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This Was a Hard Month to Launch a Startup. Unless It’s a Meditation App.

As the godfather of Portland’s startup scene, Rick Turoczy says many of the companies at his incubator are still figuring out what COVID-19 means for them.

WW presents “Distant Voices,” a daily video interview for the era of social distancing. Our reporters are asking Portlanders what they’re doing during quarantine.

Rick Turoczy keeps watch over businesses that are too small to fail.

As the godfather of Portland's startup scene, Turoczy says many of the companies at his incubator are still figuring out what COVID-19 means for them. "Most of them have seen no decline in revenue, because they weren't generating revenue anyway," Turoczy says.

Not everyone is suffering. This was a really good year to launch a meditation app, Turoczy says. Or an app that helps teenagers manage their mental health.

It's in character for Turoczy to find the silver lining in a pandemic—and to talk about it with bracing honesty.

For more than a decade, Rick Turoczy has been a vital connector in the Portland startup scene. His résumé runneth over, starting with his role as co-founder and manager of Portland Incubator Experiment, which last year celebrated its 10th anniversary as the granddaddy of Portland startup accelerators.

He is author of the tech blog Silicon Florist, where he opines on everything from the deal flow surrounding local startups to mental health problems among founders. He helps steer Business for a Better Portland, an independent chamber of commerce (Zepeda, who runs the startup Switchboard, co-founded the guild with him). He co-founded Built Oregon, a consumer product startup accelerator. He's at the center of conversations about the Innovation Quadrant—a collaborative project of higher-ed institutions, governments and businesses that aims to create a "center of gravity" for inventions. And he was instrumental in getting TechfestNW (the largest startup and tech event in Oregon, produced by WW) off the ground.

Throughout, he has done so with a style people describe as both supportive and savvy.

That style is being tested by COVID-19. But when we spoke to him last week, Turoczy was in good spirits. He offered a frank appraisal of which businesses will thrive in a new economy, and which ones deserve to fail.