OEN News25 Reasons Why You Should Attend The 2018 OEN Tom Holce Entrepreneurship Awards Dinner

Welcome to the final installment of our blog series, 25 Reasons Why You Should Attend The 2018 OEN Tom Holce Entrepreneurship Awards Dinner! Ready to attend? Buy your ticket to the event now.

Over the last two months, we’ve been celebrating #oenawards25 by listing reasons why YOU should grab your ticket to this year’s event. Whether you’re a new or seasoned entrepreneur, a service provider, or an investor, we think you’ll find the full list of ALL 25 reasons why YOU should attend this one-of-a-kind event very compelling.

Not only that…this year, OEN’s signature event is scheduled for October 24 and reaches a milestone—25 years!

We believe a thriving network of entrepreneurs makes Oregon stronger and we hope you’ll join us on October 24th to celebrate the skill, courage, and grit it takes for entrepreneurs to create a business out of an idea.

Without further adieu, here are is the full list of all 25 reasons why YOU should attend the 2018 OEN Tom Holce Entrepreneurship Awards Dinner.

Grab the popcorn and share with a friend!

25. Celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the OEN Tom Holce Entrepreneurship Awards Dinner!

In the quarter of a century since the inaugural Tom Holce Awards, Oregon has added over a million residents, the Internet and mobile phones have become daily fixtures in our lives, and work has evolved from 9-to-5 office jobs to remote, gig-based positions. We look forward to seeing you at our Awards dinner to celebrate the amazing community of startups, investors and experts who have contributed to collective prosperity in our state and truly hold the key to the discoveries that lie ahead!

24. Glimpse the future

Oregon’s future is a bright one filled with a diverse array of companies led by incredible entrepreneurs. Indeed, entrepreneurs are at the forefront of transforming legacy industries and bringing new technologies such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, and robotic process automation to everyday tasks. At our Awards dinner, you’ll also see how some of the entrepreneurs in these sectors and others are defining the future and making a big impact on our economy: Did you know that two-thirds of job growth in Oregon in the past decade came from small and middle-market firms? That’s higher than the national average, and a strong sign that entrepreneurs will continue to drive growth in the future.

23. Fun blasts from the past

It wouldn’t be a Tom Holce Awards Dinner without taking an entertaining look back at our past. Remember all those plaid grunge threads people used to wear in the 90s? Our video retrospective will take you back to revisit some of the people, innovations, and even styles, that defined OEN’s earlier years. Still wearing grunge threads? No problem – come as you are!


“…there’s no substitute for face time.” -Clifton Chestnut, OEN Board Member


22. Opportunities

Let’s face it: we operate largely in a virtual world in so many aspects of our work and lives, and that’s done wonders for productivity, efficiency, and creativity. But there’s no substitute for face time. Think of the Tom Holce Awards dinner as an opportunity to get in some time “well used” with fellow entrepreneurs. We can think of a number of boxes you can tick off, from fundraising to finding new employees, striking up new partnerships, or maybe finding a focus group to test your ideas—because a little primary research always helps!

21. Bounce ideas off people in the business community

It’s not often that you get the chance to discuss what’s on your mind with several hundred of Oregon’s biggest entrepreneurial minds in one setting. Think of the Tom Holce Awards dinner as your shot to get advice on the business you’re running now, or the one you’d like to start. Don’t fall into the trap of “I wish I had asked …” As researchers from Harvard Business School have found, “we’re much more likely to not ask enough questions than we are to ask too many questions or to ask the wrong question.” So if something’s been on your mind jot it down now and ask away at our awards dinner!

20. Get motivated

What motivates you? If you’re like most people, your family and friends are likely sources of motivation. How about your mentors? Are you motivated by uplifting stories about people achieving their goals? People like you? Athletes get motivated to play their sport by watching their fellow athletes compete in primetime. Musicians get motivated to perform great music by watching other artists perform live on stage. If you’re plugged into the local business community, get ready to get motivated as we celebrate the passion and grit of entrepreneurs at this year’s 25th-anniversary awards dinner! Buy your ticket here.

Part 4 is officially in the books. Stay tuned for the exciting conclusion to 25 Reasons Why You Should Attend The OEN Tom Holce Entrepreneurship Awards Dinner coming in two weeks!

19. Collect dots

In his talk at TEDx last July, Rick Turoczy described our community as “one of the most amazing and vibrant startup communities in the United States.” Not only is networking about attending events and mingling with large crowds, but it’s also about those one-to-one meetings and conversations that Rick calls, “collecting dots.” Join us at the 25th-anniversary OEN Awards Dinner and collect dots that could enrich your life and the lives of those in your network.

Connect dots at the Tom Holce Entrepreneurship Awards Dinner
Rick Turoczy at TEDx Portland 2018.

