Unless you’ve been around the Portland startup community for a while, you may not remember Meridian. Even if you have been around a while, the name might not immediately ring a bell. But it should. Because from my perspective, it was one of the more successful startup exits in Portland. Not in total value, but definitely in multiples returned to investors and the speed at which that investment was returned.
In a world where marketing and advertising continues to up the level of creepiness on a regular basis (Thanks, Cambridge Analytica!), it’s refreshing to see a company that’s willing to stem the tide of distrust. And it’s even more awesome when it’s a Portland startup. That’s why it was great to see Lytics pushing for an industry standard around trust based marketing.
Last night, the Technology Association of Oregon (TAO) held their annual Oregon Tech Awards celebration gala, their biggest event of the year. (Coincidentally, GeekWire held their big Seattle tech awards last night, too.) And the Portland startup community was well represented.
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: PDX Women in Tech is the best thing going in the Portland tech community right now. From startups to established corporations, the organization continues to provide an impressive—and ever growing—center of gravity for our community. And now, they’re formalizing the leadership of the organization with the hiring of their first executive director, Elizabeth Stock.
I always say that the Portland startup community is big enough to be statistically relevant, but not so large that you can’t move the needle. So the fact that our community is severely lacking in terms of diversity and inclusion presents both a problem and an opportunity for the community. Part of the solution must include ensuring that everyone has access to resources and support that give all entrepreneurs the greatest chance of success. That was the motivation behind Prosper Portland’s Inclusive Business Resource Network.
[Editor: The following is a guest post by Meredith Goddard, Founder & Director of Five Years In]
Teenagers are less likely than ever to work summer jobs. There has been a precipitous and unprecedented decline in labor force participation rate for teenagers over the last 20 years. In August of 1998, 52.8% of 16-19 year olds participated in the labor force, a number that held steady since the 1950s. In August of 2017, just 35.2% percent of 16-19 year olds participated in the labor force, meaning most Millenials (and younger) have not held summer jobs. Instead of work, many young people are spending more time in summer school, traveling with sports teams and engaging in unpaid internships.
You don’t hear as much about it as I would like, but I love the small and scrappy fintech startup community in Portland. What started with companies like Simple has spawned any number of interesting takes on banking, financing, and investing. Even the cofounder of Acorns—which enables folks to round up purchase prices to invest small increments of money—has a Portland connection. (He graduated from Lewis & Clark.) So you can imagine my excitement when I heard that Giftango founder David Nelsen was getting back in the startup game with a fintech play. And now, it’s come out of stealth. Meet Bumped.
In the world of equity financing and startups, it’s not rare to see folks adding new board members when they announce funding rounds. Because it’s usually VCs who have invested who are getting those seats. So when Portland startup Sensu announced a new round of funding and new board members, it was a pleasant surprise to see that one of them was an independent, Luke Kanies, founder of Puppet.