With its first fund launched last March, Cascade Angels plans on making a $120,000 investment in the upcoming Bend Venture Conference, says Julie Harrelson, the fund’s manager. The angel fund made its first investment in May, funding Droplr with $100,000.

With its first fund launched last March, Cascade Angels plans on making a $120,000 investment in the upcoming Bend Venture Conference, says Julie Harrelson, the fund’s manager. The angel fund made its first investment in May, funding Droplr with $100,000.

“We are finding a lot of really interesting opportunities out there for our consideration,” Harrelson says. “We’ve considered many good candidates.”

The Bend-based fund debuted at BVC last October and raised $460,000 for its first round of investments. The angels behind the effort are an “experienced and dynamic group of investors,” Harrelson says, hailing from Central Oregon and other places in and outside of the state.

Julie Harrelson, Cascade Angels fund manager
Julie Harrelson, Cascade Angels fund manager

Cascade Angels is focused on economic growth and investing in Central Oregon and across the state. Harrelson, who splits her time between Bend and Portland, says the fund is quickly being recognized as a viable effort in the Pacific Northwest. The average investment is between $50,000 and $200,000.

Harrelson says the angels are looking for launch stage companies that are already earning revenue, as well as good ideas that need funding to get off the ground. And the investments aren’t limited to tech, though the capital efficiency of tech startups is appealing, Harrelson notes.

“We consider the strength of the opportunity,” she says.

As the fund’s first manager, Harrelson hit the ground running last fall, rounding up both investors and seeking out investment opportunities. “I wanted to get from phone number to fully funded as soon as possible,” she says.

The fund doesn’t plan to compete with other local or state-wide investors, such as Seven Peaks Ventures, a Bend-based VC, but instead finds ways to collaborate. Case in point: Cascade Angels’ investment in Droplr was joined by Seven Peaks and the Portland Seed Fund.

Harrelson herself is no stranger to startups. She’s worked for a few and started two of her own companies. She served in varied positions including CEO, VP, and VP of Sales, and she’s currently head of the Harrelson Group, a management consulting firm. (In her

spare time, Harrelson also sits on the advisory board of the OSU Advantage Accelerator).

The Pacific Northwest-native spent a considerable amount of time in Bend over the years and was intrigued by the region’s percolating startup scene. With Cascade Angels, she is now a player in it as well.

“I’ve seen a big difference in activity here just in the past 12 months,” she says. “It’s an exciting time here–there’s lots of efforts coming together to strengthen the entrepreneurial ecosystem.”

Kelly Kearsley

Kelly Kearsley, the co-founder of StartupBend.com, is passionate about startups, entrepreneurship and Bend. In addition to writing this blog, she creates content and manages content projects for global financial companies, tech firms and startups. She began her career as a newspaper journalist and later worked as a freelance writer. Her work has appeared in WSJ.com, Money Magazine, CNNMoney, MSNBC and Runner's World. See her work at kellykearsley.contently.com or kellykearsley.com.

You can reach Kelly by email at [email protected]tupbend.com.
Kelly Kearsley