In 2013, the Portland Development Commission (PDC) launched the first ever Startup PDX Challenge, an early stage competition targeting entrepreneurs in the Portland metro area and across the United States. Selected from an applicant pool of 240 companies, the six winners of the 2013 Challenge received a $10,000 working capital grant, a full year of rent-free office space in Portland’s Central Eastside Produce Row, and free professional advice and services. The startups have attracted outside investment, increased clients and sales, and hired new employees in the last six months. Read More
Silicon Florist internship challenge
A week ago, I went off on a little rant about the sorry state of Oregon’s technology and education mix. And how I hoped that all of us startup types could use our creativity to figure out how to fix the problem.
Well, much to my surprise, nearly 30 people jumped into the comments, a number of folks contacted me on Twitter, and a bunch of emails came rolling into my inbox.
And while all of this was inspiring, it suddenly meant that I actually needed to do something.
The problem is a big one. And we’re not going to solve it tomorrow. But if we take small steps, we’ll get there.
But, we need to get the ball rolling. And quickly.
So I’m happy to report that I think I’ve come up with one of those small steps. I think.
I was going to announce this on Tuesday, but given the date, I was concerned about the announcement being perceived as a joke. And then I saw the hubbub about April 3 being Good People Day. And that seemed like the perfect day to announce the idea.
You let me know if this sounds feasible and we’ll go from there.
The Silicon Florist Internship Challenge
Summer break is right around the corner. And at the same time, most of the startups to whom I’m speaking are crunching on more work than ever.
Let’s see, underly busy people and overly busy people. What could we do with some of those smart kids and some of those startups needing help?
That’s right. Internships.
Just think. What if you had had the opportunity as a high-school or college student to shadow an entrepreneur like you? What if you had had the opportunity to learn some of the secrets of business or coding or planning or writing or whatever? How cool would that have been? How much better prepared would you have been to do what you’re doing now?
I think the value to the students is pretty obvious.
So, I’m suggesting that we all work to take on some interns this summer. Could be paid. Could be just a learning and experience kind of thing.
I don’t really care how you structure the compensation arrangement. I just want to see you do it.
Set up an internship. Make it 6 weeks or so. Get a few kids to spend 5-10 hours a week learning about your work.
You can do it. I know you can.
Oh, I hear you. “That seems like a lot of work. What—besides warm fuzzies—is in it for me?”
Well, you get some help doing some of your work for one thing. You get a fresh viewpoint, for another. You have to explain what you do and why you do it to someone else. You get to validate your reasoning. You get to teach. And, perhaps best of all, you get someone who actually wants to listen to you blather on and on about your project.
But, I’ll also work to throw in some other benefits. I’m not exactly sure what they are yet. But every company that volunteers to participate in the Silicon Florist Internship Challenge will receive something along the lines of:
- A dedicated Silicon Florist article featuring your company and your internship program. Maybe I even let your interns post some entries about why your startup is so cool.
- A mention in the press release I plan to put out when I pitch this program to the traditional media and schools. As well as my help flacking that release and your company to the best of my abilities.
- A free post on the Silicon Florist Gig board to advertise your internship, and just for good measure, I’ll throw in a free job posting for use whenever you like. (I know that your company is going to be growing.)
- Some cool Web graphic that helps you promote your participation in the program.
- My promise to promote your internship opportunity, to help you find the candidates to get it filled, and to continue to support your program throughout the summer.
- Oh, and of course, there will have to be some Silicon Florist swag.
… and probably some other things that folks more creative than me will suggest. As I said, I haven’t really thought through your fabulous prize package, yet. But I will.
So what’s next?
Well, first, you need to tell me if this is even a good idea. I’m going to work to hire a couple of interns this summer, one way or the other. But I’d like you to join in the fun. If you think it might work.
Second, I need you to let me know in some way that you’re interested in doing this. And there are a variety of ways to do that: comment below, send me a message on Twitter, or drop me an email.
And while I’m really interested in seeing what the small Web startups and individuals are capable of doing, I’ll more than welcome the big tech companies around town if they want to join in on the fun.
I just need to know if you’re up to the challenge. We can discuss specifics later.
So let me know, as quickly as possible. We’ll plan on doing the heavy outreach and promotion of the program and its participants on May 1, 2008. That gives you a few weeks to get your ducks in a row. And it will give me a couple of weeks to help formalize the internship guidelines.
I’m looking forward to this. I hope you’ll join me. This could be really good for both the kids and companies of Portland, Eugene, Corvallis, Bend, Vancouver—the entire Silicon Forest—in a number of ways.
Let’s get going on this.