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BigLeaf Networks founder Joel Mulkey.
BigLeaf Networks founder Joel Mulkey.

Bigleaf Networks, a Portland-based Internet redundancy and optimization service, has raised a $1.5 million Series A round led by Oregon Angel Fund. Portland Seed Fund, Alliance of Angels, and other angel investors also participated in the round.

Founder and CEO Joel Mulkey started BigLeaf in January 2012 as a way to help businesses stay connected to their Internet-based apps by leveraging diverse ISP connections.

“Our cloud-based routing service helps ensure that critical apps like Voice-over-IP, web conferencing, and virtual desktop always work properly,” Mulkey explained. “We use software-defined networking (SDN) to adapt traffic routing and Quality-of-Service (QoS) to changing ISP conditions and application needs in real time.”



Before Bigleaf, Mulkey worked for a regional ISP and ran into issues with traditional industry solutions for implementing multiple internet connections into a single service. The lightbulb really went off when he tried to give a free backup Internet connection to his church.

bigleaf121“The IT director of the church didn’t want it due to his previous bad experience trying to implement internet redundancy,” Mulkey recalled. “He had hired an expensive Cisco consultant, purchased an expensive Cisco router, and yet the failover didn’t work. This was unfortunately a common story in the industry — internet redundancy and optimization was hard, complex, and expensive.”

Bigleaf aims to fix this problem with a cloud-based real-time routing service that helps ensure that a company’s most important applications are working properly. The startup sells a pre-configured router to customers, which is connected to a Bigleaf datacenter that helps automatically load-balance, failover, and prioritize the customer’s traffic across multiple internet connections.

Mulkey said the name for Bigleaf stems from the back of a leaf, where “you can see there’s redundancy in all the veins.”

“Take a living leaf and make a cut through it, it all stays alive because the redundant veins continue to deliver nutrients,” Mulkey said. “We apply the same natural principle to our network design.”

Bigleaf, which employs five, will use the fresh funds to bring on more staff and grow its sales channels.

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