September 04, 2014

Startup PDX Challenge

Six startup businesses have made the cut to win the second annual Startup PDX Challenge. This year’s Challenge focused on finding entrepreneurs with diverse founding teams and the ambition to scale to a national or international market. Each company will receive 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.

In addition to the six winners, five companies have been named merit finalists and will each receive a package valued at $4,000.

The Challenge drew a field of 134 applicants, narrowed first to 19 semi-finalists and then to the six winners and five merit finalists by a selection committee which interviewed the representatives of each semi-finalist company. The winners represent both industry and demographic diversity. The full group encompasses developers of new consumer products, technology and services, and includes eight startups with women founders; five with African American founders; three with Asian founders; two with Native American founders; and one with Latino founders.

Patrick Quinton, PDC Executive Director, said, “We were thrilled with the response to this year’s call for diverse founding teams that will help us develop a more inclusive innovation community. We look forward to welcoming the winning entrepreneurs to our expanding network of experienced, innovative companies competing in the global economy.”

The six winners, all from the Portland metropolitan area, are 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; NoAppFee, a technology solution to rental market problems for landlords and tenants; Design + Culture Lab, a research-based urban social lab addressing issues of cultural, racial and ethnic inequality; and Tique Box, a subscription service for specialty items from local artisans.

Merit finalists are Genki Su; GRASP; VDO Interpreters; and Carehubs, from the Portland area; and ICOM of Atlanta, GA, which was also the winner of the public vote.

The Challenge winners will move into the Old Town/Chinatown space in early October; a meet and greet event took place on Thursday, September 25 to welcome them to the neighborhood. See below for photos from the welcome event.