There was a time, not so long ago, when the Portland startup community used to gather on a regular basis at a happy hour called Beer and Blog. It was a time to catch up with friends. A time to make new connections. A place to send folks when they were looking to get better connected to the community. And it’s how many folks who are still involved in the Portland startup community met one another, originally.
If you’ve had the feeling that it’s getting even more startuppy around these parts as of late, it’s no wonder. Last week was PIE Demo Day 2019, Built Oregon has launched a new accelerator program, and the Startup Champions Network just wrapped up a three day event, here in town. April promises to be just as awesome thanks to Portland Startup Week with concludes with TechfestNW.
One of the things I love most about the Portland startup community is how collaborative, supportive, and engaged the entire community is. Rather than a single person or group carrying the load, it’s all of us. But not every community has the same dynamic. Sometimes it’s an individual or handful of folks who shoulder the bulk of the effort. But no matter what the dynamic, a bunch of folks from other startup communities are visiting us in Portland, this week.
As always, I’ll start this with the caveat that I promised Bill Lynch, cofounder of Jive, that I wouldn’t just write posts that celebrate funding for the sake of funding. Which is actually more work. (Thanks, Bill.) But in the long run, I’m hoping my bag-full-of-cats startup-history brain full of tangential facts and likely little known context can be helpful in providing a broader picture of why these funding events are important.
It’s a little weird when you meet someone who shares your birthday. It gets even weirder when that birthday is the exact same day. Like day, month, year. Same, same, same. And then, what if you were both working a similar sort of job? Now imagine putting those two — Libras, mind you — together on a podcast. And that’s pretty much what you get with Saul Colt’s “We now join the program already in progress” podcast — with me as a guest.
You’ve heard me talk about the growing prevalence of regional offices as a compelling and growing part of the Portland startup community. To date, many of these offices — which often rival or fully eclipse (Intel) full fledged Portland companies in size — have played the role of employers, event hosts, and sponsors for the community, as a whole. And that’s a trend that I hope to see continue.
While it used to be common knowledge around these parts, Portland Lunch 2.0 seems to have become a bit of an enigma. I can tell, because every time I start talking about it, folks are like “How do we even do a Portland Lunch 2.0?” Fair question. Let’s see if we can clear some of this up. For both attendees and hosts.
While the Portland startup community does its best to be incredibly collaborative and welcoming, we’re not always so good with communicating how best to engage with the community. And that can be a tad bit frustrating for folks who are looking to help — and even more frustrating for those who are looking for help.
It happens to the best of them. We start a Slack instance. And then it grows. And folks add channels with the best of intentions. And then some of those channels flourish. While others wither away in anonymity. Creating clutter. And impacting discovery. But worst of all, increasing frustration and a feeling of disconnectedness. Which is entirely counterproductive.