Let’s say you have a really good idea for a new product or service and you decide you want to go for it. How exactly do you plunge in? You need money, obviously, and many people are wary of backing an idea that is not yet entirely off the ground. That’s where venture capital investors come in. VC firms put money into companies that are just getting started in hopes that their ideas and products will take off, the company will go public, and the investors will make back much more than they initially put into the company. It can be a risky business, but venture capitalists have made billions in the fields of software and medical devices. And without these intrepid investors, many ideas might not see the light of day.
Most people might think of California’s Silicon Valley or Boston’s route 128 corridor when they hear the words “venture capital,” but Oregon has quite a few investors and VC-backed companies of its own. The Beaver state currently ranks 18th in the nation for VC investment. Many local venture firms (as well as some from out of state) will be in town for the annual Venture Northwest Conference this week, where companies will come to present their ideas and accomplishments to potential backers. This comes at an uncertain time for venture capital investors since their success depends on new companies’ ability to go public in an initial public offering, or IPO, if they are not acquired by a larger entity first.
How does the current economic situation affect venture capital investment in Oregon? What does it take to entice investors in a new innovation these days? How does Oregon fit into the national VC picture? And what experience do you have with venture capital — as an investor, a recipient, or a supplicant?
- Gerry Langeler: Managing director of OVP Venture Partners
- Emily Mendell: Vice president of strategic affairs at the National Venture Capital Association
- Stuart Cohen: CEO of Collaborative Software Initiative
- Arundeep Pradhan: Director of technology and research collaborations at Oregon Health and Science University