Oregon hasn’t produced many prominent startups in the past two decades, but among those that have thrived, a large portion have one thing in common: an early investment from the Oregon Venture Fund.
The regional firm manages $250 million in investments and says it has produced a 34% average annual return for its investors since its founding in 2007.
OVF’s portfolio spans the full range of industries in Oregon and southwest Washington – from boutique ice cream purveyor Salt & Straw to newly public biotech startup Absci to semiconductor research firm Inpria, which sold last month for a half-billion dollars.
And OVF is aiming to step up the scale of its investments, from $2 million to $4 million now to as much as $10 million in the near future.
“The companies we’re backing here, they have competitors all over the world that are probably getting funded at higher levels,” Rosenfeld said. Oregon startups need more capital available at their early stages in order to match the achievements of their rivals elsewhere.
Entrepreneurs have long complained that raising money in Oregon is far more challenging than in neighboring states.
Oregon startups raised just $744 million in venture capital last year, according to the National Venture Capital Association, compared to more than $5 billion in Washington and $86 billion in California.
But Akintore, who joined OVF in September to lead its due diligence process, said she wanted to work in an area that is emerging and growing.
“The Bay Area’s crazy,” Akintore said. “I just wanted sanity.”