This is unimaginable! Within 8 months we have achieved first close of not one but two funds and invested in 6 amazing startups from both the elevate inclusive fund (six startups) of which two received funding from elevate capital fund... 50% are founded by women and the six are diverse and multi colored. THE UNITED COLORS OF BENETTON!  I am so proud of my team, especially Eric Boothe. Not only have we been raising capital, we have been working hard to find the brightest and the best to invest in. Warm welcome  to our mentors and the elevate investment cohort #1. Thank you very much to our investors. Now lets go change the world;  and make some money doing that - TOGETHER! 


Nitin Rai

For Immediate Release

Elevate Capital announces first close of its two funds and cohort of investments in women and minority owned startups   

Portland, OR (August 31, 2016)Elevate Capital announced that it has completed the first close of its $3 million Elevate Inclusive Fund and $10 million Elevate Capital Fund and has made investments in its first cohort of six women and minority entrepreneur-led startups.

Elevate Capital is a Pacific Northwest-based venture firm that invests in early stage under-represented entrepreneurs, including women and minorities that include communities of color, veterans, and entrepreneurs located in under-served regions.

Elevate Capital, Oregon Governor Kate Brown, Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith, and Kimberly Branam, Portland Development Commission (PDC) Executive Director, along with other investors in both funds, will recognize and showcase these investments at a media and investor-only showcase event on August 31, 2016 at the Oregon Story Board.

“Seventy percent of Oregon’s new jobs happen when existing businesses grow and expand,” Governor Kate Brown said. “Promising businesses owned by Oregonians in underserved communities need and deserve access to investment capital to help them grow, and Elevate Capital’s announcement of these first six recipients is proof that entrepreneurship is alive and well in all Oregon communities.”

"I am truly elated to see this idea come to fruition and celebrate the first six recipients of the Elevate Inclusive Fund,” said Loretta Smith, Multnomah County Commissioner. “This is a key example of how we can foster wealth creation within our communities of color and low-income neighborhoods and get us closer to becoming an even more competitive and equitable place for folks to live and work."

“We’re very proud of our role in seeding the Elevate Inclusive Fund as one of the first investment funds in the nation to support inclusion and diversity,” said Kimberly Branam, PDC Executive Director. “Our number one question at PDC is “who benefits?” And in this case it is small, entrepreneurial endeavors, led by diverse founders, with the potential to become much larger players in our regional economy.”

Investors in the Elevate Inclusive Fund were led by a $250,000 commitment from the State of Oregon, $500,000 from Multnomah County, and $500,000 from Portland Development Commission, as well as additional investments were raised both from in and out-of-state entrepreneurs. 

Elevate Capital closed on its $4.2 million investment that was led by a $2 million investment from Meyer Memorial Trust, $250,000 from Oregon Community Foundation, and individual investors such as local entrepreneur Stephen Marsh who invested in both funds, and certain members of the TiE Oregon Angels and Willamette Angels Group.  Both funds are on a rolling close till first half of 2017.

"We are happy to see Elevate Capital has completed its first close. Meyer Memorial Trust is excited to find a new partner focused on investing in under-represented and underserved communities, including communities of color," said Rukaiyah Adams, Meyer Memorial Trust Chief Investment Officer.

“I’m excited to be able to support Elevate Capital and the great companies they’re helping to find capital, expertise, and other resources they need to be successful,” said Stephen Marsh.

Elevate Capital is investing $25,000-$75,000 in early seed investments from its Inclusive Fund and up to $500,000 in seed and series A stage type investments from the Capital fund. It will have additional funds available for follow-on investments from both funds.

“We are off to a great start! I am delighted that we have achieved this milestone so quickly and I am very thankful for the overwhelming support we have received from our investors and the community at large,” said Nitin Rai, Managing Director of Elevate Capital.

“Not only have we been working hard to raise capital, we have been simultaneously managing an overwhelming interest from entrepreneurs to seek capital from our funds. As a result, we are pleased to announce our first cohort of investments at first close,” said Rai.

