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|On the Scene|
|Monday, May 17, 2010|
BY ANGELA WEBBER
The crowd at Oregon Entrepreneurs Network's monthly PubTalk Wednesday consisted of three main types of folks: entrepreneurs desperate to pitch their start-ups, lawyers eager to get new clients, and MBA students learning how to network. They all had something to learn when the hors d'oeuvres were put away and the panel took the stage for "The Art of Bootstrapping."
The main lesson of the night: your customer is your number one investor. The order of business building: idea, business model, investor, product, customer–is all wrong, said the panel. Each of the four presenting entrepreneurs started with an idea, but soon learned that it is the customer who should determine the direction of the project.
"I don't see why you should build something you haven't already sold," said Paul Anthony, who started his company, Rumblefish, with $400 of his own money in his college dorm room.
"Find a customer and then back in to everything else,” said Eli Alford-Jones of Paydici, a Portland-based online rent paying service.
Investment is hard to find, particularly in Portland. Though there are some organizations, like the Oregon Angel Fund, that invest in young businesses, starting a project is difficult. Winquist described it as a catch-22: "No one wants to invest in you until you have a proven business model, but once you have one, you don't need funding."
Angela Webber is the online editor for Oregon Business.
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