Category: Startups

Startupalooza launches 1,000 conversations

StartupaloozaWell it’s official. The first Startupalooza is in the books.

Designed to be a “more business-oriented BarCampy unconference,” the event more than fulfilled its goal. And, in so doing, completed a successful trifecta for the Portland Legion of Tech, adding Startupalooza as an equal among the successful BarCamp Portland and Ignite Portland events.

The best part, in my opinion? The new voices. And hearing new stories from the old ones.

In a town where you tend to run in very small and similar circles, Startupalooza both introduced new voices into the conversation—like the Garage Games guys from Eugene and the soon-to-be-a-Portland-fixture Intrigo team—and drew well-known, yet not-oft-seen types out of the woodwork to both observe—and participate.

Prior to the event, the primary coordinator and Legion of Tech Treasurer, Todd Kenefsky, intimated to me that he had some concerns about the lack of networking time built into the schedule. But guess what happens when you put a bunch of intelligent and entrepreneurial people in a room together? Those conversations just start to happen. In the audience. In the cubes behind the presentation area. In the lunchroom. In the hallway (which served as a bit of an echo chamber at times).

Every minute of the event was a time for networking. And for learning. And for sharing.

And, from the looks of things, everyone is still recovering from all of that energy concentrated in one place. Because posts about the event have been few and far between. Here’s some of the coverage I’ve been able to track, so far (if you have a wrap-up post that I’ve missed, please leave a comment, and I’ll add it to the list):

  • Scott Kveton “Startupalooza or Bust!”
    “All in all I was amazed at the vibrance of the Portland startup scene … clearly there is something here, clearly we’re just starting to pick up the pace here … I can’t imagine anywhere else on earth I’d rather be working and living.”
  • Bram Pitoyo “Startupalooza”
    “If learning from and having conversations with Portland’s greatest innovators (and, in some cases, even luminaries) for a whole day failed to excite your mind to want to create something bigger than yourself (a startup, collaborative, group, side project, community activity, etc.), I don’t know what else will.”
  • Michael Sigler “Startupalooza”
    “It’s obvious I moved to the right town. The collaborative spirit here is awesome. There is so much to take part in and everyone is eager for feedback and participation. Though it was still mostly a sausage-fest, it was good to see a number of women in the audience. I was also pleasantly surprised by the range of ages represented.”
  • Paul Biggs “Startupalooza and #drunkgeeking”
    “While I very much enjoyed learning about some really cool new projects in PDX, as is the case with most structured events, the most rewarding part for me was all the side conversations buzzing in hallways and nearby bars. It’s all about the people!”
  • Gabriel Aldamiz-echevarria “Taste sharing for web personalization”
    “So when we were asked to talk at Startupalooza (a really cool Portland tech event, put together by Todd Kenefsky and the Legion of Tech) we decided this should be the topic of our talk: taste sharing for web personalization… something which is of extreme importance for MyStrands and the entire recommender industry.”
  • John Poelstra “Superb Startupalooza”
    “Of late I’ve been trying to get more involved in the local tech scene where I live. On Saturday I went to check out Startupalooza and had no idea what to expect. It was superb in every respect. The facilities at CubeSpace were great and all the presentations and speakers were excellent. I wish I could have stayed for the whole thing!”
  • Joanna Kane “Startupalooza a high-tech hit”
    “The crowd in attendance ranged from those with decade-long entrepreneurial careers to wide-eyed observers hoping to absorb tips and tools to get their new ideas off the ground. The energy in the room was palpable, conversations were animated, and new ideas were being generated as fast as they were being shared. If I had to pick one theme for the day, it would be the common interest in making life easier through technology, coupled with making technology accessible for anybody and everybody.”
  • Flickr photos tagged “Startupalooza” (Please note, Aaron Hockley was hauling around two rigs for 7 hours, snapping almost 400 shots. It’s going to take a little while for him to comb through them, but they’re coming.)

If you missed the event, Legion of Tech was working to record the entire thing. Hopefully, we’ll all soon be able to have a listen, post processing. I, for one, am curious as to what I actually said while I was up there.

