Month: September 2016

Here are the BVC Social Impact and Growth Stage Finalists

The Bend Venture Conference has announced the finalists for the Social Impact and Growth Stage tracks. The first is a new track aimed at for-profit companies with business models that include a social or environment mission. The winning startup could receive an investment between $75,000 and $150,000. The Social Impact Track competition will take place on Thursday, Oct. 13.

The startups competing are:

  • Hemex Health (Portland, Ore.): Improves millions of lives in underserved countries by providing new diagnostics for malaria and sickle cell disease where there’s currently no viable test available.
  • OpConnect (Portland, Ore.): Sells and operates smart electric vehicle charging stations.
  • Sudara (Bend, Ore.): Designs and manufactures beautiful products in India, sold via e-commerce, providing jobs for survivors of sex-trafficking.
  • TryECO (Portland, Ore.): Develops super absorbent polymers that are soil amendments and seed coatings, which increase crop yields with less water while improving soil tilth and biologics.

Get Ready for Tenth Month: October is Conferences and Ideas Galore in Bend

You might have noticed that October has gotten a little busy — and we’re not talking about trying to find just the right pieces for your amazing Harry Potter Halloween costume. In Bend, the best of all fall months is now host to a plethora of independently organized conferences, including Bend Venture, Bend Design, Swivel, the unConference, the Venture Out Festival and BendFilm. Visit Bend has designated the whole to-do as Tenth Month, a month-long SXSW-ish celebration of ideas and innovation.

There’s a lot happening. You can learn about all sorts of things, meet all sorts of interesting people and at the very least, go to some fun parties. It’s like college, but less homework and probably better clothes.

Here are some of the Tenth Month events to put on your calendar.

Does Central Oregon Need More Product Managers? Survey Asks Employers Whether Local PM Program Could Help

How do you become a product manager or product marketer? In many cases, it’s via several years of on-the-job learning to master the skills you need for this key position.

However, some business and education leaders in the community are considering creating a product management certificate or degree program to fast track this process, and possibly fill a local talent gap as well. The group includes Cari Baldwin and Bruce Cleveland, the duo behind BendPoly; Yong Bakos, the new OSU-Cascades CS professor; Matt Abrams, with Seven Peaks; and Libby Unger, founder and CEO of Lumineau, a management consulting firm.

This process is just getting started. First, the group wants to know whether Central Oregon employers are in need of product managers. They’re asking companies to take this 10 question survey regarding the demand for the position, interest in product interns and their willingness to support a certificate or a degree program. Filling out the survey will just take five minutes.

And the 5 Early Stage BVC Finalists Are …. CushCore, Fire Funder, Free Rain Designs, Hytchr and InvestiPro

Well conference season has officially kicked off in Bend. Last night’s PubTalk was the annual pitch-off between 10 startups, all of which were competing for a spot on the Bend Venture Conference stage and a chance to win the BendBroadband $15,000 early stage award. Everyone made great pitches and the audience voted. The winners are:

  • CushCore Adam Krefting and Dan Hallada got much love from the audience for their startup, which makes an inner-tire suspension system for mountain bikes. Though bike technology has evolved radically, “we’re still riding on the same tires that we were 100 years ago.” The CushCore inner-tire system offers the benefits of a light-weight tire, with burliness of a heavy-duty tire. These guys come from motorcycle backgrounds and they know things about tires and bikes.
  • Fire Funder Sam Lambert, the 2013 winner of the BendBroadband early stage prize, is back with another startup to help his first startup. Fire Funder is a crowdfunding platform specifically for outdoor sports related companies. You might recall that he founded Ochoco Arms, which makes a shotgun laser siting technology. When he went to raise funds via some tried and true crowdfunding sites, they weren’t keen on featuring a weapons company. More broadly, he realized that the sites didn’t really have outlets for sporting/hunting/outdoor products. “I hit a wall, so I decided to build a door,” he says.
  • Free Rain Designs “We need to be growing our own food and we need to be conserving water,” says Free Rain Founder Chip Dixon. His two products do just that. The Cube is a more aesthetically pleasing option for rainwater collection, instead of the typical barrels commonly used now; and The Hexagarden, is a raised bed gardening system in a hexagon shape. The latter makes sense for all sorts of reasons, Chip says, including the fact it’s ADA accessible and that plants don’t grow in square shapes. Truth.
  • Hytchr Soren Wrenn describes his startup at the Uber for photography. Here is the deal: There are a bazillion people taking photos — good photos — with their phones and sharing them via social media. With Hytchr, brands could tap into this plethora of content and the creators could get paid when their photos are used. Blockchain technology, the same tech that powers bitcoin, will help keep track of the photo’s original owners as they move through various transactions.
  • InvestiPro Founder and longtime HR professional Dana Barbato has debuted a cloud-based software platform that simplifies how employers conduct workplace investigations. The software has been available for a hot minute (since August) and it’s already a finalist for next best HR tech at the upcoming HR Technology Conference, she told the crowd.

