Contact: Shawn Uhlman, PDC, 503-823-7994
December 15, 2015
Six startup businesses with diverse founders have won the third annual Startup PDX Challenge. The continued emphasis on diversity in this year’s Challenge builds on PDC’s ongoing commitment to inclusive entrepreneurship and increasing high wage jobs in the innovation economy for underrepresented populations.
Each company will receive a package valued at more than $50,000, with up to $25,000 in a convertible note or loan, a full year of rent-free office space at 222 NW Fifth Avenue in Portland’s Old Town/Chinatown neighborhood, peer-to-peer support, access and referrals to mentors in the Portland startup ecosystem (through PDC’s partnership with PIE), professional advice and services, and one-year memberships in entrepreneurial organizations and programs.
In addition to the six finalists, the People’s Choice Award winner of the public vote will receive a package of education, co-working, and membership services.
The Challenge drew a field of 94 applicants, narrowed first to 19 semi-finalists and then to the six winners 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. All founding teams include a black and/or Latino/a founder; half of the teams have female founders; one founder is hearing-impaired; and one founder is a veteran.
Chris Harder, PDC Economic Development Manager, said, “This outstanding group of companies brings powerful stories, solid founding teams, and the potential to expand Portland’s network of experienced, innovative companies competing in the global economy. We can’t wait to welcome them all to our Old Town neighborhood.”
The six winners, all from the Portland metropolitan area, are Audibility, Inc., a headphone maker with a social mission; Morebots, creator of interactive printed children’s books that bring stories to life; Poda Foods, a supplier of food-grade, GMO-free cricket protein powder; Roberts, a “Savile Row meets Amazon” concept for custom men’s tailoring; Royalty Spirits, creator of Miru pear-flavored vodka; and Shop Hoppn, an international barber network and database/app. The People’s Choice Award went to Tanglewood Beverage Company, a specialty chai and beverage maker.
The Challenge winners will move into the Old Town/Chinatown space in early January; a meet and greet event will take place later in the month to welcome the companies to the neighborhood.