Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Spotlight: Portland, OR


Portland is known locally as the “Silicon Forest” because their tech community is growing faster than the Silicon Valley’s.

Portland, OR is the state’s largest city and is known as the “City of Roses,” because the local climate is perfect for growing the flower. According to Forbes, the area is locally known as “Silicon Forest” because their technology community is growing even faster than Silicon Valley’s. Huffington Post named Portland one of the top places to launch a startup in 2017, while CNBC wrote about the city’s thriving startup industry.

Based on these rankings, FundingSage has reviewed the resources that make up Portland’s entrepreneurial ecosystem:

Entrepreneurial Meetups:

A group that aims to teach professionals and entrepreneurs a “highly specialized education in Transactional Competence”.

Open to more than just entrepreneurs and small business owners, BRIDGES is for people in any profession who could benefit from networking and making connections.

PCWE holds monthly meetings for female entrepreneurs to meet each other, network, and create a strategy to help grow their businesses.

P.E.N. is a way for small business owners and entrepreneurs in the Portland area to network and attend inexpensive seminars and events.

Inspired by the technological innovation in Silicon Valley, Portland Startup helps entrepreneurs create the “next big thing”.

A group designed to bring entrepreneurs together to find new and unique ways to succeed.

A networking group for female entrepreneurs who also consider themselves somewhat spiritual.

Help and support for anyone at any step in the process of starting and running a small business.

The Portland chapter of Startup Grind, an organization that educates and connects entrepreneurs in over 200 cities.

A place for beginning entrepreneurs to hear from and meet with successful startup owners.

A group for “wise women” to connect and share thoughts and tips on succeeding in the business world.

With meetings on the 2nd Wednesday of every month, WE PDX is a place for women in the entrepreneurial scene of Portland to network and help each other grow their businesses.


Regular Entrepreneurial Events:

The Oregon Entrepreneurs Network hosts an annual event where successful Oregon entrepreneurs share their stories with the crowd.

An annual awards ceremony hosted by the Oregon Entrepreneurs Network designed to honor the best local entrepreneurs..

April 2018 marks the 3rd annual TechStars Startup Week in Portland, a 5-day event that celebrates established entrepreneurs and inspires new ones. TechStars also sponsors various startup weekends throughout the year.

An annual conference held in Portland designed to exhibit the newest tech trends and the best tech startups.

How to Launch a Tech Startup If You Are a Non-Technical Founder

Though not exclusively an entrepreneurial event, this annual conference in Portland provides a way for people to acquire new and diverse skills as well as make connections with possible friends and support networks.


Startup Competitions:

Sponsored by the University of Oregon’s Lundquist College of Business, NVC is a large business competition open to graduate students in business schools around the world.

A competition held by the Oregon Entrepreneurs Network in which early-stage startups compete for large cash prizes from a group of angel investors.

A competition between venture- and growth-stage companies in Portland that operate in the outdoors industry.

A pitch competition held by The Indus Entrepreneurs at their annual TiE Northwest conference. Companies compete for audience and judge’s choice awards.

A segment of TechFestNW that showcases startups and holds a competition between them for a prize package that includes money.

How to Prepare Your Pitch to Investors


Co-working Spaces:

CENTRL Office has 2 locations in Portland, both of which boast working and community spaces as well as “on-site service like a boutique hotel”.

Located in Northeast Portland, Clean Slate offers 24-hour access to their working space.

Collective Agency offers cozy and relaxed places to work on daily, monthly, and yearly plans.

A co-working space with hot desk, private desk, and private office levels of membership.

Portland is just one city that serves as a home for one of Hatch’s co-working spaces, which focus on providing space for innovators and entrepreneurs who aim to improve communities.

Office space with an 11th floor view, high-speed fiber internet, and even a ping pong table.

Pep consists of 7 desks in a 300 square feet office space with big windows and high ceilings that make the space feel bigger.

One of the first co-working spaces in Portland, TENpod has multiple locations around the city to better serve the community.

WeWork offers co-working spaces in several cities across the nation, including Portland, which has 2 separate locations.


Maker spaces:

14,000 square feet of working space that includes wood, metal, print, and jewelry shops, as well as a digital design bridge.

Offers hourly rates for access to a number of tools and services like 3D printing, welding, and laser cutting.

Located at Portland Community College, the PCC MakerLab includes everything needed to prototype anything.

Offers plenty of space to work with tech-related items as well as a wood shop and a large back lot for outdoor gatherings or projects.



Looks to invest in and incubate startups that can advance automotive technology.

An incubator for culinary entrepreneurs that provides help and support as well as access to a fully-stocked commercial kitchen and event space.

Part of the Incubatenergy Network, Oregon BEST gives money and support to Oregon-based cleantech startups.

An incubator program specifically for bioscience companies in Oregon.

Incubation for businesses in the Greater Portland Metro Area that are at least 50% owned by PSU alumni, students, or staff.



Helps early-stage startups in all sectors with under 50 employees raise capital and grow as a business.

Offers a variety of services to spark acceleration of the startup’s journey so the entrepreneur can succeed.

Focuses on science and technology startups around the Beaver State.

Calling itself a “scalerator”, Starve Ups looks to invest in companies during any stage of their growth and help them thrive.

Headquartered in Portland but open to companies around the world, TenX offers a variety of different programs to help startups reach milestones.

Offers a 3-to-6-month accelerator program to early-stage tech companies.

Looking for an Accelerator? The Accelerator Search Tool can help!



Students at the University of Portland can minor in Entrepreneurship or join the Entrepreneur Scholars program.

In addition to a Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and an Entrepreneurship Club, PSU also offers an Entrepreneurship Certificate.

Offers a Social Entrepreneurship degree, which prepares students to create startups that can address societal challenges.


Angel Groups/VCs:

An early-stage fund that invests in “under-served entrepreneurs with disruptive ideas and products.”

Invests between $100,00 and $2 million in businesses in any stage located in Oregon or Southwest Washington.

Seeks to invest in great early-stage companies located in Portland and the Pacific Northwest in all sectors.

With several locations in the Pacific Northwest, Seven Peaks Ventures invests in software-driven technologies.

Invests in early stage startups that are in an undersupplied field, such as food and beverage production.

Invests primarily in early-stage software, cloud, and big data applications throughout the Pacific Northwest and California.


Entrepreneurial Newsletter Coverage:

The Entrepreneur’s Organization has a branch in Portland that offers a newsletter to help readers stay on top of entrepreneurial news and events.

The Portland-specific branch of The Business Journal offers a newsletter about all newsworthy business happenings in the city.

SCORE is part of a nonprofit organization dedicated to the formation and success of small businesses.

A newsletter covering “all things entrepreneurial” at Portland State University.


Are you familiar with entrepreneurial ecosystem infrastructure in Portland not included in the article above?  If so, let us know via a comment below, and we will add it to the article. 

Interested in Ecosystem Spotlights of other cities in the USA?

Tampa, FloridaGreensboro, North Carolina, Austin, Texas

Article by Quinn Pilkey

Quinn Pilkey

Quinn is a journalism major at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He also serves as a freelance author for Hashtag Basketball where he writes about the NBA's Charlotte Hornets and at FundingSage where he researches and writes about entrepreneurial ecosystems.