Both startup activity and funding is on the rise in Bend. Startups here received $15,850,000 in investment over the past year, according to Brian Vierra, EDCO’s venture catalyst.
Vierra tracks a portfolio of 75 Central Oregon startups, and one-third of them raised money over EDCO’s fiscal year, which ended June 30.
Vierra started his position in spring 2014 and doesn’t have equivalent data to make a clean comparison with the previous year, though it appears to be a marked uptick. His inherited records show that startups here received about $2 million the prior year.
“There is a clear and compelling increase in both startup activity and funding,” he says.
Here are some of the funding facts:
- The nearly $16 million in investment accounts for debt and equity raises, though the majority is equity.
- Though all industries are represented, most of the investment was made in tech.
- Most of the funding would be considered seed, or funding for early-stage startups.
Vierra says that even with the increase in startup funding, Oregon still faces a capital deficit. But things in Bend seem to be moving in the right direction.
“What it tells me is that there are a plethora of compelling ideas and concepts being turned into viable businesses,” he says. “When this happens, the money follows and I expect that amount of investment being made in Central Oregon startups to continue to increase.”
The availability of funds for startups coming straight out of Central Oregon has definitely grown. The Bend Venture Conference has evolved into the PNW’s largest angel conference, awarding more than $1 million in investments and prizes in 2014. Bend-based Cascade Angels raised $725,000 for its second fund, which was a 58% increase from the year before. Seven Peaks Ventures also invested in Bend and Portland startups over the past year.
So is $16 million a lot? A little? To your average blogger, it’s definitely not pocket change. And though some of the more mature tech companies might just eat $16 million for breakfast, the increase of seed funding here is crucial to the success of Bend startups. These first, small raises act as the accelerant that can help turn a spark of a good business into something bigger. That early stage funding plays a crucial role in the sustainability of our startup ecosystem — we’re excited to see what comes of it.