other new projects that don’t have space at OSCON, so maybe we could all get together in Portland and see what happens.

(If you’re not familiar with Dave Winer, you should be. According to Wikipedia, he is “generally credited with the exposition of RSS as ‘Really Simple Syndication,’ now a world-wide phenomenon, and the first to implement the feed ‘enclosure‘ feature, one of several necessary ingredients for podcasting at the time it first emerged.”)

Whoof. That’s a big unplanned day of serendipity.

It’s incredibly gratifying to see the momentum continue to build for this entirely volunteer run conference. It’s good for Portland. And it’s good for the open source community.

If you’re interested in helping bring open source citizens to Portland in June, we’d love to have your help.

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