SOREDI Seeks Applications from Rural Entrepreneurs and Companies for its 2020 Southern Oregon Rural Startup Challenge

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SOREDI is pleased to announce it is now accepting applications for its inaugural Southern Oregon Rural Startup Challenge, providing up to $60,000 in capital investments by December 31 to rural startups and companies seeking expansion capital.

SOREDI, which has facilitated the Southern Oregon Angel Investment Network for numerous years, has created a seed fund for the Southern Oregon Startup Challenge, at which rural high- potential startups will compete for potentially three $20,000 investments.  Prospective applicants based in Jackson or Josephine Counties may go here for additional information and to apply:

This investment opportunity is made possible thanks to the agency’s relationship with the Oregon Technology Business Center (OTBC), a partnership that was solidified in March 2020 just prior to the pandemic. OTBC is a non-profit incubator based in Beaverton that centers around supporting and championing entrepreneurship. Together, SOREDI and OTBC are implementing this Rural Oregon Startup Challenge endeavor for 3 years, through December 2022. The initiative is made possible with further support from the Oregon Community Foundation, Ford Family Foundation, and the Economic Development Administration. 

Mind to Market (M2M) is the platform for accepting applications from commercial, viable and scalable business ventures. The M2M platform has been a successful venture of Startup Spokane, a pre-seed investment fund for early stage startups with high growth potential based in the Inland Northwest.

Applicants who submit business plans up until November 30, 2020 may be invited to present at a virtual event on Wednesday, December 9. Investors will then choose up to three companies from among those competing at the event for investments to be made no later than December 31, 2020. Subsequent Rural Oregon Startup Challenges will occur in 2021 and 2022. 

According to Colleen Padilla, Executive Director, the agency has had to push the dates for this initiative and inaugural event out several times. Padilla states that even with the short and immediate timeline, we are confident that there are great projects in the making! Startups and existing businesses should absolutely seize the opportunity now and apply.

This new seed fund is in direct response to the recently updated One Rogue Valley Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) and specific to innovation. The Southern Oregon Startup challenge will support innovation within existing companies (Strategy 2.2) and expand the availability of startup capital by building on the Southern Oregon Angel Investment Network (Strategy 2.5). 

Steve Vincent, SOREDI past president and founder of the Southern Oregon Angel Investment Network, states that he is confident that the initiative will likely yield three $20,000 equity investments for the top 3 companies. 

The agency notes that the actual investments in the inaugural Southern Oregon Startup Challenge may be slightly more or less than $20,000 each, depending on the number of investors participating. The Southern Oregon Angel Investment Network’s most recent investment in an Ashland startup was $1.5 million.  Four earlier investments averaged approximately $255,000 each. 

As part of this Southern Oregon Startup Challenge, all submitting companies will have access to a Virtual Incubation program (VIP), an interactive education program developed by the Oregon Technology Business Center (OTBC). VIP is an eight-week program tailor-made for start-up businesses.  In additions, collaboration with the OTBC will provide additional connections for local entrepreneurs to statewide support resources. 

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