Idaho entrepreneurs should have more funding opportunities as new organizations are drawn to the region’s business success.
Pioneer Square Labs (PSL) – a Seattle-based startup studio and venture capital fund – was looking at Idaho companies as well as presenting at Boise Startup Week, said T.A. McCann, managing director, during his panel session, “Labs, Studios, & Funds: What it Means to Accelerate a Startup,”
McCann said he doesn’t have any Idaho investments yet.
PSL has both an investment arm and an incubator arm and considers Boise part of the northwest region, he said.
When considering an investment, the company looks primarily for a fit with the founder and the firm, as well as personally, McCann said. PSL invests primarily in software with investments of $500,000 to $2 million, he said.
Different members of his organization have different specialties, but he is particularly interested in quantified health applications, McCann said. For example, he recently invested $2 million in Sentinel Healthcare, a Seattle-based remote patient monitoring product. He invested in the product because he is interested in that field and the business owner – a “doctorpreneur” – understands the customer even though he might be unfamiliar with some functional aspects of running a business, he said.
McCann said he likes it when an entrepreneur has either “domain expertise” in their technical area or “functional expertise” in running a business, but didn’t necessarily expect them to have both. He is particularly interested in startups that already have a good idea of their ideal customer profile and market, their entry point to that market, whom their first few customers will be and why that company is a good solution for that market.
McCann also spent some time during his panel session talking about the concept of a “lead score” or assigning values to each potential lead for the business to ensure the company is focusing on the most likely prospects.
Other panel members included Mike Self, managing partner of StageDotO Ventures, and Molly Otter, investment partner of Sage Growth Capital, each of which have announced investments in Idaho in recent months. Sage Growth has just made its first investment in Idaho, an ice cream company Otter didn’t name.
The other participant on the panel, Sarah Dolen, works in investments and operations for “Area 120,” a Google-owned organization that invests in employee projects. Google famously allocates 20% of employees’ time for their own projects for the company. Dolen has not yet invested in any Idaho companies, she said.
Other funding opportunities
In other potential funding opportunities, Women Entrepreneurs Realizing Opportunities for Capital (WeRoc), which will be held Oct. 24 in Sandy, Utah, at the Miller Business Resource Center, may hold future sessions in Boise, said Jolene Anderson, chapter president of the Boise/ID Keiretsu Forum, who is involved with the event. She and others are pushing for that, she said.
The event, now in its third year, is funded by Venturecapital.org, a Utah based nonprofit organization that assists, coaches and mentors entrepreneurs who are interested in raising investment capital. The event is intended to target women entrepreneurs looking to overcome the hurdles of raising equity for their companies and influencers and investors who focus on investing in women-led companies.
The organization is thinking of alternating years between Utah and Idaho, said John, Williamson, director of Idaho operations with Venturecapital.org and executive in residence for the College of Business and Economics at Boise State University.
This year, of seven organizations presenting, two are from Idaho, according to a press release: Chillow, a roommate-selecting application, and Free to Feed, which helps mothers detect allergens in breast milk.
Williamson said venturecapital.org is also considering holding an Idaho version of its Investors Choice event – an annual funding event in Utah that typically draws a large Idaho contingent.