Startupalooza: Join fellow startups to compare notes

Anecdotally, I can tell you that there’s a great deal of interest in startups around Portland. But sometimes, it’s difficult to put a finger on just how many people are interested.

Until events like Startupalooza come along. And then that fuzzy “level of interest” becomes exceedingly obvious.

How obvious? Well, the event, like Legion of Tech‘s Ignite Portland events, currently ranks among the most popular events on Upcoming. And not just in Portland. On Upcoming. Period.

And with good reason. Startupalooza’s list of presenters reads like a who’s who of current and former Silicon Forest startups.

Companies and products on the docket include:

But wait, there’s more.

Sarah Gilbert, Marshall Kirkpatrick [Update: Just received word that Marshall will be unable to attend.], Justin Kistner, and I will be there on a “technopreneur” Q&A panel, as well.

I know, I know. I struggle to fathom how we’re going to squeeze all of this into one afternoon. But why not show up and see if we can? And then, plan to stick around. Word around the campfire is that there might be one or two after-event activities happening, as well.

Startupalooza begins at noon on Saturday, March 29, at CubeSpace. To RSVP, visit Startupalooza on Upcoming. For more information, see Startupalooza.

Still need more to do this weekend? You’re in luck, my friend. Go ahead, don’t be shy. Get your geek on.

SplashCast “social advertising” tees up $4 million

Man oh man. With all of these Silicon Forest startups attracting funding, it’s about time I establish a “graduating class.” And here’s one of those startups that’s definitely in the running for Salutatorian, if not Valedictorian: Portland-based SplashCast.

First, the funding. Because that’s the real news here.

SplashCast announced today that it has secured $4 million dollars in Series A funding, led by Mark Bayliss, an Australian (remember the Australia trip not too long ago?) media and advertising executive veteran of some of the world’s largest advertising and media companies who runs in the same circles as fellow Aussie and media mogul Rupert Murdoch. Emergent, an emerging growth investment fund also with strong ties to advertising and consumer brands, was a follow-on to the round.

I asked Mike Berkley, SplashCast’s CEO, to put this funding—and the organizations providing it—in perspective for me.

“What does this mean for the company?” said Berkley. “The relationships that Bayliss and his partners bring to SplashCast gives the company a monumental step-up in social marketing.”

Which bring us to my second point. I’m a marketing geek. So, let’s talk about SplashCast’s newest take on their positioning. Or better yet, let’s not use some stupid buzzword. Let’s talk about how SplashCast is describing their product as of late.

If you haven’t been watching SplashCast, this probably would fly right by, unnoticed. But, I’ve been watching these guys ratchet down on the language they’re using and their efforts to make the product more attractive to a broader big-media advertising market. They continue to make definitive changes in describing what they do. And they seem to be honing in on something new.

SplashCast started in user-generated content. Then they moved to more of a “branded content” sort of play, building custom apps for big names like Justin Timberlake, Britney, and Hillary Clinton. Now, they’re directly positioning themselves as an alternative to what—as silly as it sounds for me to describe it this way—can only be referred to “traditional” online advertising models.

SplashCast calls this new focus “social advertisments.” I call it “advertisements that actually do something.” But regardless of what you call it, they’re pushing this message very strongly as of late:

[SplashCast’s] New Social Marketing Solution Viewed As Breakthrough For Advertisers Looking To Reach Users On MySpace, Facebook & Other Social Networking Sites

And:

Splashcasting represents a new form of online marketing called social advertisements – tools marketers use to reach the growing demographic of social network site users. SplashCast’s video-based social advertisements on average receive click-through-rates that are about 75 times higher than typical banner advertisements used on MySpace, Facebook or other social network sites.

This seems to be their new home: taking on traditional online advertising. And that puts them directly in the sites of some very big players.

Now, some may look at these recent changes and cast aspersions. Claiming that this belies a lack of focus.

In my opinion, these changes don’t seem to be wishy-washy or “searching for a problem to solve.” These are simply the pains that any growing company goes through as it works to figure out where its true market lies.

