Category: Beaverton

REMINDER: Find the cofounder of your dreams with OTBC startup speed dating

This Saturday the folks at the OTBC will be hosting another round of cofounder speed dating. Starting at 1:00 PM, the session is designed to help like minded startup types find one another in hopes of making their startup dreams a reality.

Are you looking for that special someone? Someone to help fill those lonely hours? Someone who complements your personality and skills? Someone who can help you get that startup from vision to reality?

Well, get ready to meet Mr. and/or Mrs. Right Entrepreneur, my friend. OTBC startup speed dating is back. Read More

Lunch 2.0 at TechShop Portland, DIY Heaven

img_0389.jpgYesterday, about 40 or so people gathered at TechShop Portland in Beaverton for our second venture into the wild and wooly suburbs.

Unfortunately, we conflicted with the opening day of InnoTech so many of the usual suspects weren’t able to make it.

I did see a lot of new faces, just like at Lunch 2.0 at the OTBC in January, which is a good thing. It’s always nice to meet new people or people you follow on Twitter but never see IRL because they live way far off in the ‘burbs.

TechShop is almost complete and ready for its official opening this coming Saturday, April 25. The warehouse area seems to be done, with only a few finishing touches and furniture remaining in the front office area.

To get us started, Denney Cole, our host, gave a quick intro about what is TechShop. The short version is it’s like a health club, for DIY people. You sign up to be a member, then you bring your projects.

What projects you ask?

Pretty much anything from soft goods (sewing, embroidery, upholstery) to wood-working (cutting, gluing, planing, sanding) to metal-working (melting, welding, grinding, cutting) to painting to robotics and electronics in any combination.

You could conceivably construct a couch from scratch, including the woodwork and finishing work at TechShop, or as Denney says, cut up the aluminum wheels on a junker, melt them down, and resurrect them as door handles and cabinet knobs.

Did I mention they have a laser etching machine too? That, apparently is the crown jewel of the original TechShop, in Menlo Park. I saw one of those in action at Web 2.0 Expo 2008, and that’s a fun toy to have at your disposal. The urge to etch can be strong.

Beyond providing tools and space to store your stuff, TechShop has classes. So you don’t kill, maim or embarrass yourself.

Wm Leler also talked about Open Tech Space, which is housed within TechShop.

Open Tech Space is a freely available gathering place for anyone interesting in creating prototypes, sharing and mentoring, and promoting business development in the technology and art communities. Even if you’re not a TechShop member, you can go to Open Tech Space and hang out with like-minded people. The goal is to put people with ideas together and encourage them to grow those ideas.

That’s really TechShop’s goal too.

After the talking, came the tour.

It’s probably best that we didn’t get a full crowd, since even with 40 people, it was a bit tough to hear Denney in the warehouse.

As we walked around, you could see the wheels turning in people’s heads. We like to build things, take them apart, improve them, and TechShop is full of the tools you need for that kind of learning. I overhead a few ideas flying around, and that’s the great thing about TechShop. It removes the sunk cost of buying and storing tools.

It also removes the spousal reminders to clean up your mess and finish the project already.

While in the wood shop, we saw this mold for a harp switch, which would have made Aaron very happy. Sadly, he didn’t make it.

When we went outside to check out the furnaces, we got a sweet demonstration. One of the furnaces got a bit cranky and decided to shoot flames about ten feet in the air. Not as dangerous as it sounds and very cool. Don Park took some video of a different furnace that gives you an idea.

As the tour wrapped up at the laser etcher, Amye pointed out this friendly reminder on one of the large cutting devices, a Pexto Jump Shear, used to cut large pieces of sheet metal.

ZOMG take the safety class!Did I mention the safety classes?

After the tour ended, the lunch wound down as people wandered around more to soak in the awesome collection of toys, erm tools.

Thanks to Denney for having us. TechShop Portland officially opens on Saturday, April 25, and there will be an open house at 3 PM complete with demonstrations and ideally, fewer geysers of fire. Although, I enjoyed that.

Don’t forget these Lunch 2.0s, coming soon:

If you’re wondering about the WebVisions’ lunch, it will be open to anyone, attending the conference or not. There’s also a rumor that Open Source Bridge may be hosting a lunch before the conference (June 17-19) sometime. Any ideas on venue? Drop a comment.

Big thanks to all the hosts who have hosted or plan to host Lunch 2.0. Drop a comment (or tweet @jkuramot) if you want information about hosting one. It’s easy.

Survey: OTBC needs your feedback

OTBCOur friends over at the Beaverton-based OTBC are always trying to help startups and entrepreneurs in the Portland area—like by hosting entrepreneurial speed dating sessions and sponsoring events like Portland Lunch 2.0 and Open Source Bridge.

Now, the OTBC could use a little bit of our help. In the form of feedback:

We get input at our lunches, and through our Meetup.com site, but we’d like to round that out with input from a larger sample of the Portland area tech entrepreneur community. So please take three minutes to let us know what kinds of programs you’d like to attend. These are mostly ratings of 1-to-5 to show interest level in a topic. Lots of ideas are listed, but it goes fast. Really! Three minutes. (OK, maybe four minutes at the outside.) Thanks!

I know you can help, because everyone has an opinion. They’re like… well, everyone has one.

So take a few minutes out of your busy schedule and click some buttons. The OTBC—and our entire startup community—will be better for it.

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TechShop Portland Lunch 2.0 is Wednesday

On Wednesday, April 22, we’re headed back to the ‘burbs, Beaverton to be exact, for a lunch hosted by Denney Cole and TechShop Portland.

What is TechShop? Glad you asked because it may not be what you’re expecting.

TechShop is a 33,000 square foot membership based workshop that provides members with any skill level to  have access to tools and equipment, instruction, and a creative and supportive community of like minded people so you can build the things you have always wanted to make.

TechShop is perfect for inventors, “makers”, hackers, tinkerers, artists, roboteers, families, entrepreneurs, youth groups, FIRST robotic teams, crackpots, arts and crafts enthusiasts, and anyone else who wants to be able to make things that they dream up but don’t have the tools, space or skills.

In short, TechShop is DIY paradise.

I took a brief tour last week, and if you ever had an itch to build something, you should know about TechShop. Amenities include: every metal and wood-working tool you can imagine, kilns and furnaces, a CNC router, a painting space, a tech hardware tinkering space, a robotics course, a textiles area, and more that I can’t recall right now.

If the tool you need isn’t on the list, they might get one, just ask. Don’t know how to use any tools safely? No worries, there’s a safety class.

TechShop is also home to OpenTechSpace, an open lab space for electronics and computer projects that you can use for free. There are also offices for rent and a computer lab, so it’s an incubator of sorts, with a shop attached.

Denney mentioned he might start a wiki for projects completed at the TechShop, which sounds like a fun time.

img_0373.JPGMy personal favorite project is the urban logging one member is doing.

Ever had a tree toppled by a windstorm? Maybe the city comes to cut and chip it or maybe you pay some company to do that. What a giant waste of perfectly good timber.

Urban logging consists of a guy with a tractor and a big log cutting machine who removes these trees, transports them to TechShop, cuts them down, dries them out in a kiln, and leaves them there, much to the delight of the wood-working members.

So. Very. Portland.

Anyway, Denney is giving us a sneak-peak at the TechShop. He’s been taking members for a while, but the official opening isn’t until April 25. You can get a deal on membership until it opens.

So, head out to the ‘burbs if you’re in Portland, or if you’re in the ‘burbs already, swing by TechShop and say hello. If you’re driving, there’s parking in the front, and if that’s full, you can park in the loading dock area.

As always, please make sure you RSVP over on Upcoming so they know how much food to get and drop a comment there if you’re a vegan or vegetarian.

Hope to see you there.

Don’t forget these Lunch 2.0s, coming soon:

If you’re wondering about the WebVisions’ lunch, it will be open to anyone, attending the conference or not. There’s also a rumor that Open Source Bridge may be hosting a lunch before the conference (June 17-19) sometime. Any ideas on venue? Drop a comment.

Big thanks to all the hosts who have hosted or plan to host Lunch 2.0. Drop a comment (or tweet @jkuramot) if you want information about hosting one. It’s easy.

What’s it like to submit an application to the iPhone App Store?

FastFiguresEver wondered what it’s like to submit an iPhone application to the Apple App Store? Now, Beaverton-based FastFigures provides some much needed insight into the whole process with the lessons they learned after one month in the iPhone App Store.

The post provides a fascinating look into the planning of the launch, including struggling with issues like pricing:

The price sensitivity data showed a starting price of $9.99 maximized revenue but I was concerned that these customers were too familiar with our products and wouldn’t represent the broader world of iPhone users. After agonizing over this for over a week, I decided to adjust the pricing based on some additional factors and settled on $5.99. This decision is proving to be both a good one and a bad one, and I struggle with selling our applications so inexpensively to this day.

Mistakes made:

And this is where not understanding the process hurt us. First, I didn’t realize that there was some additional paperwork that needed to be completed. That was completed on the 23rd. Then, once everything is signed off, it takes 24 hours to show up in the AppStore. Finally on the 24th, I’m looking for the application in What’s New and can’t find it!

And valuable lessons learned:
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Two things happened around March 19th that changed our fortunes. For one, we hit that magical 20 review level I’ve talked about before. Second, one of the products in the Finance category most similar to ours went free. There has been a lot of discussion on the web about free applications versus paid applications and that the two customers aren’t the same. And this competitive application proved that.

Plus, some insightful suggestions:

Can you make money in the AppStore? Yes. But the competition is fierce and it’s very hard to differentiate your product from others. My suggestion: Spend plenty of time up-front figuring out how to get above the noise with factors you can control.

Long story short, if you’ve even remotely entertained the idea of building an iPhone app, this post is a must read.

Thanks to the folks at FastFigures for opening up and providing this valuable insight into the process.

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Startup stimulus: EasyStreet offers free services for Oregon entrepreneurs

EasyStreetWe all know that when the going gets tough, the tough get going. But what may not be as obvious is that when the going gets tough, the really super awesome tough realize that other folks need some help. And entrepreneurs reach out to help their would-be peers—especially here in the Silicon Forest.

That’s exactly what’s happening with Beaverton-based EasyStreet, one of the original Internet providers here in town. Today, they announced that they’re stepping up to help other startups during these less than satisfactory economic times with their “EasyStreet Stimulus Package for Entrepreneurs.”

Are you an innovator? Entrepreneur? Head of a skunkworks project inside an established enterprise? Let EasyStreet giving innovation a jump-start with free data center and Internet services for qualified Oregon startups through September 30, 2009.

What’s that? Free hosting and email accounts?

EasyStreet Stimulus Program

But wait. There’s more. Entrepreneurs can also qualify for a free Clear Wireless modem thingamajig if they sign a two year Wi-MAX aggreement.

Best of all? No binding contracts. Well, from EasyStreet, anyway.

“Tough times are great times for entrepreneurs, and entrepreneurs are great for the Oregon economy,” said EasyStreet President & CEO, Rich Bader in announcing the stimulus program. “As the economic downturn was being felt here earlier this year, we asked, ‘What can EasyStreet do to best help boost innovation here in Oregon?’”

How does an entrepreneur qualify? All you have to do is apply through one of the partnering organizations that are helping EasyStreet promote the stimulus package.

And they’re names we all know. Well mostly anyway. I mean, one organization just changed its name, so you might not know them. But you know them. If you know what I mean.

What’s that? Oh sorry. Where are my manners?

The partnering organizations include Oregon Entrepreneurs Network OEN, Oregon Technology Business Center (OTBC), Portland State Business Accelerator (PSBA), Software Association of Oregon (SAO), andTechAmerica Oregon Council (formerly AeA).

So maybe you’re a startup looking to save a little cash. Or maybe you’ve been forced to pursue your entrepreneurial dreams a little more quickly than you expected. Or maybe you simply just need that little push to get your project rolling. Whatever the case, EasyStreet is waiting to help.

Now, you have absolutely no excuse to avoid starting that project. You know the one. The timing is right. And as our old Portland friend Tom Peterson used to say “Free is a very good price.”

For more information, see the EasyStreet Stimulus Package for Entrepreneurs.

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OTBC: So, you start up here often?

OTBCFor many “side project” entrepreneurs, the most difficult part of getting an idea off the ground—and out of the garage or basement—is finding that business partner that complements their skillset.

Business people with good ideas can write all the business plans they want, but they’ll eventually need a developer. And developers can crank all the code they want, but eventually they’ll need some way of approaching the market or getting more funding. But how are they supposed to find one another?

Enter OTBC startup speed dating.

After some networking time, we’ll have each idea person looking for a team give 2 or 3 minute elevator pitch, have each of them head to their own corner of the room, and let people circulate around to check out the startups that sound interesting to them.

The first speed dating event will be held Saturday, February 28 from 1 – 4PM at the OTBC (located in The Round in Beaverton, right on the MAX line). Best of all? It’s all free.

If you’d like to give folks a little pre-briefing on your startup turn-ons and turn-offs, give them some more details your idea. Word around the campfire is that at least 10 startups will be participating. Details on those startups will be listed this week.

For more information, see the OTBC post, Upcoming, or Meetup. And of course, I will mention that OTBC speed dating is on Calagator, too. (Because I heart Calagator.)

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Lunch 2.0 at TechShop Portland

Update: TechShop had to change the date. It’s now April 22. Please plan accordingly.

If the lucky 13th episode of the Portland Lunch 2.0 series needed a name, I would call it “Back to the ‘Burbs: Welding for Giggles at TechShop Portland”.

I don’t have to name them, but how else can I inject pizazz into a simple event announcement?

Anyway, we’re heading back to Beaverton for an off-cycle Lunch 2.0 on April 22 March 25 at the recently opened TechShop Portland. There’s no official schedule really, but as you know, we usually do this once a month. After the OTBC Lunch 2.0 in January, Denney Cole, of the TechShop, wanted to get on the calendar as soon as possible to get people excited about the TechShop.

Maybe you remember the excursion he and Wm Leler organized during the OTBC lunch, or maybe you were too busy chatting up new people.

Well, if you missed it, Denney’s opening the doors to show everyone all the cool stuff he has in there.

Sorry, I made an assumption there, i.e. you also think large power tools and welding equipment are cool. I know I do. In fact, the phrase “welding for giggles” came up when I was trying to understand what the TechShop does. Turns out they provide equipment, space and tools that members can use for all kinds of projects, even if you’re just welding pieces of rebar together and giggling to yourself.

That’s what I’d be doing.

Here’s the official about:

TechShop is a membership-based DIY workshop that gives you access to a huge variety of tools and equipment, tons of friendly and easy classes, and a community of amazing people who share your interest in making things.

Oh, and Wm will soon be opening an Open Tech Space there soon, which will be free to anyone. So, if power tools and arc welding don’t do it for you, there will also be geeking out available.

techshop_logo_portland.pngHere are the details:

Hosts: TechShop Portland

Where: 10100 SW Allen Blvd. Beaverton, OR, 97005

When: March 25April 22, 2009 from 12:00 PM to 2:00 PM

Please RSVP on Upcoming so the hosts can get an idea of how much grub to get. If you’re vegetarian or vegan, drop a comment on the event page for planning, unless you don’t want to eat.

Upcoming Portland Lunch 2.0s

Save these Dates

These haven’t been officially announced yet, but they are happening. Stay tuned for details.

Big thanks to all the hosts who have hosted or plan to host Lunch 2.0. Drop a comment (or tweet @jkuramot) if you want information about hosting one. It’s easy.

OTBC Lunch 2.0 Recap, Welding for Giggles in the Future?

Yesterday, Steve Morris and the OTBC hosted the tenth iteration of Portland Lunch 2.0 and the first one in the ‘burbs.

Even though we didn’t get an official count, estimates I collected put the attendance between 75 and 100. Pretty typical for Portland Lunch 2.0, but a pleasant surprise for our first venture to the ‘burbs. It was tough to count people because they filled up the OTBC office and its conference rooms and spilled into the lobby.

The fire marshal would not have been pleased.

The party train arrives

Photo by Don Park, used under Creative Commons.

Todd and his party train brought about 30 people from Portland, and attendance from nearby the areas seemed high. I didn’t do a scientific poll or anything, but based on the number of new faces, I think it’s safe to say that we had a lot of first-timers. It was a nice mix of the usual suspects and new people. The reactions I saw on Twitter right after lunch included several good-to-meet-yous and the like.

The fare was pizza, but as with most Lunch 2.0s, I didn’t eat. Too busy chatting and networking. Simeon Bateman liked it enough to ping me to find out who provided it. Bellagios if you’re wondering, and a couple of the OTBC’s companies provided it: Integra Telecom and Sonitrol.

A little nugget here: Sonitrol provides security systems and captures audio of intruders; Todd and I agreed that audio would be really funny to hear, like a YouTube for botched breakins. Turns out they do publish some of the audio clips, and they’re as funny as expected. I found this out while chatting with Chuck Mally and Pamela Singleton from Sonitrol.

This Lunch 2.0 also featured a field trip over to Denney Cole’s Portland TechShop. What is TechShop you ask?

TechShop is a membership-based DIY workshop that gives you access to a huge variety of tools and equipment, tons of friendly and easy classes, and a community of amazing people who share your interest in making things.

That’s right, it’s a DIY workshop, complete with tools and machines you just don’t have room for or don’t want to buy. I had to miss the field trip, which bummed me out because several of us agreed that welding stuff and then cutting it apart with an acetylene torch for giggles sounded like a blast. Denney agreed this was the type of activity he wanted to encourage. He might even name a class “Welding for Giggles”. Sweet.

Wm Leler will soon be opening an Open Tech Space there soon, which will be free to anyone, the ostensible reason for the field trip. Sounds like about 20 people made the trip, but I’m still focused on the heavy machinery.

The *big* machinery

Photo by Wm Leler, used with permission.

So, it was a great lunch all around, and judging by the number of new Twitter follows and good-to-meet-yous, we managed to make some new connections.

Upcoming Portland Lunch 2.0s

Interested in hosting a Lunch 2.0 this Spring or later in the year? Drop a comment (or tweet @jkuramot) if you want information about hosting one. It’s easy.

One more thing, will someone please remind me to carry business cards the next time? Every time we have a Lunch 2.0, I sheepishly have to tell people I don’t carry cards. Sorry about that.

Venture to the ‘burbs for Lunch 2.0 at OTBC on Wednesday


It’s been a while, so I’m sure your appetite for good grub and conversation has been whetted.

In case you’ve forgotten, we’re off to the OTBC in the ‘burbs (Beaverton) for the first Portland Lunch 2.0 hosted outside city limits. I saw Steve Morris at End Bloglessness this past weekend; he’s looking forward to showing off the new digs the OTBC recently inhabited in the swanky Beaverton Round.

If you’re sitting in Portland, lamenting the trip West, never fear; turns out the OTBC’s office is only about 100 feet from the MAX Blue Line Beaverton Central stop. And, Todd has graciously organized a Party Train to Lunch 2.0. So, you’re going to need a better excuse than usual to avoid going West.

But wait, there’s more. Wm Leler wants to take advantage to show off his new Open TechShop, and he’ll be organizing a side trip during the lunch for anyone interested. So much good stuff.

Update: A blurb from Wm himself:

Many people have heard about TechShop Portland opening up soon, and since it is close to OTBC we are arranging a tour of TechShop and OpenTechSpace after Lunch 2.0, so people can see how it is coming along and find out how they can help. If you are going to take MAX out to OTBC, we will be carpooling to TechShop and will return you to OTBC. Lots of progress is being made — TechShop had their first class last week, and OpenTechSpace has workbenches and is starting to acquire equipment and tools. TechShop has a new blog at http://portlandtechshop.com and OpenTechSpace is at http://opentechspace.org

Convinced yet? Just be sure to head over to Upcoming to RSVP and make sure to include a comment if you’re vegan/vegetarian. This will ensure Steve has enough of the right kinds of food for you.

Hope to see your smiling face there.

In other PDX Lunch 2.0 news, thanks to Aaron Hockley, our semi-official photographer, for the plug at WorkCamp Las Vegas this past weekend. Aaron was one of three Portlanders who were invited to speak (along with Geoff Kleinman and Lorelle VanFossen), and you can watch his session “Beyond Beer and Blog” here.

Also, AboutUs, our host for the very first PDX Lunch 2.0 last year, will be hosting our one year anniversary lunch in February. They have lots to celebrate, having just closed a round of venture funding last week.

Upcoming Portland Lunch 2.0s

Big thanks to all the hosts who have hosted or plan to host Lunch 2.0. I hope we can keep the Lunch 2.0 train rolling this year. Drop a comment (or tweet @jkuramot) if you want information about hosting one. It’s easy.

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