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Oregon Grads Attend and Compete at the Willamette Angel Conference

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.20150514_112857
  • 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.20150514_133453
  • 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.20150514_135813

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.

Written by Jenny Palm

Jenny a current Oregon MBA and Graduate Teaching Fellow in the Lundquist Center for Entrepreneurship. When she is not busy exploring how she can change the world, you can find her outside doing almost anything...especially finding that secret stash of powder on her skis! She has hopes to either help develop an awesome outdoor-oriented start-up or flex her organizational prowess in ski resort event operations.

GVLIC Go Ducks

Winning the Day @ Global Venture Labs in Austin, TX

The following was announced and written by Nathan Lillegard, Center Director for the Lundquist Center for Entrepreneurship on May 9, 2015:

I am pleased to share news about a successful campaign by our students from the Oregon MBA and Oregon Law School at the Global Venture Labs Investment Competition (formerly MOOT Corp) this past weekend at the University of Texas at Austin.

For the first time ever the University of Oregon placed 2 teams in the semifinal round. To put that in perspective, there were 33 teams that started the competition on Thursday, with 10 advancing to the semis. That’s 20% of the top 30% representing the UO – not bad! This is the best showing for our program at this competition in many years. I couldn’t be more proud of their efforts.

Our teams:

Airfit – Second year MBAs Cynthia Sandall and Ty Manegold have brought a concept to life. The idea, fitness facilities in airports behind TSA, is simple. The execution of the concept and the actual market launch of the concept is quite complicated. I applaud their tenacity of research and the way they’ve leveraged every possible LCB class project to gather amazing customer research and build a great plan. You will see the first location in SFO within a year and JFK shortly thereafter. They’ve made this real and are launching. Bravo!

Cricket Flours – Charles Wilson (2015 JD) and Omar Ellis (2015 MBA), with help early on from Paul Butler (JD/MBA) successfully pitched their cricket based protein powder business to the judges in a way that focused on their deep understanding of customers, the business model, and their markets while far overcoming anyone’s “You want me to eat what?” objections. Their best customer validation? How about a half dozen or so orders from judges and other competitors over the past 2 days? They have a rapidly growing business that will be a great success story.

I thank the many staff and faculty members who have helped our teams develop into poised and confident entrepreneurs. Specifically, I want to thank Allan Cochrane, my co-instructor for MGMT 625 and the Venture Startup courses. Al has logged many miles and hours helping prepare ‘investor ready’ teams. Additional thanks goes to Michael Crooke and John Hull who have given these teams countless tips and spent a good deal of time coaching them individually and as teams. I should also recognize the contributions of Randy Swangard, who was in attendance as the head of the GVLIC rules committee and without whom the program to do all of this wouldn’t exist. Every faculty member who has taught any class to these fine students should give themselves a pat on the back, as the overall education of our students is outstanding and it shows when we’re up against some of the brightest minds in the world and come out successful.

Although their journey ended in the semi-finals (the competition is tough and only 4 of 10 teams advanced) I am 100% confident that we’ll soon have two more inspiring stories of Oregon MBA led student startups. Success at these competitions shows the depth of research they’ve done and their commitment to making their ideas real. At the end of the day, that’s why we (faculty and staff) do what we do – to inspire students to be the best they can be and reach higher than they might think they can. That is Winning the Day, that is what we do.

Written by Jenny Palm

Jenny a current Oregon MBA and Graduate Teaching Fellow in the Lundquist Center for Entrepreneurship. When she is not busy exploring how she can change the world, you can find her outside doing almost anything...especially finding that secret stash of powder on her skis! She has hopes to either help develop an awesome outdoor-oriented start-up or flex her organizational prowess in ski resort event operations.

