Northwest Energy Angels provide cash, cachet
By Robert Goldfield
Rob Wiltbank, a professor at Willamette University, said the Northwest Energy Angels are attractive to entrepreneurs for their expertise.
Editor's note: Read more about Oregon's Sustainable Economy in Friday's Sustainable Business Oregon focus section and at Sustainable Business Oregon.com.
When angel investor Brian Arbogast bought a stake in Portland-based Virticus last year, the investment was greatly welcomed.
Arbogast’s investment, of an undisclosed amount, and those of other angels provided stable working capital, allowing the company to boost production of its systems, which intelligently manage outdoor lighting and so reduce energy usage, said Joe Herbst, head of Virticus at the time. They also allowed the company to keep running as Herbst negotiated its sale, which occurred on March 20 when LSI Industries acquired Virticus. Herbst has stayed on as CEO of what is now LSI Virticus Corp.
Herbst met Arbogast by presenting to Northwest Energy Angels, a Seattle-based organization of some 55 accredited angel investors. As the name implies, the group focuses on energy concepts, but its members may invest in all sorts of other cleantech startups.
Northwest Energy Angels is only one of many investor groups that might fill an early-stage funding gap for such companies. But Herbst said receiving funding from the Energy Angels delivers some extra benefits.
Herbst said such investments serve as somewhat of an endorsement, as it comes from a group that specializes in energy management. It provides a company credibility, as the angel group is known for the strong due diligence performed by its members, who often have a background that relates to the startups they investigate.
Since 2006, members have invested $6.3 million in 34 companies, said Margo Shiroyama, the group’s executive director.
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