It will come as no surprise to anyone that I spend a lot of my time focused in a hyperlocal sort of way. On startups. Usually Portland. Sometimes other places in Oregon. But usually Portland. And usually tech. So it’s always nice to get the opportunity to muck around with more macro data. Or datasets that provide a broader context and indicators for what’s happening here around entrepreneurship.
While admittedly there are any number of resources that share the stories of entrepreneurs, the voice of those stories is decidedly homogenous. So when I get the chance to share a story that’s not part of the homogeneity — or when I get the chance to use the word “homogeneity” in a post — I’m going to do it. Like the story of Sylvia Salazar, the Latina founder of TonoLatino.
It’s debatable whether this is fortunate or not, but whatever the case, the term “startup” is inextricably linked to technology companies. Even though any type of company that has the potential to be capital efficient and scale quickly can technically, ahem, be a startups. So I try to share other startups from outside the realm of tech.
In the early days of any new technology, there is always the challenge of compatibility. As various file formats, schemas, and structures spring to life, interoperability is often the last thing to consider. So it’s always nice to see this sort of thing happening sooner rather than later. Like Portland startup The Wild enabling folks to work with SketchUp files within The Wild VR environment.
I’m always impressed by the motivations of folks who are starting companies in Portland. Because more often than not, they’re driven by a desire to solve problems. Or to create better products. Or to contribute to the greater good. Now a new Portland startup—In-It—is seeking to give folks a platform to share what drives them and to gather more collective voices in support.
If you’ve talked to me about markets that have a lot of potential in Portland, we’ve no doubt discussed reality of some flavor or another. Virtual, Augmented, Immersive, Experiential… whatever you want to call it, folks in Portland have been exploring creating content with those technologies for years. And now, XR is inspiring a new crop of products in town that enable folks to create that content more easily.
This Spring, I was given the opportunity to take the stage for TEDxPortland. Which, I later learned, is among the top three TEDx events in the world. And it’s a good thing that I learned that later, because that definitely would have tempered my acceptance of the opportunity. But as someone who suffers from stage fright—and someone who did not yet understand the stature of the event—it seemed like one of those interesting personal challenges. A growing experience. I mean, what could go wrong?
Startup folks, am I right? They’re always thinking of creative solutions to problems. And in Portland, unlike some of our differently motivated neighbors to the south, they’re often thinking about solutions that make life better for everyone in our community. Like Business for a Better Portland. An ad hoc chamber of commerce that sprung out of a desire to inform a collaborative—rather than contentious—model of public-private partnership.