The Built Up Festival — The launch of the inaugural event

Who knew starting an entire new event idea would be hard? Ok…everyone can put their hands down now.

Well, it was about 10 months ago that I had a crazy idea about creating an event that connects and celebrates Oregon’s consumer product industries, while positioning the state as the hub of opportunity and innovation.

I wrote a Medium story about the genesis of the idea and one that expanded on the concept. We convened a group of people earlier this year to discuss the idea of this event, enabling us to explore ways to build it from the ground up. Then we socialized it further by chatting with a whole lot of people to get feedback and insights from those much more attuned to the industries.

Then, we got to work….and got quiet. Very quiet. So quiet, in fact, that apologies are in order. Or mea culpas. Or both.

I know we announced this effort with a bunch of hype and got everyone riled up just to go dark. But the good news is that that silence has had results.

Announcing the Built Up Festival, a series of consumer-goods-focused events spanning September 22–29, 2017, in Portland, Oregon. It’s something we here at Built Oregon are all happy, excited, and proud to—finally — launch publicly.

So what’s in store for year one?

Community Events

Starting on September 22nd, we will have a series of community organized events throughout Portland. These talks and discussions will range from the ins and outs of commercial real estate for consumer product companies to how to talk to a buyer to the future of consumer interaction. In addition, we will be gathering to celebrate the launch of a program with Made Here PDX to connect underserved founders to retail opportunities through a program call The 50 (more on that later).

In addition, we are organizing a “Walk for Shelley” fundraiser on September 23. Shelley Gunton was a huge influence on the vision for Built Oregon, a tireless advocate, and an unwavering supporter of the consumer product companies in Oregon. She lost her battle with cancer in 2015, but her passion continues to drive us, every single day. In her honor, we are using the festival as a platform to raise money for OHSU’s Knight Cancer Institute. We will be hosting a low key walk that will be more of a celebration and party — because we know that is what Shelley would have wanted it to be.

But this event has always been focused on the community, and as such, we are more than happy to add events to the calendar over the coming weeks. Want to host an event during the week (or even week before)? Drop us a note at builtup[at]builtoregon.com and let us know what you are thinking.

Main Event

To us, it was important in year one to really connect the dots of the consumer product legacy and impact in Oregon. It’s a legacy that is stitched together through stories, insights, and a sense of collaboration. In that vein, we have set up a series of fireside chats, conversations that will look to bridge the rich legacy and highlight the current trends and innovations.

From food and beverage to apparel, footwear, and product design the founders who are participating in these conversations have stories that will not only instigate discussions, but also inspire the next generation of consumer leaders.

After the talks, it’s time to get to work. Attendees will be able to participate in a series of roundtable discussions on the following topics:

  • The Capital Continuum — The challenges, opportunities, and unknowns around capital for consumer product companies.
  • The Story You Tell — From written to visual, how companies tell their story many times defines who they are and creates pathways for success — or failure.
  • From Idea to Market — You can have the best product in the world, but if nobody knows about it, success will be a challenge. Discuss both local and international sales opportunities.

These sessions will not only present great insights to the attendees, but just as importantly, give the Built Oregon staff knowledge and elements to build into the organization’s mission going forwards. The outcome of these efforts should be Built Oregon’s 2018 marching orders as a not for profit.

The main event will be held at Ziba Design’s incredible auditorium and office on September 29. Tickets are $85 per attendee.

Company Showcase

In our original festival outline we promoted a marketplace where companies could come together and promote the incredible products they are making to the public, but just as importantly, potential buyers and capital support. Our aim was to create an engaging event that got people talking about Oregon, and just possibly, start to create our own consumer product expo here in our state.

But what we have also learned from multiple Oregon founders we’ve talked to, there is danger in biting off more than you can chew. And so we are definitely going to do it…..it will just be in 2018.

Our goal is to live up to the expectations and vision we have for such an event. Connecting companies to opportunities and creating links to collaborative brand mash ups. Truly looking to connect these hard working founders and companies to things that can help them grow their companies.

We didn’t believe we could make this happen in a way that would impactful for the companies involved this first event. But we have a focus to build something great next year….with your input.

City Experience

One element that we’d like to — somehow — work into the mix is a “City Experience.” We hope to engage a variety of companies who, on Thursday evening, September 28th, will offer up discounts, programming, or special events in their retail spaces in association with the week’s activities. It’s a chance to have the community support all these companies and the companies to have the community experience their brands. For those without a retail location, we’re happy to work to find places to host pop ups that evening.

Final Thoughts

Built Oregon has never been about us, so we’d love the community’s feedback on the above idea. In fact, feel free to email us at builtup[at]builtoregon.com to offer up feedback or say that you’d be willing to participate in some way.

Finally, we can’t thank all the people who have given their time to help make this happen enough. The sponsors who are supporting a new event, and the agencies that are donating incredible amounts of resources towards helping us build this event out. The inaugural event does not have everything we set out to have in year one — but that can evolve over time. What we hope is that this year’s event lays the foundation upon which to build something that will truly have an impact for Oregon consumer product companies.

Thank you. Truly. Thank ALL of you.