Thank you, Shelley. From all of the startups.

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.

(Image courtesy Portland State University.)

  1. […] As we, as a community, continue to cope and process the recent senseless loss of Sam Blackman, many of our conversations have turned to remembering other amazing contributors to the Portland startup community. Contributors who inspired and impacted untold number of entrepreneurs. Contributors who, like Sam, were gone far too early. And of course, one of the names that has come up, time and time again, is Shelley Gunton. […]

  2. Brenda Eichelberger November 20, 2015 at 11:15 am

    Shelley was an inspiration, not only for me, but for hundreds of Portland State students. She shared her story, her time and her energy openly with all that asked. Yes, to say she will be missed is a staggering understatement. With gratitude for all she shared and the ability to have spent time with her on her journey that was cut far too short.

  3. I am deeply saddened to hear about Shelley’s passing. She was a mentor to me in thinking about how foundations could play a role in supporting entrepreneurs in Oregon. She was generous with her time, energy and enthusiasm for entrepreneurs. I was inspired by her willingness to give even through her illness. Oregon was lucky to have her and she will be deeply missed. May all of us learn from her great commitment to give back.

  4. Katrina Scotto di Carlo November 20, 2015 at 9:49 am

    I joined the startup community after folks like you and Shelley had pioneered the collaborative, root-for-each-other culture of PDX startups. Although I only met Shelley a few times, I am definitely a beneficiary of her work. It was also meaningful for a young female founder to see a woman in leadership. While Shelley’s passing is a massive loss for the community, her contributions were thankfully forged into the foundation and will help entrepreneurs for decades to come.

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