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November 14, 2013
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Southern Oregon angel investors smile on Portland outdoor apparel company

WINCHESTER — A Portland-based outdoor apparel company beat out four other Oregon companies to secure $125,000 from investors at a business conference Wednesday at Umpqua Community College.

Homeschool Technical Apparel, makers of snowboard outerwear and accessories, was one of five “early stage” companies to make sales pitches to the Roseburg area Angel Investment Network.

The network is made up of 17 investors from Douglas County and elsewhere in Southern Oregon. Greg Byrne, chief financial officer of Lone Rock Timber, heads up the network.

The investment competition was part of a conference on investing and entrepreneurship organized by The Partnership for Economic Development in Douglas County and the Umpqua Business Center.

“I’m really grateful to have the opportunity to pitch here,” Homeschool founder Daniel Clancey said. “Our efforts for the last three to five years are starting to pay off. It’s nice to get validation from investors.

“I’m stoked to be an Oregon company,” he said.

Clancey, who is from Hawaii, said his father is an apparel manufacturer, so he has been around the business his entire life. When he came to the mainland at the age of 18 for college, he started snowboarding.

He spent 15 years working for outdoor apparel companies, such as Columbia Sportswear, before starting his own company, he said.

“We say. ‘If you only care about being waterproof, wear a garbage bag,’” Clancey said during his presentation at the Lang Center.

He asserted that large brands lack authenticity and a genuine connection with customers that small brands, like his, possess.

“We have a timeless aesthetic. Clean and mean. It’s built to last. We also have the vibe of a small brand,” he said. “I think the industry has gotten away from those things. Consumers are hungry for a brand that represents them.”

After morning presentations by the five companies, the investors deliberated for two hours. Byrne said the investors had a difficult time choosing a winner because they were impressed by all the pitches.

“It was really close. We really understood (Clancey’s) business and thought we could help him in other ways, not just with money,” Byrne said. “We think he’s going to make it.”

The other finalists for the investment competition were Bravado Outdoor Products, represented by Len James and Kendra Pettengill, a Roseburg-based manufacturer of concrete tennis tables, chess tables and bean bag cornholes; DesignMedix, a Portland-based company that develops drugs to treat drug-resistant diseases and infections, such as malaria; Earth Fortification Supplies Company, an agricultural business that specializes in soil biology management; and Nouvola, a Portland-based company that tests websites before they are launched into the cloud.

Byrne said all of the finalists have solid management and are already in the market and generating revenue.

Three panelists commented and asked questions during the sales pitches.

Panelist Scott Sandler, fund manager for the Oregon Angel Fund, said Clancey would have been his choice too. Clancey was the best prepared, had excellent graphics and engaged the audience, Sandler said.

Pettengill said she had hoped that being the only Douglas County company in the competition would help Bravado Outdoor Products win.

“Douglas County needs manufacturing jobs,” she said.

Four businesses still in the “concept stage” competed for $2,000 in cash and a free six-month stay at the Umpqua Business Center to help launch their enterprises.

Winston-based Caregiver Cards, founded by Barbara Worthington in 2012, won. The company sells cue cards to help caregivers communicate with patients with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia disorders.

The four fledgling companies made pitches to the audience. Audience members voted via text messages or paper ballot for their favorite.

The other businesses were Elk Island Eco Resort and Campground Retreat, founded by Bernard Woodard, a 25-acre campground with yurts and campsites along the South Umpqua River in Roseburg; OurTownSocial.com, created by Tim Allen of Roseburg, which would oversee social media sites for large businesses; and Personal Pantry-WFD, founded by Deleta Dickson of Roseburg, a mobile app that tracks the contents of your pantry, generates shopping lists and answers the question, “What’s For Dinner?”

• Reporter Jessica Prokop can be reached at 541-957-4209 and jprokop@nrtoday.com.

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The News-Review Updated Nov 14, 2013 01:31PM Published Nov 15, 2013 10:30AM Copyright 2013 The News-Review. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.