5 companies to compete for $205,000 prize

A competition to help jump start fledgling businesses selected five companies Wednesday, putting them in the running for a $205,000 prize.

The Southern Oregon Angel Investment Network helps companies that have created innovative products and now need the capital to launch their businesses.

Based on a five-minute pitch, five companies got the most votes at an angel network competition in Jacksonville, making them eligible to seek the top prize. The five for this year are:

  • Popdeck of Grants Pass, which has outdoor decking that can be installed without nails or screws.
  • JettStream of Bend, which has created a medical device for asthma patients.
  • The Farming Fish of Rogue River, which has developed a sustainable hydroponic farm and fish system.
  • Watch Technologies of Medford, which has developed devices for use in irrigation ditches.
  • Portland-based The Digits, doing business as the Funda Organization, which is developing interactive educational toys.

Steve Vincent, founder of the angel network, said the competition isn't limited to Southern Oregon, though many investors prefer to invest locally.

About 100 people showed up in Jacksonville Wednesday to judge 29 startup businesses. The five businesses that made the cut will be eligible to compete in the Southern Oregon Angel Conference on April 11.

Vincent said another five companies were selected for a smaller cash prize intended to help innovative companies that need to develop business plans and complete other preliminary work before they seek investment capital.

The five vying for an $11,000 startup grant are ThanksVideo, CargoNav, Institute for Sustainable Living, Sarah Evans Creations and Joma Films LLC, all from Southern Oregon.

Ron Fox, executive director with Southern Oregon Regional Economic Development Inc., said the competition for the angel investments is designed to help shepherd businesses through different stages of their evolution.

Each company gave a five-minute pitch before an audience to explain what they do. The companies that will be entering the final competition will refine their pitches, he said.

The entire process, with help from angel investment mentors, helps companies develop their concepts and business plans, Fox said, and for the winners provides and infusion of capital to get those plans off the ground.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or dmann@mailtribune.com.

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