FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Portland, Ore. — August 30, 2021— The Technology Association of Oregon (TAO) today announced the official launch of its Founders Investing In Founders (FIIF) program, a new initiative designed to create economic growth and increase diversity in tech by helping startups led by traditionally underrepresented founders build strong companies and advance to the next level.
In early 2020, the TAO saw a need to ensure greater gender and racial equity in the organization’s executive engagement programming for early-stage companies. Soon after that came the COVID-19 pandemic’s disruption of the global economy, threatening the viability of nearly half of small businesses in the Pacific Northwest alone. The need was clear: at a time of unique challenges, startups needed mentorship, guidance, and resources to help them not just survive but thrive.
“The Founders Investing In Founders program enables traditionally underrepresented entrepreneurs to access the benefits of TAO membership, the expertise of founders who have walked before them, and the support of the greater Oregon tech community,” said Skip Newberry, President and CEO of TAO. “Successful tech entrepreneurs are able to pay it forward while strengthening our region’s innovation economy.”
The inaugural business leaders of FIIF committed to an initial pilot program consisting of support for early-stage startups for up to three years. With deep roots in the tech industry, each of the investing founders brings a unique set of skills, experiences, and perspectives to the participating startups, many of which came to the FIIF program through partnerships between TAO and some of the area’s leading incubator and accelerator programs, including the OSU Advantage Accelerator, OTRADI/Oregon Bioscience Incubator, Portland Incubator Experiment (PIE), and the Portland State Business Accelerator (PSBA).
“The past year’s unprecedented events have had an enormous impact on many entrepreneurs and small businesses,” said Ivo Lucas, CEO and Founder of 24Notion. “I am excited to partner with TAO to revive the Pacific Northwest and beyond. We want to give back to communities, rebuild cities, and help those who are in need. Entrepreneurship is the key to innovation and success, and an important part of rebuilding will be to reinvest in our businesses, starting with our region, in order to bring jobs back.”
The six inaugural founders are:
- Mat Ellis, Founder & CEO, Thryve@Work & Co-Founder & former CEO of Cloudability
- Monica Enand, Founder & CEO of Zapproved
- Jim Gochee, COO of Castle & former CPO of NewRelic
- Ivo Lukas, Founder & CEO of 24Notion
- Allie Magyar, Founder & CEO of Hubb
- Jill Nelson, Founder & former CEO of Ruby.com
Investing founders will contribute time, money, and resources towards the success of participating entrepreneurs. That may include mentorship, business counsel, and strategy, as well as access to sources of funding. Participating startup entrepreneurs will also enjoy free membership in TAO, with quarterly events and networking opportunities throughout the year.
To date, the FIIF program has 46 participating startups, with 43% led by woman founders and 39% led by founders who identify as Black, Indigenous, or people of color.
“Becoming a member of TAO through the Founders Investing In Founders program has helped us raise the visibility of our startup and tap into a wide network of potential mentors and investors,” said Shahrzad Vossoughi, Co-Founder of SaF.
“As an early-stage founder, I’m always recruiting; new team members, new customers, new partners, new investors,” said Sourabh Kothari, Co-Founder and CEO of Mindcurrent. “TAO’s Founders Investing in Founders program gave Mindcurrent access to key players across Oregon, and we’re so grateful for the opportunities and amazing tech leaders we’ve met through this program.”
Businesses are eligible to participate if they have a BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, or woman founder and are less than 3 years old with under $500,000 annual recurring revenue (ARR). Program benefits include free membership in TAO for 3 years or until the business reaches $500,000 ARR; access to TAO events, networking, and mentorship opportunities; free consultation with TAO’s cohort of Executives-in-Residence; and a range of funding opportunities. To apply for the FIIF program, simply email firstname.lastname@example.org and indicate that you would like to be considered.
Anyone interested in becoming an investing founder is encouraged to reach out to TAO by submitting this form.
TAO is a local nonprofit working to build opportunities, better our economy and unify a voice for innovation in Oregon and beyond. A recognized leader in shaping and growing technology and business communities, TAO empowers businesses and entrepreneurs through networks, events, advocacy, resources and more. With over 475 member companies, TAO’s network brings together some of the largest companies in the world, small startups, and tech-enabled companies that are using technology to drive growth and innovation. For more information, please visit www.techoregon.org.
For Media Inquiries, Contact:
Technology Association of Oregon