Story by Christina Williams
In honor of Portland Startup Week (April 2-6), Startup Radio Network hosted the first-ever 24-hour live podcast featuring founders and entrepreneurs from across Portland. Thousands were listening at the 5 o’clock hour when OEN Executive Director Maggie Finnerty took the mic to talk about OEN’s evolution and transition to a cluster-focused strategy.
“Portland is noisy,” Maggie said during her 20-minute interview on Monday, April 2. “It’s hard to find the right resource.”
OEN’s new strategy of developing content and cohorts around industry clusters is a way to cut through that noise.
“At OEN we connect. We connect people, programs, capital. That’s what we do. That’s not changing,” Maggie said. “But how we do it is changing. What I found in talking to our members is that founders want to move along with a cohort. They told me: I need community. I need my group. I need a safe place to talk about stuff.”
OEN will provide that by offering its new 10-week StartUp Series which kicked off last week and features a complete startup curriculum taught by industry experts to a group of entrepreneurs who will move through the series as a group.
In addition, OEN will start to target its work around industry clusters—the first two being the Food & Beverage and Cannabis clusters.
Maggie also talked about OEN’s efforts to bridge Oregon’s urban-rural divide by livestreaming all of its events and its roster of Venture Catalysts who work across the state to support entrepreneurs face-to-face, offering programs such as the Bend Venture Conference and “a hug or a beer” for founders as needed.
On taking the reins of OEN last year, Maggie said, “I’ve known OEN for decades, I thought I knew what I was getting into.”
Turns out she didn’t but with the help of members from across the state she was able to listen, learn, and develop this new direction for the organization.
“It’s a pretty exciting time for OEN,” she said.
Maggie shared her hour with Micah Camden, founder of Blue Star Donuts, Little Big Burger, Boxer Ramen and other Portland treats, and Faris Mubarak, founder of Tribe Media House. Hosts for the broadcast included Amelia Pape, founder of MyStreet Grocery; Sara Batterby of the Batterby Group, and Mark Grimes of the Startup Radio Network.
The Startupathon raised $5,000, distributed through the microloan platform Kiva.org, for women entrepreneurs from emerging economies.