OEN NewsOregon Entrepreneurs Network hopes to impel state’s food startups (Portland Business Journal)

Oregon Entrepreneurs Network is bringing back its Angel Oregon investment program this year, albeit with some adjustments.

It’s part of several ongoing changes for the nearly 30-year-old entrepreneurial organization. In addition to the revamped investment program, it also unveiled an online series of courses in partnership with Oregon State University aimed at early-stage entrepreneurs.

The reintroduced investment event, called Angel Food, will exclusively help food and beverage startups, whereas the classic Angel Oregon featured startups from all industries vying for capital. That variety of companies made it difficult for investors to compare such different types of businesses and risks.

The diversity of businesses also made it tricky to offer education and mentoring to founders with such differing needs, said OEN Executive Director Maggie Finnerty.

“We wanted to create smart money. Smart money is money plus education and support,” she said. “It’s hard to do that with five industries competing for money.”

Angel Food companies will pitch investors on June 19. The event will also include a food fair to highlight not only the startups pitching but others in the community as well. The event builds off of a successful food showcase held last fall.

OEN is partnering with Food Innovation Center, Food Northwest and Season to Taste for the food education and mentoring component.

Like past Angel Oregon events, Angel Food will create one investment vehicle into which angel investors, for a minimum of $5,000, will contribute. The group will then decide where the money is invested. The fund’s total amount depends on how many investors participate.

Applications for prospective participating companies are posted on the OEN website. The group will examine two company categories: concept and startup stage. The concept stage companies are typically pre-revenue and will vie for a prize package of goods and services to help them get off the ground.

The startup stage companies competing for investments usually have around $250,000 in revenue, up to $2 million.

Last year, OEN outlined a new structure, an industry cluster approach, in the way it supports founders across the state. It did not hold an Angel Oregon event in 2018.

The group also formed a partnership with Oregon State University to offer the OEN Startup Series of business basics courses through the university’s College of Business.

The program is funded through a $25,000 grant that OSU received from U.S. Bank. It creates a hybrid online and in-person program through the OSU Portland Center at Pioneer Square in downtown Portland.

“Supporting Oregon business owners is critical to advancing the health and well-being of our Portland community,” said Mitzi Montoya, dean of the OSU College of Business. “We are proud to partner with OEN to make entrepreneurship curriculum accessible on a digital platform, meeting entrepreneurs where they are.”

The 10-week program is designed for early stage founders and feature the instructors and mentors from the regular OEN Startup Series courses, Finnerty said. The OSU partnership courses are mostly online, but include two in-person classes.

Last year, OEN worked with 50 companies during two Startup Series sessions. The OSU program has space for 45 people and begins April 1. This fall, OEN will hold another Startup Series session with the traditional in-person format.

Source: www.bizjournals.com

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