Coastal entrepreneurs prepare for Demo Day

June 21 graduation, showcase features RAIN’s 11 new startups

Update: *Use promo code 'lastchance' at checkout for free registration. 

Regional Accelerator and Innovation Network (RAIN) is concluding its first Coastal Pre-Accelerator program with a showcase and graduation during Demo Day on Wednesday, June 21 from 5 to 8:30 p.m. at the Florence Events Center, 715 Quince St.

RAIN Coastal Venture Catalyst David Youngentob said, “RAIN helps startup ventures that are being founded here on the coast launch and grow their businesses faster so they can reach customers all over country, and potentially the world. With our partners, we’ve been administering a three-month boot camp for startup founders. These people are your neighbors that you probably already know. These are folks that are trying to launch a company from scratch.”

During Demo Day, 11 coastal entrepreneurs will present a 5-minute pitch on their business, talk about how RAIN has helped them and share what they need to scale up to the next level.

“The most important thing is, they are going to tell you about what they need,” Youngentob said.

The event will also feature networking time, a keynote address by coastal entrepreneur and Chef Mels’ cofounder, Sam Gross. Food, beer and wine will be provided.

The Coastal Pre-Accelerators began in March in Florence and Lincoln City, with six entrepreneurs attending the Florence group and five attending Lincoln City. Each cohort covered a range of topics including marketing and sales, financials and business modeling, and pitching and fundraising. They addressed these topics through seminars and workshops, group and 1-on-1 mentoring, one-page business plans and more.

Here is a peek at the six local businesses in the Florence cohort:

Jesse Dolin — Stoney River Sinkers

Dolin is revitalizing the fishing world by removing lead from waterways. Stoney River Sinkers replace harmful lead with natural stone that is better for people, the environment, and fish and wildlife.

“The key to fishing is natural presentation. What’s more natural than a stone gliding down a stream?” he said.

As an angler, Dolin saw a need for a natural alternative and sought to fill a niche. And now, several years into this venture, he is gaining recognition, including winning the Willamette Angel Conference’s Speed Pitch competition in May.

“I didn’t realize there was this community of support for startups,” Dolin said. “I felt that joining the Pre-Accelerator was exactly what I needed because it offered a roadmap to success and connections to mentors who had experience with launching products.”

Dolin plans to continue building the Stoney River Sinkers brand through sharing his passion and excitement for lead-free fishing.

Carl Hulan — Local Grange

Founding Florence cohort member Hulan has been with RAIN since its efforts began on the coast in October 2015. Originally working on an app, Hulan has now developed a multi-platform webpage that connects people to organic farms in their areas.

“There’s a big market for people who want to eat local, organic food. This is a growing market. With Local Grange, people can get access to local produce without needing to do a ton of research themselves,” Hulan said.

One of the Pre-Accelerator’s lessons has involved the pivot, or reorienting Hulan toward a user-friendly platform that can be scaled up over time.

“The class has taught me things I didn’t know I didn’t know. And that is so important,” he said.

Hulan’s next steps involve marketing, building up beta users and launching Local Grange as people’s primary source for local, organic produce.

Patricia Immel and Sarah Butte — NatureSavvy

This new product line by the owners of Rose & Crown Apothecary in Florence offers organic self-care solutions for amputees to improve their quality of life, using the healing power of medicinal plants. Immel and Butte attended a mentoring session at RAIN Corvallis and realized the market need for such products.

“We were instantly energized to formulate and bring to market organic botanical self-care products to help improve quality of life for amputees,” Immel said.

For Butte and Immel, RAIN and the Pre-Accelerator “create an abundant economic development ecosystem for entrepreneurs” and provide “an exhilarating intellectually engaging process that lives up to its name.”

Next steps for NatureSavvy include continuing a relationship with RAIN and growing into a thriving, sustainable coastal company.

Kassy Keppol — Dragon Art

Whether it is painting, pastels, sculpture, textiles or beadwork, Keppol and Dragon Art can do it all. Keppol is creating a craft-based website and magazine that will provide instruction and tutorials for all manner of creative art.

“Dragons are across all cultures and time periods. We want our art projects to reflect that,” she said.

Using guest artists and her own expertise as an artist and educator, Keppol hopes to revitalize creativity online, in print and with special kits.

“Our Pre-Accelerator cohort has been so instrumental. To see issues come up in our business plans and work through them together has strengthened our bond,” she said.

Keppol’s next steps involve lesson planning, website building and launching Dragon Art as a media-spanning authority on arts and crafts.

Lindsey Phillips — Meant Manufacturing

Meant Manufacturing designs and creates one of a kind handbags and accessories using authentic local materials, including Pendleton wool. Founder Phillips began making items for personal use, and received positive feedback and interest.

“Soon, people were asking if I could make these products for sale and before long I decided it was worth pursing as a business,” she said. “Now, RAIN’S Pre-Accelerator has given me confidence in my brand and tools to help boost my business.”

For Meant Manufacturing, the mentors in the Pre-Accelerator “have been invaluable in providing relevant feedback in a genuine fashion that feels like they truly care about each of our ventures.”

Phillips says she can now visualize what various growth options may look like for the future.

“I look forward to implementing so many take-aways from this Pre-Accelerator into my brand,” she said.

Jayne Smoley — Jayne Smoley Designs

Another founding member, Smoley has had a leadership role in RAIN’s presence in Florence. As an artist, RAIN’s Pre-Accelerator has been instrumental in helping her refine her business model and become a leader in new formed-glass products.

“It’s been an honor and a privilege to have the mentors we’ve had. Over the course, to have them recognize and point out how we’ve grown has been invaluable,” she said.

Smoley also specializes in illumination. Her newest venture involves recreating lamp bases so her fused glass covers can be swapped, styled and shared. This new product will take less time to manufacture and allow for the creations of local jobs for artists and manufacturers.

“We are currently at a stage where we need to build our team and obtain capital to get to the next milestone of production,” she said.

The Lincoln County cohort includes:

• Nelscott Reef Big Wave Challenge: A live webcast of a local surf competition that has featured grand champions and some of the world’s biggest waves.

• Oregon Truffle Tryst Farm: Produces aquaponics root pods made from a sustainable and compostable design and composed of organic and natural materials.

• Providence House Manufacturing: Manufacturer and marketer of the patented (US & Canada) Smart Cat Box. And, a patent pending (US) on new non-absorbent cat litter pellets made from AG waste ‘wheat straw.’

• Riley Invents: Makers of the Trezur Bag, a clip-on micro bag for truffle hunters, foragers, no-trace hikers and agate hunters to stash their discoveries.

• Sailstream: A metrics-driven eSports advertising platform that puts advertisements on a stream when someone goes live on social media, removing the need for complicated negotiations, contracts and networking.

The RAIN Coastal Demo Day is sponsored by Oregon Pacific Bank and Palo Alto Software.

The program is supported by the Ford Family Foundation, the cities of Florence, Lincoln City, Newport and Toledo; Lane and Lincoln counties, Economic Development Alliance of Lincoln County; Lane Community College/Small Business Development Center and Oregon Coast Community College/Small Business Development Center.

To register for the event, visit Late registration costs $12.