Going into the long weekend, I thought you could use some longer form stuff to read. And clearly, I’m never going to find the time to write it. So I’m going to give you someone else’s content. Like Willamette Week which just published a cover story on the current state of Oregon startups and the infrastructure that seeks to support them.
In an effort not to end the debate but to shed light, WW interviewed two dozen founders, venture capitalists and officials who form the connective tissue of Oregon’s startup ecosystem. What we found is a healthy economy filled with lots of entrepreneurs and big challenges.
Despite the well phrased if not clickbait headline, the article is well worth the read. But if you don’t have time, I’ll summarize. As far as the questions about unicorns, most folks are thinking that — while Portland was built upon an ancient unicorn burial ground — there aren’t likely to be many more unicorns in our presence any time soon. And folks seem to think that Mitch Daugherty’s mantra that “Oregon is the Silicon Valley of consumer products” has far more likelihood of paying off.
For my contribution, I suggested that maybe we should be considering some additional metrics when judging the health of a startup ecosystem that move beyond the financial indicators. And which, in my opinion, are far easier to divine.
Rick Turoczy, who has been an evangelist for startups for more than two decades, pens the blog Silicon Florist and runs the Portland Incubator Experiment, says metrics such as VC totals and jobs created describe the economics of a startup ecosystem, while the health of the ecosystem is best understood through the people who volunteer time and knowledge while expecting nothing in return: its mentors.
“The more startups, the more opportunities for mentors,” Turoczy says. “The more mentors, the stronger the connections and cohesiveness of the community … [and] the healthier the ecosystem.”
It’s a virtuous cycle. In which each and every one of us can participate. Regardless of whether we have money or a startup or whatever. Say it with me, “Anyone can mentor.” And that means that anyone — literally anyone — can help improve the health and connectivity of the Portland startup community. And that, my friend, is an opportunity that I’d like to continue to work on. With all of you.