Tag: Startup

LUNARR in retrograde: After several beta products, startup decides to close up shop

I always hate to report on this stuff, but sometimes you just have to. Portland-based LUNARR, one of the first companies to come out of stealth mode after I started Silicon Florist, has decided to close its doors.

Last Thursday, users of LUNARR’s Elements and Themes products received the following notice: Read More

Positive press: The Oregonian points to the potential the startup community holds

Hang in there, you entrepreneurial type you. You’re making progress. I know it. You know it. And now, other folks are starting to take notice. Like The Oregonian.

In a recent article entitled “Oregon’s high-tech better off now than in dot-com bust” business and tech reporter Mike Rogoway—one of the mainstream media folks in Portland who clearly “gets it”—had the following to offer about the under the radar startup scene: Read More

Startup stimulus: EasyStreet offers free services for Oregon entrepreneurs

EasyStreetWe all know that when the going gets tough, the tough get going. But what may not be as obvious is that when the going gets tough, the really super awesome tough realize that other folks need some help. And entrepreneurs reach out to help their would-be peers—especially here in the Silicon Forest.

That’s exactly what’s happening with Beaverton-based EasyStreet, one of the original Internet providers here in town. Today, they announced that they’re stepping up to help other startups during these less than satisfactory economic times with their “EasyStreet Stimulus Package for Entrepreneurs.”

Are you an innovator? Entrepreneur? Head of a skunkworks project inside an established enterprise? Let EasyStreet giving innovation a jump-start with free data center and Internet services for qualified Oregon startups through September 30, 2009.

What’s that? Free hosting and email accounts?

EasyStreet Stimulus Program

But wait. There’s more. Entrepreneurs can also qualify for a free Clear Wireless modem thingamajig if they sign a two year Wi-MAX aggreement.

Best of all? No binding contracts. Well, from EasyStreet, anyway.

“Tough times are great times for entrepreneurs, and entrepreneurs are great for the Oregon economy,” said EasyStreet President & CEO, Rich Bader in announcing the stimulus program. “As the economic downturn was being felt here earlier this year, we asked, ‘What can EasyStreet do to best help boost innovation here in Oregon?’”

How does an entrepreneur qualify? All you have to do is apply through one of the partnering organizations that are helping EasyStreet promote the stimulus package.

And they’re names we all know. Well mostly anyway. I mean, one organization just changed its name, so you might not know them. But you know them. If you know what I mean.

What’s that? Oh sorry. Where are my manners?

The partnering organizations include Oregon Entrepreneurs Network OEN, Oregon Technology Business Center (OTBC), Portland State Business Accelerator (PSBA), Software Association of Oregon (SAO), andTechAmerica Oregon Council (formerly AeA).

So maybe you’re a startup looking to save a little cash. Or maybe you’ve been forced to pursue your entrepreneurial dreams a little more quickly than you expected. Or maybe you simply just need that little push to get your project rolling. Whatever the case, EasyStreet is waiting to help.

Now, you have absolutely no excuse to avoid starting that project. You know the one. The timing is right. And as our old Portland friend Tom Peterson used to say “Free is a very good price.”

For more information, see the EasyStreet Stimulus Package for Entrepreneurs.

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Startup Now Oregon form is still up? What gives?

Oregon loveOkay okay. I’ll admit, it may look like I’m crying wolf.

But I got a call late last night that we had some more breathing room to fill out the Startup Now Oregon form.

You know the one. The one that will convince the Treasurer for the State of Oregon that we have a ton of viable startups in the area—startups that deserve access to state managed funds.

While we’ve had a bunch of people take a moment to fill out the form—more than 60 at last count—we’d still like to see some more.

What’s more important is that I still don’t see your idea on there. Yes, you. Procrastinator. You know who you are. Don’t make me call you out.

Even if you don’t want, need, or like the idea of the money, it’s still important to make your voice heard. Why? So that the powers that be in Oregon understand what we’ve got going here. Because it’s something special. And it deserves their support.

Remember, geeky or not. Codified or not. Oregon-based or willing to become Oregon-based. Come one, come all.

I’m not putting any deadlines on this, but I’ll likely be pulling the form down within the next few days.

Don’t make me beg—or continue to whine. It’s not pretty. Fill out the form.

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REMINDER: Oregon startup? Want to be? Interested in $250k funding? Chime in

Welcome to the “How many questions can I ask in one headline?” edition of Silicon Florist.

Just a reminder that the submission form for “Startup Now” will close today at 11:59 PM.

How about you take a few seconds to provide some details about one, two, or 12 of your current side projects? Take a moment to reflect on what you could do with $250,000 in the next year, to help bring your product or idea to fruition.

Don’t think you’re worthy? Not interested in getting funding? I’d still encourage you to take a few moments to respond. Really, what could it hurt?

