We founded Upstart Labs in October, 2011 with the goal of accelerating new businesses through our team’s expertise in design, development and launch marketing. Our goal as entrepreneurs and investors was to pilot a different sort of incubator – one that provided expertise as the core, not just a bit of cash and a desk.
Our first graduate, Chirpify, is the model of how we see our program succeeding. Chirpify enables businesses and consumers to buy, sell and transact directly on Twitter. Since exiting our program in spring 2012, Chirpify has raised a Series A; been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Billboard, Inc., and Mashable; hired seven employees; and been adopted by celebrities and brands as diverse as Green Day, ProPublica and Taco Bell.
We’ve graduated three more Upstarts this year – MoPix, Taplister and PivotPlanet. All three are live in their markets, and on their way to getting traction with users. We’ve got two more Upstarts that are close to graduation – restaurant menu iPhone app Menuish, and ecommerce analytics dashboard Measureful – look for launch announcements for these companies in the near future.
We’ve also been privileged to deploy our team to projects with local startups such as Favery, Celly, ShopIgniter, and Beeminder. As digital agency veterans, we know that our “lean startup” mentality makes us an ideal development and marketing partner for startups at any stage.
We will end our first year of doing business with six graduates, and the creation of more than 20 new technology jobs in Portland and Los Angeles. We’ve opened a new, larger office but have remained in Portland’s urban core. And we have given back to the local startup community as mentors to the Portland Seed Fund companies; as judges and mentors at Portland Startup Weekend; and as advisors to startups at every stage.
In 2013, our plan is to focus even more tightly on our vision of accelerating Portland’s newest class of new businesses. We plan to announce the opening of our application round in the next few weeks, and we will have even more exciting news about the level of investment we have planned for next year. Stay tuned – there will be new ways to get involved with our portfolio, and we look forward to making an even larger impact on the local economy.