OtherWhy You Should Build Your Startup Right Here in Oregon

Welcome to Oregon sign post
Photo by Fred (cc).

A recent blog post in the Harvard Business Review bluntly cautioned entrepreneurs: “Don’t build your startup outside of Silicon Valley.” Why? Because, according to the author, it takes longer to raise money, it decreases your odds of being bought, and it decreases your odds of surviving.

Granted, the article focuses primarily on tech startups and it raises valid points. Silicon Valley is to aspiring tech entrepreneurs what LA is to aspiring movie stars—a land of opportunity. It’s got money, talent, and extensive networks. Who wouldn’t want to be in the middle of it all?

Well, our network of hundreds of entrepreneurs and startups, for one—many of whom have consciously made the decision to stay, or move, here. While Oregon will likely never be the “next Silicon Valley,” as Stephen Fleming, VP of Georgia Tech, recently pointed out: “It doesn’t have to be.”

Here’s what our fans and members have to say about the top 3 benefits of building a startup right here in Oregon:

1. The 3 C’s: Collaboration, Community, and Camaraderie

It’s often said that folks in Oregon are friendly. That friendliness extends to the business world, where people want to collaborate, even with their so-called “competitors.” It’s a radical departure from the cutthroat competition that often characterizes startup “superhubs” like the Valley.

I’ve lived in quite a few cities, and I’ve never seen anything quite like [it]. The support, the spirit, the camaraderie, the collaboration. It’s just too awesome! There are more “human” ways of doing business/leadership, while still turning a huge profit.

    – Sarah Pool, Co-Founder of Pacific Northwest Kale Chips

There’s much more collaboration and early stage support here in Portland which is essential to overcome the high rate of failure for startups. Mentoring by like people, as shown by Starve Ups for example, switched the success rate around from 85% failure in the first 5 years to 85% success.

We love Portland, and sometimes it feels like the whole city is cheering us on and loving us right back.

Oregon is unique in a lot of ways in its business environment. There’s a lot of people actively willing to help you be more successful as an entrepreneur.

2. Weird, Talented People

Yes, tech talent in Oregon can be hard to find, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t a talented bunch. Oregon is a state where out-of-the-box thinking prevails. Portlanders in particular have a reputation for being weird—one that they not only embrace, but practically beg for. With “Keep Portland Weird!” as an unofficial city mantra, it’s no surprise that innovative people and ideas abound.

The #1 advantage for building your startup in Oregon has to be mature, seasoned talent. Engineers, sales and marketing pros, etc…From Intel to Radisys, [there is] tons of talent, anxious to breakout and stay, right here.

    – John Terry, Commercial Verticals Manager at Wilkins Solutions (via the
    OEN Facebook page)

Oregon startups upcycle talent. The startup workforce is highly skilled but those skills are transferable to both startups and more traditional industries. And that transference can occur without undertaking the costs of retraining. This enables these creative technologists to move from company to company.

    – Rick Turoczy, cofounder of Portland Incubator Experiment and author of Silicon Florist (in an OregonBusiness op-ed)

It’s helpful for employees to come into a startup with a startup mentality. That happens more here in Oregon than other places I’ve worked.

Portland is a hub of entrepreneurial spirit and innovation, ranging from young start ups to established and successful companies. There is such a strong network of professionals to pull from, that as a startup you can feel the endless possibilities.

    – Summer Kramer, Founder & President of SummerSkin (in an OEN Member Chat)

3. Quality of Life (and Quality of Beer)

The benefits of Silicon Valley come at a cost—literally. As our Facebook fan Jeff Richardson bluntly put it, “That area of California is godawful expensive.” It’s not just the reasonable cost of living that makes Oregon a great place to live and work, it’s everything else that makes Oregon… well, Oregon.

You can have a nice house. You can get married and have kids. There are things more important than your company and your family is one of them.

Microbrews, 11 bridges, largest forest in America, mountains, trees, rivers, kindness, weirdness, neighbors who you know and trust, cleanliness, local/organic food. Living in a city like Portland, you can’t help but enjoy every day and every experience.

    – Sarah Pool, Co-Founder of Pacific Northwest Kale Chips

If it weren’t for Portland, Wildfang wouldn’t be Wildfang. Portland is our DNA, and the brand is really rooted in the spirit of Portland. It’s progressive, it’s welcoming, it’s fun, it’s human, it’s a little bit quirky and cheeky. People love coming to visit us here, and we wanted people to feel the same way about Wildfang. We really love this city and we’re proud to show it off.

    – Julia Parsley, Co-Founder of Wildfang (in an interview with Vice)

 What do you think are the top 3 benefits of building a startup in Oregon?

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