The point is this: rising water floats all boats. And our state treasurer needs convincing that we have a viable entrepreneurial environment filled with viable startups just waiting to take form. What’s more, if these folks can pull off putting together a $100 million fund for Oregon startups, it’s going to help all of us.

Come to think of it, I don’t even care if you live in Oregon right now. If you’d be willing to relocate to Oregon to start your business, you’re more than welcome to fill out the form, as well.

I’m looking forward to seeing you get some money to bring that idea to fruition. And if we can all work together to help the state understand the, um, state of our startup scene, it just might happen.

More than 50 startups—in addition to those who presented at the event—have provided details on how they would reinvest $250,000 in funding in Oregon over the next year. Why haven’t you?

How would you use that money? Complete the Startup Now form.

Mugasha selected for SXSW Accelerator

MugashaMugasha—the DJ-set splitting startup founded during Portland Startup Weekend—has been selected to participate in the Microsoft BizSpark Accelerator at SXSW. They are the only Northwest company to make the cut.

SXSW is a big stage for the young company. With the event’s mix of music and technology, it’s sure to give Mugasha access to some noted movers and shakers who will no doubt appreciate the service and its capabilities.

Of course, this isn’t the first time Mugasha has stepped into the limelight. (Akshay Dodeja of Mugasha took the chance to speak with Robert Scoble, last year, and I got the chance to profile them on ReadWriteWeb.) But SXSW marks Mugasha’s first chance to demo their private beta to a large group of people outside the immediate Portland tech scene:

Microsoft BizSpark Accelerator is the newest addition to the SXSW Interactive schedule of activities. Scheduled Monday, March 16 at the Downtown Austin Hilton, the event spotlights some of the web’s most exciting new innovations, enabling the entrepreneurial visionaries behind these new products to demo their creations in front of a live audience of industry professionals and technology trend-setters.

It’s great to see Mugasha—and by association, Portland—getting this sort of recognition.

Even if you’re not going to SXSW, you should give Mugasha a spin—especially if you like electronica. What’s Mugasha do? Basically, it parses DJ set podcasts—usually one long multi-hour track with no song info—into separate song tracks, allowing user to play the songs they want to play and actually know which tunes they’re playing.

For more information or to get an invite to the private beta, visit Mugasha.

Portland Ten: Incubating 10 $1 million startups by 2010

After spending the better part of the year researching the Portland startup community, Carolynn Duncan has come to the same conclusion as the many of us: Portland is one huge R&D shop. Which is great for innovation. But not always as good for revenue-generating business.

Carolynn writes:

  1. The pre-revenue, pre-funding entrepreneur community lacks a core understanding of the fundraising process, and perceives that there is a lack of seed capital.
  2. Local investors and funds appear to be few & far between, while investors outside the area fly between Seattle and San Francisco, without paying serious attention to what’s happening in PDX.
  3. Geeks prefer working on their own side projects independently, rather than joining a startup, or taking their technologies to a commercialized level.

In essence, the area as a whole interacts much like a national laboratory or research university, with results being that the entrepreneurial talent neglects to convert side projects into startups, and the geeks, while coalescing as a supportive & sociable community, tends to be underutilized/underemployed.

So how do we address that problem? Traditional venture capital models? No. How about something that better meshes with the existing startup culture? An incubator along the lines of Y Combinator.

Meet Portland Ten.

The goal? Incubate 10 Portland startups capable of generating at least $1 million in revenue per year—by August 2010.

Ten by ’10. Get it?

But Carolynn doesn’t see this as a problem at which one can just throw capital. It requires something more educational. More focused on mentoring. Using the expertise she’s gained on the VC side of the desk and her co-advisors—Mark Grimes and Josh Friedman—have gained running (and in Mark’s case, selling) their own startups.

It’s an intensive bootcamp, but there isn’t any money going to the startups. With Portland Ten, the startups are paying:

[We’re looking for] an entrepreneur right on the cusp of starting a high-growth business. A teachable entrepreneur who will commit to the required activities, and the optional activities when possible.

An entrepreneur who will consider themselves the first investor in the project and raise the funds to pay the $500/month program tuition.

Interested in applying to participate? Portland Ten is currently accepting applications for its first 12-week session, beginning February 23.

If you’ve got a side project that you’re convinced will be a viable business, it’s time to grab those bootstraps, my friend—and check out Portland Ten.

[UPDATE 2/12/2009] This post elicited some great comments and it sparked an interesting discussion on Y Combinator’s Hacker News. As a result, Carolynn has taken the opportunity to address 14 of the questions/critiques about Portland Ten.

Another Portland startup closes down

SandyUsually, when I have to mention a company going through layoffs or—worse yet—shutting down, it’s a fairly grim and unwelcome affair.

This is a welcome change.

