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This is a great summary of some of the events at Portland’s Startup Weekend by Kahtyrn Hough on Tech.li.

Portland Startup Weekend was briefly interrupted on Sunday as six police officers and three cars kept watch over the Portland State Business Accelerator building.  More than 150 participants at the event remained on lockdown as police investigated a bomb threat made over Twitter that targeted the event. The threat was traced back to a man that was ejected from the building in the early hours of Saturday morning.

bomb threat, portland, portland startup weekend, michael crawfordLocal publication OregonLive reported that the threats were made by Michael David Crawford, who first appeared on Friday evening during the 60-second team pitches, which traditionally set the tone for the weekend. He reportedly disrupted the pitches by giving a rambling diatribe denouncing the entrepreneurs, stating, “Think about what you’re leaving behind for your grandchildren. How many of these products you’re making will be here in a hundred years? I want you to think about that.” He then refused to leave after being asked to go since he was not taking part in the weekend’s events.

Later in the day, Crawford began to tweet references to explosions and tagged the Portland Startup Weekend’s twitter account in his threats.

Crawford, a software consultant, has a history of making subversive statements in public and has written extensively about his mental illness on his blog. He has also appeared on CNN to discuss tax issues in the software industry. Crawford was not cited for his behavior according to OregonLive.

According to Matt Korfhage of the Willamette Week, the threat did not stop the 19 teams from plugging along on their new startup ideas. Korfhage, who was at the scene over the weekend, noted that the event organizers offered full refunds to anyone who felt unsafe and wanted to leave the event. The organizers also ensured that extra security measures were put into place.

Despite the drama surrounding the bomb threat, everyone chose to stay and participate. Portland Startup Weekend continued as planned with the final demos taking place on Sunday evening. The final teams included:

• ShopMyPins – Helps users find a webstore to buy products found on Pinterest.
• InMovingColor – Tablet moveable coloring books for kids.
• Chatura – Ambient location mobile app.
• HabitCoach – Mobile app that helps you change your life, one habit at a time.
• Beer Hunter Labs – Mobile social sharing, for beer.
• PollKarma – Give your opinion about a brand’s products, and they’ll donate a dollar to your charity of choice.
• Game It Up!– Video game programming training for 6-12 year olds
• PhotoLab – Fast, quality photo edits to enhance your image.
• uEdit.com – One-click solution to error-free content.
• Startup Pitch Deck – Mobile app that helps entrepreneurs create fast, effective pitch decks.
• 12carrots – Get rewarded for working out.
• HashTraffic – Utilize the power of the hashtag to bring visibility to your website.
• Matchable – A simple, intuitive way to make new friends and meet new people.
• CodeChops – Video game (to be determined).
• PropertyPartner –  Finance tools for shared real estate investments.
• Kid Bins – Inventory management web application that allows you to track your children’s clothing.
• Pink Grenade – iPhone app that helos you notify police when you are in danger.

Mitchell Cuevas
(@mcuevasm) I am the Sr. Marketing Director here at Techstars, am passionate about helping entrepreneurs, and am obsessed with finding, playing with, and implementing all the best new marketing (and other) technology I can get my hands on.

  • Ironically none of these startups even exist, a scant two years later. The madman was right.

  • He claimed he didn’t make bomb threats. He said they over used plugs in the outlets using traps and that they might blow up and cause a fire because they didn’t fit the fire code. He was unpluging traps to make sure they didn’t explode. Then he was ejected. He was protesting that these events are only for the young, and have no accommodations for the mentally ill, often vilifying the mentally ill and rejecting them violating the ADA Americans with Disabilities Act.

    Also check up on those projects, they are all unfunded and dead now. So he sort of had a point.

  • Thanks Orion, I was actually in town for this event when it happened. It was a very serious situation and at least at the time, the man was very erratic. He did make bomb threats to several people and that is why the police dealt with him. Whether or not HE was serious or THINKS he didn’t or didn’t intend to is pretty inconsequential in a situation like that. Safety of our participants is important to us and the Organizing team and police made the right decisions with the information they had and the man’s behavior being what it was. It’s tough for us to second guess a couple years later without being the ones responsible for a group of people.

    More importantly, I’d like to make sure everyone knows that the Portland team is the world’s foremost leading team when it comes to inclusion and making sure those with disabilities can attend Startup Weekend. They created the special subtitles for our videos on Startup Weekend and also held the first Startup Weekend Access, focused on the topic – http://portlandaccess.startupweekend.org/ in 2014. I’ve been to probably 30 Startup Weekends and never seen a member of our community vilify or ignore the needs of this group of people and have mostly seen the opposite, with many efforts to accommodate and welcome (often leveraging the tools and best practices the Portland team created). As a community I think we’re doing a pretty good job and should and will continue striving for better.

    Lastly, Startup Weekend has never been about nor will ever be about how successful the projects are or how much funding teams raise. It is simply about providing a space for entrepreneurs to meet and experience entrepreneurship in a low risk environment, surrounded by other people with the same goals/energy/desire. Many projects have gone on to be successful, but that is far from the point of the weekend.

  • Thanks Mitchell, as far as ADA goes how would you accommodate a person with a mental illness like schizoaffective disorder? When people think disabilities they don’t always consider the mentally ill. It is because the disability isn’t visible. I’ve never met a company or organization that can accommodate a mental illness like schizoaffective disorder.

    • Agreed, I think it’s probably very difficult and I haven’t heard of anyone doing something specific we could emulate. It’s a really good question and maybe a really cool area to experiment in. Are there any organizations you respect that we might be able to consult with? I’m think of medical professionals, non profits supporting related causes, etc. It’s not something I can say I’m particularly educated in but I will poll the team, we have a diversity channel where we collaborate on topics like this, maybe someone has ideas or resources.

      • Hi Mitchell, this is something that needs to be done. There needs to be a non-profit that helps startups learn how to support a person with a mental illness. It is kind of hard to tell an employer one has a mental illness, because usually they get fired by someone who doesn’t understand how to support such a person. http://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-Conditions/Schizoaffective-Disorder

        That is NAMI’s article on Schizoaffective Disorder. They seem to have an office in Oregon:

        MDC once appeared on CNN and spoke out against Joe Stack and violence: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VhLV7jydPJ8

        Violence doesn’t solve anything, nor do threats of any sort.

        The most common mental illness is depression which affects 33% of the population. I am concerned over startups putting too much pressure on employees and them developing one of the mental illnesses. Stress Management and Anger Management training can help there.

        EAP programs help as well. http://www.theeap.com/ if someone is struggling at a company they need help for a mental illness or drug or alcohol issue.

        I’m just trying to find ways to help mentally ill people succeed at startups and getting jobs that support them instead of the opposite. Like I said many of these mental illnesses are hard to understand and can disable a person in certain ways like flat effect, where the face is like a poker face all day, person can’t smile because the muscles are locked up in a frown position.

        Thank you for taking an interest in this, I guess it is what MDC tried to do but didn’t get the words out right.

      • I found this group: https://osmihelp.org/

        The rights of the mentally ill need to be protected. A mentally ill person can’t admit to it because of the shame and stigma from others and society. Many mental illnesses like schizoaffective disorder are rare and hard to understand. This group is trying to get education and awareness of mental illnesses.