Portland’s startup scene is flourishing, with a host of emerging venture-backed companies. Speaking at the TechFestNW conference, Urban Airship CEO Scott Kveton noted Friday that he likes what he says in his hometown.
“I think we’ve come a long way. If you think about 2001 and the bubble bursts, and Portland was kind of left with this big smoking crater,” said Kveton. “We didn’t get an Amazon or a Yahoo or a Google or anything like that. True to form for Portland, I think people said: ‘Whatever. We are going to keep doing what we do. We are going to be Portland.’”
And what does that mean?
Frankly, as Kveton sees it, kind of boring stuff.
“You fast forward to today, and you have companies like Urban Airship and Jama and Janrain and Puppet and Elemental, and these are call companies that are doing what is effectively boring stuff, because they make money and always have, and they are not a consumer play and they are not like the Bay Area or some of these other places,” he said.
In addition to money-making startups, Kveton also noted the quality of life in the Rose City, something he plays up in recruiting meetings.
“We will invite (recruits) out with their SO — their significant other — and interview on a Friday and let them stay for the weekend. By the end of the weekend, their SO is like: ‘You better get that fucking job because I want to live here. This is an awesome place….’ Here, people, I think, are actually living, even people who work for startups. And that is actually healthy. It makes you better at what you do. People say Portland is all about the slackster, hipster vibe and everything, and it is. But there also are some really interesting and compelling things happening here, and I am really excited about it.”
So, what’s missing in Portland?
Kveton said the startup scene would benefit from a home-grown venture capital fund, and he noted that some things are happening on that front. But he also said that Portland as a “brand” and the awesome companies that are started in the city — like a Stumptown coffee or Salt & Straw ice cream — could have bigger national success.
“I’d love to see more of that where people do it right the first time, and then rinse, wash, repeat and then do it everywhere. I think that would be a really cool thing for Portland to do more of,” he said.