We’re excited to report that the eighth annual BendTECH unConference is back and scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 17th at the 1001 Tech Center. The unConference is fun-filled pitchfest for all manner of aspiring entrepreneurs, sponsored by Kollective, the City of Bend, Associated Technologies Council and the 1001 Tech Space.

The event traditionally kicks off the Bend Venture Conference week with a casual, energetic, beer and cowbell-themed celebration of how businesses start — with passionate people and their ideas.

Last year, the unConference featured more than 20 would-be founders pitching startup concepts to a cheering, packed house. The spots filled up in the span of six minutes, with people lined up outside early hopes of snagging one. And the audience voted on the winners.

Expect the same drill this year, with the addition of a couple cash prizes for the prevailing pitches. After talking with founders, the BendTECH board (myself included) wanted to offer something that would help the people pitching take their idea to the next level, whether it means paying for a first website or hiring a photographer to snap photos of your product prototype. Whatever it is, as it turns out, money helps.

First prize: $2,500
Second: $1,500
Third prize: Community desk membership at BendTECH

The event no longer offers the wildcard spot on the BVC stage. But have no fear: There’s still much exposure for your ideas, a chance to network with Bend’s awesome startup community and potential cash to boot.

Here’s the dirty details:

The BendTECH unConference
Tuesday, Oct. 17th
2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Thump @ the 1001 Tech Center

Fifteen spots open for pitches. First come, first serve. Open to anyone with a business idea they want to share. Pitches must be less than 3 minutes long. You get a mic. No slide decks or videos.

Rules: Not a lot. Winner gets the most votes. Vote one time. Don’t be a jerk.

For everyone attending: Free beer, free cowbells and, of course, additional refreshments available for purchase. We might also shoot some t-shirts into the crowd with a t-shirt gun. We’re working on it.