We’re pleased to introduce Alline Akintore from OVF as this week’s Sponsor Spotlight.
What roles do you and OVF play in the entrepreneurial community?
Oregon Venture Fund is an early stage generalist fund. We look for and support founders that are looking to solve hard problems, and we only focus on Oregon and Southwest Washington.
Our role is to support founders financially so their dreams can take off, while also providing resources, our network, moral support, and coaching to these founders as they get along in their journeys. It’s not just financial.
Even when we don’t invest, I see our role as still being connectors. We always leave the door open to founders and say, Hey, even if we haven’t invested today, we want to stay in touch and let us know if there’s anyone in our network that you think could be helpful to you.
OVF is composed of over 180 venture partners. These are really accomplished people with really successful and impressive track records across various industries and verticals that can be quite valuable to founders.
What types of entrepreneurs are you best suited to support?
Beyond being an early-stage generalist fund, there are industries that we like to invest in, including technology, specifically B2B enterprise, and food and beverage, to some extent. Beyond that, we are always looking for hungry, smart, driven, preferably mission-oriented founders and we also really appreciate humble founders with a learning mindset.
What are your most common recommendations to first time entrepreneurs?
First would be to surround yourself with people that are smarter than you. That’s the way you will build a successful business.
Two, invest time in your personal growth. Once you’re scaling a business you’re growing a team really fast, and I think the best leaders are the ones who have spent time with themselves. There’s a meaningful difference between a manager and a leader, and you have to know enough about yourself to recognize the difference. You have to be a good leader to build and to attract good people.
Third, and this is really for first time founders, in addition to being hungry and learning everything you can, understand your market. I’m really surprised by how many people don’t spend time dissecting their market top-down, bottoms-up, just getting a crisp understanding. When you do that work as you’re building your business, you begin to see where your assumptions are wrong (and some of them are always wrong) and your turnaround will be much faster.
The last is focus. There are a lot of temptations that come your way. Having focus and conviction allows you to build something meaningful. Once you’ve built something and been successful, you can build the next thing and do something new that leverages what you’ve learned.
What do you think is an opportunity for this community to grow?
This community is in an interesting place between two behemoth ecosystems. It’s one thing to know all the investors in Oregon or all the other founders, but reaching out to others in Seattle and in the Bay Area and developing relationships there as well could prove useful down the line.
Something founders do in the Bay Area quite a bit is reach out to investors way before they’re investing, just to tell them what they’re doing and ask for advice. They’re not asking for dollars. As a VC you know down the line this could be an interesting person to invest in. I don’t think there’s a culture of doing that here yet.
What would people be surprised to know about you?
People would be surprised to know that I am mixed-handed. I can use both of my hands and have different skills and levels of skill with each hand.
Is that different than being ambidextrous?
Yeah, because when people say ambidextrous, usually you should have equal skill, but I don’t have the same dexterity with each hand.
Well, we at OEN are glad you’re putting both hands to work on building Oregon’s entrepreneurial community!