Pitch stream

UO Dominates Pitch Stream

The first Saturday in May was a busy day! Not only was it the Kentucky Derby but it was also the Spring Scrimmage game for our football team (Oregon won). However, the most important event was the second annual Pitch Stream hosted by the Fertilab Thinkubator, a local resource network for the Eugene entrepreneurial community. Pitch Stream was held at the Wildish Theater in Springfield and awarded over $5000 in cash and prizes for the winners. 16 companies were selected to present a 7 minute pitch (3 minutes for Q & A) about the awesomeness of their value propositions. Kimmy Gustafson, last year’s winner, Fertilab community manager, and start up CEO, kept the event running smoothly and on time.  Not a small task for entrepreneurs.  Kimmy and her husband Nathan (both UO alms) started Manage My Co-Op, a software platform to ease the coordination of orders for buying clubs.  We were lucky enough to have our two MBA Venture Track teams complete: Cricket Flours and AirFit. I am not sure if it was the luck of the draw or a deliberate arrangement, but Charles B. Wilson started the contest off with a fantastic presentation promoting the health benefits of adding milled crickets to your diet and Cynthia Sandall ended the competition by introducing gyms in airports post security to increase your healthy options during layovers.  Capitalizing on primacy and recency effects, Cynthia took home the People’s Choice award and Charles Wilson took home the grand prize of $2500 in cash. Way to represent Oregon Entrepreneurship, teams!!

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Oregon is quite an outdoorsy and health conscious state. But, who says that work and travel need to get in the way of that?  Oregon MBAs and JDs see the potential for everyone to live healthy lives amongst the ever increasing busyness of our daily schedules.  Having the opportunity to exercise over layovers will disrupt the traditional use of time at major airports and help you not miss your daily workout.  And, using crickets as a source of protein in your everyday diet is not only more environmentally sustainable than traditional sources, but provides the opportunity for people to increase the protein and nutrient density in everyday foods.  (Don’t worry, the crickets are milled so fine you can’t even tell they are there.  Once you try it you will get over any ick factor you may have.  Trust me!)

The Entrepreneurship Center at the University of Oregon produces companies in all shapes and sizes. With help from the community, I know these teams will make it far! What is up next for these amazing ventures is the University of Texas at Austin Global Venture Labs Investment Competition held May 7-9, 2015.  Cricket Flours and AirFit will go up against the best graduate venture teams in the country. However, the academic framework, extensive faculty support of Nathan Lillegard and Al Cochrane, and individual drive will no doubt give our teams a fighting chance. If you are in Austin, swing on by the competition and introduce yourself. Who knows, you may be the next great Oregon Entrepreneur!

Written by Jenny Palm

Jenny a current Oregon MBA and Graduate Teaching Fellow in the Lundquist Center for Entrepreneurship. When she is not busy exploring how she can change the world, you can find her outside doing almost anything...especially finding that secret stash of powder on her skis! She has hopes to either help develop an awesome outdoor-oriented start-up or flex her organizational prowess in ski resort event operations.

Fused Machine

Undergrads Display Entrepreneurial Chops in Civil War Shark Tank

The UO vs OSU Civil War Shark Tank competition shares similarities with ABC’s Shark Tank, however it has a different impact on its audience. Instead of watching strangers who are typically older, not college-age individuals, in this contest the competitors are my peers. I know the hard work they’ve put into bringing their ideas to fruition and watching them compete in this event makes me want to push my own boundaries too. One of the most distinctive things about this undergrad event is that students get direct feedback, both criticism and praise, from professionals within a range of business industries. This year marked the third annual event for the friendly competition between the two rival schools, and the first time OSU has been the host. During this year’s event, OSU added an elevator pitch free-for-all competition. Adding this mini event provided all attendees—including me—with the opportunity to use their creativity and brainstorming power.

Some contestants have never even pitched before, and have accelerated their idea in a matter of weeks to be showcased in this event. Students have entered industries that I wouldn’t have thought possible at our age. Last year it was health care and this year it was pay-per-click budgeting. At Shark Tank I get to witness students like me put their best foot forward and be courageous. The innovations that students come up with are inspiring not just in nature, but in the efforts that their creators have put into the product or service. Orchid Health, the winner of last year’s competition, has since won numerous other funding opportunities and have had their primary care clinic running for almost a year now.

Entrepreneurship requires immense creativity and tenacity, qualities that are applicable beyond just the business world, which is why I am so drawn to it. Entrepreneurs and the innovation they bring are needed in all industries. While there is an element of competition, it’s a very positive atmosphere. Students and professionals get to connect and share ideas. The main competition also gives the participants invaluable feedback in order to allow them to further improve and flourish, and for some, capital investment to help them get business going. I look forward to continuing this tradition between the University of Oregon and Oregon State entrepreneurship programs, and next year we will be back on Duck turf.

