Business owners and business hopefuls pitched their dreams to investors at the annual Roseburg Angel Investors Network at Umpqua Community College on Friday. Five people walked away with financial commitments toward their goals.

The investors and the community spoke, choosing five winners for parts of the $75,000 available for investment, including Elena Lininger, who won first place for the community vote and was chosen as one of four winners for the larger investor commitment.

Lininger’s business, West Coast Wigglers, is her idea to use worm castings, or manure, as an alternative natural fertilizer and a way to create sustainable work for veterans.

“I’m really speechless; I’m really excited,” Lininger said. “For me to hear my name twice, I think it really shows that our community really cares about all our issues we experience, and I’ve actually touched them, the hot button issues. It’s encouragement and motivation to keep moving forward.”

Kemberly Todd from the Small Business Development Center helped announce the community awards and told the audience how Lininger was new to the community, yet made herself present and invested herself in the community.

“She impressed me immediately, because she was always asking questions, she was writing; she’s a researcher,” Todd said. “She’s always always showing up. I always say, leaders show up.”

Chris Burnett, the managing member for the investor network, said the event is to kick off a new year of investing in the community by those who are successful in Douglas County already and want to grow the community.

“With the investment amounts, we felt that our impact would be the greatest on those four,” Burnett said. “The goal is to increase the economy in Douglas County, so if we can invest in people who are wanting to start or expand their businesses and create jobs, that’s a win for me.”

All of the contestants said beforehand they hoped to find investments in their businesses, but also connections so they could continue to grow the business.

“The ones that did not win, we have additional resources identified for them for their endeavors,” Burnett said.

Nine people in total presented their ideas, including Taylor Lindsey, who won Google Startup weekend for her product, Splish, a tool to make bath-time safer for babies.

Lindsey said she was surprised the investors chose her, but this will propel her to take her concept to market sooner.

“There are a lot more products that were a lot further along and more developed,” Lindsey said. “This means I’m committed now. Now we have the next step. That investment is not going to be enough to get us to production in any way. Now we have to get the public involved and get the capital.

The second place community vote winner was Cara Otis, owner of Sugar Mama’s Gourmet Desserts.

“$2,500 for me will go quite a ways,” Otis said. “I feel great and very blessed the community voted for me.”

Other winners included Hawaii Doggy Style, producer of gluten-free, organic doggy treats, and Wolfe’s Customs which extends the life of kids motorized riding toys.

Janelle Polcyn can be reached at or 541-957-4204. Or follow her on Twitter @JanellePolcyn.

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Janelle Polcyn is the business reporter at the News-Review, graduated from the University of Texas, and is a podcast enthusiast.

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