Oregon Entrepreneurs Network is throwing a Food and Beverage Showcase next month designed as a replacement for its signature event Angel Oregon, which was put on hiatus this year.
The showcase will run similar to Angel Oregon and feature startups pitching their companies. The audience will include investors, potential partners and retailers.
It will not, like in previous years, hand out a capital investment. Instead, companies will vie for prize packages that include shelf space at the retailer Green Zebra, legal and accounting services, and packaging and product design services, said Maggie Finnerty, president and executive director of OEN.
The group has already started working with startups on pitches.
Finnerty expects about 50 companies from around the state to participate. That large initial group will be whittled down during the week of Sept. 17 with qualifying pitch events before investors and industry experts at locations across the state.
The final event is slated for Oct. 2. Registration is available online until Sept. 12.
The event is designed to be fully bilingual in English and Spanish, as to encourage Spanish-speaking businesses to participate. The events will feature interpreters skilled in language translations as well as tone and excitement level.
Angel Oregon had become an important annual event in the region’s startup ecosystem, creating an accredited investor-backed vehicle that steered money toward one company. Last year, the winning company received $200,000. Angel Oregon helped spawn other investment groups such as Oregon Venture Fund and Portland Seed Fund and, for many years, was one of the few ways to find angel investors. The decision to change it was not made hastily.
“People are surprised Angel Oregon is at least on hold for this year because it has been around for so long,” Finnerty said. “But, at the same time when we talk about it, the investors say they can invest $7,500 in Angel Oregon and one company or do $20,000 and be in Oregon Venture Fund and be in (several) companies. It didn’t seem best for investors and we felt we could provide the experience and visibility to the participants as we did for Angel Oregon.”
In March, the 27-year-old group announced a major overhaul in how it works with entrepreneurs. It’s shifting to an industry-cluster model, focused first on food and beverage, and cannabis. The group wants to better connect businesses in those industries with resources and networks that exist across the state. Other clusters would roll out later.