Steve Sliwa, former CEO of Institu and current CEO of Seeq, will be the keynote speaker at this year's Bend Venture Conference.<br />

Steve Sliwa, former CEO of Institu and current CEO of Seeq, will be the keynote speaker at this year’s Bend Venture Conference.

Sliwa grew Institu, which creates unmanned aircraft systems, from four employees to more than 800. He raised five separate rounds of venture capital and ultimately sold the company to Boeing for more than $400 million in 2008. So he knows a thing or two about successful startups. Sliwa will talk about the lessons he learned in building Institu and how he turned the company’s location in Bingen, a tiny town on the Washington side of the Columbia River, from a challenge to an advantage.

Sliwa is now head of Seeq, a Seattle-based startup that is developing software to help manufacturing companies analyze their industrial process data. Sliwa will talk more about this new venture as well.

The BVC will take place on Oct. 17th at the Tower Theater in Bend. The annual event, which is Oregon’s largest angel conference, is divided into two categories. There’s five launch stage and five concept stage companies that are each vying for investment and cash prizes. The latter compete for a $10,000 prize from BendBroadband. Meanwhile the launch stage finalists have the chance to win a $250,000 (or larger) investment.

The competing companies present on stage. They’re judged by a panel of investors, entrepreneurs and VCs. The pitches themselves are interesting and give great insight into the creative endeavors happening here and around Oregon. But especially if you’re an entrepreneur or working with a startup, hearing the feedback the judges provide on the pitches and the questions they ask on stage is an invaluable part of the conference.

Tickets are on sale now.

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