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Ashland startup MaskIT signs deal with angel investors

Southern Oregon Angel Investment Network has signed its second-largest deal, this time with an Ashland start-up, closing a $395,000 investment with MaskIT On June 24.

MaskIT, founded by Shallan Ramsey in 2013, manufactures a feminine hygiene product using certified compostable biofilm marketed to individuals and commercial establishments with restrooms.

The investment network's largest investment to date was in 2011, when the group poured $450,000 into Ashland software firm Folium.

“MaskIT has developed an extraordinary leadership team with experience in taking products from concept to market to mergers and acquisitions," said Steve Vincent, who launched the local angel investor process five years ago.

MaskIT has secured national distribution agreements with Sysco and other firms, and sells online via Amazon and Walgreens.com, with Walmart.com soon to follow.

"It was obvious to investors that MaskIT has the ability to scale up nationally and internationally," Vincent said. "It was also evident that the company will likely be acquired in three to five years, which looks like a good path for them to get a return on their capital investment.”

MaskIT originally came to the Southern Oregon Angel Network in March 2014. Since that time, the firm has received advice and instruction from investors, which ultimately put the company in the position to successfully raise seed capital. In past years, the angel network has formed a new LLC with the companies it chose. MaskIT representatives made a presentation earlier this month, offering an attractive term sheet with the potential for growth.

"With MaskIT, we didn’t form an LLC," Vincent said. "The company presented an attractive term sheet persuading investors to take individual equity positions in the company."

Southern Oregon Angel Investment Network is composed of accredited investors residing in Southern Oregon. Since 2011, 58 investors and two institutional investors have invested $1.4 million in seven companies. In the past two years, Southern Oregon Regional Economic Development Inc. has facilitated evaluation of more than 70 companies looking for seed capital to launch their businesses. The investors meet every other month, with a dozen companies in their portfolio to consider for investment.

Vincent said another half-dozen companies working with SOREDI's Sounding Board are gearing up for presentations.

"We're hoping to bring them to investors during the next four to six months," he said.

Vincent said investors continue to seek local startups with potential to scale up to a national level. The companies need a relevant leadership team, well-defined business plan, good financials, an exit strategy and a desire for coaching and advice.

Vincent said a second firm, Alpaca Guitar, is nearing the point where it can attract a $150,000 investment.

Start-up companies seeking seed capital should contact Tim Root, SOREDI’s venture catalyst, at Tim@SOREDI.org.

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or business@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GregMTBusiness, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/greg.stiles.31.