Upstart Labs is partnering with OEN for a pitch contest on Wednesday, May 8, at which the first-place winner will receive a package of go-to-market services from the team at Upstart Labs. Upstart Labs and OEN will select 6 companies from those who apply online by Thursday to participate in the event.
Specifically, we're looking for:
- Companies in one of our target segments, which include mobile apps, analytics tools, enterprise software apps, and business-to-business software as a service
- An experienced team looking to innovate and/or disrupt an industry they know well
- An opportunity for Upstart Labs' team of strategists, designers, developers and marketers to accelerate the winning startup business
Companies will get about five minutes to pitch, followed by five minutes of Q&A. Winners will be selected from a panel of partners from Upstart Labs.
The winner will be invited to Upstart's offices for a 1/2-day Go-To-Market Working Session - part of Upstart's services for market-ready startups. There, they'll partner with Upstart to create:
- A Business Model Canvas - clearly outlining their strategies and key assumptions
- An Elevator Positioning Worksheet - articulating their competitive differentiation
- A Key Messages Map - with value propositions for each buyer persona
...giving them a jumpstart on the next phase of their startup's growth.
Sign up to pitch here!
The Stumptown 40 is upon us, and for those of you looking for a reason to devote your nights and weekends to building a pinewood derby car (other than the glory of victory), this year's event benefits Schoolhouse Supplies, an organization on whose board I currently serve.
The Stumptown 40 is an annual pinewood derby race sponsored by several Portland agencies and start-ups. The event, held this year at Spirit of '77, costs $25 to enter – which includes the kit you'll use to make your car. Prizes are awarded for the fastest car and the most creative car (our car at StepChange Group used Arduino to Tweet, "Look at me go!", etc., as it careened down the ramp).
Schoolhouse Supplies is an awesome Portland organization that operates a free school supplies store for teachers. This store gets much needed basics - pencils, pens, paper - into the hands of the students in Portland who need them most. Your entry fee will directly benefit the purchase of these supplies.
Sign up now – you know you're not doing anything between now and May 22, right?
ProgrammableWeb's Adam DuVander has resurrected Demolicious Portland, and Upstart Labs is one of the sponsors of the event. Demolicious gives a handful of companies the chance at a 5-minute pitch, followed by feedback from a panel that includes Mozilla's Selena Deckelmann, AthletePath's David Embree, and Mike Rogoway of The Oregonian.
The companies pitching tomorrow night are still under wraps, but DuVander promises us the line up includes:
- A tool to discover six degrees of everything
- An app for public transportation
- A mobile database
- A soccer video platform
- A virtual furniture viewer
The event is free, and you should register ASAP to be safe. We will see you there!
You think it's tough doing a startup in Portland? Try a place where the electricity is only on for 8 hours a day. Last week, Upstart Labs was lucky enough to connect with the fantastic Reem Omran, a founder of Gaza Sky Geeks, a tech startup incubator in Gaza City.
Gaza Sky Geeks is a project of Portland-based Mercy Corps and Google's Arab Developers Network Initiative. There are more than 15,000 developers in Palestine, which includes the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. In Gaza alone, there are 2,000 new graduates each year from Gaza's five (!) universities with engineering and computer science programs. Mercy Corps is helping Palestine to harness this talent and create a new outsourced development hub for the Arab world.
The incubator, which will accept its first formal class of startups this fall, has played host to two Startup Weekends in the last 12 months. More recently, Rogue Ventures' Tom Sperry spoke to a standing room-only crowd at Gaza Sky Geeks in early March, alongside John Ross from Mercy Corps. Events like these help connect Palestinian entrepreneurs with mentors and best practices from the thriving startup scene in the U.S.
There are four companies already operating out of the Gaza Sky Geeks space:
- Analancer, a developer-focused eLancer or ODesk for the Arab-speaking world
- Another Half, a mobile game developer
- DaTrios, a live social network for real-time chat during major sporting events
- HTML 5 AppStore, a marketplace for HTML 5 apps
And Gaza Sky Geeks hopes to run classes of 8 startups every six to 12 months over the next three years.
For an in-depth look at tech entrepreneurship in Palestine, check out this Techcrunch article from Sunday. You can also follow Gaza Sky Geeks and Google's Arab Developers Network Initiative on Facebook. These entrepreneurs welcome mentorship, training, networking, and especially investment, from startups in the U.S.
The Nike+ Accelerator and Portland Seed Fund announced their classes this week. Congrats to all the newly-incubated – we're looking forward to your demo days, and to learning more about your businesses this spring.
The inaugural Nike+ Accelerator class is being supported by TechStars. Each startup has received $20,000 in funding, and office space in the accelerator's new headquarters in Old Town. The teams are working towards demo days in Portland and Silicon Valley, currently scheduled for June.
