We wanted to give some up and coming University of Portland students the chance to solve some real world problems.
We invited a select group of students into the Maker Space on campus and brainstormed solutions to some real hurdles we’ve been facing at Produce Mate. Students broke into small teams and used the principles of Design Thinking to brainstorm ideas relating to our supply chain, to our overall sustainability, to our packaging and to our marketing efforts. We were blown away by what they were able to come up with. Many ideas that were discussed that day have influenced the way we’re doing business. Thanks everyone! So why does this matter? Why write a post about it? We cannot continue with “business as usual”. Students today are more stressed than ever and feel a general responsibility to tackle global problems. It’s going to take ambitious, enlightened young leaders to truly change the powers that be. We think it’s crucial to empower students to solve real world problems. Design thinking provides a useful framework, and Produce Mate provide the problems! From there, it’s about showing students that their ideas matter. We want to help develop action-oriented critical thinkers. Plus, by giving students a glimpse into the inner workings of our business, they might gain a better sense of direction, or even feel empowered to pursue entrepreneurship.
This workshop experiment was worthwhile for us, and for the students. We learned a lot and gained valuable insights, and the students walk away having spent an out-of-the-box hour learning a new skill (design thinking) that might better prepare them to tackle some of the planet’s biggest issues. We loved putting this workshop on and would love to host more! Please reach out if you’re interested in hosting us.
BVC is emblematic of the startup culture in Oregon. The conference was incredibly inspiring, with some amazing guest speakers and many compelling business pitches competing for investment. We were invited to present a 5-minute pitch on the main stage in downtown Bend in front of Oregon’s finest entrepreneurs, angel investors, innovators, inventors and change-makers. What an experience! We weren’t competing for the big bucks, so the stress level was considerably lower than at similar events we’ve been to in the past. “It’s always such a privilege to share my passion for food systems, food waste, and Produce Mate with the world. Thanks to BVC for having me!” -Dagan
After advancing through the 100K venture challenge, we were invited to participate in the state-wide invention competition Invent Oregon.Click the image to check out their site:
Through the program, we received a lot of valuable mentorship and education. We were awarded $2,500 in development grants that helped us take Produce Mate from idea to a working prototype and on to a full fledged product. We traveled to Klamath Falls Oregon on the big day, set up a booth, and gave our pitch in front of a packed audience. It was an amazing experience to be surrounded by and to be working with so many young, ambitious entrepreneurs. InventOR truly brought the best minds in Oregon together.
We were excited and stunned when we won the “Best Pitch” award, an oversized check and quite the photo op! After a few minutes and a few other awards had been given out, the crowd settled in to hear which company would be crowned as the overall winner – Produce Mate! Truly an unforgettable moment. So much hard work and dedication went into this program. From the people who made it happen, to all the in-depth lessons, to all of the hardworking students giving it their all, we were absolutely thrilled and so humbled to have been selected the first place winner out of such a competitive and bright group. We walked away with enough prize money to help make Produce Mate a reality. It was truly a life changing experience. If you’d like to read a bit more, here’s an article written about us! Thanks to everyone involved, and here’s to the many new friendships forged.
We LOVE Oregon Entrepreneur Network! We’ve been attending events for the past 3 years and they always do a wonderful job of bringing together like-minded and hard working entrepreneurs. This year we participated in the annual “OEN Pitch Fest!” alongside 21 other companies. We each gave a 1 minute elevator pitch and the audience (150+ people!) selected four finalists to advance to the next round. Then we had 30 seconds to answer a bonus question and the crowd voted again. We took 2nd Place and walked away feeling proud to be a part of such a great community. Big congratulations to GoCamp (https://gocampcampervans.com) for taking home the big bucks:
A big thank you to all of the sponsors who made this great event happen: