ePDX and #PDX11 resources!

UPDATE: Oops. Wrong URL for youtube originally. 🙂

Here’s a quick video showing you how tags work in ePDX and how the PDX11 community is starting to use ePDX to link together resources specific to the entrepreneurs, startups and founders who have participated in the Financing network.

We’re looking into how to display, remix and present individual items from this collected information in the future.

For now, if you want to see the latest that’s been added, check out the resource list as it grows over the next few days.

The PDX11 Financing group continues to collect this data, and has put together a form that shows the type of things the group is interested in. Take a moment and add your resources to that list!

ePDX – Identify yourself as a mentor

UPDATE: We’ve already got at least one person interested in being a mentee, so go ahead and tag yourself as ‘mentee’, and we’ll be in touch. 🙂

I made a quick little screencast for adding yourself as a potential mentor on the ePDX.org site.

We’re cooking up a feature that will let mentors and mentees connect through this software, but we need a few intrepid beta testers to label themselves.

To do join in, you need to add the ‘mentor’ tag to your profile. That’s what the video above shows you how to do.

The idea driving this is that people wanting mentorship will have specific requests in mind, such as:

  • Developer mentorship: “I’m learning Rails, and need someone to advise me on wedging Postgres into the ORM”
  • Business mentorship: “I’m starting a new business and need feedback for my business model and pitch.”
  • Marketing mentorship: “I’ve got this awesome project, and I wish other people could see how awesome it is. Help!”

If you’ve got a sense of adventure, and would love to give your opinions about things to an impressionable, mentee-mind, sign up today!

PDX11 Civic Unconference Hacking report

Last weekend we had more than 70 people out for a civic hackathon associated with PDX11, the joint effort between community, the City of Portland and the Portland Development Commission to promote software development in Portland. We kicked things off last Friday with a 30-minute, whirlwind status update since the kickoff of three initiatives in December 2010. Scroll down for a video! The next morning, Saturday April 2, we had another orientation, but focused on people’s hacking projects and an unconference. Many thanks to Kris Wetzel of Emma who organized all our food and drink Friday and Saturday, and to Tropo, who sponsored Saturday’s lunch. A big thanks to the project coordinators who prepared feature lists, wrote out tickets, and mentored others during the event:

  • Aaron Pareki
  • Amber Case
  • Audrey Eschright
  • Igal Koshevoy
  • Kyle Drake
  • Reid Beels
  • Kirsten Commandich
  • Don Park
  • Rafa Gutierrez

There were definitely more folks working on things — sorry I didn’t get all your names. Here are the project reports!

Continue reading

Three marketing areas where PDX11 fails

I had a short conversation yesterday about what I wish PDX11 was doing better with it’s marketing. I was the person who suggested we call this effort PDX11, and I bought the domains and asked the Open Source Lab to host our sites. I created the mailing lists and setup and ran the hackathon.

So, really, if anyone is to blame for this, it’s me. 🙂

But I’d like some help, so I’ll lay out to you what I think is wrong:

  1. Ensure that the Portland open source community knows what PDX11 is.
    Work in progress by the Knowledge Network is starting to address this issue. But much of the open source community has no idea what PDX11 is, or why they should care about it.
  2. Align some of the goals of open source community and the proprietary software community.
    Right now, it seems as though the values of one community diverge greatly from the other.

    The Mentor network seems like the most likely place for the groups to come together, but there’s still quite a significant cultural gap between the Software Association of Oregon and a very large open source community. It makes me wonder if the SAO hasn’t realized that open source developers are a meaningfully large and growing group that they should be serving the needs of.

    This reminds me of a post I did back in 2009 about growth in PostgreSQL job postings.

    So I looked up the relative growth rate of jobs with “open source” in the description:

    Seems like growth worth paying attention to, especially given that “Mobile App” has explosive growth, but still only represents .0007% of all job postings – whereas “open source” is in .004%:

  3. Marketing to the general public about why it’s important that the PDC focus effort on the software industry cluster.
    A friend asked the other day “Why should a non-geek care about PDX11?” And, I didn’t have a snappy answer. One thing that was said today during the unconference that I’m still mulling over was: “Software is the last growth industry we have in the US.” That’s maybe too agressive. 🙂

    Talking with Audrey today, I learned that it’s an established practice to target growing industries in a municipal area for public investment, and software industry was identified through an objective measure to be clustering and growing at a rate that warranted the city’s encouragement. The PDC has a site that shows some stats, but it’s far from clear to me, even as a person working on this project, exactly what is relevant to the general public. A bunch of this data was put into a PDF. One key number is that there are over 1,400 software companies in Oregon, and employment in this industry grew 19.2% from 2004-2009.

So, we could use your help. How should we address this?

Why should a non-geek care about the City’s and software community’s efforts to bring more software industry to Portland?

#PDX11 going strong, and a site update: feeds for mailing lists

The PDX11 groups have all met in person and initiatives are underway:

And, I’ve been making some small changes to the PDX11 site:

We could definitely use some help, so ping me if you’ve got some spare cycles! Particular skills of use are: Drupal panel and feeds configuration, CSS and writing.


