Portland Site Visits: CPUsage and Salt & Straw

On a chilly Saturday in early February, fifteen undergraduate members of the University of Oregon Entrepreneurship Club took a trip up to Portland and had the opportunity to interact on-site with two very different entrepreneurs: Jeff Martins of CPUsage and Kim Malek of Salt & Straw.

Martins, the co-founder and CEO of CPUsage, a company that sets up infrastructure for businesses to do high-performance cloud computing, welcomed the club to the downtown office on Davis and Third. Students learned how he had begun just at Startup weekends with a completely different idea and—through a process of pivots, collaboration, and angel investments—now operates with four employees and works with Amazon on their cloud services.

Members of the club asked questions about everything from the benefits of operating as a tech company in Portland rather than Silicon Valley to making the transition of working as an employee for a multi-billion dollar company to starting from scratch and building a business. Martins stressed the high-risk/high-reward aspect of entrepreneurship and told the group that, even though it’s not easy, he’s “never going to work for someone else again in my life.”

At Salt & Straw in northwest Portland, members got to meet the owner and co-founder, Kim Malek. The artisanal ice cream parlor opened two-and-a-half years ago in a pushcart and is now boasting three brick-and-mortar locations in Portland and is fast expanding both locally and down the coast to Los Angeles. Malek shared her goals of creating a community-based product and described the way every aspect of her business—from the ingredients used to the training employees undergo before even scooping one cone of ice cream—is all about facilitating a local connection with and between her customers.

After the discussion, club members wrapped up the day with free scoops of Grandma Malek’s Almond Brittle with Salted Ganache ice cream.

Despite their very different products and the different industries that these two entrepreneurs operate in, they both had pretty similar advice. Success is not done on your own. It is about the relationships you build with those in the industry, the community, and your customer. Focus and flexibility are key in creating a product that consumers want. Because growth will not happen on its own, entrepreneurship is all about motivation and finding new opportunities.

Jordan Johnson ’15
Public Relations Officer
University of Oregon Entrepreneurship Club

Written by UO Business

The UO Lundquist College of Business empowers an engaged community of students, faculty, staff, and stakeholders who create, apply, and disseminate knowledge that contributes significantly to their professions, communities, and society. The college delivers a dynamic learning environment where world-class professors engage and get to know students, where students work on real projects for real companies, and where alumni go on to high-powered jobs worldwide.