Steve Morris 28 January 2008
Entrepreneur, startup coach, hobbyist technologist, former DJ
Steve Morris’ day job is Executive Director of the Open Technology Business Center (OTBC), an incubator for high-tech startups in Beaverton, Oregon where he leads a staff of 3 part-time people and 13 Entrepreneurs in Residence who help high-tech startups validate their market, solidify their plan, build their team, and obtain the funding they need to grow. He regularly participates in business plan reviews at local universities (PSU, University of Portland, University of Oregon, OHSU, etc.) and volunteers with the Oregon Entrepreneurs Forum.
Steve’s evening/weekend job is Managing Director of OregonStartups.com which provides a website with a lot of how-to information for startups, and publishes a weekly newsletter for entrepreneurs, summarizing news items and providing a comprehensive list of upcoming local events of interest to startups. His “hobby project” is TymFinder.com, a web-based schedule mark-up tool designed to help a group of people find a time to meet (… created as a result of his own frustration in how hard it is to schedule meetings).
Previous professional achievements include founding, funding, and serving as CEO of a technology startup (just as the market was hitting the skids in 2001 – not a fun time to fund a company). Prior to that, he had worked at technology companies such as Hewlett Packard, Cadence, Credence, Integrated Measurement Systems and Mentor Graphics.
And the DJ gig was a long time ago.
Steve lives in Durham (10 miles south of Portland) with his daughter Emily and their mixed-lab still-thinks-she’s-a-65lb-puppy dog named Daphne.
What are you up to?
Working to build a successful track record for OTBC — which is still a pretty young organization (2 graduates so far). Working with the Kaufman Foundation to bring Kaufman’s entrepreneurial training to Portland — because it makes sense to give first-time CEOs as much of an advantage as they can get. I’m in the middle of trying to coordinate the visit of a group of open source technologists from Japan (they visit Portland in late February). And trying to figure out how to get in more fly fishing next summer!
What are you into?
Indian cooking (I’m very much a novice); fly fishing; amateur radio (although I have to admit not being on the air much lately!); cross country skiing; PHP programming (and I use the word “programming” loosely…); entrepreneurship; and high-tech toys.
What do you like most about Portland?
What I like most is Oregon. As a native of the eastern part of the state — Portland is great, but let’s face it, it rains too much. (And it doesn’t have the Pendleton Round Up.) But Oregon overall is great for the outdoor diversity (desert in the southeast part of the state; coastal rain forest to the west; and pretty much everything else in between). Portland is the perfect size – big enough to have interesting events and cultural opportunities and diversity, but not too big.
How did you end up at a non-profit instead of a startup?
Still trying to figure that out. I certainly know the private sector better! But OTBC was a great opportunity to work with lots of early-stage startups — and actually get paid for it. It’s fun. And I believe in the mission. One thing Oregon needs, in order to attract more investment money from venture capitalists (yes, that money has drawbacks, but sometimes you just need it…), is more startup successes. If OTBC can increase the odds of that happening just a bit, then it’s a good investment.
Aside from that, OTBC is my next startup…
Were you really a teen age disc jockey?
Yes, being a geek at a young age, I obtained a First Class Radiotelephone license when I was a Junior in high school. I was by far the cheapest hire the local station could find since I could spin vinyl while also doing the FCC- required monitoring of the transmitter. (I wish I could say they hired me for my talent — but I’m afraid it’s just that I was cheap.) But even at minimum wage, playing records in an air conditioned studio sure beat working the wheat harvest in those hot east-Oregon summers!