It's been a jam-packed morning at the Bend Venture Conference. Six concept stage companies made their case for the $10,000 BendBroadband prize. Steve Sliwa, former CEO of Institu, entertained the audience with stories about developing and growing his UAV (drone) company and the challenges and benefits of doing that in a small place.<br />

It’s been a jam-packed morning at the Bend Venture Conference. Six concept stage companies made their case for the $10,000 BendBroadband prize. Steve Sliwa, former CEO of Institu, entertained the audience with stories about developing and growing his UAV (drone) company and the challenges and benefits of doing that in a small place.

The big dogs will present after lunch. These are the five launch stage companies hoping to earn some of the nearly $700,000 total investment. That number includes side car investments and a few prizes up for grabs.

The takeaways half-way through:

  • The concept stage companies just killed it. One after another these Central Oregon entrepreneurs got on stage and impressed the audience with their unique ideas and plans for growing them into businesses. Wild card The Handsel joined the five finalists who came through the BVC process.
  • There are lots of firsts/biggest happenings: More than 50% of the crowd are first-time BVC attendees. The amount up for investment is the largest in BVC’s 11 year history.
  • Sliwa is a true storyteller. His recounting of drone missions and competitions and all the ways his company benefited from luck — and a lot of really smart, strategic thinking — certainly entertained the audience. And his tips likely benefited many entrepreneurs in the audience.

And now comes the big show and big money. Watch it live here.

Kelly Kearsley

Kelly Kearsley, the co-founder of StartupBend.com, is passionate about startups, entrepreneurship and Bend. In addition to writing this blog, she creates content and manages content projects for global financial companies, tech firms and startups. She began her career as a newspaper journalist and later worked as a freelance writer. Her work has appeared in WSJ.com, Money Magazine, CNNMoney, MSNBC and Runner's World. See her work at kellykearsley.contently.com or kellykearsley.com.

You can reach Kelly by email at [email protected].
Kelly Kearsley