Month: December 2016

The Top 10 Most Read StartupBend Posts for 2016

Bend’s startup community worked hard in 2016 and we have a lot to show for it. We watched several founders hustle and hire, with many companies adding employees to their ranks, not to mention customers. Others saw 2016 as the year to launch.

Our local funds continued to support and invest in Oregon companies, pumping in the working capital that fuels startup growth. And the support system around Central Oregon entrepreneurs became even more robust. That’s the tiniest of tiny recaps, but all in all — good work team!

However, before we forge ahead, here’s a quick look back at the most popular StartupBend stories of 2016, as deemed by reader visitors. As always, thanks for reading and more importantly, for participating in this unique community. It’s a good one.

Pierce Footwear Seeks Investment to Launch Lace-less Running Shoe Line

George Pierce’s garage looks like combination of a running shoe store and a Franken-shoe workshop. There are shelves filled with dozens of brands of shoes, many of which George has ripped apart, modified and re-engineered all in with the aim of getting rid of the shoelaces.

Why? “I was losing time during duathlon transitions getting my shoes on and off. I wanted a better way,” George says. His better way – a Bend startup called Pierce Footwear – provides professional athletes, several local runners and the entire U.S. Special Olympics Winter Team with an innovative lace-less shoe.

Now George is starting to raise a Series A to ramp production of his shoes and make them even more widely available.

From couch to Worlds

George’s background is mix of tech, entrepreneurship and professional athletics. Before starting Pierce Footwear in 2013, he spent a decade working in Silicon Valley. He founded a tech company, which gave employers a way to track their employees’ wellness, that was acquired in 2008.

FoundersPad Invests in Bend VR Startup, ZeroTransform

Last week FoundersPad announced the formation of its new fund. This week that fund announced its first investment in ZeroTransform, a Bend-based virtual reality gaming startup. To quote our good friend Ferris Bueller, life moves pretty fast.

FoundersPad has actually been mentoring ZeroTransform for the past year. The early-stage venture fund joins other investors in the startup, including Bend-based Cascade Angels. Neither fund announced investment amounts, but ZeroTransform COO Scott Bayless told the Bulletin earlier this year that he was hoping to complete a $500,000 round by November.

From FoundersPad:
“This is an exciting market with a tremendous amount of potential. ZeroTransform has not only been an innovator in bringing immersive cinematic VR games to life, but is well positioned to be one of the premier game developers in this emerging market,” says Chris Capdevila, Principal at FoundersPad. “With the VR hardware wars heating up, significant improvement in the user experience and dropping prices, VR gaming is becoming a sought-after reality for the mass market.”

FoundersPad Launches New, Early Stage Fund for PNW Startups

Early stage startups in the PNW now have another potential source for funding — and expert guidance. Bend-based FoundersPad announced the closing of a new fund, which will complement its revamped mentorship program. The early-stage fund expects to invest between $25,000 and $75,000 per startups, funding between four and six startups each year. The FoundersPad team isn’t taking applications, but plans to find startups that have already gained some early customer traction, have a balanced founders team, haven’t taken on other professional capital and are primed for growth. “Launching this new fund to complement our deep mentorship approach lets FoundersPad help our portfolio companies in a much more effective way,” says Jason Moyer, the FoundersPad fund manager, in a news release. “Most early stage companies need expertise and capital, typically in that order, and FoundersPad is strongly positioned to provide both.” More from the release:
FoundersPad’s unique model delivers extensive hands-on support to each portfolio company with a carefully curated team of relevant mentors who are committed to de-risk and grow their business.
“Being a Founder is often a long, brutal and lonely journey. It’s survival of the fittest at its very best, where mistakes can be deadly,” said FoundersPad Principal, Chris Capdevila. “Unlike many venture funds that promise support for their portfolio companies and repeatedly fail to deliver, we provide founders an unfair advantage on their journey with intense mentoring from successful founders who have walked in their shoes and the right amount of capital at the right time.”
Bend startups Amplion, CrowdStreet and Droplr are all products of FoundersPad. The early-stage fund’s principals also include Dino Vendetti and Matt Abrams, general partner and investment partner as Seven Peaks Ventures, respectively. FounderPad’s goal is to help startups mature to the point where they’re eligible for further funding, from VCs such as Seven Peaks and beyond. Congrats FP team. Looking forward to a new year of new startups and new investments.

