Our startup ecosystem continues to grow–and the newest addition is an exciting one. Talena Barker and Christine Callahan recently launched BendX Bootcamp, a program aimed at helping women entrepreneurs transform their ideas for a company into reality. The program is accepting applications through July 15 and the first cohort will start in September. We caught up with Talena recently to learn more about BendX. You can also catch her in person at Thursday’s BendTECH Startup Resource Fair.
How did the idea for BendX Bootcamp come about?
The concept for the BendX Bootcamp first came up during conversations with Bend Chamber staff and members around the “Year of the Woman in Business” initiative. A group of women from all stages in business ownership were brainstorming what unfulfilled needs there are here in Central Oregon for women looking to start their own company. A comprehensive series of classes for early stage companies was definitely a serious need.
Do you have an example of the gap you saw?
Sure. When I was first getting Mission Limelight off the ground last year, I realized that the closest such program was in Portland – and that I needed that type of education, mentorship and network urgently. Thus, I ended up driving over the mountain to Portland for several days each week over a six week period to take part in the TiE XL Bootcamp (and I still drive over for the XXcelerate program!). It just made sense that given the rich and supportive startup environment we have here in Bend, that there should be a similar program. So Christine and I — we’re both early stage entrepreneurs — decided to take a run at filling that gap, and thus, the BendX Entrepreneurial Bootcamp for women began.
Why did you choose to focus your first cohort on women?
The reality is that women don’t currently see themselves as well-represented as men when it comes to being a founder/CEO of a company, they have less access to capital and less access to other resources to launch and grow their business. Providing a venue where we can focus on eliminating barriers and improving access for women is good for our whole community. There are statistics that show that even though women-led companies are currently receiving less than 3% of venture capital funding, these companies are less likely to fail, use less capital to get to success and have 12% higher annual revenues. If we can invest in helping women-founded companies get off the ground in the early stage, the dividends are great for the Central Oregon economy.
What do you want participants to gain from the bootcamp?
We’re committed to having real impact for women founders, and solid takeaway plans. First and foremost is to answer this question – do you have a viable business concept? If the only thing an entrepreneur learns through the program is that the concept isn’t viable or the timing isn’t right, that’s worth it. Secondly, participants will learn the basics of all the key aspects of launching and running a business, from business formation and accessing capital to building a team and developing a sales and marketing strategy. Finally, students will come away with a business plan, a 90-day action plan, a pitch deck and the necessary resources, network and mentors to help set their business up for success.
Lastly, how do you apply?
This first BendX cohort is limited to 30 founders to make sure everyone is able to get the focused attention they deserve. Applications are open now through July 15 at www.bendx.co, and final decisions will be made by August 1st.
You can reach Kelly by email at [email protected].