As I have said in previous posts, Oregon has a lot of money to spend on venture investments and Thursday held one of those amazing opportunities. The Willamette Angel Conference is one of multiple angel investor conferences held in Oregon annually. It attracts companies from all over Oregon, Washington, and California. Last year, I had the amazing opportunity to be a due diligence intern for the investors. I was able to experience looking at prospective companies through the eyes of the investors. It was wonderful to compare what I thought was important to what they thought was important. Seeing life from the other side of the table was great insight should I ever be in the pitching position someday. This year, finance turned entrepreneurship second year MBA Tommy Thwing and Warsaw turned finance second year Andrew Green were given the opportunity for due diligence. They have been working all term to help the angels effectively vet the prospective companies for their investment.
With that, multiple students made the venture to the land of orange and black to watch our friends and alumni present their ideas on the OSU campus. Below is the summary of the Oregon companies representing:
- Red Duck Foods: Pitched for growth stage investment (made it to the final five out of 32 applied companies). Red Duck was founded by Jess Hilbert (JD/MBA 2013), Karen Bonner (MBA 2013), and Shannon Oliver (MBA 2013) in 2013. Red Duck is a food company that began by making ketchup tasty again by maintaining the highest quality of organic ingredients and creative flavors. They have since expanded into organic cocktail sauce.
- Cricket Flours: Pitched for concept stage. Cricket Flours was founded in 2014 by Charles Wilson (JD 2015) and Omar Ellis (MBA 2015). They are revolutionizing the sustainable nutrition market by introducing milled crickets to our diets.
- Manage My Co-op: Pitched for concept stage. MMC was founded in 2014 by Nathan Gustafson (BS, Business/Entrepreneurship 2006) and Kimmy Gustafson (BS, Journalism, 2005). MMC is an online platform and marketplace for buying clubs. It saves time, money, and effort for coordinators by simplifying the group buying process.
All in all, there was a fun day full of great ideas and inspiration seeing all the hard work and dedication these individuals have shown to make their dreams of changing the world a reality. The keynote speaker, David Rose, founded Gust and spoke about a mile a second. While I was in slight shell shock after hearing him (my brain was not running as fast as his mouth), he had some great insights into who can be an entrepreneur. All entrepreneurs are a little crazy but it is that crazy which makes new things happen.
And now for the information you have read this whole post to learn: The growth stage winner was Moonshadow Mobile and was awarded at least $400,000 of angel equity investment as well as a complimentary update to the Keiretsu Forum, worth $5000. There is also the potential of sidecar deals with other pitching companies–details are yet to be worked out. The concept stage winner was Cricket Flours and was awarded $2500 from Palo Alto Software. There was also a people’s choice winner, Red Duck Foods. While they did not win any money, they get the bragging rights. The concept stage and people’s choice winners were selected by audience vote which made this a very interactive environment.
Oregon is a very entrepreneurial state. We have established multiple partnerships to help all ideas grow into profitable business through small investments and large amounts of mentoring. We want to see the success rate of new companies increase from 1% to the sky is the limit.