I always say that the Portland startup community is big enough to be statistically relevant, but not so large that you can’t move the needle. So the fact that our community is severely lacking in terms of diversity and inclusion presents both a problem and an opportunity for the community. Part of the solution must include ensuring that everyone has access to resources and support that give all entrepreneurs the greatest chance of success. That was the motivation behind Prosper Portland’s Inclusive Business Resource Network.
If you’re a startup that’s looking for some support, there are a couple of opportunities to apply for that sort of assistance. Cascade Angels is currently accepting applications for early stage startups seeking funding. And XXcelerate Fund is accepting applications for the next round of its XXcelerator program for women founded companies.
[Editor: The following is a guest post by Meredith Goddard, Founder & Director of Five Years In]
Teenagers are less likely than ever to work summer jobs. There has been a precipitous and unprecedented decline in labor force participation rate for teenagers over the last 20 years. In August of 1998, 52.8% of 16-19 year olds participated in the labor force, a number that held steady since the 1950s. In August of 2017, just 35.2% percent of 16-19 year olds participated in the labor force, meaning most Millenials (and younger) have not held summer jobs. Instead of work, many young people are spending more time in summer school, traveling with sports teams and engaging in unpaid internships.
Way back when, I started Silicon Florist as an attempt to raise the visibility of a bunch of amazing activity I was seeing Portland tech startup community. Then, I helped start PIE—and continue to run it—because I felt that we needed to do more than talk about the community, we needed to help it grow through mentorship and connections. My motivations to help start Built Oregon came from similar desire to help the consumer product industries in Oregon. And now, I’m bullish on a new effort designed to enhance collaboration and innovation across all of those industries—and more—in Portland. Meet the Portland IQ.
You don’t hear as much about it as I would like, but I love the small and scrappy fintech startup community in Portland. What started with companies like Simple has spawned any number of interesting takes on banking, financing, and investing. Even the cofounder of Acorns—which enables folks to round up purchase prices to invest small increments of money—has a Portland connection. (He graduated from Lewis & Clark.) So you can imagine my excitement when I heard that Giftango founder David Nelsen was getting back in the startup game with a fintech play. And now, it’s come out of stealth. Meet Bumped.
In the world of equity financing and startups, it’s not rare to see folks adding new board members when they announce funding rounds. Because it’s usually VCs who have invested who are getting those seats. So when Portland startup Sensu announced a new round of funding and new board members, it was a pleasant surprise to see that one of them was an independent, Luke Kanies, founder of Puppet.
Portland Women in Tech represents 30% of the Portland workforce. And to help ensure that they continue to focus on issues and efforts that are important to that ever growing constituency and to hear from voices who might not be part of the organization, they’re requesting feedback from the Portland tech community.
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: Innovation can occur anywhere. It’s not just something that happens in an urban context. Or in major metropolitan areas. It happens all over. Throughout the state of Oregon. And that’s why Business Oregon has its Rural Opportunity Initiative (ROI) to help spark and support that activity.