Sponsored by Lane Powell

Small hats win big bucks

| Print |  Email
Archives - November 2008
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

100 Best Nonprofits announced

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

1015-nonprofits01Oregon Business magazine has named the seventh annual 100 Best Nonprofits to Work for in Oregon. The rankings were revealed Wednesday night during an awards dinner at the Sentinel Hotel in Portland.


Mayoral musings

Linda Baker
Tuesday, September 15, 2015
091515-mayors-thumbBY LINDA BAKER

The 2016 presidential election is shaping up to be the year of the outsider, with Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump capturing leads in the polls and the headlines. In Portland, Wheeler vs. Hales is bucking the outlier trend.


After the Orange Line

Linda Baker
Tuesday, September 08, 2015
090815-trimet-thumbBY LINDA BAKER

Alan Lehto, TriMet's director of policy & planning, shares a few thoughts on ride sharing and more nimble bus services.


The 10 most successful crowdfunding campaigns in Oregon

The Latest
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
081915-crowdfundingmainBY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR

One of the hottest new investment trends has proven quite lucrative for some companies.


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.


Inside the Box

September 2015
Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Screening for “culture fit” has become an essential part of the hiring process. But do like-minded employees actually build strong companies — or merely breed consensus culture?


Keep Pendleton Weird

October 2015
Monday, September 28, 2015

Eastern Oregon marketers refocus rural assets through an urban lens.

Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02