Bend Outdoor Worx announced today the 10 semifinalists for the new Venture Out Festival, the first venture event focused on the outdoor industry. Startups will can compete in either the early stage or growth stage categories, and they’ll vie for a $10,000 Breakout Award or the $100,000 Ready to Roll investment award respectively.

BOW, Central Oregon’s outdoor industry accelerator, received applications from 30 outdoor companies for the festival. A panel of BOW and industry mentors narrowed the group down to seven each for early and growth stage. BOW will announce the three finalists for each category after further due diligence and review. The Venture Out Festival is scheduled for Oct. 12 at the Tower Theater in Bend.

I don’t know about you, but seeing all these outdoor startups just percolating right here in Bend — and alright, other places in Oregon, but mostly Bend — warms the cockles of my heart. And those cockles were chilly. It just so much entreprenuerness. So much outdoor awesomeness. And also, in one case, it’s swimsuit that you can carry on your keychain. Read on.

The finalists for the early stage award are:

  • Bosky Optics (Portland Oregon), an unconventional performance eyewear company using natural & sustainable materials.
  • CushCore (Bend, Oregon), developers of the world’s first “Inner-Tire Suspension System.
  • Pierce Footwear (Bend, Oregon), performance footwear that solves lacing issues with folks of special needs, limited mobility and athletes of all ages.
  • Tougher (Corvallis, Oregon) durable and functional work wear designed specifically for women.
  • Wedgis (Bend, Oregon) innovative swimwear that wedges into a tiny, waterproof, and lightweight pouch designed to take anywhere.

The growth stage includes one of the semifinalists for the Bend Venture Conference (RipClear), which will kick off the day after the Venture Out Festival, as well as our friends at SnoPlanks and Zeolios. It’s a good crew! The semi finalists for the Ready to Roll Investment Award are:

  • Fat Chance Bicycles (Ashland, Oregon), an iconic high-end mountain bike brand of the 80’s & 90’s re-launched in 2015.
  • iOmounts (Basalt, Colorado),  simplest and most versatile universal mounting system for mobile devices including mounts for outdoor products such as the Nomad for mountain bikes.
  • RipClear (Bend, Oregon), lens protectors for optics that adhere directly to the lens with military rated clarity with patented technology.
  • SnoPlanks (Bend, Oregon) handcrafted bamboo snowboards and skis.
  • Zealios (Bend, Oregon), performance personal care products for endurance athletes.

The Venture Out Festival is sponsored by Trigen Investments, which is funding the big Ready to Roll Award investment, as well as  Bend Radio Group and HydroFlask, which are funding the Breakout Award. DrinkTanks, US Bank, and Hand in Hand Productions are also sponsors. Tickets will be available at the door and online. For more information visit bendoutdoorworx.com.

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