Seed synergy

| Print |  Email
Articles - November 2011
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
1111_SeedSynergy_03
Amber Case, Jason Lander, Ken Levy and Nathan Taggart. The Portland Seed Fund united eight teams with varying degrees of experience. Participants find there's lots to share. 
// Photo by Anthony Pidgeon
The fund united eight teams with varying degrees of experience. Some were still refining their ideas. Others were already making sales, with plans for major growth. Ken Levy, CEO of the e-commerce recommendation business 4-Tell, has a five-year plan to grow into an $80 million company with over 100 employees. The serial entrepreneur secured $250,000 in 2010 from angel investors including Vesta CEO Doug Fieldhouse, Digimarc CEO Bruce Davis and Insitu CEO Steve Silwa. That initial prize resulted from some serious legwork: 68 meetings with 51 potential investors by his count.

That’s a lot of experience to share. Others in the group bring experience of a different variety. When Geoloqi co-founders Amber Case and Aaron Parecki were first researching the business end of their shared obsession for location tracking, they traveled from Portland to the Silicon Valley, staying with “random people we met through the Internet,” in Case’s words. They nearly ran out of money but kept the trip going by winning coding contests.

The technology platform that enabled them to win forms the foundation of Geoloqi. Their company has raised $350,000 from local investors such as MergerTech CEO Nitin Khana, former Reliable Remodelers CEO Eric Doebele, Nitin Rai of First Insight and Kanth Gopalpur of Monsoonworks. They also scored a residency at the Portland Incubator Experiment office space provided by Wieden+Kennedy in the Pearl District.

Sheetal Dube works out of a similar space on the other side of downtown Portland, at the Portland State University Business Accelerator. A working mom with a background in user experience consulting, Dube won the top prize in the Portland Startup Weekend contest in April 2011. Her young business, AudioName, enables people to record the pronunciation and roots of their names for online profiles. As is the case with many tech startups, her company’s purpose may not seem immediately obvious to the layperson — until you consider the 7 billion people on the planet with names, and the importance in business and life of getting names right. “It seems like a small idea but look at the scale,” Dube says. “The fact that I could make a small difference to a large number of people, that for me was the hook.”

Once hooked, she began to hook others. The judges at startup weekend convinced her to quit her job and go for it, and she did. The support of the seed fund and its associated contacts validated her choice, and enabled her to bring in contract engineers. “We’ve all gone out and hired people and stimulated the economy,” she says. Eventually her business could prove a tempting target for a social media giant such as LinkedIn. Or it could fizzle, as so many tech startups do. Regardless of the outcome, Dube says she has no regrets.

 



 

More Articles

Ranking the airlines that fly PDX

The Latest
Thursday, July 30, 2015
airlinesthumbBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

17 airlines make stops at Portland International Airport, but not all are created equal when it comes to customer service.


Read more...

Greenpeace (temporarily) prevents Shell oil ship from leaving Portland

The Latest
Thursday, July 30, 2015
hangersBY JASON E. KAPLAN | STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER

Activists have suspended themselves from the St. Johns Bridge in Portland, slowing an icebreaker's departure for the Arctic.


Read more...

House of Clarity

July/August 2015
Monday, July 13, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER

Holding a Power Lunch at Veritable Quandary in downtown Portland.


Read more...

Preserving the Legacy

July/August 2015
Monday, July 13, 2015
BY KIM MOORE | PHOTOS BY JASON E. KAPLAN

A New York floral and gift business takes on the iconic Harry & David brand.


Read more...

Quake as metaphor

Linda Baker
Tuesday, July 14, 2015
071515-earthquakia-thumbBY LINDA BAKER

The Big One serves as an allegory for Portland, a city that earns plaudits for lifestyle and amenities but whose infrastructure is, literally, crumbling.


Read more...

Flattery with Numbers

July/August 2015
Friday, July 10, 2015
BY JOE CORTRIGHT

The false promise of economic impact statements.


Read more...

Reader Input: Energy Overload

June 2015
Wednesday, July 15, 2015

We asked readers to weigh in on the fossil fuel-green energy equation.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS