Accelerating the Oregon consumer products ecosystem from the ground up

In 2017, Built Oregon experienced a hectic transition year. Based on our exploration of the Oregon economy, we identified a clear opportunity to provide support for the consumer products industries in the state. To pursue that opportunity, we transitioned our organization to a 501(c)3 nonprofit focused on supporting that consumer product ecosystem.

As if that weren’t enough turmoil, we wrote a Medium post outlining the vision for a festival highlighting that ecosystem and launched said festival, Then, we announced our intention to launch an accelerator focused on consumer product companies. Finally—and most importantly—we worked to create partnerships and collaborations all centered on making Oregon the hub of consumer product entrepreneurship and innovation.

Looking back it seems like a lot. And for a ragtag group of volunteers that oversaw the charge, it was a bit tiring. But our excitement in seeing people react so positively to the vision completely overshadowed any exhaustion.

But now it’s 2018. It’s time to do things. Well, more things.

I’ll start off by first saying, yes, there will be a Built Up Festival later this year. Details will be coming out over the next month or two. Don’t hesitate to reach out prior to the announcement if you have particular questions. Just ping us at builtup[at]builtoregon.com.

The Master Plan

(Or since we are a startup as well, the plan that has solid bones, but will most likely evolve continuously.)

Step #1: Acceleration Through Knowledge
Practically every day of the year, I meet someone new in the consumer product ecosystem that blows my mind.

Companies that seem small until you realize they are going north of $1 million in revenue or looking to hire multiple people over the next year. New ideas and concepts that will be industry leading from an innovation standpoint. And established companies that have built important and solid businesses around Oregon without the need for accolades or endorsements and are the epitome of the term “aggressively humble.”

Mentors—and potential mentors—that have decades of industry experience and willing to give time back to the next generation of founders. Experienced and passionate people looking to get engaged with the community in ways from mentoring to potentially joining teams.

Capital partners and business support organizations looking to dive in and help accelerate Oregon’s consumer product industries.

… And on and on.

But the missing pieces to really accelerate the ecosystem are knowledge and insights into the ecosystem.

We can only meet so many people. And to be honest, folks like me are single points of failure. The front door needs to be bigger and more impactful. To that end, and the first step in the launch of the Built accelerator, is to gather baseline information about the ecosystem. Information on company size, location, product, revenue, connection to Oregon (headquarters, regional hub, etc).

This information will allow us to define what the accelerator looks like, industry gaps to work on with partners, and invaluable insights that will allow us to work hard to increase peer to peer opportunities and connections to mentors and talent.

[ Built Consumer Product Survey ]

Step #2: Create the Space
One of the things that has always been apparent, is that there needs to be a space. A place where the community can connect — founders, mentors, peers, and the ecosystem partners. A place that becomes the default front door of the community.

After years of meetings at various coffee shops and happy hours, we see that need as well.

To that end, Built is working on a space that will become that front door. A place for the community to check in and revolve around. A space where our focus will be to create a vibrant, inclusive, and collaborative statewide ecosystem through local and regional partnerships with organizations like Bend Outdoor Worx, Food Northwest, AO Portland, RAIN Eugene, EDCO, Hacienda CDC, NAYA PDX, Soul District, Starve Ups, Design Museum, Ecotrust, Portland Made, OSU Advantage Accelerator, SBDC, Oregon Angel Fund, Greater Portland Inc, Travel Oregon, and TAO (and so many more).

Step #3: Amplification
We love storytelling. We love highlighting companies, products and regions on our social networks. We love talking about all the incredible things Oregon based consumer product companies have going on from acquiring new sales channels, expanding production, hiring, and capital raises.

And this where you can help.

Tell us what you have going on. Think of us as the Oregon consumer product news channel. A channel that is super accessible and focused on highlighting statewide activity. Our passion has always been focused on positioning Oregon as the leader in consumer product entrepreneurship and innovation. But in order for that positioning to be authentic, it should be led by you — the community, companies, and founders of Oregon product companies.

Send updates, company news, and general hellos to: builtup[at]builtoregon.com

Step #4: New Brand — Same Mission
Over the past few months we have been rolling out a simpler brand identity; an identity that places the word Built squarely inside the state outline (see image at the top of this post).

Built.

Legacy companies have built incredible brands and products in Oregon. Innovations and new product categories have been built by people all over this state. Certain product industries in Oregon have been built in a way that puts them at the pinnacle of the ecosystem.

But we realize a lot of our work will revolve around the companies that are still building with the goal of helping them create sustainable businesses that they can look back on and say, I/we built that. It’s about establishing some pillars around which to build a movement that can establish a voice and message for Oregon based consumer product companies. A voice that positions the state as the leader.

These beliefs and pillars will be core to how we engage companies through the accelerator. Because to become a leader means taking a leadership role.

(to be continued)