Portland has become something of a B2B tech hub. Elemental, Urban Airship, Puppet, Jama, Smarsh, Janrain, and so many other great Portland companies share a common trait… they serve other companies. We believe this uniquely positions Portland as a community well suited to helping aspiring entrepreneurs found the next wave of great B2B companies.
For this spring’s Portland Startup Weekend (May 1-3, 2015), we were challenged to do something unique, while maintaining the culture, experience and purpose of the event. We chose to focus exclusively on B2B entrepreneurship for three key reasons.
Culture: Too many young “companies” are doing what Paul Graham refers to as “playing house.” They are mimicking everything they see successful companies doing on the outside, like getting an office, making slick business cards, handing out T-shirts and stickers, building slide decks and websites… but they aren’t doing the one thing that is often hidden from view, calling on clients with real problems and real budgets, asking how they can serve them. That is hard work, its not always fun or glamorous… but it is what separates inventors from entrepreneurs.
Revenue: Funding that never has to be paid back. There are very few individuals who will pay hundreds of dollars a month for any service, so building consumer focused businesses often means borrowing massive sums of money. However there are millions of businesses that will pay real money, to solve real problems, right now.
Diversity: While many people reading this have the relationships and experience to raise money, many early entrepreneurs do not. We believe this lack of access is a contributor to a disparity in the ethnic, age, race and gender makeup of our industry, as compared to the communities we serve. While others strive to improve that system of early stage fundraising, we want to show aspiring entrepreneurs how to build a business that can sustain itself without any outside funding or permission from the establishment.
We believe Entrepreneurship should be more focused on building a real business rather than the pursuit of funding. We believe that encouraging aspiring entrepreneurs to target B2B opportunities gives them many important advantages that provide an alternative to traditional fundraising, and we’re doing something about it… we hope you’ll join us!