One of America's premier cybersecurity reporters, the founder of a Eugene electric vehicle startup, an Oregon sex-tech disruptor, and the founder of a venture fund specifically for Black-founded startups will take the virtual stage in May for TechfestNW 2021, Portland's annual gathering of entrepreneurs, innovators and investors.
As in previous years, TFNW will finish with a pitch competition—but with a big change this year. TFNW is partnering with Oregon Entrepreneurs Network to produce a competition that is providing training to startups—and sending the winning company an angel investment up to $125,000.
This year's TFNW conference theme is "Emerge"—with an emphasis on redefining entrepreneurship, creating a more inclusive tech economy, and discovering new solutions as Oregon builds back from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nicole Perlroth, who covers covers cybersecurity and digital espionage for The New York Times and whose bestselling new book, This Is How They Tell Me The World Ends: The Cyber Weapons Arms Race, unravels the cyber weapons market—"the most secretive, invisible, government-backed market on earth," one that affects virtually every company and citizen in the Northwest.
Perlroth is now at work producing an adaptation of the book for FX.
Marceau Michel, who cofounded the Black Founders Matter fund in 2018 with Himalaya Rao. Michel has taken an unlikely and remarkable path to his role of connecting investors with Black entrepreneurs. He and Rao raised more than half a million dollars last month and have invested in both traditional and unusual companies (including the publishing startup A Kids' Book About). Michel is passionate about creating opportunities to build Black wealth and address the racial wealth gap.
Mark Frohnmayer, the founder of Arcimoto, a Eugene electric vehicle company that manufactures the "Fun Utility Vehicle," a tandem two-seat, three-wheeled EV meant to fill the space between the bike and the car. He's no less fascinating a Frohnmayer than was his late father, Dave, the former state attorney general and president of the University of Oregon. Mark Frohnmayer founded his company in 2007 and has never made a profit—yet his company, which went public in 2017, is now worth more than a billion dollars.
Lora Haddock, the Bend-based founder of Lora DiCarlo, a sex toy company that uses robotics to mimic human sensations. In 2018, her company's signature toy, Osé, snagged an innovation award at the Consumer Electronics Show—only to be stripped of it later, ostensibly because it didn't fit any existing categories. The surrounding PR provided an unexpected bump, and Lora DiCarlo is now selling five toys—ranging in price from $95 to $290—to customers in the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and the European Union.
Tickets for Techfest ($25 general admission) are available now.