The Bangor Region Chamber of Commerce will present its Volunteer of the Year Award to Dr. Frederick “Fritz” Oldenburg at its annual awards ceremony.
Oldenburg, who retired two years ago after 33 years in doing acute pulmonary medical care in Bangor hospitals, said he was a little embarrassed to be singled out to receive the award because he is a relative newcomer to the arena of volunteerism.
Oldenburg is receiving the award for serving as an advocate and ambassador for the concept of angel investing, or providing capital to startup businesses, that he and others with the Chamber are attempting to establish in the Bangor region.
Oldenburg said he first became aware of the angel investors concept because his brother-in-law in Ohio started an angel investor chapter in that state.
In Maine, the concept already exists in Portland as Maine Angels, a group of state investors who provide a source of capital for companies in the early stages of development. In 2012, Maine Angels invested $1.5 million in eight Maine companies.
Oldenburg, a member of the Chamber’s business action committee, is working to establish a Maine Angels chapter in Bangor.
After his retirement from the medical field, Oldenburg said he feared he’d be bored or wouldn’t have the same level of intellectual stimulation, but “I was intrigued with the idea of bringing the angel investor concept to Bangor,” he said. “Then I stumbled onto the chamber where the idea already was percolating.”
Oldenburg said he was attracted by the idea as he contemplated why young people can’t come back to Bangor to live and how they can be given economic opportunities to engage in entrepreneurship.
As part of his work to advocate for the angel investors concept, Oldenburg is one of a panel of people who listen to pitches from would-be entrepreneurs, who have roughly 25 minutes to make their case, and he serves as a mentor for those in the early stages of developing an idea that has the potential to become a successful business that will, eventually, produce a return for those who take the risk of investing in it.
“There are lots of pieces to it,” Oldenburg said. Helping an entrepreneur put those pieces together is part of the satisfaction he derives from the work. “I enjoy meeting creative people and business people who might be interested in entrepreneurship. It requires the input of lots of people.”
Even the time commitment can be daunting at times, Oldenburg said, he loves working toward his goal of getting more people in the Bangor area interested in the angel investor concept.
“We haven’t reached critical mass yet,” he said, “but we’re getting closer.”