Portland State MBA student, Caroline Lewis (MBA 2011) presented her new business concept at Angel Oregon in March for the chance to win a $25,000 Angel investment. Angel Oregon, organized by the Oregon Entrepreneurs Network (OEN), is the nation’s premier angel investment prize conference.
Determined to compete in at least one business competition before graduating, Caroline entered into the first round of the OEN Angel Investor competition; “The whole time I didn’t think any investors would be interested in my idea. However, Angela Jackson (Portland Seed Fund) and John Geffel (Value Driven Group) gave me great advice and encouraged me to continue.” Much to Caroline’s surprise, she was selected to advance into the final round of the competition, one of six concept-stage businesses to be selected from a field of more than 40 entrepreneurs. While she didn't walk away with the winning prize, Caroline is still pushing forward with the concept, My City Designers, LLC (MCD).
“I scaled down the idea into something that is still providing value and is rooted in the original idea but can be bootstrapped with my own funds and time. Initially, I wanted My City Designers to be the first online retail site where consumers can vote on, customize and purchase fashion designs from local designers. But for now, I want it to be a ‘go-to’ place for Portland fashion.”
Frustrated that there wasn't just one place to discover who the local designers were and where to buy them, Caroline decided to make that place; “Our mission is to support local and emerging designers. If you visit the website now, you will see coverage of fashion events, designer profiles and interviews, events, and a directory listing local designers and where to buy them online or by neighborhood. Every once in a while we put up polls to encourage people to vote for their favorite designers – it’s really fun! Portland is a unique fashion scene and we want to be part of building that collaborative community.”
Caroline attributes her success to the help of her business partner and recent PSU MBA graduate, Allison McManus, MCD contributors Autumn Northcraft and Michael Zaugg, Jillian Rabe, LLC, PSU Professors Charla Mathwick and Melissa Appleyard, OEN, Tricia Crockett at the Art Institute of Portland and the overall support she’s received from local designers, fashion bloggers and boutiques; “I always have something to learn from people I meet and feel lucky that people in Portland are so helpful. We’re always looking to expand our team and group of advisors.”
Caroline mentioned that “My City Designers has some surprises for 2011,” so if you want to support this budding entrepreneur and learn more about the local Portland fashion scene subscribe to her website and follow My City Designers on Facebook and Twitter.