18. Show off your business card

What type of business card are you sporting lately? There are a dizzying number of options. Matte or glossy? What size and shape? Square or rectangle? Thickness? What type of cardstock—maybe natural or linen? But this is a dinner party, not a business meeting. So let loose and have fun at Portland’s biggest networking event. And leave the laptop at home (but bring the business cards!)

17. Circle of influencers

Want to meet the influencers shaping culture in Oregon and beyond? Of course, you do. After all, Oregon is home to its share of influencers in areas like business, marketing, healthcare, nonprofits, technology, food and beverage, and more—presenting a great opportunity for our home-grown businesses. Whether you’re an investor from Manzanita or a founder based in Bend, your own circle of influence is bound to expand after attending this singular networking experience.

16. It’s like the Oscars, but with less glam and more grit!

The OEN Tom Holce Entrepreneurship Awards Dinner is about real people with real products. For local startups, so much of the work that happens behind the scenes doesn’t get the appreciation it deserves. You’d be amazed by some of the fantastic businesses being built in Oregon right now. So, while you’re still debating whether The Shape of Water should have won best picture, there’s no debate about this: the OEN Awards Dinner is THE place to be on October 24th.

15. Be a part of the Oregon entrepreneurial heartbeat

What makes the Oregon Entrepreneurs Network tick? It’s the singular belief that a thriving network of entrepreneurs makes Oregon stronger. That network starts with you. Your participation and support are what keeps the Oregon business community growing and succeeding on the national and global stage. Join us at the Tom Holce Entrepreneurship Awards Dinner on October 24th to support the future entrepreneurs of Oregon.

14. Inspiration strikes where you least expect it

What does a symphony orchestra, a hot dog eating champion, and a bootstrap entrepreneur have in common? Absolutely nothing – and that’s the beauty of the Tom Holce Entrepreneurship Awards Dinner. Inspiration doesn’t come just from peers in your industry vertical – it comes from understanding how others solve problems and overcome obstacles in industries and avenues you’d never expect. Join us on October 24th and prepare to be surprised and inspired!

13. BIG-NAME award winners

Phil Knight, Gert Boyle (of Columbia Sportswear), Alvin Reser (of Reser’s Fine Foods), and Tal Johnson (of Tazo Tea). What do these names have in common? They’re all former Tom Holce Entrepreneurship Awards recipients who have gone on to build national and global brands after starting out as ordinary members of the Oregon business community. Could the next Fortune 500 CEO or startup savant be awaiting an award at the 25th annual dinner? Well, you’ll have to attend to find out!

12. Bump into old (and new) friends from the business community

The Tom Holce Entrepreneurship Awards Dinner is no ordinary networking event. It’s a chance to see how your peers in the Oregon business community have been thriving and be inspired by the ideas and innovations of new members. This isn’t just an opportunity to pass around business cards, it’s a time to deepen old friendships and forge new ones.

11. Feel the burn

Nothing makes an event more entertaining than a high-energy host, and this year’s host knows how to get a crowd PUMPED. When Jessi Duley founded Burn Cycle—the high-octane cycling studio with a cult-like following—in 2013, her boundless positivity resonated in every class and beyond. On October 24th, she’ll bring that same infectious positive energy and “like a boss” mentality to the stage as she hosts the 25th annual Tom Holce Entrepreneurship Awards Dinner. You won’t want to miss it.

10. Honor hard-working entrepreneurs

AWS ElementalRuby ReceptionistsSalt & StrawUrban AirshipVacasa. The list of just a few of the Tom Holce Entrepreneurship Awards winners from recent years reads like a ‘Who’s Who’ of Oregon businesses. The Tom Holce Awards Dinner is dedicated to honoring the entrepreneurs whose ideas, hard work and persistence have sparked so many of today’s most successful businesses. As Oregon’s premier network for supporting small business ingenuity and scalability, we’re at the forefront of entrepreneurship in a state that’s a nationally recognized leader in small business growth and productivity. Now, that’s a reason to celebrate.

9. Find a co-founder

Jobs and Wozniaki. Ben and Jerry. Larry and Sergey. Whether you’re an investor, an artist, a recent college graduate, or just someone with a business idea you’re passionate about, the time may come when you want to start your own business. And when you do, you may want a co-founder that wants it as much as you do. A unique event like the Tom Holce Awards Dinner, where over 500 players in the business and startup communities convene every year, offers you numberless opportunities to meet the Bill Gates to your Paul Allen.

8. Meet the OEN team

Over the last two years, OEN has gone through an exciting staff reformation, resulting in new team members, new board members, exciting in-office promotions, and an expansion of our statewide network of Venture Catalysts. With an active and engaged Board of Directors, a passionate group of volunteers, and an extensive network of entrepreneurial rockstars supporting us, our small and mighty team of five—MaggieJulieMarissaClara, and Miles—continues to produce an average of 70 events per year. Come and meet us in person, and learn more about how we can support your business!

