BY BEN JACKLET
In 2005, a group of 23 investors put $5,000 each into a modest pool with the goal of backing some of the most promising young companies in Oregon. Through collective intelligence and collaborative decision-making, they winnowed 50 good companies down to three great ones: Clackamas-based pet supply wholesaler Pet Appeal, Portland-based e-commerce software developer Monsoon and Portland-based health care billing specialist Clinicient.
Six years later, all three of those companies have created jobs for Oregon and wealth for investors. The group that selected these three companies and nurtured them with early money also has grown — into the Oregon Angel Fund, an increasingly powerful catalyst for finding, choosing and backing hot new businesses. Some of the best minds in the business community are involved in the Oregon Angel Fund, and their results speak for themselves. Since establishing the fund in 2007, the group has invested $7.7 million in 16 companies. These portfolio companies have created a combined 443 jobs and collectively earn $59.6 million in annual revenues. Although angel investments tend to be risky bets, not one of the Angel Oregon companies has failed. Other than one business that was sold, every company in the portfolio grew through the economic doldrums of 2009 and 2010. Many have gone on to bring new money into Oregon, with early angel investing spurring another $46 million in follow-on investments from other sources.