Eugene tech start-up wins big


A Eugene-based Internet startup company
won $57,500 in seed capital at the Angel Oregon investment competition
in Portland earlier this week.

“I’m on cloud nine right now,” Caroline Cummings, cofounder and CEO of OsoEco said Friday.

It’s not just the prize money, she said.
Since Wednesday’s event, Cummings said she has met with investors who
want to contribute a half-million dollars, and help her raise another
half-million to meet OsoEco’s fundraising goal of $1 million by May 15.

“The big part of the win for us was the amount of attention and exposure we got out of the event,” Cummings said.



OsoEco is developing a free Web portal
that enables consumers to research “green” products and services, and
to share their findings and recommendations with each other.

“The green movement is really confusing
for a lot of consumers,” Cummings said. “They don’t know who to trust.
They don’t know who’s just jumping on the bandwagon.”

OsoEco also is creating a tool consumers
can take along on their virtual shopping trips, enabling them to tap
into the OsoEco community for advice on the “greenest” solution when
they’re comparison shopping, Cummings said.

The company will use the $57,500 to
continue to develop its test-grade Web site, with the goal of making
the site public in late spring, she said. The venture plans to make
money through advertising appearing on its site.

The 53 angel investors, each of whom
contributed $5,000 to the investment pool, chose OsoEco and two other
companies out of nearly 50 applicants. Only seven companies presented
at the competition and another 20, including Floragenex, a biotech
company based in Eugene, gave one-minute pitches.

Bob Ward, Angel Oregon chairman, said OsoEco impressed the investors.

“I think it’s an exciting space,” he said.
“There’s a lot going on around the state in sustainability and there’s
a real interest in sustainability. I think they’ve really done a great
job in putting together a compelling value proposition and filling out
a very capable team to compete in what could eventually become a very
crowded space.”

Cummings and Katie Wilson-Hamaker, OsoEco
president, founded the company in January 2007, and so far have raised
$427,500. Ethan McCutchen is chief technology officer. Adele
Wilson-Hamaker is creative director. Lewis Hoffman is lead systems
engineer, and Jean Russell is community development specialist.

The grand winner of the Angel Oregon
competition was ENDoutdoor, a maker of environmentallyconscious shoes
and clothing, based in West Linn, which won $150,000. OsoEco won in the
sustainability category.Revelation, a Portland-based venture, won in
the technology category. It creates Web software that uses market
research to enable companies to understand their customers more quickly
and cheaply than traditional research methods.

The nonprofit Oregon Entrepreneurs Network has staged the investment competition for the past four years.

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