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|Thursday, May 24, 2012|
BY LINDA BAKER
A lively panel of investors demystified venture and angel funding for an audience of early stage entrepreneurs during a recent event sponsored by Fundingpost.com, an online exchange and national events organization. Held yesterday in the Pearl District offices of Perkins Coie, the Portland investor and venture capital event featured local and national experts and touched on some familiar themes: the need for an exit strategy, which these days means an acquisition, not an IPO, the importance of focusing on customers and revenue, and that perennial Rose City question, whether local startups “think big” enough.
But perhaps one of the biggest takeaways was this: In the second decade of the 21st century, the VC world, like many once monolithic social, economic, and political systems, is beginning to break apart, bringing new opportunities and challenges for today’s entrepreneurial masses.
Setting the tone was Matt Miller, the punchy managing director of San Francisco based Walden Venture Capital: “We’re all just a bunch of idiots with money,” said Miller, a former Director of Marketing at Oracle. “We’re living in unusual times. For the first time in history, it’s easier to raise angel money than venture money.” Between 2008 and 2011, the amount of venture capital money declined by 50 percent, from about $30 billion to $14 billion. At the same time, there’s been a surge in seed money—the relatively small amount of money first invested in a startup. "There are 19,000 seed projects in the Bay Area because there are 19,000 angel investors in the Bay Area,” Miller said. “I’ve never seen that before.”
Miller’s message to the audience, which included Oregon startups including Gliph, which is developing a personal privacy app, and Mobilligy, a mobile bill paying system? “There is a play now that is open to you that was never open to you before.”
Angel investor Peter Weiss echoed that assessment. Thirteen years ago, big venture firms didn’t get involved in seed funding rounds, said Weis,. Now venture firms are “suddenly doing $4 million—you didn’t see that a few years ago.” Weiss also suggested that the distinction between seed, angel and venture capital is blurring. “These terms are more pliable malleable, they’re moving around.”
Other equalizing forces are bearing down on the world of entrepreneurial finance—for better and for worse. “The big trend is the cost of entrepreneurship is coming down. The barriers to entry are low,” said Angela Jackson, one of the directors of the Portland Seed Fund. As a result, there are “a lot of crappy companies pitching.”
Panelists were mixed on the impact of the Crowdfunding bill, which passed as part of the JOBS Act and will allow the public to use social media to invest in and profit from startup companies.
“People now have another place like Las Vegas to lose their money,” said Rick Gibson, a Tucson-based Angel Investor. It’s a total crapshoot. Everyone has the right to lose money.”
Scott Sandler, fund manager for the Oregon Angel Fund, was more upbeat. “Yes, a lot of bad stuff is going to happen. The other side is there is going to be a couple of success stories. The power of crowdsourcing is too great. It’s not going to be held back.”
Is the democratization of start up capital inevitable? As the panelists made clear, traditional obstacles to access still abound. "I can only invest in you if I believe I can make 5-10 times my money in a few years,” said Miller. “So if you don’t know who is going to buy you, then don’t raise venture money.” But with that disclaimer, after listening to yesterday’s panel, I ‘m thinking we’re on the cusp of a new trend, especially in Oregon, where lack of venture capital is often cited as a barrier to growing and sustaining local startups.
As many cultural commentators have noted, the entrepreneurial ethos is becoming a hallmark of our era. "Generation Y," proclaimed Fast Company in a recent article, "is born to startup." Perhaps we're bearing witness to the next phase: Generation Y is not only born to start up—it’s also born to seed.
Linda Baker is managing editor of Oregon Business.
Friday, August 14, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR
17 airlines make stops at Portland International Airport, but not all are created equal when it comes to customer service.
Friday, July 10, 2015
BY DAN COOK
The Affordable Care Act has triggered a rush on health care plan redesign, a process fraught with hidden costs and consequences.
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
BY CHRIS NOBLE
Oregon is home to an abundance of gritty warehouses reborn as trendy office spaces, as well as crafty hipsters turned entrepreneurs. Does the combination yield an equally bounteous office products sector? Not so much. Occupying the limited desk jockey space are Field Notes, a spinoff of Portland’s Draplin Design Company, and Schuttenworks, known for whittling Apple device stands. For a full complement of keyboard trays, docking stations and mouse pads, check out the GroveMade line, guaranteed to boost the cachet of even the lowliest cubicle drone.
Monday, July 13, 2015
BY SAM BLACKMAN
Storyteller-in-chief with the CEO and co-founder of Elemental Technologies.
Friday, July 10, 2015
BY JACOB PALMER
Most of the food Americans consume is trucked in from hundreds of miles away. Eric Wilson, co-founder and CEO of Gro-volution, wants to change that. So this past spring, the Air Force veteran and former greenhouse manager started work on an alternative farming system he claims is more efficient than conventional agriculture, and also shortens the distance between the consumer and the farm.
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
BY LINDA WESTON
In 1996, after a 17-year career in the destination marketing industry, where I gained national standing as the CEO of the Convention & Visitors Association of Lane County, I was recruited by the founders of a new professional basketball league for women. The American Basketball League (ABL) hoped to leverage the success of the 1996 USA women’s national team at the Atlanta Olympics — much like USA Soccer is now leveraging the U.S. Women’s National Team’s victory in the World Cup. The ABL wanted a team in Portland, and they wanted me to be its general manager.
Friday, August 21, 2015
Renee Spears, founder and owner of Portland-based Rose City Mortgage, is hot to trot to sell pot.
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For good or ill, gay marriage inspires many people. They have strong feelings about it. Sometimes those strong feelings are grounded in religion and sometimes they are not. When the workplace is added to the mix, emotions tend to run high. After giving an overview of two current situations, The Bullard Edge is going to outline three key points for consideration and clarity.
Yesterday, a divided National Labor Relations Board dropped another hammer on the employer community. In a long-awaited and much debated move, the Board jettisoned the decades old standard for determining when two independent businesses should be considered joint employers of an individual worker for collective bargaining purposes.
Transforming the culture of Oregon’s educational leadership.
Attendance, breakfast buffet, materials, certificate of attendance and parking are all complimentary on behalf of the firm.
New regulations are in effect and more updates are on the horizon, are you prepared?
The Oregon Entrepreneurs Network (OEN) is pleased to announce 16 finalists — from over 60 nominees — for the 2015 OEN Tom Holce Entrepreneurship Awards.