Early Stage

Early Stage

Why is Portland an interesting place to create a startup?
How can we understand entrepreneurs and software engineers to be a new creative class?
What roles do story and performance play in the creation of an enterprise?

Following the true story of a group of aspiring startups in the Portland Incubator Experiment (PIE), in the context of Portland’s creative and technology ecosystem, KS12 presents Early Stage, a Video Sprint in collaboration with PIE which starts a conversation on these topics and invites your participation.

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Sarcasm, Sincerity and Cynicism: Portland vs. Berlin

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Being back in Berlin after three months in Portland, its difficult not to give in to the desire to compare and contrast the two cities. It’s safe to say we miss Portland. In our newfound homesickness we’ve indulged in watching (and re-watching) clips of the TV show Portlandia on YouTube. And having gotten a chance to get to know the city this summer these sarcastic sketches ring true on many levels. The results of our experiment extending the conversation from Early Stage onto Quora reflected this self-aware side of Portland in the fact that the most upvoted answer to all of the questions we posted was this list of zingers from Ken Westin about why not to create your next startup company in Portland. Due to the popularity of Ken’s answer, we thought it would be fun to adapt it into a collaborative video:

Yet there is certainly a counterpoint to this view of Portland – one which may have a hard time grabbing the limelight from this sort of good-natured sarcasm because of its sincerity. It’s embodied by the long and thoughtful answer given by Jeffrey Hardison to our question “How is Portland poised to lead the new wave of design-driven startups?” As we work on editing Early Stage we have to admit that it’s perspectives like Jeffrey’s which resonate more strongly with the sentiments we’d encountered in Portland’s startup community.

But whether your personal stance on Portland leans more in the sarcastic or sincere direction, from our view back in Berlin both stances seem equally acceptable compared to the cynicism we often encounter here at home. Compared to the friendliness and openness of Portland, Berlin has an energy which at times feels very heavy. A combination of Berlin’s history and it’s own acute sense of that history can make this town a tough place to try something new. I realize this outlook may contradict the experience of many fellow Berliners as well as visitors to the city who perceive Berlin as a bohemian refuge. And certainly it does live up to its reputation as that sort of place.

However, if we who live in Berlin consider ourselves creative refugees – escapees from more hostile (commercial) environments where our creative expression is less appreciated or viable – we must accept that the tolerance and permissiveness of this bohemia simultaneously can have the function of neutralizing our intensity and our passions. That a certain degree of laisse faire attitude sometimes can slip into cynical inaction.

And if there’s one take-away from Portland that we’ve brought back with us to Berlin it’s to keep our passion at the forefront of what we do.

Interview: Michael Richardson

An interview with Michael Richardson, Co-Founder and Technical Product Manager of Urban Airship for our newest Video Sprint Early Stage.

You can answer these questions too on Quora:

  • What is an early stage company?
  • How does Portland’s local culture influence the startup scene?
  • Is Portland taken seriously by the investment community?
  • What makes Portland Incubator Experiment (PIE) unique in the world of startup incubators?
  • What roles do story and performance play in the creation of an enterprise?
  • How can we understand entrepreneurs and software engineers to be a new creative class?
  • What can startups learn from an advertising agency about storytelling?
  • We will be taking the most interesting answers on Quora and transforming them into dramatic monologues!

    Interview: Dave Yewman

    An interview with Dave Yewman, President of Elevator Speech for the Video Sprint “Early Stage”.

    You can answer these questions too on Quora:

  • What roles do story and performance play in the creation of an enterprise?
  • Why is self confidence important when pitching to investors?
  • Why is rehearsing for a performance important?
  • What does the phrase “fake it til you make it” mean to you?
  • We will be taking the most interesting answers on Quora and transforming them into dramatic monologues!

    Interview: Renny Gleeson

    An interview with Renny Gleeson, Global Director of Interactive Strategies, Wieden + Kennedy for Early Stage – a Video Sprint.

    Participate on Quora:

  • Why is Portland an interesting place to create a startup?
  • How does Portland’s local culture influence the startup scene?
  • What makes a venture-fundable company?
  • What makes Portland Incubator Experiment (PIE) unique in the world of startup incubators?
  • What can startup culture teach us about creativity?
  • We will be taking the most interesting answers on Quora and transforming them into dramatic monologues!

