When it comes to critiques of the Portland startup scene, one of the chief complaints is a shortage of “successful exits” and “repeat entrepreneurs.” We see them here and there. With the Iterasis and the Urban Airships and the AboutUses. But for the most part, those types of Portland startups are few and far between.
But that may be changing. At OEN Angel Oregon yesterday, we not only saw a couple of tech companies walk away with some recognition, we saw some repeat entrepreneurial talent take on their next challenges.
For the first time in a long time, OEN Angel Oregon gave me no room to whine. Because a tech company walked away with the grand prize. OpenSesame took the top honors at Angel Oregon, garnering $185,000 in capital.
The new venture—which combines talents from previous Portland startups like Eleven Wireless and SplashCast—is an very much an app store for corporate training videos. Allowing trainers from a wide variety of disciplines to get their content in front of corporations. And providing corporate HR departments with an API to hook the curriculum right into their existing training systems.
Great idea. And it didn’t hurt that they had a kickass deck to boot.
The crowd chose a tech company as well, giving 4-Tell a nod as the crowd favorite. The company provides technology that allow mom-and-pop online shops to have Amazon-esque recommendations based on prior purchases. At its helm is another repeat entrepreneur, Ken Levy.
“OEN’s Angel Oregon 2011 was a tremendous success,” said Jim Huston, Chairman of OEN’s Angel Oregon 2011 and Managing Director of Bridge City Ventures, which manages the Portland Seed Fund. “But it doesn’t stop here. Many of the companies who have participated in the past have gone on to get funding, to create jobs and contribute to the regional economy.”
According to Mike Rogoway over at The Oregonian, the funding for Angel Oregon came from a variety of sources including Oregon Growth Account, University of Portland, and the Willamette University Angel Fund. A grant from the Portland Development Commission also helped.
Also noteworthy we’re Oregon State Treasurer Ted Wheeler’s comments, captured by Oregon Business.
“Do we have the guts to pick winners and losers?” asked Wheeler. “Oregon is a very democratic state… but in the business of picking winners and losers it’s okay to use a non-democratic model.”
Wheeler also made some stark admissions. He admitted that the Oregon Growth Account, a state program to boost local companies, “has not delivered… It’s tough for me to make the case that negative 8 percent is okay.”
Having openly admitted to the huge amount of work to be done to improve Oregon’s business landscape, Wheeler closed by pledging “to help create the best environment in the nation for small and emerging businesses.”
With that kind of thinking and repeat entrepreneurs hitting their strides, we could be at the forefront of some necessary changes around here.
For more, visit OEN Angel Oregon.