Sponsored by Oregon Business

Small hats win big bucks

| Print |  Email
Saturday, November 01, 2008


HOOD RIVER  Sometimes honesty pays. Midway through his public-funding pitch to a committee of angel investors, Peter Hixson described his company as “a three-man baseball team,” then shrugged and said, “I have no experience with taking a company from $1 million to $5 million.” A few hours later, the Gorge Angel Investors Network presented a check for $100,000 to Hixson for on-the-job training. Hixson’s Pistil Design, a fast-growing hat and fashion-accessory company, took the top prize in an entrepreneurial competition at the first of what organizers hope will be many Gorge Angel Conferences.

Hixson looked exuberant and more than slightly surprised as he and partners Tood Douglas and Forrest Jones sprang up to accept the award. “We didn’t expect to win, but we did,” beamed Hixson. Added Jones: “It was basically a cry for help — and it worked!” Their business has doubled its sales over four years and earned its way onto the shelves at REI and ski resort gift shops, but it needed a six-figure boost to push through to the next level. Pistil beat out 13 Gorge companies ranging from a network of multilingual preschools called Bambinos to an investment fund named Clean Tech Start-Ups Inc.

The well-attended event at the Hood River Inn was modeled on the Oregon Entrepreneurs Network’s successful string of biz-pitch competitions in downtown Portland, minus the “elevator pitch” theme because of Hood River’s lack of elevators.

It was an odd time to be celebrating the power of capitalism, sandwiched between several of the largest bank collapses in U.S. history. Few if any local startups will be receiving small-business loans as credit markets seize up, making the growing role of the angel investor more important than ever.

Hixson says the original plan was to invest the new cash in marketing and expanding product line, but the option has crossed his mind of just putting it into reserves. “Maybe we should just use this money as operating capital to ride out the storm. When others fail for lack of cash we will still be around.”                         


Have an opinion? E-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it



More Articles

More Than Meets the Eye

Guest Blog
Tuesday, September 22, 2015
Janet Yellen official Federal Reserve portrait-thumbBY JASON NORRIS | CFA

On September 17, the much anticipated Fed decision was delivered and the equity markets haven't liked it.


Big Trouble in China?

Guest Blog
Tuesday, August 18, 2015
0818-wellmanthumbBY JASON NORRIS | CFA

Earlier this month, the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) announced they were going to devalue their currency, the Renminbi. While the amount of the targeted change was to be roughly 2 percent, investors read a lot more into the move. The Renminbi had been gradually appreciating against the U.S. dollar (see chart) as to attempt to alleviate concerns of being labeled a currency manipulator.


Is there life beyond Reed?

September 2015
Wednesday, August 19, 2015

A storied institution climbs down from the ivory tower.


The 5 most/least expensive rental neighborhoods in Oregon

The Latest
Thursday, September 24, 2015
092515neighborhoodthumbBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

Oregon's population is booming, and so are rental costs.


Storyteller in Chief: Brew Stories

October 2015
Monday, September 28, 2015

Over the years, many mentors have taught me lessons that have helped shape the way I view the world of work and our business.


Car be gone

Linda Baker
Thursday, August 06, 2015
070615car2goblogthumbBY LINDA BAKER

Car and ride sharing services have taken urban areas by storm. Low-income and suburban communities are left at the curb.


Counterpoint: CLT not as green as people think

Contributed Blogs
Wednesday, September 16, 2015
photo-flickr-glasseyes viewthymbBY GREGG LEWIS | OP-ED

The issue of green-washing remains a significant challenge to those of us who would like to see the building sector in this country do more than make unverifiable claims of sustainability. Transparency about the impacts of a given material is the only way to allow designers to make intelligent choices when selecting building products.

Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02