Hello, Portland startup community! I’m Kate Ertmann

Kate Ertmann


A former child actor, Kate renounced her Hollywood hopes in favor of a telecommunications degree from Ohio University. She is one of the founders of the Portland chapter of Women in Animation and is an active member of many industry organizations. For six years, she sat on the board of Bradley Angle, the oldest domestic violence services organization on the west coast. She has been on both the club board and trust board of the downtown Portland Rotary Club, and in 2011 she won an Orchid Award for being one of Portland’s Most Influential Women for her work. She is currently on the board of Bitch Media.

Kate became a partner at Animation Dynamics Inc in 2000 and the sole owner in 2008. In 2014, Kate sold ADi to Funnelbox, a strategic video agency. In 2015/16, Kate was COO at Qcut, making women’s jeans in 400 sizes to fit eight different body types and all heights.​ ​Her energetic leadership style can best be defined by her tattoos: a series of mathematical equations that represent movement — all led by the word GO.

Kate works with mostly start-up and tech-centric organizations to evaluate the health of their current operational infrastructure: how the current roles and their responsibilities were developed and what they look like, how those roles balance with the finances and bottom line, and how information is communicated internally and externally — both verbal and digital.

She has a hyper-focus on generational impact, gender and cultural influences & instigators, and the intent of why the organization itself exists, and can keep existing, in the 21st century.

Kate’s favorite food is buttered popcorn.

What are you up to?

I’m doing a dance between all my interests and responsibilities right now and feel actively engaged in each of those interests:

  • I have a few clients, I am on two boards (Bitch Media board, and Downtown Portland Rotary Club board as Treasurer of the club);
  • I’m a speaker at (mostly tech) conferences talking about theoretical math — mainly chaos theory — and how it can be positively applied to leadership in the 21st century;
  • I sing in a Neil Young tribute band, Chrome Horses;
  • I’m obsessed, completely obsessed, with NASCAR. It’s math at 200 miles an hour and it’s one of the most beautiful things I have in my life for the past 20 years and my circle of joy could be complete if I could work with, and have an impact on, a NASCAR team. For reals.

Why Portland?

I moved to Portland 22 years ago, sight unseen. I just picked it off a map. I figured I’d be here a year or two and then move on to a bigger city where I could really work in broadcasting or film. And then the dot com era started and I couldn’t have been in a better place, working at a dot com agency (AGENCY.COM) and producing video that would play on the world wide web. And then I learned about 3D animation (we’re talking late ’90s, it was right after Toy Story came out). So then I owned a 3D animation company for 15 years and now we’re here.

My love for being in a place, every day, that embraces both technology and creativity is what kept me here longer than just a year or two. I found a community that is very competitive while also appreciating each other, and the gorgeous geography of the land around us makes it perfect.

I can hunker-down in the rainy months and get work done and sit and talk at the numerous — too many to count — restaurants I love, or venture out and hike some of the best trails in the entire world within 30 minutes of turning in a client report. And the ocean! The ocean is less than 1.5 hours from Portland. Are you frickin kidding me?

And the ladies are on fire! I feel like we are very actively lifting each other up and passing around the megaphone to each other. Now is the time to embrace our work, as well as hone this new-found energy on marginalized communities within the start-up community — and Portland at large. A concerted effort that is charged with intersectional feminism is going to bring the Portland start-up scene into a place of business leadership in our country.


Interested in being featured?

Silicon Florist introduces one person, each day of the work week, to the Portland startup community. If you’re interested in being one of those folks, please let us know a little bit more about you and you’ll be selected at random to be featured.