Biz and Education Leaders Pursuing Entrepreneurship and Innovation High School for Bend

Sometimes the timing for things seems to be just right. That may be the case for a proposed magnet high school in Bend focused on entrepreneurship and innovation, aiming to open in the Fall 2018.

The concept is being developed jointly by Bend business leaders, local nonprofits Looking Forward and Opportunity Knocks, the High Desert Education Service District and the Bend-La Pine School District.

“What we’re excited about is that this is a partnership with our larger business community, and we’re really engaging with them in the design and concept of the school,” Jay Mathisen, deputy superintendent of Bend-La Pine Schools, said this morning.

Back to that timing. Jay says that the district was already in the process of considering how to accommodate its growing student body at the high school level. At the same time, Preston Callicott, Five Talent CEO (and resident community doer) and the folks at Looking Forward (a whole group of doers) had been discussing the potential for an innovation and entrepreneurship-themed high school.

Tech Soft 3D Begins to Build Out Bend Dev Team, Looking to Hire

Tech Soft 3D is one of those Bend tech companies that can fly under your radar — but don’t let it. The company employs nearly 100 people around the world, with offices in Bend, Japan, France, England, Berkeley, Ohio and soon Germany. CEO Ron Fritz is now aiming to grow a development team here.

“We think this is a great time to begin adding to our tech talent,” Ron says.

More on that in a moment. But first, Tech Soft 3D does really cool things. In addition to creating the 3D technology that underpins the PDF standard, the company also provides software development tools that help software teams create all sorts of 3D engineering applications for manufacturing, architecture, engineering and construction, metrology, geospatial, mining and more.

Bend-based DubsLabs KickStarts On-Ear, Flat Headphones, Which Allow You to Hear Your Surroundings and Music While Skiing, Biking and More

The best thing about working in a co-working space is getting to meet people doing really interesting things. Today, that person was Eric Dubs, creator of Versafit, wireless, on-ear headphones. He launched a Kickstarter for the product a few hours ago, aiming to raise $35,000, to fund the headphone production.

I couldn’t help but walk over to his desk to learn more, after hearing his team’s excitement about their first backers. I’m glad I did, and you will be too. Versafit headphones are flat, bendable headphones that rest on top of your ears.

As Eric explains, this not only makes them more comfortable than traditional ear buds, but it also allows you to still hear noise from the outside. This makes them a great, safe option for people listening to music, who also need to be aware of their surroundings, such as mt. biker, skiers, snowboarders, or people just walking down the street.

Happy Holidays! We Got You … a Job! Manzama, G5, All Hiring

Hello to our most favorite blog readers (that’s you). Could you imagine a better way to ring in a new year, than with a new j-o-b at a great tech company right here in Bend? If you happen to know someone who is job hunting then give them the GIFT of the startupbend jobs board, which is currently overflowing with some awesome opportunities.

They’ll be this excited …


So who is hiring? Well thank you so much asking. This is what we’ve got.


Senior Front End Engineer
Senior Software Engineer
Senior Search Engineer

Marketing Director


Client Engagement Specialist
Senior Product Manager
Content Strategy Manager
VP of Client Success
Chief People Officer

In related news, there’s also a potentially great opportunity to snag a startup that has already been started. James Gentes, co-founder at and also co-founder of StartupBend, is looking for someone to takeover his previous startup, StartupCommunity, a platform that connects entrepreneurs with mentors, investors, and other founders. It’s already used by economic development organizations, investment groups, and academic institutions.