More saplings than seeds: Portland Seed Fund reveals their latest investments

It’s always nice to see startups getting the support they need from local resources. And that’s why I’m always pleased to see a whole new crop of startups graduating from the Portland Seed Fund. This latest class—the sixth class for the program—presented to a group a local investors, yesterday.

This class was a bit different than previous companies. You see, they’re a little further along than previous groups—with a whole different set of challenges and opportunities.

“As a group, these trend toward operating companies generating decent revenue, as compared with earlier startups that are still determining their customer and business model,” said Jenn Lynch, Venture Partner for Portland Seed Fund. “As a result, we changed up our educational program to target their specific growing pains, such as scaling and building an enterprise sales team.”

So who was in the latest crop of companies?


ActionSprout’s Facebook power tools are used by thousands of nonprofits and political campaigns – both large and small – including Sierra Club, Unicef, and Greepeace. ActionSprout tools help these organizations in every phase – from reaching and obtaining new supporters, to email acquisition; from engaging existing supporters beyond Likes, Comments and Shares to amplifying off-Facebook activities and fundraising efforts. Organizations have engaged millions of supporters with ActionSprout action post, furthering their missions through their social actions such as petition signing, pledging and donating.


At Amplion, we provide business intelligence solutions that give pharmaceutical and diagnostics companies strategic control of the complete clinical biomarker landscape. Today, biomarker information is booming, with hundreds of candidate biomarkers described every year, compared with just a handful a decade ago. The data has boomed, but tools to organize it into actionable information don’t exist. Developing personalized medicines is a high-stakes process with high costs, tight timelines, and many risks to minimize. Our product, BiomarkerBase, solves this information overload problem and gives users the confidence that they are not missing market opportunities and giving their patients the best care possible.

Bigleaf Networks

Bigleaf Networks provides internet redundancy and optimization, keeping businesses connected to their internet-based applications across multiple ISP connections. Our cloud-based routing service helps ensure that critical apps like Voice-over-IP, web conferencing, and virtual desktop always work properly. We use software-defined networking to adapt customer traffic routing to changing ISP conditions and application needs in real time. Our advanced software enables this high level of performance over low-cost commodity internet connections like Cable and DSL.

Crowd Supply

Crowd Supply provides product development as a platform to creators of crowdfunding projects, from crowdfunding and marketing to pre- and post-sales and fulfillment. Projects that launch on Crowd Supply enjoy the industry’s highest chance of getting funded and a perfect (100%) project delivery rate. In addition, Crowd Supply’s campaigns average more than twice the revenue of competitor crowdfunding platforms. With less than $600K seed, the Company has raised over $2M in project funding from over 9,000 customers across all fifty US states and 69 countries.


CrowdStreet delivers a perfect marketplace for commercial real estate developers and operators to enable them to publicly or privately offer institutional quality commercial real estate investment properties or funds to individual accredited investors in a streamlined online process to efficiently raise capital, manage investors, and build their overall brand and reputation. Accredited investors joining CrowdStreet gain access to a transparent, frictionless, and robust marketplace where they can review all details about high quality commercial real estate opportunities, submit an investment offer for as low as $10,000, fund the investment completely online, and track the ongoing performance of their real estate investments.


DesignMedix develops drugs to overcome drug resistance in multiple diseases that kill millions of people each year. All anti-infective and most cancer drugs cause resistance to develop over time, making the drugs ineffective. Drug resistance is one of the top three threats to human health. With an initial focus on malaria, we have demonstrated the validity of our technology approach and have a drug approaching clinical trials in humans. This is an oral, safe, low cost malaria cure that overcomes drug resistance in all patient samples testing, including patients showing very high malaria drug resistance. The DesignMedix technology approach has also been extended to other diseases, most recently adding antibiotics to the development pipeline.


Elli is a curated marketplace for weddings. We provide a one-stop shop where brides can easily turn their ideas and inspiration into reality. By partnering with the most talented designers and product creators, we deliver access to one-of-a-kind wedding style through an unrivaled online shopping experience.

The US wedding market is $50 billion. The segment we currently serve – stationery, décor and gifts – is $5 billion. Our distributed marketplace network with on-demand product fulfillment enables us to efficiently scale without the risk of carrying inventory.

Lumen Learning

Lumen Learning provides high quality open courseware and support for educational institutions to eliminate textbook costs, broaden access to educational materials and improve student success through the effective use of open educational resources. Lumen supports higher education institutions, including six of the 20 largest U.S. community colleges and system-level agreements in three states. Lumen Learning has pioneered research-based approaches to successful adoption of open educational resources. Its projects typically result in reducing overall spending on textbooks by 90%, as well as 10% improvements in student success.


The hospitality industry struggles with a volatile worker turnover rate of 65% and rising. Employers typically resort to generic posting sites for their hiring needs and are left with email inboxes packed with hundreds of candidates to review – most of them completely unskilled or inappropriate for the job.

Poached directly addresses the needs of busy restaurateurs with an industry specific job site. With tools like the Poached Jobs BackOffice™ and an intuitive resume reader, as well as our high level of visibility among job seekers, Poached makes hiring and getting hired easier than ever.


The holy grail of marketing is high engagement. Scratch-it provides an easy to use platform for enterprises to deliver customer experiences that increase engagement 200+% over any other solution. Our solution is innovative and interactive, grabbing and keeping customer attention.

Since founding Scratch-it we have navigated the creation of a new market and found a pricing and sales strategy that resonates with our customers. Scratch-it is poised to take advantage of the email industry, making it possible for companies to more directly engage with their audience with our fun and effective strategy.

With their big reveal to Portland investors complete, the group is currently prepping for a trip down to the Bay Area to meet with investors, April 21-22.


April 14th, 2015
by Rick Turoczy

More saplings than seeds: Portland Seed Fund reveals their latest investments

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