Editor’s note: Team GeekWire participated in the Geeks on a Train voyage between Portland, Seattle and Vancouver, B.C. Tuesday night as part of the GROW conference, taking place this week in Vancouver. We chatted with folks along the way for short four minute interviews, talking about a variety of tech topics. In this installment, we caught up with Portland startup guru Rick Turoczy. Turoczy is a busy guy. In addition to running the Silicon Florist blog and overseeing the Portland Incubator Experiment (PIE), he’s helping to organize the digital component of this year’s MFNW event in Portland.
You have your hands in so many pies, pun intended, what’s exciting to you right now in the tech industry? “I think what is really exciting to me lately is the fact, especially in Portland, a lot of creative agency-type people, and a lot of startup and tech people and how they are moving closer together. I see this happening everywhere, but it is obvious to me because of the time I spend in Portland…. Just watching how those two worlds are starting to mix is really interesting.”
The last time we had you on the GeekWire podcast you talked about the regions coming together in new ways and growing closer. Is that happening? “We’re especially seeing it in the accelerators where some Portland companies have made it up to TechStars (Seattle) and that has created some bonding there. We’re starting to see more Portland people travel up to Seattle for events, same with Seattle people coming down to Portland. So, I think it is starting to happen. You look at things like the train and Bolt Bus, and things that are making that travel much easier, and it is starting to make the connection much tighter, which is good.”
What about other things going on in Portland? What’s hot down there right now? “I think the most interesting trend that we are starting to see now, that Seattle might not have seen as much of because you had a VC community, is the idea that companies can gain investment from outside of Portland and remain in Portland whereas 12 to 18 months ago, they would have been asked to move to the Bay Area or move to Seattle. They are being allowed to remain in Portland and that has really changed the dynamic of our startup community.”
Why did you want to ride the train to BC for GROW? “It’s always good to see Portland people that I never get a chance to talk to, and it is good to run into Seattle folks too. I really like what GROW Lab is doing, and they are basically having a roundtable of startup accelerators and we are all going to talk and share ideas.”
Is there one thing that kind of unifies the startup communities between Seattle and Portland and BC in terms of the ethos of the communities? “People are genuine, and there’s not a lot of sales pitch going on. People collaborate and chat with one another really easily. I think the other thing is a very heightened concern whether there would be enough beer on the train.”
We got an emergency call from Portland folks that there wasn’t enough beer. I heard the Portland folks brought high-quality microbrews, and the Seattle folks showed up with Bud and Bud Lite. Does that mean we are more bootstrappy in Seattle, or what? “You guys are looking for the lowest common denominator, trying to get the best bang for your buck.”