The first cohort of investments includes:

Blendoor: Founded by Stephanie Lampkin, an African American entrepreneur. Blendoor is a blind recruiting app that hides a candidate’s name and photo to circumvent unconscious bias. In just a few months since beta launch, Blendoor has attracted over 250 companies, 5,000+ candidates and has been features in Forbes, NPR, and Fast Company. The team of Stanford and MIT graduates hold over 30 years combined experience at companies spanning Microsoft, Netscape, Simply Hired, and BCG. Blendoor is based in Silicon Valley, but plans to establish a presence in Portland Oregon. Blendoor received funding from Elevate Inclusive Fund.

Goumikids: Co-founded by Lilli Yeo, an Asian American entrepreneur and former veteran employee at Nike. Goumikids is a kids apparel company with deep roots in social mission and sustainability. It makes mitts, boots, hats, jamms and preemies. Ten percent of all proceeds, and 100% of proceeds from goumigiving go directly to support efforts that protect children and invest in improving the lives of girls globally including girls rescued from human trafficking and orphaned children. Goumikids is based in the Oregon Technology Business Center (OTBC) accelerator in Beaverton, Oregon. Goumikids received funding from Elevate Inclusive Fund.

Hubb: Founded by Allison Magyar, a serial woman entrepreneur. Hubb brings order to the chaos of content management for meetings and conferences via automation and helps reduce costs of managing events for large corporation via its cloud based software. Founded by veteran event management professionals, Hubb is based in Vancouver, Washington, but hires a number of employees who live in Portland, Oregon. Hubb received funding from Elevate Inclusive Fund.

I.T. Aire: Co-founded by Jason Patz, a disabled veteran. I.T. Aire specializes in providing the world's most reliable and energy efficient Data-Center Cooling Systems. The company also holds key utility patents protecting popular data-center cooling techniques, which are licensed to data-centers for use in accomplishing their energy efficiency initiatives. ITAire is based in Portland, Oregon. I.T. Aire received funding from both Elevate Inclusive Fund and Elevate Capital Fund.

RFPIO: Co-Founded  by Ganesh Shankar, an Indian American entrepreneur. RFPIO’s cloud-based Request for Proposals (RFP) software is a response management solution that eliminates the friction often associated with responding to RFPs and significantly reduces cost of managing the RFP process for businesses. RFPIO is based in Beaverton, Oregon. RFPIO received funding from both Elevate Inclusive Fund and Elevate Capital Fund.

Versi: Co-founded by Jorge Guzman, a Hispanic American entrepreneur. Versi is a Yelp-like mobile app that allows businesses, nonprofit organizations and government agencies to expose their products, services, programs and community resources to the growing Latino market. Versi is based in Portland, Oregon. Versi received funding from Elevate Inclusive Fund.

Each of the six startup companies will select mentor and advisors from Elevate Capital’s pool of mentors in residence of successful entrepreneurs, many of whom are charter members and mentors at TiE Oregon or investors in Elevate Capital Fund. Elevate Capital Fund will partner with TiE Oregon and offer its newly launched TiE XL, a lean startup-based virtual accelerator and education program to the startups receiving funding.

“In additional to making investments, the mentoring program at Elevate Capital will fulfill our commitment towards mentor capital to these startups. It is a vital ingredient in their overall success,” said Mr. Rai.  Mr. Rai will serve on the boards of RFPIO and ITAire. Additionally, Mr. Raghu Raghavan former CEO and founder of Acton is also expected to serve on the board of RFPIO and a key advisor to its CEO.

Media Contact

Nitin Rai, Managing Director

Elevate Capital


Website: http://elevate.vc

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Elevatevc/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/pdxelevatevc   

Elevating - the next step!

We have exciting news! In January this year we announced the launch of Elevate Capital, our preamble and core mission and "Elevate Inclusive Fund" that will invest $3 million over the next five years in underrepresented entrepreneurs targeting concept stage and seed startups that were 100% from women, communities of color and veterans. $1.25 Million was committed from Portland Development Commission, Multnomah County and State Of Oregon. This is one of the first public/private supported funds of its nature in the nation. The range of initial funding is $25-75,000, in those two entrepreneurs in their garage style startups. 

Today we are proud to announce the launch of "Elevate Capital Fund" - a $10 Million "all inclusive"  fund that will invest initially up to $500,000 in early stage startups. We are so proud to get the support of a large local institutional investor - Meyer Memorial Trust in form of a $2 Million  commitment to the Elevate Capital Fund. It was a chance opportunity to present TiE Oregon to the Meyer executive team last year that inspired me pursue the creation of this fund. 

 It is a real privilege to have Meyer as our lead investor. Combine that with our other investment partners such as Oregon Community Foundation, individual members of  TiE Oregon Angels and Willamette Angels (as part of our endorsement by RAIN accelerator as their investment fund in the South Willamette Region of Oregon), we truly have a regional group of investors to help us create an impact on "You the Entrepreneur".   It doesn't matter who you are, what race or gender, where you are in our geographical space, if you have an idea that can scale into a business  and help create jobs and wealth in your neck of the woods we want to talk to you. 

Our investments will be  for high growth startups  primarily  in the pacific northwest region (but we may consider a few outside) including all of Oregon,  that are looking for that hard to raise $500,000 - $1000,0000  to get beyond the MVP and to the next level. We will target under represented entrepreneurs and under-served regions but we are open to one and all.

Yes folks, we can lead your series seed/Pre A and also invest in a series A with room for follow-on, if you have a disruptive product and a team that can help scale this business (read previous blog Hello World for types of companies). Not only will we invest this capital, we will help syndicate these deals with investment partners like TiE Angels, Willamette Angels and  other local and national funds that have partnered with us in the past or are eager to partner with us. Combine that with our mentors (that list will be out soon) you get "one fund" to join hands with that will serve as a catalyst to get your funding in place quickly, so you can focus on your business vs spending large amounts of time fund raising. We become your mentoring and funding partner. 

We are hoping for a first close of this fund in the next couple of months, after which we can start making some initial investments - so be patient with us folks, we are in the same mode as you might be - "raising capital" !!!   In the meanwhile, if you are actively raising capital, do take an opportunity to apply on our website elevate.vc so we can contact you when we are ready.

I end this post with a sincere thanks to my team of Eric, Robin and Stephen who have been working hard to support our mission and all of our initial investors, friends and colleagues at TiE Oregon, First Insight and our law firm Ater Wynne. They all have supported us beyond my wildest dreams. I am including a copy of the press release below that is coming out in a few hours but I cannot end without quoting an investor of the fund "Rock this sh*t Nitin! Rock it!". So lets Rock it!


Nitin Rai,

Managing Director, Elevate Capital Fund, nitin@elevate.vc, @NitinrRai


Copy of the press release:

For Immediate Release

Elevate Capital Fund Earns Institutional Commitment

Portland, OR (June 9, 2016) –  Elevate Capital Fund announced that Meyer Memorial Trust, a local foundation and institutional investor, will invest $2 million into Elevate Capital Fund. Elevate Capital Fund is a newly formed $10 million Pacific Northwest-based venture fund that invests in early stage startups that includes under-represented entrepreneurs, including women and people of color, veterans, and entrepreneurs located in under-served regions, such as the Willamette Valley, central and southern Oregon, and southwest Washington.

"Although Meyer Memorial Trust recognizes that first-time funds present higher risk all around, Nitin Rai is the kind of fund manager that we want to invest in and invest with," said Sayer Jones, Meyer's Director of Finance. "The investment will be made through our Invest Oregon platform. We look forward to Elevate Capital Fund joining our portfolio alongside other local investments in firms like Ecotrust Forests and the Women's Venture Capital Fund.”

“Elevate Capital Fund was formed to lead the effort in funding under-represented entrepreneurs in the Pacific Northwest region. We are very fortunate to have Meyer Memorial Trust as an investment partner. Our partnership will help passionate entrepreneurs who are focused on creating high-growth companies with disruptive products,” said Nitin Rai, Elevate Capital’s Managing Director.

