It is with great sadness that I tell you that Shelley Gunton, a proponent for all startups and entrepreneurs, has lost her battle with cancer. If you’re hearing it from me first, I apologize. To say that she will be missed is a staggering understatement.
While Shelley will be remembered for any number of her contributions to our startup scene and entrepreneurs throughout the state, I’ll always remember Shelley for her constant championing of companies pursuing consumer based products in Oregon.
I’d be griping about problems with support for tech entrepreneurs. “What about consumer goods?” I’d be trying to claim that we could be doing more to help tech startups. “What about non-tech startups?” I’d be trying to quantify the impact of tech on our ecosystem. “What about the impact of consumer products?”
It was always directed. Never stern. Just a reminder. A staunch reminder. The way a true champion delivers it.
Always reminding me there was a bigger world of founders and startups than that limited, albeit meaningful, tech community that I seemed to covet and coddle so preciously. Always reminding me that we could be doing more for all founders. Not just the noisy crowd that was tech. That we could provide more access and opportunity and support for the vast range of entrepreneurs.
It became so much a part of our discourse that as time went on, I would catch myself. Glance at Shelley. And say her words. “And yes, Shelley, how does this help all founders?”
But it didn’t stop there. She not only defended a generation of entrepreneurs, she spent her time educating the next generation. And mentoring. And supporting.
And championing. That’s kind of just the word. Shelley was a champion.
We are lucky to live in a world of collaborative and collegial peers. Of support and resources for the companies we’re building. Of people who give of their time and energy.
If I can even manage to contribute to this community a fraction of what Shelley did, I will feel that I have been an incredible success. She did so much. For so many. I can’t even really quantify what she managed to do for me. And so many others.
I will forever be thankful that Shelley so graciously gave some of her already overbooked time and mentorship to me. To the tech scene. And to all of the other founders.
And I know my story is only one among the thousands of lives that Shelley touched.
Thank you, Shelley. For everything. From all of the startups.
If you would like to make a donation to cancer research, please consider making one in Shelley’s name.