Yessss! First-Ever Innovation Day Connects People, Projects and Ideas

Did you go to Innovation Day yesterday? Because if you did, then let’s talk about how awesome it was — and if you didn’t then let me tell you about it. Put on by Opportunity Knocks, the Bend Chamber and OSU-Cascades with the help of many other organizations, Innovation Day presented a chance to meet innovators from around Bend, hear their ideas and then offer your own.

First of all, we all get stuck in the rut of talking with the same people in our industry or going to events about topics we’re familiar with. It’s human nature, but it creates community silos and frankly, missed opportunities. In fact, there’s some fascinating research by University of Chicago business professor Ronald Burt that highlights the benefits of engaging with people from different social clusters (I wrote some about it for SoFi here).

BVC Alum Raises $8 Million Series B w/ Investment from Seven Peaks Ventures — a Portland startup with Bend connections — announced today that it closed an $8 million Series B funding road. The round was led by B Capital Group, and included additional investment from Seven Peaks Ventures. has developed a virtual care solution that aims to improve healthcare efficiencies and outcomes, while reducing costs for common health conditions. The company caught Seven Peaks attention at the Bend Venture Conference three years ago, when the company pitched on the growth stage. The Bend-based VC firm awarded a $100,000 investment as part of the conference. Seven Peaks then subsequently invested in’s $3.5 million Series A as well. With the latest funding round the startup has raised $11.5 million.

Hey Startups! The Bend Venture Conference is Accepting Applications Through Aug. 11

Remember how much fun the Bend Venture Conference was last year? Remember when they rolled out the social impact track? Or when they just kept handing out giant checks for a total of $4 million and everyone was just crying and cheering? That was fun. Guess what? It’s happening again and if you’re a startup founder who wants to be on the stage, then the time to apply is now.

From our friends at EDCO:

This year’s conference will once again feature three competition categories: Growth Stage, Early Stage and Social Impact. The application period is open now through August 11th.

  • Growth Stage Competition: This category is open to companies that have a proven concept, have generated initial revenues and are prepared to scale quickly with investment. Applicants can be located anywhere in the U.S. To apply, click here.
  • Early Stage Competition: This category is open to companies that have a great idea and are close to “proof of concept.” They are pre-revenue (or very early-revenue) and are in the process of testing their product in the market. Applicants must be located in Central Oregon. To apply, click here.
  • Social Impact Competition: Now in its second year, this category is open to for-profit companies, whose business models are integrated with a mission to have a significant and measurable social or environmental impact. Applicants should be aiming to generate long-term enterprise value and attractive returns on capital.Applicants must be located in Oregon. To apply, click here.

“Bend Venture Conference truly elevated venture and angel investing in Oregon last year by deploying nearly $4 million to ten companies. It was a banner year with over 90 impressive applicants. We continue to attract some of the most innovative companies in the west to compete for these investments. And at the same time, there’s room for companies of all stages to compete within our three categories,” said Brian Vierra, EDCO’s Venture Catalyst.

Cookie News! FoundersPad Invests in Bend-Based No-Bake Cookie Company

Please stop what you’re doing so that we can talk about cookies. Specifically, FoundersPad, Bend’s own early-stage venture fund plus mentoring, has made an investment in The No-Bake Cookie Company. FoundersPad is also actively mentoring the company to help speed up its growth and put more cookies into more stores around the country. FYI if you’re ever given a choice between cookies and more cookies, the latter is always the right answer.

From the FoundersPad news release:

Since partnering with The No-Bake Cookie Company, FoundersPad has helped raise $500,000 in conjunction with CircleUp. The company is experiencing rapid growth, hiring locally for a second shift, expanding their national sales team, and selling cookies in an additional 2,000 stores nationwide, bringing them to a total of over 6,500 stores.

Check Out Bend’s First Innovation Day July 18th: Meet Local Innovators, Inspiring Entrepreneurs and Creative Business Leaders

There’s a new event happening this summer and it’s one you don’t want to miss! Discover what makes Central Oregon so innovative at the first Innovation Day on July 18th at OSU-Cascades.