“Elevate Capital Fund provides the financial and mentor capital to build a successful company and spread job growth. Backed with experienced mentors, investors and partners globally, we plan to build the next generation of entrepreneurs and companies across the region,” adds Mr. Rai. “Along with our $3 million, 100% under-represented entrepreneurs-focused Elevate Inclusive Fund that invests in concept and seed stage startups, we now have $13 million in investment capital at our disposal, which we will deploy in these seed and early stage startups.”  

Elevate Capital Fund expects to do a first close in the next two months, after which it will start investing up to $500,000 in early A or Series A rounds in 12 to 14 high-growth startups with room for follow-on in the next three to four years. The final close is expected to take 12 months. Other early investors committed to the fund include Oregon Community Foundation and certain individual investors from TiE Oregon Angels and Willamette Angels via endorsement from the RAIN accelerator group in Eugene and Corvallis.

About Meyer Memorial Trust and Invest Oregon Platform: Meyer Memorial Trust was created by the late Fred G. Meyer, founder of a chain of retail stores bearing his name throughout the Pacific Northwest. Established in 1982, Meyer has awarded roughly $700 million in grants and program related investments to organizations, primarily in Oregon. 

Meyer launched Invest Oregon in 2014 to focus a portion of its corpus in market-rate opportunities that create social, equitable, environmental and economic benefit across the state.




Canopy selects Elevate Capital as a new fund manager for the Canopy CAPITAL program

And it's great news. Canopy is a emerging fund research and investment platform that connects investors with funds that focus their efforts in the Northwest and have specific impact goals built into their fund strategy.  We're very honored to be selected, and excited to get even more exposure in the impact investing world.

Read on for the press release put out by Canopy this afternoon...

Findings surfaced through the new 2016 Pacific Northwest Capital Scan research indicate there remains a large financing gap for entrepreneurs seeking seed and early-stage investment capital to grow their businesses in the Pacific Northwest. Throughout the region, it remains a struggle for entrepreneurs to raise financing rounds of less than $1 million – many resident venture capital funds tend to make investments later in a company’s growth cycle, so entrepreneurs are left scrambling for capital and other resources as they move out of their launch phase.

This early-stage financing gap is a challenge, but thankfully we’ve seen it narrowing over time as investors step up to fill it. Yet there are a few other trends in the venture capital ecosystem in the Pacific Northwest that are still not being addressed. The first relates to who gets funded – throughout the ecosystem, minority entrepreneurs have been left behind. The second relates to where funding goes: companies in Portland and Seattle have an easier time accessing capital, while regional communities (think the Willamette Valley, central Oregon, southern Oregon and SW Washington) often do not. The third relates to what gets funded: there is a bounty of investment capital flowing to tech-related start-ups, while entrepreneurs in non-tech sectors, such as food and apparel, have to work harder to find appropriate funding sources.

Elevate Capital, a Portland Oregon-based investment fund manager, is raising its first fund to address these four capital gaps. This investment strategy, in tandem with a deep commitment to stimulating entrepreneurial activity, mentoring talent, investing in the region and supporting minority entrepreneurs in their selection process, makes Elevate Capital an appealing choice for a new partnership with Canopy. As Canopy’s President Craig Muska points out, “their intentional focus on diversity differentiates Elevate from other managers in the investment industry—a sector that systemically lacks support for leadership among minorities and women. The issue of inclusion is a priority for Canopy’s founding members.”

We’re excited to announce a new relationship with Elevate Capital through our Canopy CAPITAL program. Like the first three regional funds we’ve worked with, Canopy will provide mentorship resources for the fund’s management team, as well as investment research for our members to promote capital flow to the fund. We believe our unique approach to training and investment research will add value to Elevate Capital.
— http://investcanopy.com/elevate-capital-selected-for-canopy-capital-program/

Thanks Canopy!


Down South: State of Startup Funding in the Willamette Valley

I realize I haven't introduced myself properly here, but that will come at a different time. For now, let's talk the Willamette Valley.

