Friday, May 11th 2012 by Rick Turoczy
Note: this blog post first appeared May 7, 2012 on the Silicon Florist blog. Reprinted here with permission from the author and Silicon Florist.
Portland 100 is an idea I first came up with almost eighteen months ago sitting in front of the fireplace at the River Place Hotel bar chatting about the Portland startup scene with Kerry McClenahan of McBru. My point, as I explained to her, was that our marketing should focus less on the region and the city and more on the amazing companies that are thriving here. Most people who love Portland already love it and people who want to ding us for a being a lifestyle city will continue to do so. Why not then focus on companies and spend our marketing dollars cataloguing, presenting and promoting our leading startups to help them with what they need most: mentors, investors, and talent.
Kerry loved it and before I knew it she had brought it up to folks at the Mayor’s office (thanks Skip Newberry) and PDC (thanks Chris Harder and Patrick Quinton) who loved it as well and we launched the idea to the community about a year ago at an event at Puppet Labs. The response was very positive and so we set about to bring the idea to fruition.
Well, today I am so pleased to announce that the idea has come to life and Portland 100 will be a living, breathing thing. Portland 100 will focus on three core services: securing capital, finding executive talent and mentoring. Strategic marketing of the region and firms to tech investment hubs around the country will also be part of the work.
The first class of participant companies include Athletepath (David Embree), Chirpify (Chris Teso), Cloudability (Mat Ellis), Giftango (David Nelsen), Meridian (Kiyo Kubo), Simple (Josh Reich) and Vizify (Todd Silverstein). These seven companies exemplify the new energy that everybody can sense in Portland and we look forward to helping these companies and entrepreneurs create jobs, wealth, and more companies. In addition to the seven participant companies Puppet Labs (Luke Kanies), Urban Airship (Scott Kveton), ShopIgniter (Matt Compton) and Elemental (Sam Blackman) have agreed to serve as ambassadors and promoters to audiences such as tech talent, investors, entrepreneurs, executives and media. Together, we hope to position Portland as not just a great place to launch a startup, but a city and region with access to the right resources to scale our most promising companies.
I am also delighted with the public and private sector folks who agreed to join the Executive Board and so a deep thank you to Patrick Quinton (PDC), Skip Newberry (SAO), Scott Kveton (Urban Airship), Chris Logan (SweetSpot Diabetes), and Brewster Crosby (Unique Investments). Thank you also to Chris Harder at PDC without whom we really could not have gotten to this point.
Upward and onward.
- Nitin Khanna
About Nitin Khanna
Nitin Khanna is the Chief Executive Officer of MergerTech.
Prior to becoming CEO of MergerTech, Nitin was the founder, Chairman and CEO of Saber Corp., one of the largest providers of state government solutions in the country. Nitin started Saber in July 1998 and helped grow it a minimum of 50% each year.
Saber’s growth was celebrated by an Inc. 500 award in both 2006 and 2007, the Deloitte Fast 500 award, and the #1 spot on Oregon’s Fastest Growing Companies list in 2007. This dramatic growth led to a significant investment by Accel-KKR Private Equity in 2005 and to the eventual sale of the company for $460MM to EDS in December 2007. Nitin then assumed leadership of EDS’ government business operation that included Saber.
Prior to Saber, Nitin held a number of positions in Consulting and Education at Oracle Corporation. He holds Master’s and Bachelor’s of Engineering degrees from Purdue University.
SAO's Transformation is Officially Underway
Friday, April 27th 2012 by Skip NewberryAs we approach SAO’s first-ever Member Recognition Gala, I want to take a moment to reflect on where we’ve been and where we’re going as an organization. In the past seven months, we’ve taken steps to transform SAO into an organization that is more than just another trade association. By this I mean we’re evolving from a pure trade association into an organization that also does economic development on behalf of Oregon’s software and technology industries. These efforts are aligned around three areas: industry promotion, advocacy, and connections.
The vast majority of Oregon’s software and technology firms serve customers that are located outside of the state. We’ve therefore developed a website and database to focus on promoting the tech industry in Oregon and SW Washington in key markets nationally and globally. This project is called Techlandia, and the Gala marks its official launch.
As a complement to the website, we have also started to bring thought-leaders from important markets to Oregon, such as a meetup with Israeli entrepreneur and investor, Jonathan Medved, and a Wireless Innovation Forum with leading Canadian companies. We are also using events like Webvisions to create buzz for Oregon tech firms in key markets outside of the state.
At the Gala we will be announcing another initiative, called Portland 100, to build and strengthen connections between high-growth Oregon software firms and top-notch advisors, investors, and influencers in Oregon and in other markets. This program is a collaboration of private, public, and nonprofit organizations.
With industry data and company profiles featured on the Techlandia.org website, we are able to tell an authentic and compelling story about the economic importance of Oregon’s technology industry. This is important not only in markets outside of the state, but also here in Oregon. The success of Oregon’s technology industry depends in large part on the state’s business environment. In order to improve that environment, as an industry, we need to have a credible seat at the table.
The public sector has the ability to impact the supply of tech talent, the cost of doing business, the availability of resources for businesses, and the regulatory environment. For this reason, we are strengthening SAO’s presence throughout the state on issues of importance to the technology community, developing relationships with public officials and other business leaders, and listening closely to the needs of our member companies. At the Gala we will provide an update on some of our recent advocacy efforts like the Oregon Investment Act.
The effectiveness of trade associations is measured in large part on their ability to connect people, companies, organizations, and industries. What marks a truly great organization is, however, its ability to foster collaboration. This is our goal at SAO.
Through networking events and programs, SAO connects tech companies to other businesses to drive revenue. Through Leadership Exchanges and Forums, SAO connects people to other people for professional development. By working with other industry associations and economic development organizations, SAO connects the tech industry to other markets.
Collaboration requires alignment around values and objectives. As a result of the PDX11 effort, we have a decent understanding of what drives different parts of our tech community, and where there are some shared goals. Our next step is to figure out ways to improve upon existing points of connection—such as programs and events--to address these common needs. At the Gala we will provide an overview of some of the latest initiatives undertaken by the Mentor Network to make it easier for people to connect and collaborate, as well as some new program offerings from SAO.
As an organization that represents the tech industry in Oregon and SW Washington, SAO faces a number of challenges. Regarding industry promotion, our challenge is to represent the tech industry, its companies and professionals in a clear, compelling, and authentic way. In our advocacy efforts, our challenge is to educate and listen to the tech community and develop consensus and alignment around important issues. And in terms of connections, our challenge is to find ways to transform connections into meaningful collaboration.
My challenge to you is to get involved. SAO is at the beginning of a transformation. It’s your organization: now’s your opportunity to define it.