I’m happy to report that Portland-based Values of n is being shutdown—because it has been acquired by Twitter, the popular microblogging service that powers the conversations of the Portland Web startup scene.

Why the shutdown? I mean, Values of n has some amazing technology and thinking in its products: my favorite anthropomorphic digital assistant, Sandy, and Stikkit, little yellow online notes that think. Which I guess makes them somewhat anthropomorphic in their own right.

Yes, the technology is amazing. And Sandy has quite an impressive relationship with Twitter. But quite frankly Twitter doesn’t know quite what to do with those assets at this point. So they’re going into the mothballs.

Which brings us to the reason they actually did acquire Values of n: one substantial piece of intellectual property by the name of Rael Dornfest.

Ev Williams of Twitter couldn’t have put it any better when he said:

Rael Dornfest is a famously talented engineer, author, and entrepreneur. Before founding Values of n, Rael served as Chief Technology Officer at O’Reilly Media and is known for his pioneering work on RSS as well being the series editor of O’Reilly’s celebrated Hacks books…. [I] have always thought he was one of the smartest guys I know.

Smart, indeed. Incredibly talented, yes. And in possession of an insane amount of energy.

It’s a little known fact that the amazing—and highly lauded—services of Values of n were single-handedly conceived and managed by Rael with some help here and there. (But he did the bulk of the work.) Even with all the stress of running those services in parallel with a consulting business, he remains one of the most delightful and intelligent people in the Portland tech scene.

And the good news is, Portland is exactly where he’ll remain. Twitter can have his intelligence and guidance, but we get to keep him here. Which means Twitter wins, Rael wins, and we win. Win, win, um, win.

But don’t just take my word for it

This news was all over the tech scene on Monday. Here’s a quick smattering of posts that provide more details on the acquisition:

  • A fork in the road
    “I have taken an engineering position in the User Experience group at Twitter. I started consulting there a few months ago, and fell in love with the team, their way of thinking about things, and of course the product (my Twitter user id is in the low 100s). It turns out we worked incredibly well together, the feeling was mutual, and they pulled me in as a permanent member of the team.”
  • Twitter Hires Rael Dornfest, Shutters Values of n
    “Twitter just announced on the company blog that the company has acquired the assets of Portland, Oregon based Values of n and brought its well-known engineer founder Rael Dornfest on to the Twitter staff. Dornfest’s latest project at Values of n was an anthropomorphized personal assistant service called Sandy.”
  • Twitter Acquires ‘Values of n’, Adds Rael Dornfest To The Team
    “The primary goal of the acquisition appears to have been to bring Rael Dornfest to the Twitter team. Dornfest is the founder of Values of n and former CTO at O’Reilly Media, whose responsibilities also included editing the O’Reilly Hacks series. He was also the head of the RSS-DEV group, which created the RSS 1.0 standard.”
  • Twitter buys a company, closes it, keeps its founder/engineer
    “The micro-messaging service Twitter, fresh off its rejection of an offer to be acquired by Facebook, has turned around and made a purchase itself: A personal productivity and information management solutions company called Values of n, Twitter reports on its blog.”
  • Twitter Buys Start-up’s Assets; Hires Founder Rael Dornfest
    “Twitter grabbed headlines today after reports surfaced saying it declined a $500 million buyout offer from Facebook. Now, Twitter is making more news today by saying it has acquired the assets of Values of n, a company that developed a sticky-note application as well as a personal productivity app that works over e-mail, SMS, and the Web.”
  • Twitter Acquires Values of n (Makers of Sandy)
    “Judging by the lack of updates to Twitter I highly doubt that we’ll see any of the Values of n’s features integrated. I am devastated to hear they will be shutting down all their services as well.”
  • Rael Dornfest joins twitter; now this gets interesting
    “Now the man’s going to join forces with Ev Williams, Biz Stone and other smart people at twitter; my product development head is bursting with speculation about the cool direction twitter could go in (and thinking multiple products people, one at a time…). And of course the dude’s an engineer….”
  • Twitter says I want Sandy
    “These are two pretty cool products and I have been a fan of I want Sandy for a long time and it usually runs most of my calendering.”

While I’m sad to see Sandy go, I’ll eagerly await her return. And in the meantime, I’m looking forward to Rael lending his intelligence, wit, and inimitable energy to Twitter.

Congratulations to Rael. This couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.

And Sandy…? Call me.

Portland Start-up Index for October 2008: Must be autumn because everyone’s falling

Techvibes has added some new features to their startup indices in time for the release of the Portland Start-up Index for October 2008.

So who are the movers and shakers this month?

Iterasi is the big climber, moving up 12 slots to crack the top 20. Earth Class Mail and Free Range were the only others to make positive progress, moving up one slot a piece.

