Entrepreneurial Workshop for UP Students

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.

Pitching at Bend Venture Conference

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

Winning InventOR

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.

TWO Wins at 100k Venture Comp

We participated in the University of Portland Franz Center for Entrepreneurship annual 100k Challenge Venture Competition and took 2nd place – twice!


Dagan is currently a student at the Univeristy of Portland involved with a program called Entrepreneurship Scholars. Part That program has been instrumental in bringing Produce Mate to the point it’s at now. At the end of the program, all of the student entrepreneurs on campus are invited to give a 6 minute presentation to a panel of esteemed judges (many of who were E-Scholars themselves!) and answer a short round of questioning.

After this preliminary round, we move to the finals, where they present again to a new set of judges.

Participants choose to run in several different categories, in our case we ran the Business Route and the Invention Route:

Business Route: We took second place!

Invention Route: We took second place, advancing us on to the InventOR statewide competition later this summer.

What’s Next? Our 2nd place victory in the invention category means that we’ve been invited to participate in PSU’s InventOR competition!

Lots more to come about InventOR in the near future. Until then! -Dagan