This Wednesday marks the fifth installment of PitchBlack, an event created by Stephen Green to showcase Black Portland founders that has grown into a national happening. Wednesday’s event will be the biggest PitchBlack Portland ever, held at Wieden+Kennedy’s headquarters in the Pearl. By all accounts, this is a big deal — and probably a little stressful for participants. That’s why Stephen reached out to former PitchBlack presenters to get some last minute words of advice and a bit of a pep talk.
We’ve come to the end of another Black History Month here in Portland. And if you’ve been following along with Stephen Green on Twitter, then you’ve likely caught his efforts to feature a bunch of awesome black businesses in Portland throughout the month. I tried to grab them all in case you want to have them all for quick reference.
Truth be told, it’s always entertaining to tune in to Stephen Green’s Twitter feed. You wouldn’t expect any less from the unofficial mayor of Portland. And for the past few years, it’s also been incredibly educational and inspiring to keep track of his tweets during February. Because that’s Black History Month. Which Stephen uses as an opportunity to highlight a number of black entrepreneurs and black owned businesses in our region.
For all the optimism about the beginning of the new year, there’s also a fair amount of realism. And some well informed pessimism. Most notably, for the latter, surrounding the economic correction that we’ve all been anxiously awaiting as we watched the longest running bubble in startup history continue to gently waft along.
A couple of years ago, Stephen Green put together an amazing Reverse Pitch event that I got the chance to attend. (If you’re not familiar with the format, a “reverse pitch” is where investors get on stage to describe the types of startups they’re seeking.) During the event, I had the pleasure of hanging out in the audience with a newcomer to the venture capital world who was visiting Portland. Her name? Arlan Hamilton.
When we originally heard the rumors that WeWork was considering opening a Portland branch, I can say the initial reception was best described as “cautiously optimistic.” We’d always expected it to happen at some point, given that cofounder Miguel McKelvey was from Eugene. But it took a while for those rumors to come to fruition.
Portland is lucky to be home to one of the most impactful and growing events for black entrepreneurs, PitchBlack, a pitch competition that has featured local black founders for the past three years and has now expanded to other cities. But where did the concept get its start? Free Enterprise sat down with founder Stephen Green to get the story.
Nearly two years ago, Ryan Buchanan penned a post that accurately described the Portland business community as being “too white, too male.” But rather than simply pointing out the issue, he took his own call to arms and took action. With the announcement of the Portland Emerging Leaders Internship program.