But boy-oh-boy are there some people dropping down the list. Grabb.it, Pibb, and Rocketbook all slid 13 spots each to lead the pack. And a ton of other folks fell close to 10 spots. It was veritable race to the bottom of the list.

So, here’s how the rankings stand this month:

  1. AboutUs
  2. MetaFilter
  3. Kongregate
  4. Discogs
  5. Digital Trends
  6. COLOURlovers
  7. Frappr!
  8. Jive Software
  9. SplashCast Media
  10. myOpenID
  11. Platial.com
  12. Earth Class Mail
  13. Pheedo
  14. Sandy
  15. Gone Raw
  16. Vidoop
  17. eROI
  18. Clicky
  19. Iterasi
  20. Zapproved
  21. Stikkit
  22. Active Reload
  23. Neighborhood Notes
  24. Walker Tracker
  25. Attensa
  26. GadgetTrak
  27. Avatron Software
  28. iovation
  29. UrbanDrinks.com
  30. NetWorthIQ
  31. FreeRange
  32. KnitMap
  33. ChoiceA
  34. Grabb.it
  35. Art Face Off
  36. LetsEat.at
  37. fmyi
  38. WeoGeo
  39. Pibb
  40. LUNARR
  41. MomHub
  42. GoLife Mobile
  43. Imindi
  44. GreenRenter
  45. Kryptiq
  46. Picktastic
  47. Jama Software
  48. Rocketbook
  49. Lightfleet
  50. Goboz
  51. Cendix
  52. Avnera
  53. Kumquat
  54. Techchex
  55. Vocal Nation
  56. Box Populi
  57. GoSeeTell
  58. YourList
  59. Collaborative Software Initiative
  60. IDP Solutions

As always, to see the details on who moved where and what the actual metrics are, visit the Techvibes Portland Start-up Index.

Panels: Quintessential Portland entrepreneur Craig Barnes launches another startup

PanelsFew other entrepreneurs in the Silicon Forest have started and led as many high-profile local companies as Craig Barnes.

But that’s not stopping him from starting another.

Startups in his blood

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Craig’s track record, you should be. His record boasts a veritable “who’s who” of Portland tech companies:

  • Founded Now Software and in three years had grown it into the largest software company focusing exclusively on Mac software.
  • Founded Portland’s Extensis and grew the venture-backed business into a $100 million acquisition. Extensis recently celebrated its 15th anniversary.
  • Founded You Software, a Portland company that adds features and functionality to the software you already use.
  • Spun Attensa out of You Software, creating a company focused on building an attention-based RSS management system that garnered $12 million in venture backing. (For more information, I recommend reading Marshall Kirkpatrick’s write-up on Attensa, back when he use to write for a little blog called TechCrunch.)

Introducing Panels

Now, Barnes has founded another startup. And much like the other companies he’s founded, it’s designed to help you deal with a glut of information by making the products you already use better.

But this time, it’s all about the Web.

Designed for bloggers, Panels uses a small panel to provide additional information about companies that are being covered, much in the vein of services like Snap’s Snap Shots:

Panels appear for any company or organization ranging from the biggest public companies such as Apple, Ford, AT&T, or WalMart to up and coming startups such as WebDiet (launched at the Demo Fall 08 technology conference this week) and Yammer (launched at TechCrunch50 this week and chosen as winner!) By the time we go live there will be millions of entities in the system with improvements and features appearing almost daily.

But to me, the most interesting thing about Panels is the depth of content that it provides.

Panels example

Unlike traditional “additional information” popup services, Panels provides a multi-tab view of information, including:

  • “About” – Basic company and contact info, URL, logo, and summary [including details from Portland-based company-information wiki AboutUs]
  • “Site” – A full preview of the home page, stats, tags and other goodies about the actual web site/blog
  • “Map” – Beginning with Google Maps, and others to follow, a place for geographic data
  • “News” – Headlines, Blog posts, News, Press Releases and more from a variety of sources
  • “Jobs” – Employment listings across numerous providers such as monster and simplyhired
  • “Financial” – If a public company, real-time info and quotes appear in several sub-categories

So why use Panels? Primarily, to provide a much richer set of information on the companies to which you’re linking—while keeping people on your site.

Basically, you’re eliminating the blind clicks that tend to draw the attention-deficient Web surfers away from what you’re trying to convey.

Also interesting? The inspiration behind the development?

Panels were inspired by the nutritional panels found on food that are mandated by the federal government. Like nutritional panels, our panels have a standard text-centric user interface that delivers consistent, predictable, detailed, real-time information from a variety of data sources across several categories.

Now, if I could only tell if the link was going to be nutritional or just so much Web junk food.

Panels is currently in closed beta. For more information or to see Panels in action, see Craig’s post introducing Panels. Or to request a beta account, visit Panels.

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