    Interview: Andy Baio

    An interview with Andy Baio, Organizer of the XOXO Festival for Early Stage – a Video Sprint.

    You can answer these questions too on Quora:

  • Why is Portland an interesting place to create a startup?
  • What is the difference between Kickstarter and VC funding?
  • What makes Portland Incubator Experiment (PIE) unique in the world of startup incubators?
  • We will be taking the most interesting answers on Quora and transforming them into dramatic monologues!

    Interview: Brad Feld

    Brad Feld, an early stage investor and entrepreneur (Co-Founder and Managing Director of Foundry Group) gave us some impressions via Skype on the following questions for Early Stage.

    You can answer these questions too on Quora:

  • What makes a startup ecosystem thrive?
  • Is Portland taken seriously by the investment community?
  • What makes a venture-fundable company?
  • What is an early stage company?
  • How is a CEO like an actor?
  • How can we understand entrepreneurs and software engineers to be a new creative class?
  • We will be taking the most interesting answers on Quora and transforming them into dramatic monologues!

    Early Stage: Announcing the Second Round of Interviewees

    Brad Feld has been an early stage investor and entrepreneur since 1987. Prior to co-founding Foundry Group, he co-founded Mobius Venture Capital and, prior to that, founded Intensity Ventures, a company that helped launch and operate software companies. He is also the co-founder of TechStars, a mentor-driven accelerator, author of several books and blogs, and a marathon runner. His new book Startup Communities takes a look at what it takes to build an entrepreneurial community in any city.

    Andy Baio is a writer and tech entrepreneur in Portland, OR. He blogs at Waxy.org, writes for Wired and helped build Kickstarter. He launched Upcoming.org, a collaborative event calendar which was acquired by Yahoo. He recently organized the XOXO festival in Portland – an arts and technology festival celebrating disruptive creativity.

    Renny Gleeson is a geek who’s worked in the startup and interactive marketing space since 1994 and as a founder and mentor for startups and tech accelerators. Since 2007, Renny is the Global Director of Interactive Strategies of Wieden+Kennedy. He is the co-founder and leader of W+K’s Portland Incubator Experiment (or PIE), a tech business accelerator at the intersection of startups and brands. In four years, PIE has touched hundreds of startups, become an integral part of the Northwest startup ecosystem, and attracted startups from all over the world.

    Dave Yewman is the president of Elevator Speech and the author of On Getting to The Point. He’s a presentation coach who, according to his son: teaches people how not to say “um”. He’s worked with an array of Fortune 500 companies and CEO’s to perfect their pitches.

    Michael Richardson is a cofounder and technical product manager at Urban Airship, which powers push notifications and in app purchase for some of the most successful mobile applications. In addition to working for Urban Airship, he works with the Portland technology and entrepeneurial community as a resource for early stage startup advice, building products, and mobile application strategy. He was also a co-founder of a startup that sells bacon online.

    Interview: Robin Jones

    Robin Jones, COO of Geoloqi gave us some impressions on the following questions for the Video Sprint “Early Stage”.

    You can answer these questions too on Quora:

  • What advantages does Portland offer an early stage startup in comparison to Seattle or San Francisco?
  • Is Portland taken seriously by the investment community?
  • Why are investors interested in seeing startup pitches, despite knowing they are carefully rehearsed performances?
  • How can we understand entrepreneurs and software engineers to be a new creative class?
  • What makes a venture-fundable company?
  • Why is self confidence important when pitching to investors?
  • We will be taking the most interesting answers and transforming them into dramatic monologues!

    Interview: David Embree

    An interview with David Embree, CEO of Athletepath for the Video Sprint “Early Stage”.

    You can answer these questions too on Quora:

  • What can startups learn from an advertising agency about storytelling?
  • How does Portland’s spirit of resourcefulness influence the local startup scene?
  • What’s it like preparing to pitch at Demo Day?
  • Why are investors interested in seeing startup pitches, despite knowing they are carefully rehearsed performances?
  • How is a CEO like an actor?
  • What does the phrase “fake it til you make it” mean to you?
  • How can we understand entrepreneurs and software engineers to be a new creative class?
  • What makes Portland Incubator Experiment (PIE) unique in the world of startup incubators?
  • We will be taking the most interesting answers and transforming them into dramatic monologues!