- FitDeck: Digital decks of exercise playing cards that deliver ever-changing workouts for fitness and sports
- GoRecess: Helps users find, book and review fitness activities
- Chroma.io: An indie game studio that creates virtual worlds tied to real-world activity
- CoachBase: Provides a digital sports coaching platform
- GoFitCause: Leverages fitness data as a means of raising money for charities
- HighFive: Ad network for health and fitness apps that helps people achieve their goals by rewarding them along their journey
- Sprout At Work: Provider of corporate wellness solutions leveraging social and gamification tools to inspire employees and empower employers
- GeoPalz: An interactive gaming and rewards platform for kids and families
- Incomparable Things: Creates activity-driven fantasy sports leagues
- RecBob: Offers a platform that makes recreational sports easy by organizing play
Portland Seed Fund
PSF has attracted a diverse group of startups to its fourth class, including Upstart Labs portfolio companies Measureful and Celly. PSF companies have raised $20MM in follow-on capital to date – the most recent example is Celly, which recently closed a $1.4MM Series A. The companies are working towards a demo day in late May, and a road show to Silicon Valley.
- Alum.ni: Brings enhanced social value and connectivity to alumni networks
- AppThwack: Helps developers to instantly test their web and mobile apps on real mobile devices
- Celly: Allows users to create instant mobile social networks called "cells"
- Indie Vinos: A mobile app that enables impulse wine buying at tastings and events
- Measureful: Helps users aggregate and share pertinent marketing data in a meaningful way
- Minetta Brook: Synthesizes a million news items a day to gain real time “big picture” awareness of developing trends and connections
- Opal Labs: An ideation and innovation platform for teams to surface new ideas and solve problems
- PrestoBox: Helps companies create brands and logos in a few minutes online using a series of revealing questions
- Rally Cause: Enables fundraising for causes by shopping at local merchants
- Simple Emotion: An emotion recognition platform targeting apps for people with developmental disabilities
- Smart Mocha: Enables technologies for the emerging hardware/software 'Internet of Things'
The Portland Development Commission (PDC) and Produce Row business association are sponsoring a new coworking space for startups of all types. The two organizations are going to stock this space with up to six winners of the Startup PDX Challenge – a competition for all early-stage startups with up to eight employees. The prize package includes:
- A $10,000 working capital grant from PDC (grant! not equity!)
- Free rent for a year alongside other winners in a new space in Produce Row
- Free legal, accounting and HR services
- Membership and access to several Portland-based organizations supporting entrepreneurs
The organizers are specifically looking for startups that are "pre-incubator" – that is, still working on a concept or prototype offering that will later be used to apply to one of Portland's incubators or accelerators. Applicants from out of state, and out of the country, are encouraged.
Read more about the competition on the Produce Row business association web site, or apply today.
I've had the pleasure of advising a handful of women-run tech startups in Portland, including Favery (Anne Nichols) and Presto Box (Elicia Putnam and Sara Conte). These two are part of an entrepreneurial renaissance in Portland that has just landed us at No. 5 on the list of top cities for women entrepreneurs.
I am closely watching several other women in the newest class of Portland startups – including Paola Moretto and Paola Rossaro at Cloudy Days, Emma McIlroy and Julia Parsley at Wildfang and Kristine Akins at Bikecop. I also like nothing more than advising and investing alongside women like Angela Jackson of Portland Seed Fund and the Portland State University Business Accelerator, Diane Fraiman of Voyager Capital, and Shelley Gunton, now of Chez Marie.
I am hard-pressed to come up with an industry that hasn't been dramatically improved by the addition of women in large numbers – tech startups will be no exception.
Facebook and Twitter are perfect for sharing personal vacation photos. Yammer is a great platform for sharing project plans at work. And text messaging is a handy tool for communication with groups of 10 or less. But the world is made up of more complex sharing. Organizations like neighborhood watch groups, schools districts, city departments and hospitals need something different.
We told you about Celly last year when we were hired by founders Russell Okamoto and Greg Passmore to help with marketing and product development. Russell and Greg recognized the limitations of existing social networks and have designed a truly compelling product that meets the needs of groups. Celly resonates with group communication needs by enabling groups to create networks that mirror real-life communication. Unlike other existing social networks, Celly allows for instant, flexible, and scalable communication between people and groups.
Last week, Celly announced that it has raised $1.4 million in funding led by Oregon Angel Fund (OAF) with participation from Upstart Labs and individual investors. Celly also announced the availability of their new (free!!) iPhone app. The app brings a rich experience to iPhone users, while retaining all the flexibility and control of Celly’s platform. Read more about this exciting news in TechCrunch, The Next Web, BetaKit and The Portland Business Journal.
Since launching last fall, more than 200,000 students, educators, coworkers, local governments, communities, teams and national Occupy Movements have embraced Celly. Schools use the service for teacher-student and parent-teacher communications. The City of Portland leverages Celly to keep citizens informed of important activities related to gang activity and neighborhood safety. Hospitals use Celly to communicate two-way messages and emergency alerts. The service also brings together aid workers and community members as part of the Hurricane Sandy Relief effort, making it easier to know where supplies and volunteers are needed.
Congrats to Russell and Greg on this month's announcement. We’re honored to be part of your ongoing momentum.
Interested in learning more? Get started with Celly at cel.ly.