Wrapping up 2019 at Eugene Regional Accelerator

2019 was a big year for RAIN Eugene. We continued many of our successful programs and supported new ones, like our annual Accelerator class and the first-ever Startup Weekend dedicated to food.

Startup Accelerator

One of our biggest programs, which successfully continued in 2019, is our business-launching accelerator program. The Accelerator is an intensive, four-month collaborative process that takes you from the ground floor to developing consistent revenue for your company, including pitch training, a tested business plan, and a plan for growth. 

In September, 11 entrepreneurs graduated from the latest Accelerator. Participants included rural safety app developers, a digital meal planning company, a renewable energy systems company, and an app that facilitates the interaction of patients and therapists for better mental health outcomes. This cohort also saw a UO MBA student develop a local food tour company and the establishment of a martial arts club in Saudi Arabia for women of all ages to learn Taekwondo, Karate, archery, and fencing. 

Another student is developing an app to facilitate booking appointments and finding chairs in hair salons⁠—this team, AlohaMana, also won third place in the 2019 Pitch Stream event (more on that later). Another app helps share social event information, while another student created an idea for a new social networking platform. Finally, another Oregon MBA student founded a lithium-ion battery recycling company. You might be surprised at the companies around town, whose names you’ve heard before, who graduated from the Eugene Regional Accelerator program. 

ID8 Pre-Accelerator

Before joining the Accelerator, many entrepreneurs take part in Fertilab’s ID8 Pre-Accelerator program. This 5-week helps you get your idea in shape for the more-intensive Accelerator. These sessions meet on five consecutive Tuesday evenings to help entrepreneurs clarify their idea and start planning their business.  ID8 kicks off in February and in October.

Pitch Stream

After ID8 and before the Accelerator, many entrepreneurs participate in Pitch Stream. This annual event has been held in the Eugene area since 2014 and gives founders 5 minutes to pitch their startup to a panel of judges and a room full of peers. The top three winners take home prize money and bragging rights. 

At Pitch Stream 2019, judges were Kate Harmon, an instructor with the University of Oregon’s Lundquist Center for Entrepreneurship; Katherine Moyer, a business and securities attorney; and Elaine Pandolfi, a graduate of RAIN, CEO of Ink Defense Tattoo Care, and co-founder of Redefining Women In Tech. 

Eight pitches were heard with the first-place prize going to Averto. This company won $2000 for their attention-grabbing pitch about developing Averto as a mass awareness and mapping system for use in conflict zones around the world. Pilates instructor Madison Page earned the second-place $1000 prize for Core to Coeur, an online fitness subscription model for women. AlohaMana earned the $500 third-place prize for an app that connects stylists with empty chairs in salons and makes it easier for customers to book time with them in a platform similar to Uber. 

In addition to these events that take place throughout the year, there are a plethora of ongoing events that either directly supports business growth and development, such as presentations on SEO and content marketing, or bring people together who might need help or simply desire networking and socializing. 

Fireside Founder Chat Live Stream Video

Want to get into the mindset of a founder? Each month, Eugene Regional Accelerator hosts a live stream video interview of someone in the community who is working towards something big. The last interview was with Alex Mentzel, co-founder of Averto, a crowd-sourced mapping app providing real-time information that safeguards people in conflict zones. 

Open Mentor Hours 

On the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays of every month, we bring mentors and people seeking advice together for free drop-in time. This is an opportunity to meet one-on-one with other founders and entrepreneurs, some of whom will be struggling with the same things you are while others are farther along and have real experience to offer. These meetings are for anyone who needs a little advice or help with coalescing a product or business idea or is seeking to overcome an obstacle to the growth of their established business. If you have an idea and are not sure where to go next, stop in and take advantage of free consulting from our expert mentors.

Startup Coffee Meetups

Startup Coffee Meetup takes place every third Thursday of the month from 9am-11am. Open mentoring and work time takes place on the third Wednesday of the month from 9am-1pm. Free coffee and conversation really does lead to unique collaborations that might not otherwise have happened. Check the Calendar of Events here for a list of upcoming events, or to submit your own startup-focused event. 

We are Eugene Regional Accelerator!

Did you know we’re calling ourselves The Eugene Regional Accelerator now? Many people still call us Eugene RAIN, but we’re working harder at finding our own identity. In 2019, we became a nonprofit and merged with the FertiLab Thinkubator, which also focuses on accelerating local startups.

That happened in a huge way back in October when ERA was one of the sponsors of Startup Weekend Eugene Food. We’ve helped out with other Startup Weekends in Eugene before⁠—seven, to be exact⁠—but this was the first one that brought together only ideas related to food. Startup Weekend is an intensive 54-hour experiential weekend that brings together entrepreneurs and mentors to help them shape those unformed ideas into something that could actually be successful.

Out of 28 ideas that were initially pitched on Friday night, five teams formed and worked throughout the weekend to develop their ideas and give final pitches on Sunday night. The winning team, Super Shroom, seeks to develop performance-enhancing vegetarian jerkies made out of cordyceps mushrooms.