—Katie Breeden ’17 

About Katie: I am the current president of the UO Entrepreneurship Club and loving every minute of it. I plan to graduate in spring 2017 with a double major in business (with a concentration in marketing) and digital arts. If I have time, I’ll also pick up a product design minor. Creativity and design are two of my biggest passions. Aside from the Entrepreneurship Club I am a member of the Business Honors Program, Kappa Alpha Theta, and work with the Lundquist College of Business Job Shadow Program. One day I hope to own my own marketing and design company located somewhere in the Pacific Northwest.

Katie Breeden is president of the college’s 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.

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SPRNG 2015

Net Impact is something of an intriguing mystery. At first glance, the name doesn’t necessarily describe what the club is about, but one step into one of their club meetings or events and the name suddenly makes sense.

Sustainable business. What is it? On whose standards is business sustainable? These questions and the reasons people take to combine the two are explored in Net Impact. One annual event they put on expresses sustainable business in the best way possible.

The 3rd Annual SPRNG Conference took place in at the UO White Stag Block in Portland on Thursday, April 23. The event brought together university students, faculty, and speakers representing industries as diverse as finance, non-profit, and architectureto share and explore how business can be sustainable. This year’s theme focused on sustainability in unexpected places, and it was brought to life through the speaker’s stories of challenge and triumph.

The night opened with a live jazz band as the backdrop to an in-depth networking reception where students, speakers, and representatives from various Pacific Northwest sustainable businesses could meet and learn from each other.

The first keynote speaker was Amy Jarvis, a mechanical engineer at ZGF Architects, a firm whose mark is felt on the UO campus through projects such as the Jacqua Center and Casanova Center. Jarvis explained how the design stage is the point at which all environmental impacts can be reduced from the get-go. Instead of mitigating the effects of polluting buildings, why not eliminate the polluting factors in the design stage? She also explained the use of eco-districts, the practice of deliberately integrating resources and materials within the existing network of a downtown or community area. New hospital under construction and it needs a rehabilitation fitness center? Partner with the local YMCA for this service to conserve space, build less, and forge community relationships.

The conference further explored sustainable business through a panel discussion of the sharing economy. Jim Huston of the Portland Seed Fund and Oregon Public Broadcasting moderated a diverse panel that included David Kenney of Oregon BEST; Carrie Hearne of Climate Solutions; Franklin Jones of B-Line Sustainable Urban Delivery; Carolynn Duncan of the Northwest Social Venture Fund; and Holly Meyer of NW Natural. The panel was illuminating and was a powerful expression of sustainability in unexpected places.

The night closed out with Justin Zeulner of the Green Sports Alliance. He spoke to the power and message of sports and how it can be effectively leveraged to incite meaningful impact that benefits the environment and communities.

The unexpectedness of the evening’s theme had a parallel in the unexpected source of the conference’s organizers: speakers and professionals attending the conference were surprised to learn that undergraduate students were not only the hosts and but also the team that developed the conference. The Net Impact Undergraduate Chapter not only represented the University of Oregon positively it also inspired SPRNG attendees with a call to action and left them with a better understanding of sustainable business.

—Patrick Wrobel ’15

About Patrick: I am graduating this spring with a double major in accounting and geography. In Net Impact at first I was an observer, content to get along with the other members but not really commit to anything. Then I attended the first SPRNG conference and decided to get involved. I spent my junior to senior year as the VP of finance and operations directing major projects such as the coffee shop sustainability survey and the second SPRNG Conference. Finally I took the reins, surprising myself as president of the undergraduate club. It has been a fine experience that included its share of challenges and triumphs, but it definitely gave expression to the fact that anything worth anything is at least a little bit challenging.

I will be moving up to Portland to start work at an accounting firm. My dream career is to create something people will love in an area that did not know it needed it. In all honesty, I would be content grilling the best fish tacos on the West Coast, in a space attached to a craft brewery which I would also operate.

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.