June 3rd, 2013

A whole new crop: Portland Seed Fund unveils their fourth class of startups at Demo Day

A whole new crop: Portland Seed Fund unveils their fourth class of startups at Demo Day

It was standing room only at Ziba for the Portland Seed Fund Demo Day, which featured 11 companies from their latest class. Wait a second. Eleven? That’s odd. It was like a a week of 11s in Portland. Eleven accelerators in Portland. Eleven startups in the Portland video… But I digress.

Here’s who pitched last Thursday, in the order they presented:

Opal Labs

Opal Labs is going after the social business software space, which boasts a market of $20 billion per year. Why? Because even though 70% of companies have adopted social business technology only 3% are reporting substantial benefit.

And they appear to be getting traction. They’ve already closed $675,000 in revenue and are on track to close $1 million this year. But their real—and somewhat audacious—goal? To build a billion dollar company headquartered in Portland, Oregon.

Opal Labs is currently raising a $1 million round. About half of that has been committed.


AppThwack has built a lab of hundreds of mobile devices—Android and iOS—enabling developers to test their mobile apps on real devices before releasing them to the general public. The service returns results within minutes, generating reports that enable the developers to focus on errors. AppThwack event tracks performance data—including battery drain.

Developers are taking advantage of the offering. The company has already run two million tests.

AppThwack recently closed a round of funding.

Minetta Brook

Minetta Brook provides technology that can deliver “hyper-relevant, real-time news” tied to specific market positions, which makes it super interesting to traders. In fact, they’ve already signed a contract with Bloomberg who owns about 33% of the trader terminal market.

Minetta Brook is raising $1 million, of which $650,000 has already closed.

Simple Emotion

Simple Emotion provides a technology that enables machines to recognize emotion in human speech. The technology currently recognizes happiness, sadness, anger, and fear. And is more than 90% accurate.

The initial applications will be designed to help people with autism, building the technology into games that help autistic individuals learn about emotions and expression through game dynamics.

Simple Emotion is raising a seed round. They did not specify the amount.

Indie Vinos

Indie Vinos is working to be “Shazam for the wine industry,” enabling wine enthusiast to capture, document, and buy wines at the very moment they fall in love with them. And that’s no niche play. It’ a growing $12 billion market.

The initial version of the app will be released next week.

Indie Vinos is raising $600,000.


Celly is re-imagining how social networks are created and when they can be used. They want to build networks that can scale in size and complexity—just like the real world. And in order to do that, they have built a solution that creates networks that are more scalable—and distributed—by using common technologies, like SMS.

Celly has already raised $1.4 million. They are reopening that round to allow others to participate.

Smart Mocha

Smart Mocha is enabling the “Internet of Things” and concatenating datasets among different devices. To paraphrase their words, it’s like giving objects cell phones to share data with one another. And with those connections, technologists can create very magical experiences. But today, it’s still early. The market is very fragmented. And there are a lot of frustrated users. So Smart Mocha is starting with solutions for corporations, rather than consumers.

Smart Mocha is currently raising $500,000.


Fundraising for local causes should have more than throwing a pizza night. That’s why RallyCause is helping causes and retail establishments form alliances that help both the cause and the business.
The have two types currently: 1) Business driven events. Go to a certain place at a certain time. In other words “rally” events. And, 2) Cause driven events. It’s like OpenTable meets pizza night.

RallyCause has raised $125,000 friends and family round. They are currently raising a $250,000 seed round.


Measureful is working to automate data analysis to save marketers from untold hours wrestling with spreadsheets every week. Using market knowledge and proprietary algorithms, they can turn online data from Web analytics tools into real marketing insights—that are immediately digestible for anyone in the organization. What used to take three business days now happens automatically.

Measureful is currently raising $450,000 seed round. They’ve already closed half of the round, led by Upstart Labs and Rogue Ventures. Measureful was also selected the crowd favorite at demo day, landing them another $10,000 in investment.


PrestoBox is automating brand and identity development for small businesses. They’re initially focusing on service based businesses like lawyers, CPAs, and physicians—services that require branding but don’t often know how to go about doing it.

Using a patent pending technology, the PrestoBox service walks the user through a series of questions and simple tasks. From that feedback, it automatically creates logos, color palettes, patterns, imagery, typography, and more for small businesses. All for free.

PrestoBox is raising $250,000.


Alum.ni as not able to present in person. So they shared a video. Which was a first for any demo day I’ve attended.

Alum.ni is a new social network for alumni communities. The service is designed to make life a lot easier for both administration and the alumni by synching with existing social profiles. They’re aiming to launch public version later this summer.

Alum.ni is currently raising $500,000 which will be rolled into a $1.5 million round.

Portland Seed Fund

And what about the organization who’s running the show? How are they doing?

Over the course of four classes, Portland Seed Fund has invested $1.35 million in 36 companies. Those companies have created more than 200 jobs. And 25 of those companies have gone on to raise more than $23 million in capital, making the median raise around half a million dollars per startup. All this from investing $25,000 per startup.

Portland Seed Fund I is now closed. Portland Seed Fund II is currently being raised. If you’re interested in participating, they’re still about $1 million from closing the second fund.

For more information, visit Portland Seed Fund.

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3 Responses to “A whole new crop: Portland Seed Fund unveils their fourth class of startups at Demo Day”

  1. Thanks Rick- nice recap. Glad to be collaborating with PIE- you guys are awesome always.

  2. [...] of the topics I didn’t cover in my round up of the most recent Portland Seed Fund demo day was an announcement made near the end of the show. Mostly because I wanted a chance to catch up [...]

  3. [...] of the topics I didn’t cover in my round up of the most recent Portland Seed Fund demo day was an announcement made near the end of the show. Mostly because I wanted a chance to catch up [...]

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