Bend was a flurry of startup love last night as 10 founders pitched their concept-stage ideas to a packed PubTalk house. The event sold out and more than 300 people watched the pitches from three separate rooms at McMenamins downtown. The startup founders were vying for a chance to present at the Bend Venture Conference, and ultimately win $10,000 for their businesses. The audience voted on five to move forward.
- Bird Dog Bioventures: Dr. Patrick Young, a clinical veterinarian, was treating horses with Pigeon Fever, a disease that causes abscesses in the animals, and feeling bad for his patients. So he developed a vaccine for the disease, and licensed it to a large-animal biologics company. With BDBV he wants to do more of the same, essentially operating in the sweet spot of solving problems that afflict animals and their owners, but that don’t attract the attention of larger companies. He has more ideas including a recovery drink for horses. Favorite quote from Young: “I don’t know why I keep saying ‘we.’ It’s just me and this frog I have in my pocket.”
- Cairn: Founder Rob Little launched his subscription box for outdoor lovers in March. He’s already garnered 300 subscribers, with very little marketing. He passed out some Cairn boxes (filled with free stuff!) and talked about his strategy of both selling subscriptions to the boxes as well as providing marketing analytics and another retail site for product manufacturers. “We’re changing the way people find and purchase outdoor products,” he says.
- Free Range Equipment Tosch Roy, a born-and-bred Bendite, has a dream. And that dream is to make backpacks for mountaineering, climbing and the like that don’t have a bunch of straps and buckles and other junk getting in the way your performance. The packs are designed and manufactured here. And they happen to be “sexy as hell,” according to Roy. He’s currently sewing the packs himself. Should he win the $10k from BVC, he’d move away from that and do some hiring.
- KidRunner Founder Will Warne has identified a problem. The design of jogging strollers hasn’t been improved upon, well, ever. Warne reports that parents spend $390 million on jogging strollers a year. “Then they get an awkward shopping cart,” he says. He developed KidRunner, which is a high-performance, wheeled, kid carrier that you connect to your waist and pull. So you can run, walk and hike hands free. Does it work? Well professional runner Max King recently won the BigFoot 10k race pulling his daughter Hazel in a KidRunner. He averaged 5:22 per mile. (Here’s the video).
- Volcano Veggies So Jimmy and Shannon Sbarra are farming organic vegetables and fish, in vertical beds, indoors, year-round in downtown Bend. Just chew on that for a minute. Vertical farming. Unaffected by weather. Jimmy told the PubTalk crowd about their triple bottom line, and their vision of a new way to produce healthy, organic food. The idea really struck a chord with the audience (I might have been slow clapping). Everyone was buzzing about VV after the show. They’re already up and running. They provide veggies to Bend restaurants, grocery stores and individual buyers. They can’t keep up with demand. They need the money to grow.
The competition continues. Stay tuned. We will actually be blogging and tweeting from the BVC. Here are few other tidbits of news from Thursday’s PubTalk:
- Brian Vierra, EDCO’s venture catalyst, reported that committed investment to the BVC is now north of $400,000. That’s the largest amount ever made available to BVC participants.
- BendTECH (oh hello, that’s us) is hosting the unConference on Oct. 16, the night before the BVC. The informal event will be held in the new BendTECH co-working space, which is actually currently under construction. We’ll provide the free beer. But it’s BYOHH (bring your own hard hat).
- There’s a sixth, wild card spot open for a concept stage company to pitch at the BVC. Just show up at the unConference, make your pitch — and depending on how the audience votes, you could win the chance to pitch on the concept stage the next day.
You can reach Kelly by email at [email protected].