Lots happened at the BendTECH unConference Tuesday afternoon: A line of founders camped out to snag pitch spots, 18 people pitched their best business ideas, the crowd cheered and laughed, and some founders won cash and prizes. There was also a row of people making it rain on the winners. Good times.

2017 unConference winners w/ the BendTECH board.

The quick recap:

  • Tribe Pilot founder Matt Smith won $2,500 in a close race for first place. If you’re going to the Venture Out Festival and/or Bend Venture Conference you can catch Smith’s pitch for his group travel and adventure planning app again. Word on the street is he’s trying for a hat trick aka winning all three.
  • Zilaida Salgueiro, founder of Locals Compass, won the $1,500 second place prize for her personalized travel itineraries startup. Locals Compass plans to be in 10 cities by the end of the year, and is already active Bend, Portland, Washington, D.C. Seattle and Austin.
  • Kimberly Kinney, founder of Rugged Thread, earned the third place prize, a full-year membership at BendTECH. She started Rugged Thread, a repair shop for outdoor gear, in 2011 and now serves both consumers and outdoor apparel companies. She’s looking to expand.
  • Kyle Morris not only wowed the crowd with his impressive ‘stache, but his fourth place finish meant that he also snagged a ticket to the Bend Venture Conference Broken Top Networking Event, courtesy of EDCO. His company Sifdata integrates Salesforce with LinkedIn so that sales reps can know when their contacts move.

Other fun things:

  • These founders came to win. The first one showed up at 11:47 a.m. with a camp chair, hoping to be the first to snag a pitch spot. There was a long line of more than 15 by an hour before the signups even opened.
unConference 2017: The line up before the sign up.
  • Teafly Peterson pitched an app called Cussing Caterpillars that is doodles of the cutest caterpillars swearing. You can send to people like emojiis. People laughed hard.
  • The front row of the crowd jumped up to “make it rain” all sorts of fake money on our winners.
    Zilaida with Locals Compass dancing up to the stage.


  • There was a great crowd of more than 125 people. They asked awesome questions, offered support and gave in to all calls for more cowbell. If you were there, thank you! Your presence, patience and support makes it easier for these founders to get up and get their ideas out.
  • We had one OSU student and two 17-year-olds pitching. Kudos to them for their fantastic ideas and confidence. The future is bright.

A hearty thank you to sponsors Kollective, Get Benefits, the City of Bend and the 1001 Tech Center for making this event possible. Also thank you to Cairn, BendBroadband and EDCO for donating raffle prizes. Last, but not certainly least, a heap of thanks to volunteers from the BendTECH board and OSU-Cascades.

The eighthish (maybe sixth or seventh) annual unConference is wrap. Congratulations to everyone who pitched. Keep an eye out for the same thing next year.

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