On the Scene at Emma


Ever wonder what the deal is with that building on East Burnside that features three images of a woman wearing glasses, accompanied simply by the word “Emma?”

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Emma's sign on the side of the bSIDE6 building
Photo Courtesy of Emma

By Emma Hall


Anyone who has driven down SE Grand Avenue in Portland has probably noticed the sign on the bSIDE6 building at Burnside that features three images of a woman wearing glasses, accompanied simply by the word “Emma,” and wondered what goes on in that building.

Or perhaps that is just me, because I like anything that has my name on it.

So Thursday when I discovered Emma was having a launch party, I of course went to find out what exactly this company named after me did. As it turns out Emma isn’t named after yours truly, but rather is a sort of acronym for “e-mail marketing.” The company provides a platform for small to mid-sized businesses for e-mail marketing and surveying. They specialize in custom designs and real-time tracking and support.

Emma, whose tagline is “Communicate in Style,” has been around since 2002. Even though they just had their launch party, they’ve actually been in Portland since 2007. Their headquarters are in Nashville, with offices in Denver, New York City and Austin.  Although out of about 100 employees nationwide, less than a dozen people work in the Portland office, the local employee count has doubled in the past two years.

CEO and Co-Founder Clint Smith said the company chose Portland for the reasons any company chooses it: they looked at where their customers were, where there was a sense of community that large cities like Los Angeles lacked, and most importantly, where employees would want to hang out. “Portland just fits our vibe,”  Smith said.

Some of the companies Emma works with locally are Ponzi Vineyards, YMCA & YWCA, Sisters of the Road, Schoolhouse Electric, Willamette Week, and Beast.

The Portland office features green walls with “hello” in many languages printed on the wall. Polaroid cameras sat on tables during the launch party, with guests encouraged to take their picture and write on it what they like about Portland. A glass-walled conference room was filled with hors d’oeuvres from Simpatica Catering, and guests milled about sipping beer and even chatting online with the enigmatic Cristin Norine downstairs in the bSIDE6 building for the Public Isolation Project.  Norine is living alone in a two-room gallery with no privacy for a month, and can only communicate with the outside world through social media. She accepted her invitation to the party upstairs by Skyping with guests.

Platform Development Lead Kevin McConnell worked for Emma in Austin and came to Portland two and a half years ago as their first remote employee. Before joining the company he worked for a small consulting firm in the oil and gas industry, and just really didn’t enjoy it. At Emma, he loves the way the company gives back –  each year they give a free account for life to 25 different 501(c)(3) programs that their clients nominate.

Selena Deckelmann is a database analyst at Emma.  She loves working at Emma because they advocate working with open source software. “Open source software fits in with our philosophy about having really good communication,” Deckelmann said.

The most promising aspect about Emma is that they are hiring.  The exact number of hires is “open-ended,” but they are “very committed to growing,” especially looking for technology platform developers and sales and business development people.

Emma Hall is Web Editor for Oregon Business.