Fall is my favorite season, as it represents growth, change, and exciting new beginnings. September will be my sixth month serving as the executive director of Oregon RAIN, and it’s been my pleasure to lead the organization as we expand our venture catalyst work in small and rural Oregon communities.
I am thrilled to share that we have raised $407,000 (mostly within the last few months) to expand our Venture Catalyst model in rural Lane, Linn, Benton, and Lincoln counties:
- $100,000 from The Ford Family Foundation
- $70,000 from the City of Lebanon (as pass-through funds from Business Oregon’s Rural Opportunities Initiative)
- $50,000 from Lane County (as a match to The Ford Family Foundation dollars)
- $42,000 from the Oregon Entrepreneurs Network (as pass-through funds from the Oregon Community Foundation)
- $30,000 from the City of Florence
- $20,000 from the Linn-Benton Collaborative cities (Adair Village, Brownsville, Halsey, Harrisburg, Lebanon, Monroe, Philomath, and Sweet Home)
- $20,000 from Benton County
- $20,000 from Lincoln County
- $50,000 from Linn County
- $5,000 from Oregon Pacific Bank
In addition, the City of Albany has inquired about supporting Oregon RAIN’s outreach in the region.
Please join me in thanking all of our funders—who recognize the incredible need to support entrepreneurs in small and rural Oregon communities. We firmly believe that good business ideas can come from anywhere, and our metrics from the past three years certainly support that belief. Since 2015, the 214 companies assisted through Oregon RAIN’s Rural Venture Catalyst model have created 285 jobs, generated $8.4 million in revenue, and raised $2.7 million in capital.
Other highlights include co-producing a sold-out Willamette Angels Conference with the Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce where $495,000 was invested in seven Oregon startups (of which, half of the funding went to women-led startups). In June, we hired Corey Wright to serve as the dedicated Venture Catalyst for the Linn-Benton region, and we hired Brad Attig to serve as a part-time Funding Catalyst for the same region. And last, but not least, we led a search for Oregon RAIN’s federally-funded seed fund manager, which we hope to announce soon!
We were thrilled to lead a joint effort to host the Mid-Coast’s first-ever Techstars Startup Weekend. Fifty entrepreneurs and mentors chose to spend a beautiful July weekend in Florence working inside on innovative business solutions — proving that great ideas can come from anywhere! We couldn’t have done this without the help of our local partners, the City of Florence, Oregon Pacific Bank, Lane Community College, the Small Business Development Center, and the Florence Area Chamber of Commerce.
Also, we’re excited to once again offer the Oregon RAIN Coastal Pre-Accelerator. This 10-week, boot-camp style program helps entrepreneurs take their startup business or idea to the next level with hands-mentorship and training. Seven entrepreneurs are enrolled in the Lincoln County cohort which started on September 5th. We’re still accepting applications for the Florence cohort, which starts mid-October. (Learn more and apply here.)
Meanwhile, RAIN Eugene and OSU Advantage Accelerator continue to provide first-class programs for entrepreneurs in and around Eugene and Corvallis. Please save the date for the RAIN Eugene Accelerator Showcase on October 2nd. I hope to see you there! The OSU Advantage Accelerator is still accepting applications for their fall Accelerate program.
It’s been wonderful to see the entrepreneurial ecosystem in the South Willamette Valley and Mid-Coast region take shape and flourish. There’s nothing better than hearing a first-time entrepreneur tell us how they would not be where they are without the help of Oregon RAIN. As Founder and CEO of Florence-based Meant Manufacturing, Lindsey Phillips has said, “The [Oregon RAIN] Pre-Accelerator was awesome. At times it was overwhelming, but I knew it would be worth it. The connections I made have been so helpful. Everyone was genuinely invested in helping you succeed, and that has continued even after graduation.”
It truly takes a community to raise an entrepreneur and it’s wonderful to see how many of you have stepped up to rally around them.
Thank you to everyone who participates in building Oregon’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.