Congratulations to these startups and to all the startups that pitched last night. To one, you were polished, professional and passionate. Other highlights of the evening included:

  • Emcee Julie Harrelson helping the crowd kill time with a Tom Petty sing-a-long.
  • These meatballs, which Justin Johnson from LeadMethod, claims were amazing and he used them to make tiny meatballs sandwiches throughout the event. Next time you’re at PubTalk, sit next to him.
  • Finding the hidden bar at McMenamins with a bunch of startupy friends after the show was over. My mind was blown. Don’t tell ANYONE about it, okay?

Alright, the annual Fall Funfest of Startupy Stuff is now underway. We’ll see you next at the unConference on 10/12, where other early stage startups can get the chance to pitch and then win the wildcard spot on the BVC stage. There’s just 15 spots, and they’re first come, first serve. Later that evening is the Venture Out Festival, with keynote speaker Kevin Pearce, the former professional snowboarder who is now a motivational speaker and advocate for brain injury and down syndrome.

The unConference is 10/12! Pitch Your Biz Idea, Vote on Startups, Win the Wild Card Spot on the BVC Stage!

Want to win the wild card, early stage spot at the Bend Venture Conference and a chance to compete for $15,000 early stage prize? Want to drink free beer, listen to awesome ideas and cheer on general entrepreneurness?

Then you better come to the seventh annual unConference, scheduled for 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 12. This year we’re keeping the un — that is a casual, fun, low-tech pitch fest, no powerpoints, no lengthy presentations, no stress — and adding more fun.

The event will be at the Capitol in downtown Bend. All are welcome. It’s organized by the Tech Alliance of Central Oregon and this blog, and sponsored by BendBroadband. Startup founders can sign up to pitch as soon as the door opens. We have 15 slots and they are first come, first serve.

Outdoor Startupy Goodness: The Semifinalists for the First Ever Venture Out Festival Are …

Bend Outdoor Worx announced today the 10 semifinalists for the new Venture Out Festival, the first venture event focused on the outdoor industry. Startups will can compete in either the early stage or growth stage categories, and they’ll vie for a $10,000 Breakout Award or the $100,000 Ready to Roll investment award respectively.

BOW, Central Oregon’s outdoor industry accelerator, received applications from 30 outdoor companies for the festival. A panel of BOW and industry mentors narrowed the group down to seven each for early and growth stage. BOW will announce the three finalists for each category after further due diligence and review. The Venture Out Festival is scheduled for Oct. 12 at the Tower Theater in Bend.

I don’t know about you, but seeing all these outdoor startups just percolating right here in Bend — and alright, other places in Oregon, but mostly Bend — warms the cockles of my heart. And those cockles were chilly. It just so much entreprenuerness. So much outdoor awesomeness. And also, in one case, it’s swimsuit that you can carry on your keychain. Read on.

#Julieselfie: 3 Tips for Entrepreneurs from the CEO of KIALOA, Bend-based paddle company

Julie Harrelson, CEO of the Harrelson Group, Fund Manager of Cascade Angels, has a beloved penchant for taking selfies with entrepreneurs, investors and people of Oregon who support building a strong Oregon through entrepreneurialism. This blog continues a series of selfies + blogs about the amazing people she’s met in the last couple of years. #julieselfie

Recently, I had a wonderful visit with Meg Chun, co-founder and CEO at KIALOA, a Bend-based paddle company. Our conversation covered the early days of the company in Hawaii and making paddles on the lanai, moving to Bend and working out of a garage, her international paddle collection and Central Oregon’s growth.

Where did the idea come from for KIALOA and why Central Oregon?

KIALOA started on Oahu. My husband Dave and I were avid outrigger paddlers and Dave felt that there was a way to improve upon the paddles that we were using. He had strong beliefs about paddle design so he started building paddles on our lanai.

New Tech in Bend! Simbaware Targets Medical Device Manufacturers

There are a few tech companies in Bend building enterprise SaaS products for businesses in that mysterious middle: Too big for a simple, off-the-shelf solutions, but not large enough to afford costly, custom software employed by giant brands.

Simbaware is one of the newest in this realm. The startup has created a quality management system (QMS) for small to mid-sized, medical device manufacturers. Now forgive me for a sec while I unleash a flurry of acronyms on you: It’s QMS SaaS for SMBs. To help them meet FDA requirements. FTW!

So many letters. What does it all mean? Settle in for a few minutes because it’s time to learn something. First, the good news for anyone needing a medical device is that the FDA does not let companies just make them willy nilly.