Lori Forrest of the French Connenction LLC will be among the eight entrepreneurs making a pitch for a $150,000 infusion of venture capital from the Southern Oregon Angel Investment Network. - MT file photo

Charting new business frontiers

Eight local companies have been selected by the Southern Oregon Angel Investment Network as candidates for a $150,000, winner-take-all venture capital investment.

The winner of the funding will be announced after the companies make their pitches to investors and the public at a regional venture conference Wednesday, March 9, at the Rogue Valley Country Club.

Four companies — Ambient Motors/Red Cloud, Cascade Peak Spirits, Folium Partners and YogiTunes — are finalists for the funding. Another four — Amalgamated Design, Equi-Tee, The French Connection and Value Ecology — are in the running for a fifth spot, which will be chosen by the audience.

More than 30 entrepreneurs submitted business plans after the competition was announced last fall.

Twenty-five investors, each putting $5,000 into the network, have boosted the investment prize above the $125,000 figure announced earlier.

"Most of them are community and economic development minded," said Steve Vincent of Avista Utilities, the network's founder. "Still, there is a matter of determining return on investment as investors come along."

He said the nature of the event adds importance to job creation as well as rate of return.

Noting the runner-up in a similar conference in Eugene last year raised more capital than the winner, Vincent said individual investors might find more than one effort to their liking. Win or lose, the presenting companies will be able to showcase their businesses and their ideas before potential financial backers.

"Most of the investors have the ability to invest more than the $5,000 they've put in," Vincent said.

"This is a way for them to do their due diligence. I've had one Jacksonville investor who is not part of the LLC tell me he's going to be there to see if there's something he likes."

The presentations will be reviewed by fund managers Diane Fraiman, Voyager; Shannon Heim, Capybara Ventures and the Oregon Angel Fund; Jim Huston, founder and managing director of Bridge City Ventures and Portland Seed Fund; and Gregg Semler, Pivotal Investments.

The conference runs from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., with member manager Tom Becker announcing the winning company following the keynote speech by Shelley Gunton, founder of Castor & Pollux. Admission, including breakfast and lunch, is $149. To register for the event, go to

Reach Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or e-mail

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