This week is chock full of startup energy and events and parties and pitches. Is it fun? Absolutely. But it’s also more. The Bend Venture Conference announced Monday that it has $1.5 million in investment and awards committed to these year’s conference, setting a record for Oregon angel conferences.

At the end these four days, several companies will have additional capital they need to help start, build and continue to grow. Investors will have put their dollars behind promising startups, supported economic development in Central Oregon and the PNW, and in the case of the new social impact track, funded companies that provide a measurable social or environmental benefit. It’s good stuff.

So here’s a quick preview of what’s coming up, where you can find the fun and what to keep an eye out for:

Tuesday: Venture Out Festival Kick Off Party

The flourishing Central Oregon outdoor community is celebrating the first-ever outdoor business-related VC event with a party tonight at Spoken Moto. There’s free beer and food. And you might just spot keynote speaker and former professional snowboarder Kevin Pearce in the crowd.

When: 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Where: Spoken Moto, 310 Industrial Way, Bend, Oregon

Wednesday: unConference + Venture Out Festival

Presented by the Tech Alliance of Central Oregon with some help from this blog, the unConference will kick off this week’s worth of startup pitches with pitches by 15 early stage startups. In addition to funding some free beer for you yahoos, BendBroadband also donated 100 COWBELLS. Envision: Entrepreneurs pitching, people cheering and ringing cowbells in support, me crying because it’s just so damn inspiring when people have the guts to follow their startup dreams.

When: 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Where: The Capitol, downtown Bend

Then you can head right over to the Venture Out Festival, where a bevy of Bend and Oregon-based outdoor startups will compete for six figures in investment. Early stage companies will compete for $10,000 Breakout Award. And word on the street is that could even be a little surprise. Not to mention, inspirational speaking by the aforementioned Kevin Pearce. Presented by Bend Outdoor Worx, there is NO DOUBT that this event will not only be f-u-n, but also a pretty rad demonstration of the burgeoning outdoor industry here.

Thursday: BVC Social Impact Track + Broken Top Reception + BVC After Party

The BVC debuts its Social Impact Track this year. Four companies — all for-profit, but also making a measurable, positive social or environmental impact — will compete for funding. I’m excited to be a panelist for this track, and rest assured you won’t be disappointed by the company lineup.

When: 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Where: Tower Theater, downtown Bend

Then we have the annual Broken Top Reception. I’ve heard many people say that if you don’t go to BVC, then you should at least go to the Broken Top Reception. Not only are the networking opportunities top-notch, but you can also reconnect with startupy types from around the region and — this is important — eat delicious appetizers.

When: 5:30 p.m.
Where: Broken Top Club

Lastly, BVC attendees are also invited to an after party sponsored by Schwabe, Williamson and Wyatt.

When: 9 p.m.
Where: 900 Wall, downtown Bend

Friday: BVC Early Stage and Growth Stage Competition 

The morning begins with the early stage competition — five Bend companies that made it through the PubTalk vote and a sixth wild card spot that will decided at Wednesday’s unConference. Lots of cool companies here. CushCore will also be presenting at Venture Out, so you may just see them twice.

The afternoon includes the growth stage competition, which features five PNW startups that are raising funding to go to the next level. There aren’t any Bend companies this year, in part due to timing: a few of the potential, local growth stage candidates had either just completed a funding round or weren’t yet pursuing a Series A. The startups competing are interesting companies hailing from around the region. Excited to see what they have to offer.

Alright. Time to finish up some work before the fun begins. See you around town 🙂

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