Category Archives: Community

New Portland-Based Fund Invests in Women-Led Startups

There was some very cool news out of Portland this week, and I wanted to be sure that all of you StartupBend readers saw it. A group of women entrepreneurs, investors and lenders debuted the XXcelerate Fund on Tuesday. The fund is designed to fill the capital gap that many women entrepreneurs face.

From the XXcelerate news release:

“There is a crisis in access to capital and entrepreneurial support for women in the state of Oregon and nationwide,” said Robin Klemm, PH.D., Board Member and Executive Director, XXcelerate Fund. “And this gap is happening at a time when we see continuing proof points of the effectiveness of women business leaders.”

The fund’s founders surveyed women entrepreneurs in Portland and discovered that they faced distinct challenges in obtaining capital, despite their entrepreneurial chops. The survey revealed that:

Biz and Education Leaders Pursuing Entrepreneurship and Innovation High School for Bend

Sometimes the timing for things seems to be just right. That may be the case for a proposed magnet high school in Bend focused on entrepreneurship and innovation, aiming to open in the Fall 2018.

The concept is being developed jointly by Bend business leaders, local nonprofits Looking Forward and Opportunity Knocks, the High Desert Education Service District and the Bend-La Pine School District.

“What we’re excited about is that this is a partnership with our larger business community, and we’re really engaging with them in the design and concept of the school,” Jay Mathisen, deputy superintendent of Bend-La Pine Schools, said this morning.

Back to that timing. Jay says that the district was already in the process of considering how to accommodate its growing student body at the high school level. At the same time, Preston Callicott, Five Talent CEO (and resident community doer) and the folks at Looking Forward (a whole group of doers) had been discussing the potential for an innovation and entrepreneurship-themed high school.

Bend-based DubsLabs KickStarts On-Ear, Flat Headphones, Which Allow You to Hear Your Surroundings and Music While Skiing, Biking and More

The best thing about working in a co-working space is getting to meet people doing really interesting things. Today, that person was Eric Dubs, creator of Versafit, wireless, on-ear headphones. He launched a Kickstarter for the product a few hours ago, aiming to raise $35,000, to fund the headphone production.

I couldn’t help but walk over to his desk to learn more, after hearing his team’s excitement about their first backers. I’m glad I did, and you will be too. Versafit headphones are flat, bendable headphones that rest on top of your ears.

As Eric explains, this not only makes them more comfortable than traditional ear buds, but it also allows you to still hear noise from the outside. This makes them a great, safe option for people listening to music, who also need to be aware of their surroundings, such as mt. biker, skiers, snowboarders, or people just walking down the street.

Forbes Highlights Bend’s Outdoor Startups — and the Role of ‘Friendliness’ in our Ecosystem

Do you know what’s been fun to watch? Bend’s outdoor product startup community gel and then just take off. No doubt that some fantastic companies including HydroFlask and RuffWear provided a solid foundation for this burgeoning cluster.

Then add in the intentional development of startups via the Bend Outdoor Worx accelerator, the creation of the Oregon Outdoor Alliance, the debut of the Venture Out Festival  and the collaborative energy between these growing companies and the more mature ones. It reads like a masters class in industry development. And that’s all happened with the last few years.

So it’s no surprise that Bend’s outdoor startups are garnering some attention, and the latest kudos comes from Forbes. Contributor Gretchen Fox, co-founder of Made To Order, a social media agency, discovered Bend’s outdoor startup community via her husband, who happens to be the founder of Ashland-based Fat Chance Bikes. That company is in the current class of BOW.

Shopping Small Business Saturday or CyberMonday? Put These 8 Bend #Startups on Your Shopping List

Not to freak you out, but the holiday shopping season is … here. Yes, Safeway has had holiday decorations out since the day after Halloween. Yes, some exceptionally organized people actually buy gifts year round so that they don’t face a gift buying frenzy come December. But if you avoid Black Friday shopping like the plague, then Small Business Saturday (Nov. 26) and Cyber Monday (Nov. 28) offer up a great opportunity to explore gifts from some of Bend’s newest companies.

