The Bend Venture Conference is upon us. For the next two days, our not-so-little mountain town will be brimming with entrepreneurs, investors, startup experts, people who have already made it to the business Big Time and people who are just still working to get there.

This is my third year attending the BVC and I thought I’d offer up a little advice for how to make the most of Northwest’s largest angel conference.

First, check out today’s unConference. Presented by a little blog you might know, and hosted at BendTECH, the unConference is just that: an informal meetup of startup geeks that ends in an all-out pitch fest. It’s free. There’s beer. And the person with the winning pitch will present as part of the early stage company presentations at the BVC Friday. It’s pure entrepreneurial enthusiasm. Ideas and energy run amok, in a good way.

2015 BVC unConference

Bring a sweater. I’m not your mom (surprise!). But the Tower Theater will be packed Friday. So get there early and bring something to save yourself a seat, like a sweater or perhaps a light jacket.Then you can go have a muffin and morning mingle, knowing that you’ll have a prime place to seat come show time.

Don’t skip lunch. For at least three years, but probably way more, the BVC has organized an dine-around-town lunch scenario. After a morning of presentations and facing an afternoon of more, you might be tempted to sneak off during the noon hour and do some work. But you’d regret it. It’s a great time to meet people, and the groups that coalesce for lunch are always an interesting mix. And now I am sounding like your mom, BUT you never know who you’ll be eating next to you or what might come of it.

Smile at the presenters. For the most part, the founders on stage are still early in their entrepreneurial journeys. They’re passionate about their companies. They’ve been working hard on their presentations and Friday they’ll need to get on stage and sell the living daylights out of their businesses, all while answering questions from the panelists and theater full of people. It’s no small feat. And it takes a lot of guts. So give them a smile and let them know you get it — or at least pretend.

Enjoy the conference. Come say hello at the unConference and snag some StartupBend schwag. We’ll be tweeting and blogging our way through today and Friday, using #BVC2015. See you there!


Kelly Kearsley

Kelly Kearsley, the co-founder of, 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, Money Magazine, CNNMoney, MSNBC and Runner's World. See her work at or

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