#PDX11: Conversation about VC, investing and trends in the Portland

I wanted to continue talking about the perceptions stemming from the “quality of life” versus “financial success” juxtapositon from this slide:

A friend pointed out that maybe this issue is being framed in the wrong way for “outsiders”. If we’re going to pitch people on Portland being the best place to build a startup, values are certainly part of the equation, but what do investors want to know?

Maybe problem is similar to the process of gentrification… And as far as Portland’s software scene is concerned, we’re out of the blight, well into the “artists and weirdos make a home” phase and maybe just about to transition into “developers buy up a lot of land and artists start moving on” phase. But capital investment is in companies rather than land.

Maybe the story we as a city need to tell is that we want early adopter investors and more “artists and weirdos” who are passionate about what they do.

It’s a tough analogy, because we don’t have the same geographical or physical world indicators. When gentrification occurs, there aren’t always clear signs in the beginning. But as the process unfolds, people physically move in and out of a tight geographical area.

To put a spotlight on what’s going on with the tech industry, we need for some better indicators! Have a look at the employment graphs like the Oregon tech job employment indicator:

I don’t think it tells the whole story. There are also indicators about VC, but again, I don’t think it is capturing the nature of what is happening in Portland.

To start, I’m interested in a finer-grained look at the jobs associated with small software and IT firms. I’m not sure if there’s a way to pull that data out of what is typically tracked, but I’m going to try.

What indicators do you think we should be tracking?

#PDX11: Community as competitive advantage

Here’s an edited version of Thompson Morrison’s presentation about the software industry’s response to a series of surveys. The original presentation is available here. One of the key slides was about what folks here value:

The point I appreciated about this clip is that Portland’s software community *is* our competitive advantage.

I edited the video most for audio coherence. Sorry about the audio being a little out of sync.

