[Editor: This is a guest post by Michael Hughes of CoFoundersLab, the largest marketplace of entrepreneurs seeking a co-founder to launch or grow their business.]
I spent a couple of days in Portland a few weeks ago. I had been to Portland a couple of times before, therefore I already knew a few things I could count on: good beer, super nice people, an endless supply of caffeine, and an inspiring amount of people and businesses committed to outdoor recreation and green & sustainable living practices. After this most recent trip, I now know something else I can count on each time I visit: an incredibly passionate and diverse group of entrepreneurs committed to building upon an already impressive startup ecosystem.
The main purpose of my trip was to kick off our inaugural CoFoundersLab event in Portland: Co-Founders Wanted Portland, a ‘Featured Event’ for Global Entrepreneurship Week USA! Hot, local startup Urban Airship graciously hosted the event at their amazing space. I knew I was in good hands right away when Amy told me about the two kegs of beer made available to any and all events in the space. Twist my arm! We had about 60 attendees, and I was genuinely impressed with the talented group of people from a wide array of industries including clean energy, high tech, healthcare, and sports & recreation. CoFoundersLab holds in-person events quarterly in a number of markets across the U.S., and we rely on local volunteers to help us organize and run the events. Being the kickoff event, I asked people to sign up to volunteer if they were interested in helping out, and I was overwhelmed with the outpouring of support I received!
In addition to running this awesome Silicon Florist site, Rick also finds time to run the very cool Portland Incubator Experiment (PIE) and a handful of other startup initiatives. He showed me around PIE and immediately offered to make a few more intros to some key people in town on top of the many he had already made for me before I arrived. Rick was also instrumental in securing Urban Airship as the event venue. Every good startup ecosystem needs a Rick, someone who works tirelessly to connect all the dots and make Portland a place where people can, and want to, build great companies.
Angela gives Rick a run for his money in terms of roles as the Managing Director of the Portland Seed Fund and the head of the Portland State Business Accelerator, amongst a variety of other things. Angela showed me around the Business Accelerator and shared with me her unique perspective, gleaned from wearing her many hats, on Portland’s strengths and challenges as a successful startup ecosystem. She is another person that works tirelessly to put all the pieces together in Portland, and like Rick, someone that every good startup ecosystem needs. Both Rick and Angela were instrumental in promoting the event through their various channels and making introductions for me, and the event would not have been possible without them.
I was also lucky enough to meet with a local entrepreneur outside of the event: Colin Gallison. Colin, along with two other partners, runs a startup called My Street Grocery, a community mobile grocer that brings fresh, delicious and healthy food directly into neighborhoods at budget-sensitive prices. Think of it like a traveling farmer’s market or a mini grocery story on wheels. The company’s mission is to increase access to fresh food for all, to promote health through nutrition awareness and education, and to increase economic vitality through job creation. Talk about a company adding real value to the world!
The coolest part is that Colin and his two partners are all graduates of the Portland State University MBA program, specifically graduates of the Social Innovation Incubator (SII) (SII’s director, Cindy Cooper, is another person I can’t thank enough for promoting the event and making introductions for me). Colin showed me around the company’s local warehouse/office, and of course the truck itself!
CoFoundersLab can’t take credit for helping Colin and his partners find each other, but this is what it’s all about. Local people working on innovative solutions to big problems with help and support from the local ecosystem and community. Our mission at CoFoundersLab is to connect great people across all industries with the goal of creating lots of great companies like My Street Grocery. Whether you’re looking for someone to join your startup, looking for someone else’s venture to join, or open to either, CoFoundersLab can help. Create a free profile on CoFoundersLab.com today to begin networking with thousands of potential co-founders and attend an in-person event in Portland or a city near you!