The original Internet Astronaut returns home to launch into his next adventure

Back a dozen years or so, before I started this blog, I happened upon COLOURlovers, a Portland founded startup that was unlike anything I had seen to date. It wasn’t a business to business site. It wasn’t software. It was consumer focused. And social.

It was so interesting and unusual, in fact, that it inspired me to start poking around in the still nascent Web-based startup community in town. Finding any number of interesting projects, events, and startups.

And that, truth be told—that initial encounter with COLOURlovers—inspired me to start writing about what I was seeing and the people I was meeting. And to start this blog. And that, as luck would have it, eventually resulted in the founder of COLOURlovers contributing guest posts to this blog. Full circle.

But wait.

It was also that site—and that founder—that inspired to me to move from working in startups to working on my own startups. But that was a lonely road. Especially back then in Portland. So I was looking to find community. To help me. In that searching, I happened upon Portland Internet Astronauts, a group of founders who were providing peer support for one another.

And lo and behold if the organizer wasn’t a familiar face and a great community builder. Who had started a community around folks who loved—you guessed it—color.

But for all of Darius Monsef‘s inspiration and community building locally, it was something that he couldn’t do that continues to inspire me to this day. He couldn’t stay in Portland. Because there wasn’t the support or community, at the time, to keep his company here. He had to look outside of the city, outside of the region, and outside of the state. He had to leave.

And that story, about someone who loved this community and worked so hard to build it but still had to leave, is what keeps me grinding on things like Silicon Florist and PIE and PIE Shop and Built Oregon and a variety of other pursuits. Because if I can manage to help even one other amazing founder and community builder stay, then we all win.

… and now for the happy part of the story

Wow that was like Hobbit level preface. Sorry about that. So here’s the real news.

Darius is returning to Portland where he’ll be general manager for Omni, here in town.

If you’re not familiar with the concept, it’s pretty simple. Omni catalogs and stores stuff you don’t use on a regular basis, to get it out of your way. But here’s the interesting twist, they also make that stuff rentable for folks who need the stuff that you have in storage. So you can defray storage costs and possibly turn a profit. On stuff you’re not using, that someone else needs, briefly.

Now, I’m no futurist. But if traditional US consumer behavior and the prevalence of storage facilities popping up left and right combined with the growing number and expense of apartments here in town… something tells me the timing for this concept is very good. If done well.

And that’s why I’m so heartened to hear that Darius will be helping them figure that out.

From one perspective, it’s an incredibly insightful hire on Omni’s part. And an opportunity to leverage a great founder and community builder to help them build their presence here in Portland.

But from my perspective? It’s Portland getting a second chance.

For more information, read Darius’ post and the post from Omni’s founder. Or simply visit Omni.

Interested in test driving the Omni service? Here’s a great opportunity this weekend. Well, it’s actually more of a test ride than drive. But you get the picture.