Tweeted notes from City Hall meeting

  • Looking for a few good OPML files: http://www.chesnok.com/daily/2010/12/02/looking-for-a-few-good-opml-files/ #
  • many <3s to @osuosl @ramereth @gchaix for help with setting up #pdx11 #
  • What's better than the civil war game? OPEN DATA HACKATHON! This saturday! with @maxogden! http://calagator.org/events/1250459494 #
  • Thanks, Girltalk. Now I want to eat an ice cream sandwich. #
  • #PDX11 It's alive! http://www.chesnok.com/daily/2010/12/02/pdx11-its-alive/ #
  • Heading to City Hall for the software summit #pdx11 (psst: http://pdx11.org) #
  • Look! @MayorSamAdams on the floor #pdx11 #
  • So, @MayorSamAdams says that he picked us for our good taste in fashion AND our strength and future promise as an industry #pdx11 #
  • This is the fourth gathering about economic development strategy for the PDC plan #pdx11 #
  • Scott Adams from the PDC talking about how they have been trying to figure out the software industry #pdx11 #
  • And now, Gerald Baugh is up talking about the key people who helped research the industry here. #pdx11 #
  • Pdx11 crowd at city hall http://flic.kr/p/8XVqnz #
  • PDX economic opportunity areas: Athletic/Outdoor, clean tech, advanced manufacturing and SOFTWARE! #pdx11 #
  • Why target software? Direct & Indirect opportunity – $9 billion dollar effect on the Oregon economy #pdx11 #
  • Average wage in software sector is $87k, almost double the wages of other industries in Oregon #pdx11 #
  • Another goal: design a public/private partnership to support software industry #pdx11 (heck yeah!) #
  • PDC & the City were impressed by participation at CEO, developer and hobbyist #pdx11 #
  • Had a fireside chat with the Mayor with 35 companies, but it wasn't wide enough. So they made a survey & got >800 respondants #pdx11 #
  • Out of those conversations, created the Portland Seed Fund http://portlandseedfund.com/ and Portland10 http://www.portlandten.com/ #pdx11 #
  • The City of Portland put together open source initiatives and hosted Lunch 2.0 #pdx11 #
  • Since December $68 million in risk capital that has come in the last year! (and now we're having those guys stand up) #pdx11 #
  • Some PDX CEOs have turned down capital from other investors that would have had them move to other cities #pdx11 #
  • "Ours is not a normal industry. I truly believe this in my heart." Thompson Morrison #
  • Three key elements in our software industry: community sourcing, agile iteration, open innovation #pdx11 #
  • re: agile iteration – why yes we do have @WardCunningham in the audience! 🙂 #pdx11 #
  • use of #pdxstrat tag is full of lulz /cc @BajillionHits #
  • Haha. Quoting @bradfordcross — "There is No Such Thing as the NExt Silicon Valley." #pdx11 #
  • Suggestion: Let's make the next town hall an @IgniteGov! #pdx11 #
  • What are the most important values in PDX? Quality of Life, Community. #pdx11 #
  • What is the least important value in this survey? Financial Success. (by an embarrassing margin) #pdx11 #
  • Fort Hall is the "fork in the road" between the California and Oregon Trail. #historylesson #themoreyouknow #
  • "Cultivating enduring wealth." That's the takeaway. I guess. #
  • So, how do we turn who we are into competitive advantage? Community is our competitive advantage. #pdx11 #
  • Community is not just for social wealth. It's also for our economic wealth. #pdx11 #
  • Community == agility (not what people would assume…) – enables it through fast connections between people, mashups #pdx11 #
  • Community provides support to help us make the right decisions as we build our businesses. #pdx11 #
  • Why aren't we as connected as folks in the valley? We're cultivators – stick with the same companies and don't move around as much #pdx11 #
  • Do you want to build the knowledge network? Sign up! http://lists.pdx11.org/mailman/listinfo/pdx11-knowledge #pdx11 #
  • Do you want to build the financing group? http://lists.pdx11.org/mailman/listinfo/pdx11-financing #pdx11 #
  • Do you want to build the mentoring group? http://lists.pdx11.org/mailman/listinfo/pdx11-mentoring #pdx11 #
  • Question: Financial success is a low priority, and we're complaining about lack of investment? Why do we complain? #pdx11 #
  • Answer: @MayorSamAdams everyone wants to be financially secure. We're just foremost motivated by how the work we do makes us feel #pdx11 #
  • Observation re VC: You need to have some big wins. 6 years since last company went to public. Bring people in from outside #pdx11 #
  • Observation from @brianfinger: hiring from outside PDX because they want to come here. Need to market PDX tech community better #pdx11 #
  • Sez @MayorSamAdams: part of the problem – we lack a coherent strategy. #pdx11 #
  • Can we have more money? $.5million is chump change. @MayorSamAdams: And I got that without even having a strategy for it! #pdx11 #hellyeah #
  • Excellent classroom control by @MayorSamAdams this evening 😉 #
  • How do we sustain quality of life over time? Hitting $1million – of course biz should. But then what? #pdx11 #
  • Stuart Cohen (of CSI) /cc @mherrick66 supplier to customer mkt. Oregonians don't consume enough products to enable rapid innovation. #pdx11 #
  • Question: Where in this effort are we going to see a plan to achieve financial success? #pdx11 #
  • We haven't created a cycle of successful M&A events. Creates more capital and more experienced management teams. #pdx11 #
  • yay @technojosh is speaking up! We have lots of companies that don't publicize their exits. #pdx11 #
  • Big question: How do we define success and how do we measure it? #pdx11 #
  • Finding space for user groups is currently an issue. Can we use PDC's background in real estate to help with that? #pdx11 #
  • Big thing that Gresham did: Waiving fees if you move from a home-based biz to downtown. @MayorSamAdams: YES! We do that. #pdx11 #
  • Next steps! We need structure. #pdx11 #
  • Scheduled a PROGRESS REPORT event February 2011 #pdx11 (dude. seriously awesome.) #
  • Haha. They're passing buckets around to put your card into buckets to get involved in these groups #pdx11 #
  • Conveners: they're here to ask people to come to a meeting. #pdx11 #
  • Introducing Warren Harrison from PSU: working on the knowledge network to solidify our informal and formal groups #pdx11 #
  • Matt Nees from SAO: working on the mentoring network can we cross breed .NET and open source audiences. (lulz) #pdx11 #
  • PDC guy (missed his name) is leading up the financing group. Help companies find the capital they need #pdx11 #
  • Thanks for bearing with my tweets! All done. 🙂 #
  • At @pdxhackathon! #
  • I'm competing with "coats" in the local trending topics. https://skitch.com/selena/rn9q6/trends-in-portland-united-states-trendsmap #
  • OMG http://hatsproductions.com/organtrail.html #
  • Software summit wrapup! http://www.chesnok.com/daily/2010/12/02/pdx11-the-software-summit-wrapup/ #pdx11 #

#PDX11: The software summit wrapup

So, the software summit happened this evening. Mike Rogoway posted his brief overview here: http://blog.oregonlive.com/siliconforest/2010/12/portland_gathers_software_deve.html. The back of my head, Teyo and Amy are featured on the bottom of the photo 🙂

I livetweeted the event, so tomorrow there’ll be a cavalcade of tweets here: http://www.chesnok.com/daily/2010/12/03/twittering-on-2010-12-03/

Big ideas:

  • Portland is about Community. And our competitive advantage is that community.
  • Part of what makes us what we are is the fact that we stick with the same companies over time. What can we do to enable collaboration across company boundaries?
  • We cultivate enduring wealth.

My takeaway from the Q&A was that we’ve got this huge biz/developer divide. We have management talent – but maybe not the big M&A talent that the VC-oriented folks are after. We have loads of developers. We need to make more effort to get those folks connected to one another in a way that makes sense!

We have tons of events that are advertised on calagator.org, and the city is making an effort to make itself a hub (hosting Lunch 2.0, and now this software summit in the City Council Chambers). Overall, I really think the City is doing a great job, and I can’t wait to see what the citizen initiatives come up with.

So if you want to get involved, subscribe to our lists:

http://lists.pdx11.org/mailman/listinfo/pdx11-announce (announce only!)

Find out more at: http://pdx11.org


Portland Business Journal coverage!
Slides from the City’s presentation
Video from Software Summit