Young business leaders ignite startup scene

| Print |  Email
Articles - August 2010
Wednesday, July 21, 2010

0810_NewMoney08
The NedSpace/Starve Ups ethic values collaboration over competition, giving rise to a tightly knit community of young Portland entrepreneurs.
Friedman’s partner in launching NedSpace and proposing the new Portland seed fund, Mark Grimes, is much older than most of his NedSpace peers at 48. But it would be hard to find an entrepreneur younger at heart.

Here is how Grimes describes his exit from the first of four businesses he has launched: “After about two years I got bored, sold it, started doing other things.”

Here’s his take on innovation: “The half-baked notion where you don’t even know what the product is or what the market will be, that’s what’s exciting to me. That’s where true innovation comes from.”

Grimes says all of the companies he’s founded, including the web advertising agency he launched in 1996, Eyescream Interactive, were profitable within 90 days in spite of not having business plans. But he got hit badly by the dot-com crash and Eyescream collapsed in 2001.

“A handful of really bad things happened as a result of having a five-year lease with a personal guarantee,” says Grimes. “It was not a pleasant time, but we did not have to file for bankruptcy and all the staff was paid.”

Even that grisly business experience could not beat the entrepreneurial zeal out of Grimes. He’s invested in a dozen companies in Portland and San Diego, launched a philanthropic water service, helped organize a Maker Faire in Ghana and placed more than 7,000 loans through Kiva, an online micro-lending program that connects investors from rich countries with entrepreneurs in poor countries. He hopes to take the NedSpace concept, a “cross-pollination of experience and ideas” as he describes it, and expand it nationally along with the high-volume, small-scale seed fund that he believes would complement it neatly.

His vision for such a fund involves seeding between 20 and 50 companies per year with $25,000 to $100,000 each. Grimes insists that spreading the investments widely would produce better results than mega-investments in one or two enterprises (think ethanol plants). “Are a third of them going to fail? Absolutely. We’re going to say that going into it,” he says. “Or maybe 20% or 25% will fail. But plenty will succeed. And what’s fail anyhow? If it employs people for a year and brings in taxes, is it a failure?”

Grimes argues that the successes resulting from such a program would bring further successes, improving Portland’s reputation as a city eager to host entrepreneurs, as opposed to an environment hostile to business. “If money is flowing through the city to start-up companies, people will move to Portland to start up companies,” he predicts. “You can do amazing things for startup companies with just $25,000 to $100,000.”


 

Comments   

 
Kent Lewis
0 #1 Build & KeepKent Lewis 2010-08-09 07:56:42
Excellent article, and kudos to the entrepreneurial team featured in this article. As a friend, vendor and partner of many of the entrepreneurs in this article, I can say the cause, and their achievements are legit. Looking forward to seeing more funding and entrepreneurial resources available in Portland in the near future.
Quote | Report to administrator
 

More Articles

Big Trouble in China?

Guest Blog
Tuesday, August 18, 2015
0818-wellmanthumbBY JASON NORRIS | CFA

Earlier this month, the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) announced they were going to devalue their currency, the Renminbi. While the amount of the targeted change was to be roughly 2 percent, investors read a lot more into the move. The Renminbi had been gradually appreciating against the U.S. dollar (see chart) as to attempt to alleviate concerns of being labeled a currency manipulator.


Read more...

Fueling Up for the Climb

July/August 2015
Friday, July 10, 2015
BY GREGG MORRIS

Rita Hansen aims to scale natural gas vehicle innovation.


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...

Photo log: Murray's Pharmacy

The Latest
Friday, July 17, 2015
OBM-Heppner-Kaplan thumbBY JASON KAPLAN

Photographer Jason Kaplan takes a look at Murray's Pharmacy in Heppner.  The family owned business is run by John and Ann Murray, who were featured in our July/August cover story: 10 Innovators in Rural Health Care.


Read more...

Ranking the airlines that fly PDX

The Latest
Friday, August 14, 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...

Reader Input: Road Work

March 2015
Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Oregon's roads are crumbling, and revenues from state and local gas taxes are not sufficient to pay for improvements. We asked readers if the private sector should help fund transportation maintenance and repairs. Research partner CFM Strategic Communications conducted the poll of 366 readers in February.


Read more...

Unshakable

September 2015
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
BY BRIAN LIBBY

Ben Kaiser holds his ground.


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