7. Camaraderie

Entrepreneurs from around the state often tell us they can feel isolated when just starting out. What’s a new entrepreneur to do? Sure, there are meetup groups and networking events you might consider. And then, there’s the OEN Tom Holce Entrepreneurship Awards Dinner—the annual event where you can meet and form bonds with other entrepreneurs who have the same hopes and challenges that you do.

6. Open your senses to fresh new ideas

You’ve been working hard all day (and night) developing your products, crafting and honing your pitches, and chasing your dream. But, be careful! All that focus may create the risk of developing tunnel vision. Attending the Tom Holce Awards Dinner will offer you the opportunity to see, hear, smell and even taste some fresh new ideas and perspectives that may help you solve that problem you’ve been working on.

5. Honor Tom Holce and his legacy

Tom Holce was a pioneering tech entrepreneur and an angel investor who built a number of successful businesses in Oregon and SW Washington. To honor his legacy, OEN recognizes the best and brightest local entrepreneurs at the prestigious event that bears his name. Holce did so much that you might not realize the influence he’s had on the local entrepreneurial and business communities. The Portland Business Journal described him as “an entrepreneurial legend.”

Here’s more about this visionary entrepreneur with an amazing mind for business.

Tom Holce Entrepreneurship Awards Dinner

  • Founder/CEO of such companies as Kentrox, Sentrol, and Mikros, and held senior positions at ESI and Plantronics.
  • Chairman of Seasons Foods, BLT Technologies, Mitron, and Decision Dynamics.
  • Chairman of the Portland Art Museum and Chairman of Pacific University.
  • Board member of Unicru, Stormwater Management, EID Access, and Study Dog.
  • Board member of over 20 other Northwest businesses, organizations, and institutions.
  • Held over 20 U.S. patents.

In addition, this legend of business was the first winner of OEN’s Lifetime Achievement Award and had received a number of other professional accolades throughout his life. Holce held a BS degree in Math and Physics and an Honorary Doctor of Science degree from Pacific University.

Perhaps most endearing to those that knew him, Holce was known as much for his cheery personality as his business-savvy.

4. Taste all five (or is it six?)

It has long been believed that we have just five tastes—salty, sweet, bitter, sour and savory. In her TED Talk, geneticist Nicole Garneau argues we might be able to taste a sixth — fat. Now that you’re thinking about food, think about this: some amazing food and beverage companies will be giving away free samples of their cuisine at the Awards Dinner this year. So, are there five tastes, or six? Either way, you’ll get to taste them all at this stellar event.

3. Get social

Last Wednesday you visited the in-laws. The Wednesday before that you worked late on a business project. Seems like forever since you’ve just gone out to socialize and have a good time. Well, we’ve got good news. On Wednesday, October 24th, you’ll have the perfect opportunity to get out and socialize! Join us at the 2018 Awards Dinner to talk about startups, business, and to socialize with the local startup community. We promise you’ll have more fun than you had last Wednesday night!

2. See the future of Oregon business

Perhaps you saw a recent copy of Portland Monthly in the checkout aisle at the grocery store. Nicole Vogel, Co-founder and Publisher of the magazine, won the OEN Individual Entrepreneurship Award in 2007. What about Salt & Straw? Winners of the OEN Development Stage Company of the Year in 2014. Ruby Receptionists? Winner of the 2016 Growth Stage Company Award. Green Zebra Grocery? Finalist in the 2015 OEN Development Stage Company of the Year category. Join us at the 2018 Awards Dinner and see the startups that are making waves! Because then, you’ll get to say, “I knew them when…”

1. Networking, networking, networking

And the number one reason you NEED to attend this one-of-a-kind event: Networking. Listen, the networking is so good here, one OEN volunteer suggests you consider the cost of admission part of your marketing budget! There are several benefits to professional networking—visibility, exposure to new ideas, connecting others, and more. But this isn’t your average networking event, it’s one of the largest and most prestigious business networking events in Oregon! So, if you want to network with savvy entrepreneurs and the local business community AND get plugged into the startup community in a big way, then buy your ticket now.

And that concludes our blog series, 25 Reasons Why You Should Attend The 2018 OEN Tom Holce Entrepreneurship Awards Dinner! I want to say THANK YOU to the amazing volunteers and contributors that helped make this blog series happen: Aaron Cooper (Cambia Health Solutions), Brett Myers (Anvil Media), Andrew Fromm (Gallatin Public Affairs), and Clifton Chestnut (30 Point and OEN Board Member).

Thanks for reading and we hope to see you on October 24th!

Miles Shattuck
Marketing & Communications Manager


The OEN Tom Holce Entrepreneurship Awards Dinner is one of the largest and most prestigious business networking events in the state. Popular among startups, investors, and industry experts, this amazing event celebrates a vital part of our region’s economy—our incredible community of entrepreneurs.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the OEN Tom Holce Entrepreneurship Awards Dinner. Visit our Awards info page for more information and to buy your ticket today. We hope to see you there!



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