Startup PDX Challenge was an annual competition designed to connect startups to Portland’s growing entrepreneurial ecosystem and assist the businesses for one year through their early stage growth.

Contact: Katherine Krajnakemail

While Portland has a vibrant startup community, our startup companies lack enough diverse leadership. We seek to change that. For that reason, the Startup PDX Challenge class is intentionally diverse and inclusive

If you are working on a startup that has the potential to serve a national or international market and you are looking for a diverse community of other founders like you, the Startup PDX Challenge could be a great fit. We are looking for diverse founding teams that have the potential to build great companies and desire a peer-to-peer environment.

As opposed to a fast-paced, 90-day accelerator, this program plays out over the course of a year for several reasons.  First, learning how to get your startup off the ground will take time, and we want to give you the resources and support that work on your own learning and company schedule. Second, we find a year-long program is a better way to build the intentionally diverse and inclusive startup community we are seeking to create here in Portland.

Pitch Practice.
We do not hold our own demo day but will ask you to apply to pitch events here in town or around the state, and we will help you refine your pitch when you are ready.  Some examples of that include Angel Oregon, TiE Pitchfest, and Bend Venture Conference.

We will connect you to other organizations and resources in the startup ecosystem and to mentors in ourProsper Portland and PIE networks, and above all, we help you thrive in a community you never knew existed in Portland. Being an entrepreneur is hard. It’s hard to find the right mentors, the right resources and support – this program gives you that.  We know it’s important to find mentors that you can relate to, and we have a diverse mentor network to draw from that wants to help you succeed. You will be exposed to mentors, investors, and advisors via speaking engagements, workshops, and office hours.  It is our job to regularly check in with the companies to understand your needs and get you connected to the right mentors.

Past Participants.
Our companies are diverse in both industry and demographics. Take a look at our past winners to get a sense of past Startup PDX Challenge participants. We’re happy to put you in touch with alumni companies so you can better understand if this program is a good fit for you.

Challenge winners receive a package valued at more than $50,000 per company!

What you get:

  • Free rent for a year in beautiful historic space in Old Town/Chinatown
  • Peer-to-peer support environment with other startups
  • Access and referrals to mentors and advisors via a partnership with Portland Incubator Experiment
  • Up to $25,000 in the form of a convertible note or a low interest loan
  • Press, blogs, and social media coverage
  • Access to the Portland entrepreneurial ecosystem with one-year memberships in Oregon Entrepreneurs Network, Technology Association of Oregon, and PSU Business Accelerator (affiliate membership)
  • Free package of professional services including legal, accounting, human resources, and marketing.
  • Free memberships and access to six different organizations and programs that focus on entrepreneurs

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Past Winners

Six startup businesses with diverse founders won the third annual Startup PDX Challenge. The continued emphasis on diversity in the 2015 Challenge built upon Prosper Portland’s ongoing commitment to inclusive entrepreneurship and increasing high wage jobs in the innovation economy for underrepresented populations.

The six winners, all from the Portland metropolitan area:

A big thanks to our sponsors:

SPC sponsors 2015

Six startup businesses made the cut to win the second annual Startup PDX Challenge. The 2014 Startup PDX Challenge focused on finding entrepreneurs with diverse founding teams and the ambition to scale to a national or international market. Each company received a package valued at $50,000, with a $15,000 working capital grant, a full year of rent-free office space at 115 SW Ash in Portland’s Old Town/Chinatown, and free professional advice, memberships and services.

The six winners, all from the Portland metropolitan area:

  • Yellow Scope, a creator of rigorous science kits just for girls;
  • RAFT Syrups, which brews organic botanical and cane sugar syrup for cocktails and home soda making;
  • Society Nine, a fight gear and activewear apparel brand for women;
  • Design + Culture Lab, a research-based urban social lab addressing issues of cultural, racial and ethnic inequality;
  • Tique Box, a subscription service for specialty items from local artisans. (Note: Tiquebox has dissolved and each founders has moved on to start a new business: With Love from PDX and Clientjoy); and
  • Noappfee, a technology solution to rental market problems for landlords and tenants.
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Merit finalists : Genki SuGRASPVDO Interpreters; and Carehubs, from the Portland area; and ICOM of Atlanta, GA, which was also the winner of the public vote.

In the first Startup PDX Challenge, each of the 6 winners received a $10,000 working capital grant, a full year of rent-free office space in Portland’s Produce Row, and free professional advice and services.

The Challenge drew a field of 240 applicants, narrowed first to 16 companies and then to the six finalists by a selection committee which considered each semi-finalist’s application, personal interview, and the results of a public online vote in determining the winners. The Challenge winners then co-located in office space at 1220 SE Grand Avenue, in the heart of Portland’s Central Eastside.



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