New to Portland: Perspective on the Portland Seed Fund launch

[Editor: So, the Portland Seed Fund is now open. Providing a new funding mechanism for fledgling Portland startups. And we here, who have been anxiously awaiting the opening of the fund, are excited about this endeavor, it makes me wonder how people outside of Portland are receiving it.

Well, enter Dale Davidson, a recent Portland transplant who attended the launch. Here’s his guest post on the event and some of his thoughts on the fund.]

On April 19th the Portland Seed Fund held their launch party at the Urban Airship office. For those of you who didn’t come or see the video of the event, it basically consisted of three parts:

  1. An intro to the Portland Seed Fund by the fund managers, Jim Huston and Angela Jackson.
  2. War stories by the founders of CarWoo and Cloudkick: Alex Polvi, Tommy McClung, and Erik Landerholm.
  3. Pre and post event schmoozing.

It was really exciting to hear what the Portland Seed Fund’s goals are—and what they aren’t. We had most of the details before the event. They are sort of modeled off Y Combinator in the sense that they’ll give seed funding and mentoring. Startups will send in an application (no sign of the $250 app fee by the way), the fund will pick 8-10 companies to fund, and they will go through a 90-day incubation and mentoring process. At the end of that process, there will hopefully be some semblance of a company with a viable product.

The other important part of the Portland Seed Fund is found in the word “Portland.” Angela explained to the crowd that the Portland Seed Fund is not trying to re-create a Silicon Valley. Portland does not have a Sand Hill Road nor does it need to. What the Seed Fund allows companies to do is to get their start here in Portland (hence the Seed part of that). If these companies leave Portland and have successful exits, the PSF hopes that they gave the founders fond memories of their time with the program and that they will come back and reinvest in Portland companies.

To emphasize how critical seed money and a little help is, the founders of CarWoo and Cloudkick (both YC companies) told their entrepreneurial war stories. Erik Landerholm from CarWoo talked about how he had to move himself and his family into his office. Alex Polvi from Cloudkick was told by Paul Graham that his idea sucked and they should change it (they did). Tommy McClung from CarWoo emphasized the importance of a little breathing room and the time to focus that seed money buys. All of the founders are from the Portland area and probably would have stayed (at least in the early stages) had the Portland Seed Fund been around a few years earlier.

Of course, no entrepreneurial event would be complete without the traditional networking and schmoozing. There were angels, founders, and service guys (you guys love these things) in attendance. About a billion business cards changed hands over pizza and beer.

Congratulations to Angela and Jim. You guys threw a great launch party and we’re all looking to forward to seeing who makes it into the first PSF class.

Learn more at Portland Seed Fund. Or see the video of the Portland Seed Fund launch on Ustream.

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