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Aviarc Brings Home Top Honors at Investment Forum

Angel investors and venture capitalists attending yesterday's Early Stage Investment Forum at the Seattle Sheraton selected Aviarc Corp. of Seattle as the event's most promising start-up company.

SnapNames, Inc. of Portland, Ore. and Paradigm Optics, Inc. of Pullman, Wash., rounded out the top three, from 17 finalists who presented business plans at the event.

The event drew more than 350 attendees to listen to 17 finalists selected from more than 170 applicants. Each investor was provided ESIF "venture bucks," with a total value of $1 million. Following business model presentations by the 17 companies, investors voted by distributing "venture bucks" to the presenting companies they felt offered the brightest possibilities.

"The evaluating committee was impressed by the quality of business plans submitted this year to the Early Stage Investment Forum," said Jim Moore, co-chair of the ESIF steering committee. "Out of more than 170 original applicants, each of the selected 17 presenting companies deserves recognition. The event definitely matched last year's success and we hope next year will be just as promising."

Aviarc attracted the largest investment, earning $7.4 million worth of "venture bucks." Aviarc provides solutions to managing international trade documents through an Internet-based system. As the grand-prize winner, Aviarc selected $5,000 of software development from the Aliyance Group.

SnapNames, who came in just behind Aviarc with $7.1 million in "venture bucks," provides the infrastructure backbone for the market in domain names and protection against all forms of domain name loss and tampering.

Paradigm Optics, which develops optomechanical devices and a full line of polymer optical fibers, followed in third with $6.4 million.

In addition to the prizes given to the winners, all start-up companies participating received professional coaching on the plan and presentation, an invitation to the pre-event seminars, a day with Accenture, and other prizes, such as media training and additional strategy dinners.