Month: January 2019

Bend Smart Candle Startup LuDela Heads to Techstars Boulder

If you have the chance to attend last year’s Bend Venture Conference, then you probably saw the wonder that was LuDela candles — smart, real-flame candles that you can turn on with a remote (or with your Alexa). Well the company also caught the attention of Techstars Boulder, and will be joining the accelerator’s 13th class in Colorado.

LuDela is part of the 10-company cohort, which includes six startups from Colorado. Founder Jamie Bianchini is headed to Boulder for the three-month program. His company is currently housed at BendTECH, and Jamie plans to return Central Oregon after Techstars wraps up.

Jamie took second place at unConference and was a BVC early stage finalist. He started his company after experiencing a candle fire while on a bike trip in western Africa. He wanted to develop a safer candle that still offered that real-life experience.

Congratulations to Jamie and the LuDela team.

 

Is Your Startup Eligible for a $100k Business Oregon Grant?

The BendTECH coworking space has been buzzing a bit this week as people investigate whether they should/can apply for up to $100,000 in grant funding from Business Oregon. The grants aim to help early stage startups commercialize their science, research and technology.

“Without an early source of non-dilutive capital, promising companies cannot live up to their full potential. Early public investment in these innovative companies will support the ability to scale up in Oregon, creating new technologies, products, and jobs,” according to the RFP.

The grants target startups with science or research in the following industries: active lifestyle, advanced manufacturing, natural resources, life science applications, advanced materials, and clean tech/impact investing.

To ensure that applicants have or are receiving adequate wrap-around services, “eligible companies should have existing relationships with service providers like Signature Research Centers, University Tech Transfer Offices and related incubators or accelerators, awardees of Oregon Growth Board funding, or Business Oregon innovation partner organizations.”

The list includes 80 different organizations, including our very own OSU-Cascades Co-Lab. The applications are due Feb. 1. If you’d like more information, here is the RFP and there’s also more information at the Business Oregon website.

Bend is the Work from Home Capital of America

The state’s Office of Economic Analysis put out some interesting research this morning that concludes that Bend is the “Work from Home Capital of America.” According to economist Josh Lehner, 12.1% of people living in Bend report that they work from home. Medford comes in at number 4 and Portland ranks 21st.

These workers are working across a wide range of industries, and tend to earn more than the median wage.

“The second major item I found was that when looking at Bend, Eugene, and Medford specifically, these individuals who work from home are diversifying their regional economies. I feel like I’m burying the lede here because this is, in my mind, the most important finding from an economic perspective. That is, the occupations that have high local concentrations in those working from home, are also underrepresented occupations when looking at the regional economy.

In Bend we can see this among Architecture and Engineering, Business, Finance, Legal, and Arts, Design, and Entertainment occupations. These are individuals who most likely want to live in a place like Bend and either brought their job with them or set out on their own to make it work, which we have discussed before with Bend.”

This is research definitely confirms what probably most of us have already noticed — a lot of people work from home here. It also highlights the creativity that many people employ to make moving here work for them from a career perspective. I can say: In the BendTECH coworking space, where I have an office, there’s people working for companies in Seattle, California and all over the country. There’s also a significant number of people (myself included) who are self-employed, and tap into a market of clients in larger, metro areas.

The result, Josh notes, is good for Bend and good for the people who have made this remote work thing work. Of course, these jobs may be more at risk in a downturn …

“However this is just a risk and not a foregone conclusion. Some businesses do not even have physical space any more, for instance. These trends will be interesting to watch in general and over the next business cycle. Now if we could just get more start-ups and better productivity growth,” Josh writes.

Lastly, a shameless pitch for the nonprofit coworking space of which I’m chair of the board. Sometimes working from home is lonely, uninspiring and distracting (that was my experience). If you’re looking for some awesome coworkers, community, and a reason to get out of your house, BendTECH is a great option.

Bend Robotic Sex Toy Startup Wins CES Award, Then Gets it Taken Away. Startup Pens Open Letter to Call Out Gender Bias.

A Bend-based robotic sex toy startup Lora DiCarlo won a CES Robotics Innovation Award — only to have it rescinded a month later. As the tech show kicks off in Las Vegas today, founder Lora Haddock is “calling out the organization for gender bias and inconsistency in addressing sex-positive women’s products versus male-oriented devices,” according to a story in Venture Beat. The story notes that one of the most puzzling aspects of the situation is that sex toys are not actually banned at CES.

More on that momentarily. This is an innovative Bend startup that spent much of the fall working away in the OSU-Cascades Co-Lab in Bend. There’s many things to love about Lora DiCarlo’s mission and journey. The startup’s first product, the Ose personal massager, was developed in partnership with the OSU robotics engineering laboratory and by a team of nearly all women engineers. It’s the subject of eight pending patents, the company reports.

Lora is unabashedly passionate about Ose and exceptionally proud of her team’s work. In the Venture Beat article, she says “We don’t hide what we do, and we firmly believe that women, non-binary, gender non-conforming, and LGBTQI folks should be vocally claiming our space in pleasure and tech — both of which are still heavily dominated by male-CEOs and executives.”

“We also believe that society needs to drop the taboo around sex and sexuality — it’s a part of life and health that absolutely should be part of mainstream discourse. No shaming, no embarrassment, just the comfort and freedom to be yourself and enjoy your own body,” she says.

The Venture Beat piece continues …
=&0=&While there are sex and sexual health products at CES, it seems that CES/CTA administration applies the rules differently for companies and products based on the gender of their customers. Men’s sexuality is allowed to be explicit with a literal sex robot in the shape of an unrealistically proportioned woman and VR porn in point of pride along the aisle. Female sexuality, on the other hand, is heavily muted if not outright banned. You cannot pretend to be unbiased if you allow a sex robot for men but not a vagina-focused robotic massager for blended orgasm.
CES kicks off today and the Lora DiCarlo team is still attending, showing its product at a party at the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas tonight. The team also plans to attend AVN, a porn show in Las Vegas at the end of January, according to Venture Beat.