Consider purchasing presents from these eight growing, local startups:

1. Broken Top Candle Company maker of lovely scented candles.

2. Hydaway creator of these collapsible water bottles.

3. Cairn offers a subscription box for outdoor enthusiasts.

4. Zealios sells sunscreen and body products for endurance athletes.

Upcoming LEGO Robotics Tournament Needs Volunteers and Sponsors

This December 11, Mountain View High School is hosting a LEGO robotics tournament. More than 20 teams of students from across Central Oregon will compete. But to pull off this awesome event, the organizers need sponsors and volunteers.

So if you love robotics and/or are interested in helping out, here’s what you can do: Become a sponsor. Your tax-deductible donation will help offset expenses associated with running the tournament. Sponsor banners can be displayed in the Mountain View High School gymnasium where families and spectators gather to watch robot matches, and they receive a verbal “thank you” during opening and awards ceremonies. Typical expenses include office supplies, competition table materials, and refreshments for volunteers. The tournament’s annual budget is $1,000. Become a volunteer. Community members are needed to serve as judges and referees. No previous experience is needed. In addition to the tournament day, there may be a small time commitment required in order to complete online training associated with the roles and attend an orientation with the rest of the volunteer team. Lunch and refreshments on the day of the tournament are provided. Volunteer registration is online on the FIRST website. If you’re interested in either, contact the tournament director Jen Floyd at 541-480-6492 or email [email protected]com.


The Central Oregon FIRST LEGO League Tournament (aka LEGO Robotics) When: Sunday, December 11, 2016    *Tournament setup tentatively planned for 6 p.m. on Saturday, December 10, 2016 Where: Mountain View High School, 2755 NE 27th St, Bend, OR 97701 What: FIRST LEGO League (FLL) is an international competition for elementary and middle school students, ages 9 through 14. In August, the League announced its 2016 theme, “Animal Allies.” Using LEGO Mindstorms kits, students will design and program a robot to complete tasks set forth in the challenge. The students will also develop their own research project, working out solutions to various problems observed in their community, in alignment with the theme. In December, approximately 20 teams from across Central Oregon will meet at a regional tournament in Bend to share their knowledge, compare ideas, and display their robots.

Tech Jobs on the Blog: G5, and TechSoft 3D Hiring

Happy Friday! If you’re looking to wrap up 2016 with a new job in tech in Bend, then we may just have a little something for you. Time to power up your bespoke computation machine and get ready to send some resumes through the ether tubes.

Here’s who is hiring …

G5 posted four jobs this week, a mix of technical and non-technical positions.

Ya like robots? is a robotics software startup in Bend that is looking to hire three engineers, either here or remote.

TechSoft 3D is a great company, with offices all over the world and headquarters right here in sunny Central Oregon. They need a full stack software engineer.

In related news, Forbes magazine named Bend the top small city in the U.S. for business and careers. At 6.6%, our job growth was top in the country last year.

BVC 2016: $3.76 Million in Investments Sets a Record, Women Slay and Oregon Wins

The 2016 Bend Venture Conference is officially wrapped up and the big headline is $3.76 MILLION in funding was awarded, and Vancouver, Wash.-based Hubb snagged $2.5 million of that. There were big checks flying everywhere, people were crying tears of happiness and the conference set a funding record for angel conferences in the state.

Other big takeaways: The women entrepreneurs, investors and keynotes slayed this conference, the first-ever social impact made a big impression and if you live in this state, then we’re all winners. So let’s dig in.

First, the money.

There were three funding tracks this year, with the BVC debuting the social impact track on Thursday, followed by the usual early and growth stage tracks on Friday. As noted, the conference’s big winner was Hubb, a startup that makes event management software.