The more things change, the more they stay the same: 10 years of Silicon Florist babbling about the Portland startup community

My oh my. How time flies. It seems like just yesterday that I came up with a cockamamie scheme to start writing about what I saw happening in the Portland startup community. And suddenly, it’s been a side project for a decade.

Ten years. That’s insane.

And during those years a lot of things have changed. But honestly, a lot of it is still the same. Like my inability to form a coherent thought or a complete sentence. And a lot has changed and then come back to the same. And a lot of stuff has done other stuff that I don’t really have a way to describe. So like Martin Blank returning for his tenth high school reunion, I find myself recounting many things that have remained consistent throughout the ten years, many things that have changed, and a few things that seem an awful lot like the things were in 2007.

Without a doubt, one thing that has remained consistently awesome is this community. I’m so incredibly thankful for all of the opportunities it’s provided to try random stuff. Some of which worked. Some of which didn’t. Some of which I keep doing despite them not working. Or something. And stuff.

So ten years. Let’s recap.

One of the craziest things I’ve tried is this thing. This blog. You’re soaking in it.

You might think of it more as a weekly email. Or know it by its alter egos on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. There’s even a Silicon Florist Instagram account, now. But you wouldn’t know it as that, because that thing is brand spanking new.

Ahem. Where was I? Oh yeah.

There’s the blog. But thanks to all of you doing awesome staruppy things, I’ve had opportunities to do all kinds of other random crap over the years. Like what? Well, with your help, I’ve also had the opportunity to have a hand in starting:

  • Built Oregon, a not for profit organization dedicated to furthering the consumer goods industry in Oregon
  • Meet the Startup, a series of video interviews with local founders
  • memePDX, a weekly podcast covering tech and startup news in Portland… and beyond
  • Open Source Bridge, an annual event for open source citizens
  • Oregon Story Board, a not for profit dedicated to furthering digital storytelling in Oregon, which has now focused on Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality
  • PIE, an ongoing experiment exploring the potential for mutually beneficial collaboration between the Portland startup community and more well-established entities like corporations, government, and educational institutions
  • PIE Cookbook, an open source framework for creating a startup accelerator
  • Portland Startups Slack, a 3000+ member (and growing) chat instance for our community
  • Portland Startups Switchboard, a 4000+ member (and growing) board of folks helping one another
  • Portland Startup Week, an annual celebration of all the amazing things you’re doing
  • Reportedly, a tool for that encourages startups to keep mentors and investors up-to-date
  • 1776 Challenge Cup Portland, a startup competition that showcases Portland’s startups on a global stage
  • Silicon Florist job board, a means of connecting awesome people with awesome companies
  • TechfestNW, the premier tech and startup conference in Oregon
  • 30 hour day, a modern day telethon which raised tens of thousands of dollars for local charities

But that’s not all. A bunch of awesome people in town started amazing things over the past decade, as well. And sometimes, they let me help promote them. Or sponsor them. Or participate in them. Which was awesome. Some of those amazing local community efforts include:

And all along the way, I kept getting random opportunities to chat about our community with folks from around the world. And I’ve had the good fortune to meet thousands of people, both in our community… and beyond.

But it all comes down to one thing. Trying to give back to this community. And trying to make it more cohesive. And supportive. Because that’s already our culture. We’re already collaborative and supportive. We just need a little nudge every now and again. And by nudging? It makes it easier for founders to start companies and succeed around here.

But it’s not all rainbows and unicorns. Some stuff is still broken. Some stuff is broken again. And some new problems have arisen, as well.

You see, looking back, it’s interesting to find the community experiencing some of the same factors that inspired me to start Silicon Florist in the first place. Our community is feeling pretty fragmented. We don’t have a center of gravity. We’re not celebrating all of the amazing things happening here. We’re not connecting with one another as much as we could.

In many ways, our community is just like it was 10 years ago. But now, our community is exponentially bigger. And it has its own unique challenges.

But those things? Those challenges? They’re really just an opportunity for all of us to do more stuff to make this community great. So I’m looking for those opportunities. And looking forward to those opportunities. And I’m also looking forward to supporting the new Adams and Dawns and Grigses and Justins and Ravens and all of the other people who are starting things that are making this community better.

If you’ll still tolerate me trying random stuff, I mean. Although I’ll probably try it anyway.

And it’s not just tech. Over the past 10 years, I’ve learned that there are founders doing amazing things all over town. So don’t be surprised if during the next ten years I’m motivated to increase the breadth of my coverage around here. Because Portland is an incredibly entrepreneurial town. And founders are grinding it out, day after day, all over our community. And maybe, just maybe, if I can help shine a light on the work that you’re doing and that they’re doing and the products we’re all building, then we all win. As a Portland startup community.

Phew. Ten years goes by fast. And I’ve been babbling way too long. But there’s one more thing to say…

Thank you.

Yes, you. Whether you’ve just randomly encountered Silicon Florist or you’ve been putting up with my butchering the English language for years, thank you. Thank you for reading. Thank you for supporting these amazing founders. Thanks for your interest in the incredible businesses we build here. And the random side projects. And the amazing events. And all of the other crap we try, amazing or not. Because without you, none of this happens.

So thank you.

I don’t really know how to end this. So I’ll just stare at you awkwardly now. Until I come up with another cockamamie scheme. Or think of another post. Or another project. I mean, I’ve got another decade’s worth of content to start.

See you tomorrow.

Oh. You’re still here. Well, um, that’s about all I’ve got. So… yeah. Oh! I’ve got it. Here. Take a walk down memory lane with some nostalgic posts from throughout Silicon Florist’s history.