We’ve all heard the theory that there are no more than six degrees of separation between any two people. But, can you imagine building a business in an environment where there are only two degrees of separation between you and someone who can help you? That ecosystem isn’t theoretical; it’s Oregon.
When I asked the TAO Executives in Residence (EIRs), “What makes Oregon great for business?” TAO EIR Jackie Seto quickly said that Oregon is “a very small state,” which means that in her experience, there are only two or three degrees of separation between you and the people who can help you.
Further, Jackie said, not only are people here closely connected but, “People in Oregon are so very open and supportive. It’s such a contrast to Silicon Valley where, whenever you talk to someone, you can see them calculating if you are a competitor or if they can use you. In Oregon, you can see them thinking about how they can help you.”
EIR Erick Petersen echoed Jackie’s sentiment. “I agree that there are only a few degrees of separation between people here in Oregon,” he said. “Here, day in and day out, people reach out to each other and help each other.”
Erick went on to comment that there is something to the phrase “Oregon Nice.” “When you have people who value quality of life, good hard work, and collaboration – that’s Oregon Nice. That’s present here in Bend. I see it day in and day out. A microcosm of Portland is now true in central Oregon.”
Beyond its helpful people, Jackie pointed out that Oregon also has numerous great organizations to train entrepreneurs. For example, she is not only giving back as a TAO EIR, but she is also a mentor with the XXcelerate Fund for women entrepreneurs and a volunteer in the entrepreneurship programs at OSU and George Fox.
Erick is also committed to supporting the community. For example, he is a TAO EIR, has served as a mentor and judge for OSU’s incubator and business classes, and currently serves on the boards of the non-profits Green Empowerment and the Deschutes Children’s Foundation.
Of course, Oregon-based executives can rightly be accused of a bias toward Oregon, but nothing validates a point louder than people putting money down. According to PitchBook, from 2015 to 2020, investment in new Oregon businesses grew from $154M to $529M, a CAGR of 28%. During the same period, California investment grew 12%, and Washington was up 18%.
Clearly, the people who know how to measure business success see Oregon as a good bet. Even better, in Oregon, you probably have only two or three degrees of separation from those people!
About the TAO EIR Authors
Jackie Seto is a leadership advisor and Independent Director in the Portland area. Formerly she held multiple senior-level roles at Lam Research.
Erick Petersen is a Bend-based renewable energy executive, angel investor, co-founder of Origami Solar, a non-profit board member, Principal of Spinnaker Strategy Partners, and strategic advisor for ESS, Inc.
Doug Hunter is a Portland marketing and communications leader with deep experience in growth marketing, go-to-market, communications, strategy, and product marketing.
The TAO EIRs are committed to helping technology businesses in Oregon grow by sharing their executive-level experience with TAO members. Their expertise includes accountability, engineering, executive development, finance, IT, marketing, operations, product, sales, strategic planning, and driving your startup from launch to exit.
Help Is Closer Than You Think!
"There are only a few degrees of separation between people here in Oregon. Here, day in and day out, people reach out to each other and help each other."