Tag: Funding

ActiveTrak (formerly GadgetTrak) lands first round of funding for thief-nabbing technology

Today, ActiveTrak announced that they had secured their first round of funding. And while an amount was not provided, they did provide details on where the investment will be channeled

One of the most interesting boostrapped companies I’ve followed during my tenure here on Silicon Florist has to be ActiveTrak (the startup formerly known as GadgetTrak). And honestly, I always saw them as a dark horse around here.

They have a compelling consumer-focused product that helps people recover stolen laptops and mobile phones. They get major media coverage more than any local startup I know. And they continue to pitch as hard as any company—they’ve presented at OEN’s Angel Oregon three times—I’ve seen. And yet, they couldn’t really seem to land funding. Until now. Read More

Urban Airship rapidly ascends with $1.1 million in funding

Urban Airship – which provides infrastructure for mobile messaging services like Apple Push Notifications for iPhones – has secured $1.1 million in funding, led by True Ventures.

[HTML2]It’s not often that I get to break news. So I always tend to cherish the few moments that I do. And this one is special for any number of reasons. One, it’s a Portland startup in the mobile space. Two, they’re receiving a respectable amount of funding to continue doing what they do, faster. Three, it’s a company that’s less than a year old pulling in seven figures of cash. And four, these are people I’m lucky enough to see almost every day.

That’s a lot of reasons to be happy. So I couldn’t be more ecstatic to finally announce that Urban Airship—the company that supports the mobile development community by providing infrastructure for mobile messaging services like Apple Push Notifications for iPhones—has secured $1.1 million in funding, led by True Ventures. Read More

Rounding up the good news: JanRain secures $3.25 million in Series A funding

Portland-based JanRain—a company that started as an OpenID play and has since morphed into the way to simplify distributed Web logins across the board—announced that they had closed Series A financing to the tune $3.25 million. The round was led by DFJ Frontier. Especially considering this round has been rumored to be in the works since this summer.

It’s always a good day when a Portland-area startup gets funding. And by that reasoning, today was a very good day. Portland-based JanRain—a company that started as an OpenID play and has since morphed into the way to simplify distributed Web logins across the board—announced that they had closed Series A financing to the tune $3.25 million. The round was led by DFJ Frontier. Especially considering this round has been rumored to be in the works since this summer.

So how did the market react? Well, there was quite a bit of coverage, so let’s take a look. Read More

Oregon startups and venture capital: It’s complicated

For every Oregon company that has had success attracting capital for their pursuits—Jive and AboutUs come to mind—there are hundreds who struggle with where to begin and how to engage the Angel or VC community.

It’s a difficult issue. And no one seems to put his or her finger exactly on the problems or how to solve them. Some say buck up and play the game. Others say the game needs to change. People talk about staying in Portland and figuring out how to bootstrap. People talk about leaving Portland in order to get funding.

Start talking to entrepreneurs and side project startups in Portland—or throughout the Silicon Forest in Oregon—and the conversation will inevitably turn to one topic: venture capital or the lack thereof.

For every Oregon company that has had success attracting capital for their pursuits—Jive and AboutUs come to mind—there are hundreds who struggle with where to begin and how to engage the Angel or VC community.

It’s a difficult issue. And no one seems to put his or her finger exactly on the problems or how to solve them. Some say “buck up and play the game.” Others say “the game needs to change.” People talk about staying in Portland and figuring out how to bootstrap. People talk about leaving Portland in order to get funding.

What’s the answer? Read More

Zapproved vies for Willamette Angel Conference crown as lone Web startup finalist

When it comes to Oregon companies competing for Angel funding, I’m always going to pull for the Web-based apps. It’s just kind of how I am. And those folks are definitely starting to turn heads, whether it’s at speed pitching events like the Big Idea Bash or through competitions like Angel Oregon.

In 2009, Portland-based WeoGeo has come closest to winning top prize at these competitions. Earlier this year, they were robbed walked away as the runner up for the Angel Oregon event.

Now, another Portland startup, Zapproved, is looking to claim the prize at the first Willamette Angel Conference. Read More

REMINDER: Oregon startup? Want to be? Interested in $250k funding? Chime in

Welcome to the “How many questions can I ask in one headline?” edition of Silicon Florist.

Just a reminder that the submission form for “Startup Now” will close today at 11:59 PM.

How about you take a few seconds to provide some details about one, two, or 12 of your current side projects? Take a moment to reflect on what you could do with $250,000 in the next year, to help bring your product or idea to fruition.

Don’t think you’re worthy? Not interested in getting funding? I’d still encourage you to take a few moments to respond. Really, what could it hurt?

The point is this: rising water floats all boats. And our state treasurer needs convincing that we have a viable entrepreneurial environment filled with viable startups just waiting to take form. What’s more, if these folks can pull off putting together a $100 million fund for Oregon startups, it’s going to help all of us.

