Inspiration & AdviceOregon’s Boldest and Brightest Entrepreneurs Share their Journeys to Success

As a stay-at-home mom with an adolescent son, Jill Nelson started Ruby Receptionists because she needed to do something with the rest of her life. Jason Bolt of Revant Optics lost a lens in his expensive prescription sunglasses while mountain biking and was disgruntled that he had to replace the whole pair. Luke Kanies of Puppet Labs, a self-described “horrible employee,” couldn’t keep a job.

The 12 finalists for this year’s OEN Tom Holce Entrepreneurship Awards share the same drive but have all traveled unique paths. Here, they share their stories of inspiration and challenge, along with their number-one pieces of advice for aspiring entrepreneurs.


Launch Stage Company Finalists

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“Believe that you are right in spite of everyone else telling you that you’re wrong.”
– Nat Parker, GlobeSherpa

“Don’t dwell too much on rejection. For every door that gets slammed in your face, there are a thousand doors that can open for you.”
– Paola Moretto, Nouvola

“The highs are high and lows are low. The real advice there is to stick with it.”
– Andrew Grenville, Inpria


Development Stage Company Finalists

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“Be sure you’re in love with what you’re building.”
– Chris Teso, Chirpify

“Have courage. Believe in yourself.”
– Sadie Lincoln, barre3

“Don’t make decisions based on fear. Stay true to your vision.”
– Kim & Tyler Malek, Salt & Straw


Growth Stage Company Finalists

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“Practice understanding where you need to be right.”
– Luke Kanies, Puppet Labs

“Know thyself. Take a deep look into who you are and where you are in life. Make sure you have the financial and familial support to go forth with your venture.”
– Sam Blackman, Elemental Technologies

“The conventional wisdom today is that your first key milestone is when you raise capital. I don’t think of it that way. I think the first key milestone is when you develop a customer.”
– Dave Sanders, ZoomCare


Entrepreneurial Achievement Award Finalists

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“It all comes down to people. It comes down to my customers and my employees.”
– Luke Kanies, Puppet Labs

“Take the time to make sure that the people you’re going to be working with for a long time align with your goals.”
– Jason Bolt, Society43 & Revant Optics

“If you’re not truly excited about what it is you’re doing, it’s a futile effort.”
– Jill Nelson, Ruby Receptionists

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