The event is coordinated by Opportunity Knocks and supported by a host of organizations including TAO, OSU-Cascades, The Bend Chamber and BendTECH. Here’s more from the organizers:

Innovation Day 2017 is a first-time Bend event that, similar to TEDxBend, PPP, and the Bend Venture Conference, will become a permanent fixture in Bend’s collaborative, people-driven culture.

The event will feature a speed-dating format allowing you to meet, hear and chat with our region’s leading innovators. Table discussion facilitators will include Scott Allan from HydroFlask talking with you about his company’s unusual culture, Shannon Keith sharing Sudara’s social impact concept, Jim Schell and Roger Lee discussing the role of collaboration in Central Oregon’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, and Preston Callicott and Kelly Sparks will discuss the new Innovation District. And there’s so much more!

Julie Harrelson: 7 Lessons Learned from the Kauffman Foundation ESHIP Summit

By Julie Harrelson, Fund Manager for Cascade Angels

I was in Kansas City last week representing Oregon at the Kauffman Foundation ESHIP Summit with 430 entrepreneurial community builders including entrepreneurs, investors, educators, government and civic leaders, and economic developers from 48 states and 10 countries. The mission: share best practices to develop and design new knowledge, strategies and tools that will help move entrepreneurial communities/ecosystems forward. Stoked to be with a diverse group of like-minded ecosystem builders, I wanted to share some of my insights.

Here are my 7 takeaways from an inspiring conference: 

  • Collaboration is key. Bend specifically and Oregon generally are in the game on building an ecosystem with a collaborative approach across the state and region. Let’s keep this going!
  • According to Brad Feld, angel funds are key to ecosystems because it is important to free up local, community wealth to ensure entrepreneurs can raise the critical first $2M. His term for this is “for profit-philanthropy.”
  • While there is an increased interest in entrepreneurialism, we are in the midst of a 30-year decline in entrepreneurship. To reverse this, we must put the entrepreneur front and center and get them resources to build and scale successful companies.
  • Community conversations are key. Bend is lucky to have, Innovation Day, EDCO Pubtalks, Opportunity Knocks, and a million other efforts taking place #inbend!
  • Ecosystem builders, those who “connect, empower, and collaborate with others to build the whole system” can accelerate the success of a community. It’s a real job.
  • Certain groups are consistently underrepresented in the entrepreneurial community. When that is the case, fewer opportunities and jobs are created. Let’s ask different questions and be open to change.
  • Building ecosystems that are sustainable is hard work. We need to take care of ourselves and each other.

Although we were in Kansas, I left the conference thinking that, with regard to traditional ways of doing business, “we’re not in Kansas anymore.” We have increased confidence that we can innovate our way through challenges and opportunities to increase economic prosperity and a “new American dream that is accessible to us all.”

Seven Peaks Raising $30 Million Fund to Invest in PNW Startups

Bend-based Seven Peaks Ventures recently announced that they’re raising a second fund of $30 million to invest in up to two dozen startups around the Pacific Northwest. The VC’s first $7.4 million fund backed 20 companies, including Bend startups Droplr, Manzama and Amplion, as well as startups in Portland, San Francisco and Boulder. In a story in Geekwire today, general partner Dino Vendetti says:

“What we learned in Fund I is that there is a growing number of high quality startups and entrepreneurs who are building businesses in places like Seattle and Portland, and these entrepreneurs need the support and help from experienced investors with company-building backgrounds to help them navigate their journey in scaling their startups,” Vendetti told GeekWire.

New Bend Tech: Vector Remote Care Simplifies Device Monitoring

I’ve been wanting to learn more about Kevin Hoffman’s startup, Vector Remote Care, since he moved into BendTECH a few months ago, and I recently had the chance. As it turns out, Kevin comes to Oregon from Los Angeles, and brought his company with him. Even better: He actually started his company so that could move here—but more on that in a minute.

Kevin spent the first part of his career in medical device sales, selling implanted cardiac devices. As you’re probably aware, these devices wirelessly record all sorts of info that doctors want to see. But as Kevin realized, clinics needed to contact each individual manufacturer to get ahold of the patient reports.

“There’s five manufacturers for these devices and there’s five portals that you might have to checking on a daily basis,” Kevin says. Vector Remote Care solves that problem, offering clinics one platform where they can access all their patient device information.