I haven't lived here long, and two years ago I would have not been able to tell you anything about the Silicon Shire. For all I knew, Eugene and Portland were one and the same, separated by a 30-minute drive. Living in Eugene now, making the Portland commute twice a week, boy… I was wrong. But distance is not the only division between these two regions; Portland enjoys multiple angel groups, venture capital firms, and constant sniffing from some of the larger Bay Area and Seattle-based VCs. Other than the University of Oregon Foundation Seed Fund, the WAC, and a few other angels, -- the Willamette Valley is deprived of good capital sources.

"But there aren't any good startups coming from Eugene."

I hear that a lot, and prior to RAIN's inception, one could probably conclude that the region lacked the mentorship and communal support to foster quality companies. The region enjoyed some fruitful entrepreneurial growth ~15 years ago, with companies like Garage Games making successful exits (they made Tribes, a pretty good title back in the day). Fifteen years ago until today, it's been pretty slow…

Fast forward to the past 6 months. NemaMetrix. This is a real biotechnology, with real academic and commercial application, invented by professors at the University of Oregon and commercialized by Matt Beaudet and his awesome team. One year ago, these guys were contemplating getting the hell out of Eugene and raising capital somewhere else. With (too) much effort, Nema were able to close their round over the course of about a year, -- taking many trips to Portland to raise a large bulk of their capital from TiE Angel's (a deal led by Nitin and myself).

So that worked out, but what about the other excellent companies coming out of the region? A few weeks ago, at the RAIN State of the Ecosystem event, Nitin and I were shocked at the level of fundability we saw from companies coming out of the region. Swallowtail Vodka comes to mind, -- probably one of the highest-quality spirits to come out of the Northwest and quickly gaining popularity. They cost $22 a bottle, go pick one up. Waittrainer: an online on-boarding and training system for the service industry. Numerous indie game developers, a pharmaceutical conflict cross-checking platform and database, and many others.

Where do all these companies go for funding? Sure, they could probably carpool with me up the I-5 and pitch to a few groups (and endure hours of The Great Courses audiobooks). What then? Maybe they get funding, maybe they don't -- what about the mentorship they need? What about networks for larger up-rounds when their company grows and needs bigger funders?

This is a cool region, with plenty of brilliant founders. So,  just don't forget about what's going on Down South. 


Hello World!

Hello World!

program HelloWorld;


       writeln('Hello World');


Those were my first few lines of code I wrote in Pascal, in my very first computer programming class at Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada in 1984. It was an unexpected turn in my life, for as long as I could remember as a child growing up in India -  I always wanted to be a medical doctor!  Little did I know how those four lines of code would completely change the course of my life. Sounds nerdy - but its the truth. Life is just a box of "most unexpected gifts."

For over 30 years, my life journey has been a series of unexpected twists and turns. From Canada, to Silicon Valley to Portland, Oregon to Seattle, to quitting my job to start First Insight and finally the most unexpected turn of all – launch of Elevate Capital. This is perhaps the most important turn in my professional career. I hope this very unexpected turn will transform the lives of the next generation of entrepreneurs. 

So, Hello World! “Elevate Capital” just came to life today - yes my next startup, 22 years after my first startup, First Insight. I knew there would more insights -  so here is the second one in Elevate Capital.  I am over the moon to launch it with three amazing team members, Stephen Green, Eric Boothe and Robin Jones. Together we bring diversity and experience to transform the launch and early stage of startups in Oregon and the Northwest region at large. And together,

  • We will invest in a broad range of startups from tech to apparel, to food and beverage, to bioscience.

  • We will tap into regions like the Willamette Valley, Central Oregon, SW Washington and Southern Oregon, where there has been traditionally less flow of capital.

  • We will invest “Mentor Capital” – money and mentoring, from launch to series A, so you as a founder/entrepreneur can focus on building your business, while we become your partner in helping you be successful.

  • We will be intentional about investments in under-represented entrepreneurs such as women and communities of color so our investments reflect the diversity we bring in our own team (East Indian, Hispanic, Black/Latino and women).

That’s a promise!

Namaste and Sincerely,

Nitin Rai with Stephen Green, Eric Boothe and Robin Jones