And there’s a very clear reason that the messages have been moving in that direction.

You build a product based on your ideas and passion. You tend to build a company based on what people will buy.

And given that SplashCast is securing funding and landing customers with this new positioning, it only makes sense—from a business perspective—that they continue pursuing this stance.

I, for one, will be continuing to watch them.

For more information on the funding and social advertising, visit SplashCast.

Guest Editorial: Scott Kveton

[Editor’s note: Continuing the Silicon Florist’s guest editorial series, we welcome Scott Kveton, a well-known force-of-nature in the Portland technology community. And, as you’ll see, the de facto Chamber of Commerce for the Portland startup scene.]
Made in Oregon

Image courtesy Modified Enzyme under Creative Commons

Falling in love with Portland again and again

Last week was amazing. I spent most of it with Luke Sontag here in Portland, meeting with folks, spreading the good word about Vidoop and generally being in the city.

Having grown up in-and-around Portland, it’s always fun to see the reaction to everything-that-is-Portland from someone who doesn’t live here. (Oh, and the weather we had last week didn’t hurt either.)

I got a chance to talk a little bit about this at Ignite Portland 2, but I’ll say it again: This is the beginning of a fantastic renaissance period for Portland. It’s such a vibrant, eclectic, talented and diverse city with so many things going on, that it inspires the mind and spirit around every corner you turn. Even more, I think Chris Logan had it right: it’s time for Portland to step up and take its place.

There has been some talk about how “if you don’t live in the Bay Area and you’re in tech, you’re basically a wuss.”

So be it. The very last thing I want is for Portland to turn into the Bay Area or Seattle. I want it to be Portland. I want other cities to be saying “wouldn’t it be great if we were more like Portland?” I simply want Portland to come into its own in tech, in the arts, sustainability, green, etc.

But, how do we get to that point?

Well, it takes a bunch of us, it takes some time and, ironically, the city does most of the work for you.

For the past couple of years, I’ve made it a point to try to help people who are considering a move to Portland. I’ve spent countless days taking people around the city, introducing them to others in the city, and generally trying to give them a “locals’ view” of the city.

Now, the tour I take folks on covers a bit of ground and I’m seeking some input on the route. A couple of places I go to:

  • Tour of SW waterfront area with gondola love
  • Sellwood district (possibly for lunch, definitely for dinner at Saburo’s if it’s a weekday night)
  • SE towards 78th or so … Marshall has been kind enough to meet me more than once at the Bipartisan Cafe… soooo PDX
  • Alberta or Killingsworth… I used to live at Billy Reed’s at the turn of the century and I can’t believe how much it’s all changed since then
  • Pearl District for coffee (Caffe Umbria is amazing) or drinks (the Vault or even the Clyde Commons)
  • NW on 21st or 23rd… just too much to do, to eat, to see

Where would you take a touring visitor to get a taste of Portland from a local’s point-of-view? Bear in mind, I’m not looking for just a tech-person view on this. I’m all about diversity here.

The key to all of this, and the thing that I keep in mind at all times, is serendipity. Yeah, yeah, I know. Hard to quantify, huh? Well, I’m not the cheerleader type unless I really, really believe in it. Portland I can believe in. This city, the people, the places. It’s easy.

If you’re not predisposed to drink the PDX Kool-aid, then you’re probably not the type of person I’d want here anyway. And, if you’ve ended up in my Inbox or with my phone number, odds are, there’s a reason.

I’ll put this out there; if you have a friend or colleague that is thinking about making the move to Portland I’ll offer up my time for coffee or even the full-fledged tour to introduce them to the city and the people I know. It’s just the right thing to do. And, I’d challenge you to do the same.

Again, it’s not about trying to make Portland something it’s not… it’s about embracing serendipity and helping Portland realize its potential.

P.S. – first round is always on me … 🙂

Scott Kveton is a digital identity promoter, open source advocate, and Chairman of the OpenID Foundation. He has worked at Amazon, RuleSpace.com, JanRain, and MyStrands, and founded the Open Source Lab at Oregon State University. He is a regular speaker on the topic of identity and open source. Kveton currently serves as the Vice President of Open Platforms for Vidoop, a company he recently wooed to the Silicon Forest.

Portland Start-up Index: February 2008

As promised, Techvibes [Full disclosure: I contribute Portland articles to Techvibes] has released its monthly update to the Portland Start-up Index, which has now increased to 50 companies.

And that’s not all that has changed. Now, the index has some movement indicators, showing who was where and where they’ve gone—up or down.

New additions include Kongregate (didn’t realize they had a Portland office), Rocketbook, Iterasi [Full disclosure: Client of mine], Active Reload, WeoGeo (recently relocated from Florida), VocalNation.net, GoLife Mobile, and Worldwide Nest.

As far as movers go, ChoiceA, Lunarr, and MomHub saw the biggest upticks. As expected, number of folks were sent screaming down the list with the addition of the new companies.

The mixture of companies and products on the index are ranked by the average of their Alexa and Compete rankings.

Since each revision of the index replaces the previous one, I’ve captured the list, for posterity:

  1. AboutUs
  2. Discogs
  3. Kongregate
  4. MyOpenID
  5. Splashcast
  6. Earth Class Mail (now located in Seattle)
  7. Jive Software
  8. Sandy
  9. Gone Raw
  10. Cliq
  11. Stikkit
  12. NetworthIQ
  13. Grabbit
  14. Walker Tracker
  15. Pibb
  16. Attensa
  17. UrbanDrinks
  18. Rocketbook
  19. Iterasi
  20. Active Reload
  21. ChoiceA
  22. fmyi
  23. Lunarr
  24. GadgetTrak
  25. Iovation
  26. KnitMap
  27. WeoGeo
  28. FreeRange
  29. Picktastic
  30. Goboz
  31. Imindi
  32. Art Face Off
  33. MomHub
  34. Avnera
  35. VocalNation.net
  36. Box Populi
  37. Pheedo
  38. GoLife Mobile
  39. Workplace2go
  40. Techchex
  41. Kryptiq
  42. Jama Software
  43. Lumeno.us
  44. GoSeeTell
  45. Lightfleet
  46. Cendix
  47. Worldwide Nest
  48. YourList
  49. IDP Solutions
  50. Kumquat

For the complete listing, metrics, and movement indicators, please visit Techvibes.

Startupalooza: Start making your plans to attend

Portland’s Startupalooza, the March 29th bootcamp for startups—both existing and planned, continues to expand its roster of speakers. And it’s shaping up to be quite a gathering of local startup talent.

As part of the continuing build-out of its schedule, Starupalooza has announced the addition of a Toonlet demo, a Vidoop demo, and the formation of a “Technopreneur” panel featuring Sarah Gilbert of Cafemama, et al., Marshall Kirkpatrick of ReadWrite Web, Justin Kistner of Metafluence, and some other guy.

Startupalooza is an interactive forum for the Portland tech startup community. Find out about cool tech startups, learn from successful tech entrepreneurs and meet local tech-business people in a candid, no-BS environment. Admission is free.

Startupalooza announces date, initial speakers

It’s official! After some stealthy preparation, Startupalooza, the latest Portland-technology event from the Legion of Tech team, has been slated for March 29, 2008. The event will be held at CubeSpace.

What’s the deal?

Starupalooza is an interactive forum for the Portland tech startup community. It’s where you can find out about cool tech startups, learn from successful tech entrepreneurs and meet local tech-business people. The event features discussions, presentations, demonstrations and networking allowing participants to share, learn and connect in a candid, no-BS environment.

Oh, and I did I mention, it’s free?

A number of speakers have already been announced:

For more information, visit the Startupalooza, subscribe to the RSS feed, or follow @startupalooza on Twitter. To RSVP, visit the Startupalooza page on Upcoming.

Portland Startup Weekend: Could it be what the Rose City needs?

One of the best things about writing this blog is getting the opportunity to chat with a wide variety of folks. I mean, sure, a lot of us are geeky. And that’s pretty much where I focus the coverage. But I think you would be pleasantly surprised at the wide range of folks who are interested in Silicon Forest startups.