Come to think of it, I don’t even care if you live in Oregon right now. If you’d be willing to relocate to Oregon to start your business, you’re more than welcome to fill out the form, as well.

I’m looking forward to seeing you get some money to bring that idea to fruition. And if we can all work together to help the state understand the, um, state of our startup scene, it just might happen.

More than 50 startups—in addition to those who presented at the event—have provided details on how they would reinvest $250,000 in funding in Oregon over the next year. Why haven’t you?

How would you use that money? Complete the Startup Now form.

Geek Bat signal: Oregon entrepreneurs need to act now! No, really. I mean right now.

Last night, an endless volley of entrepreneurs and would-be startups stepped up to a mic at Nedspace and provided a 2-3 minute pitch on what they would do with $250,000 over the next year.

And man, were there some incredible ideas—some incredibly cool, some incredibly wacky—but all incredible nonetheless.

There was only one problem: I didn’t see you up there.

I can watch the video again, just to be sure. But I’m fairly certain you won’t appear.

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I mean, sure. I got to see Ron Barrett, Carolynn Duncan, Dave Howell, Scott Kveton, Sasha Mace, John Metta, Chris Logan, Bob Uva, Ken Westin, and Steve Woodward. I love all of those folks. And I’ll applaud anyone who gets up in front of a crowd to speak, because I certainly don’t relish it.

Heck, somebody from the Office of the State Treasurer for Oregon even showed up.

But I didn’t see you. And that made me kind of sad.

But, then again, I’m all about second chances. So how about this? How about you take a few seconds to provide some details about one, two, or 12 of your current side projects? Take a moment to reflect on what you could do with $250,000 in the next year, to help bring your product or idea to fruition.

Don’t think you’re worthy? Not interested in getting funding? I’d still encourage you to take a few moments to respond. Really, what could it hurt?

The point is this: rising water floats all boats. And our state treasurer needs convincing that we have a viable entrepreneurial environment filled with viable startups just waiting to take form. What’s more, if these folks can pull off putting together a $100 million fund for Oregon startups, it’s going to help all of us.

But don’t just take my word for it. David Abramowski has some great insights about what funding Oregon startups could do for the local economy.

Come to think of it, I don’t even care if you live in Oregon right now. If you’d be willing to relocate to Oregon to start your business, you’re more than welcome to fill out the form, as well.

So maybe you’re trying to build a music service or a calendar aggregator or a niche social network or a new form of CRM or an iPhone agency or a mobile development shop focused on usability or a better support tool or charting where you’ve been or figuring out where your friends are or providing space for your peers to work and socialize or archiving the Web or finding happy hours or producing a weekly podcast or providing information about every Web site ever.

Maybe what you’re really interested in doing isn’t even geeky. Maybe you’re more interested in building out a photography business or covering the Portland scene or building some tangible product or creating a new kind of agency.

I don’t really care. We just need smart people like you to share their ideas about what could be done, if the money was there.

And I know you’ve got some ideas.

But here’s the catch: you need to respond, now. And I mean right now. The team pursuing the fund wants to get this information assembled by Wednesday, March 25.

So take a deep breath and dive in. I’ll keep this form open until Wednesday at midnight. Then, I’ll gather up all of the responses and ship them off to the folks working on this. They, in turn, will crate them up and dump them on the Oregon Treasurer’s, the Governor’s, and the various Mayors’ desks.

Remember, there were some cool ideas pitched, last night. But none of them were as cool as yours.

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AboutUs secures $5 million in funding—and they could be hiring soon, too

Big news today for Portland and the world of wiki. Portland-based AboutUs has secured $5 million in Series A funding led by Voyager Capital. And in equally good news, the company plans to use the infusion of cash to expand their staff.

It’s always impressive when a Portland company lands funding, but given the current economic conditions, this is especially welcome news.

Quoting heavily from my post on ReadWriteWeb:

How does a small startup secure capital in such turbulent economic times? Being profitable helps – something AboutUs achieved by mid-year 2008. The company is forecasting continued growth, this year. Ray King, CEO, said the company is targeting $5 million in revenue for 2009. The primary source remains advertising, but the online marketing services AboutUs sells – including content creation and custom page development – continue to gain traction.

Another reason for investor confidence? The staff. AboutUs holds a special place in the world of wiki as the employer of Ward Cunningham, the inventor of the wiki, and they continue to attract new talent. They recently hired a number of new employees, including CFO Jack Williamson. King hopes to use the new funding to increase the size of the company to around 50 employees by the end of 2009, up from its current staff of 32.

The company also received a nice write-up in the Portland Business Journal today. But, of course, the Business Journal being what it is, you won’t be able to read it unless you’re a subscriber.

For more on the news, see Mike Rogoway’s post on the Silicon Forest blog.

Other good news? The celebration for this announcement has already been set. Don’t forget, AboutUs is buying us lunch—or rather Lunch 2.0—next month.

Angels among us? Only if you apply by January 7

OENIt’s that time of year again.

Time for a bunch of startups to begin vying for funding via Angel Oregon, the annual competition from the OEN that pits startup against startup during stumping sessions at PubTalks. Why? Hopes of securing some much needed funding for their companies.

OEN’s Angel Oregon is the nation’s premier investor/entrepreneur matchmaking event. Angel Oregon brings together Oregon and SW Washington’s brightest entrepreneurial talent with qualified angel investors. The top six companies who apply, including the OEN Seed Oregon PubTalk winner, will present at the OEN Angel Oregon conference on March 12th at the Governor Hotel. Two investment prizes will be awarded by a final vote of the OEN Investment Committee.

In 2007, an architectural software company walked away with the prize. In 2008, it was an apparel company. Could this be the year that a Silicon Forest Web company takes the big prize? I don’t know. Are you going to apply?

You have until the end of the day on January 7 to get registered. Go get ’em, tiger.

[Editor: The link to the guidelines on the main page seems to be broken, so here’s a direct link to the 2009 OEN Angel Oregon application guidelines.]

Ten things to think about before pursuing funding for your startup

Last week, I had the opportunity to attend “Lunch with a VC” hosted by Carolynn Duncan of FundingUniverse and Epic Ventures. Carolynn took the time to field questions from a number of Portland startups and consultants on what it really takes to get a venture capitalist interested in investing in your company.

(If you’re interested in all the gory details about wooing a VC, Carolynn has a great post called “Checklists: What kind of funding are you eligible for?“)

I thought I’d hit the high points, to help you get your head around what it’s going to take.

Think about these 10 things before you think about pursuing outside funding for your startup

  1. Have you really solved a problem? Just because you see a problem doesn’t mean you’re the person to solve the problem. It’s far easier to criticize existing solutions than it is to invent your own solution. And even if you do invent a solution to that problem, there’s no guarantee that that’s a business.
  2. Are you mentally prepared? Pursuing VC funding isn’t about self esteem. It’s about business. If you want someone to review what you’re doing and give you positive feedback, Silicon Florist may be a better candidate than a VC. A VC isn’t here to build you up or inflate your ego. A VC is here to figure out how you’re going to make money so that the investment firm can make money.
  3. Are you ready for the oversight? Angels invest their own money. VCs invest other people’s money. As such, they’re going to have different types of involvement. And different kinds of goals. What kind of involvement and what kind of goals? Read on, gentle reader. Read on.
  4. Can you deliver on the promise? Angels look for incremental gains. VCs look for exponential gain. But, rest assured, when it comes to investing, everyone’s goal is to make money. Angels are looking to invest time and money to get more money than they had. VCs are looking to invest far larger sums to make an exponential amount on their investment. Why? To make up the for the other crappy companies they picked that are failing to return anything.
  5. Can you give up control? Angels are going to want more control because it’s their money. Why? Well, VCs invest other people’s money. Angels invest their own money. While both of those parties are going to be extremely interested in what you’re doing with their money, it’s highly likely that the Angel is going to be more involved—because Angels will be especially interested in keeping an eye on their personal money.
  6. Can you tell the story of the money? The old adage hold true: It takes money to get money. As a rule, VCs don’t fund ideas. They generally fund things that are already making money. For VCs, an investment is an accelerator. They invest money in order to help the company make more money faster. Not making money yet? A VC might not be the right target.
  7. Are you ready to make the VC pitch? To an investor, the “product” the investor is buying is the business. Not the actual product that the company sells. If you’re thinking of pitching a VC, don’t do the usual “show up and throw up” product demo of features and functionality. Give the potential investor a pitch on your business, moreso than that the product, itself.
  8. Are you planning ahead or are you too late? Always pursue funding before you get desperate. Why? Well, two reasons. First, no one likes the stench of desperation. And second, it takes 3-6 months to do the due diligence on the deal before you can get stuff going. Don’t wait until it’s too late to begin the conversation. Better yet, begin the conversation before you need anything, at all. Work on your pitch and test drive it.
  9. Are you ready to play the numbers game? How much of the final entity do you want to own? Take this into consideration… do you want to own 100% of a $1 million company, or do you want to own 51% of a $500 million company? If additional investment is going to make for an exponentially larger pie, then it might be wise to take a cut of the bigger pie, rather than try to horde the smaller pie. Angels and VC are interested in helping you build that bigger pie, so that everyone wins.
  10. Are you foregoing a “great” funded company in favor of a “good” company that you control? A dead company doesn’t help anyone. The longer you can reasonably put off funding, the better off you will be. But don’t kill your company to retain control (see #9). If garnering additional funding ensures the fulfillment of your idea—even at a loss of control—funding may be the way to go. Bootstrap what you can, but not if it means the loss of your pursuits.

And that’s what I took away. But as always, that’s the high-level. For the deep dive, see Carolynn’s post.

Hopefully this overview helps. Interested in getting more feedback or answering different questions? Carolynn is planning to do this on a regular basis, here in Portland.

It would be great to have you at one of the future events.

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