And in the conversations I’ve been having, there’s one consistent theme that comes through time and time again: For all the activity in Portland—all the cool startup energy and amazing tools being built—people feel pretty darn isolated in our relatively small town.

I think that’s part of the reason why Portland’s Twitter community is so active and responsive. It’s why there’s a ever-growing number of us who are really getting excited for Ignite Portland 2. It’s why things like the PDX Tech Calendar project are taking off.

But there’s still more to do. There’s still more crossover needed.

I mean, let’s be honest: This needs to be more than just techie-types leading the charge. It needs to be a group effort. And a diverse effort.

And that’s what appeals to me about Startup Weekend.

“What’s Startup Weekend?” you say? I’m glad you asked.

Startup Weekend is very much like the Ignite concept. Only it’s for a company.

I know. I hear you. “I’ve been to weekend codefests before.”

But, see, here’s where this one is a little different: It’s not a product. It’s a company.

One weekend to create one company.

That means design, development, marketing, public relations, business development, user experience, legal, and project management. All of those disciplines. In one room. Working to create a company under the gun.

What’s more, this isn’t some “Oh wasn’t that fun. Now let’s throw away all that work and go back to our lives.” This becomes a real company.

Startup Weekend recruits a highly motivated group of small business entrepreneurs to build a community and company in a weekend. The founders decide what to make as a team, and earn an equal share of stock in the developed business. Attendees are responsible for bringing the desire and passion to the project and walk out of the room with a brand new business, in a short 54 hours. Sound intense? It is.

So why all the hoopla from me? Well, there’s a little voting platform for deciding who gets to host Startup Weekends. And Portland is already on the list. So, we’re already part of the way there. All we need is to provide a little more oompf and we could have our very own Portland Startup Weekend.

Sounds interesting, doesn’t it? And I’m confident that with the brilliant folks in this town—and the great organizations that are working to bring us together *cough* Legion of Tech *cough*—we could turn it into quite an interesting event. A spectacle, if you will. In a good way. And an example of how we, as Portlanders and Silicon Forest… um “creatures” can come together to build something great.

And to start to eliminate some of those feelings of isolation.

If you’re even partially convinced that this might, just might, be a good idea. And that it might be good for our community. I highly encourage you to take two seconds to vote for Portland Startup weekend.

For more, visit Startup Weekend.

Portland tech startup co-op, concept proposed

As any small company or individual developer discovers, there are a number of requirements to “running a business” that often detract or steal time from your “building cool and useful stuff” time. And while many developers currently outsource these tasks to business-service professionals, the cost and time to manage those services and contractors can be equally draining.

Peat Bakke of Blue Hill Solutions and Adam DuVander may have a solution: a co-op that supports the business-services needs of small and independent technology developers in the Portland area.

There are lots of independent software developers and consultants in the Portland area, and while the technologies and applications vary wildly, there are probably some very common frustrations that could be aided under a co-op structure.

Sounds like an idea whose time has come. A sort of “Really Small Business Administration” to fill the gap for the market that the local SBA isn’t really designed to serve.

The concept is interesting—and appealing—to say the least. If you agree, read Peat’s post on the topic and then head over to Portland Web Innovators to join the discussion.

Reminder: LUNARR preview tonight

Bringing two years of stealth to a close, LUNARR, the Portland-based company founded on the premise that every knowledge worker in an organization has the potential to be a creative contributor, will unveil its Web-based collaboration product, this evening, at CubeSpace. The event starts at 6:00 PM.

What should you expect to see?

LUNARR is a service that allows people to create and share documents in an efficient and convenient way. As a member, once you login you can create or access a document, and then revise or simply share the document with whomever you like. Share a report with a colleague. Change a contract with your attorney. LUNARR makes it fast and simple.

LUNARR was founded by wildly successful Japanese entrepreneur Toru Takasuka of Cybozu fame. Takasuka is scheduled to present, as is LUNARR Chief Operating Officer, Hideshi Hamaguchi.

For more information on the event or to RSVP, please visit the Upcoming page.

%d bloggers like this: