The first company to take up residence in BendTECH’s first-ever Startup Founder’s Office is Rupie, a platform that connects game developer talent with game studios. CEO Austin Anderson, previously a lead software engineer at LinkedIn, founded the company in late 2017 as a way to help small to mid-sized game studios find and engage developer talent.
Job hunters, heads up: The jobs board has some interesting tech, sales and nonprofit positions posted. We’ll start with the latter. The BendTECH team (which includes myself, as board president) is looking for a new executive director. It’s a great organization, run by a stellar board that’s excited to take nonprofit coworking to the next level.
Check out the posting (and feel free to email me if interested).
BendTech Executive Director
Putting on my BendTECH hat for a moment — I’ve been on the BendTECH board for a few years, and finding a way to increase access to our awesome coworking community has been on the minds of board members for awhile. That’s why we’re so excited to announce the Startup Founders Office program, which allows us to support more early stage entrepreneurs with free space, awesome expertise, and a supportive community ready to help you get your business off the ground.
More on that momentarily. This is an innovative Bend startup that spent much of the fall working away in the OSU-Cascades Co-Lab in Bend. There’s many things to love about Lora DiCarlo’s mission and journey. The startup’s first product, the Ose personal massager, was developed in partnership with the OSU robotics engineering laboratory and by a team of nearly all women engineers. It’s the subject of eight pending patents, the company reports.
Lora is unabashedly passionate about Ose and exceptionally proud of her team’s work. In the Venture Beat article, she says “We don’t hide what we do, and we firmly believe that women, non-binary, gender non-conforming, and LGBTQI folks should be vocally claiming our space in pleasure and tech — both of which are still heavily dominated by male-CEOs and executives.”
“We also believe that society needs to drop the taboo around sex and sexuality — it’s a part of life and health that absolutely should be part of mainstream discourse. No shaming, no embarrassment, just the comfort and freedom to be yourself and enjoy your own body,” she says.
The Venture Beat piece continues …
=&0=&While there are sex and sexual health products at CES, it seems that CES/CTA administration applies the rules differently for companies and products based on the gender of their customers. Men’s sexuality is allowed to be explicit with a literal sex robot in the shape of an unrealistically proportioned woman and VR porn in point of pride along the aisle. Female sexuality, on the other hand, is heavily muted if not outright banned. You cannot pretend to be unbiased if you allow a sex robot for men but not a vagina-focused robotic massager for blended orgasm.
CES kicks off today and the Lora DiCarlo team is still attending, showing its product at a party at the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas tonight. The team also plans to attend AVN, a porn show in Las Vegas at the end of January, according to Venture Beat.
Organized by Vertue Lab and supported by BendTECH, OSU-Cascades and BendX, the evening includes two panels: One on securing follow-on funding for your business, and a second featuring women entrepreneurs who have secured federal grants to grow their cleantech startups.
The idea behind the event is to introduce female founders to local, state, and federal funding options including SBIR/STTR grants. The latter are government grants aimed at helping small businesses conduct R&D, often in technical areas that are aligned with projects/interests of government agencies.
Vertue Lab, the event organizer, is a Portland-based organization that aims to “advance promising technologies to market while helping innovators find the resources they need to move their vision forward.” Vertue Lab focuses specifically on cleantech startups; however, the SBIR/STTR grants are available for other endeavors.
Tricia Clemmons, Vertue Lab’s senior program director, and Leon Wolfe, the SBIR/STTR specialist, will be at the Bend event to help answer questions about federal funding, Vertue Lab’s assistance, and resources, particularly in the tech and cleantech arena.
Founders can also schedule office hours with Leon for additional guidance on SBIR/STTR grants earlier in the same day.
The panelists for the event include:
- Jeff Baker, Craft 3 Business Lender | Bridging $$$ to get you from early stage to investible
- Leon Wolf, Vertue Lab SBIR/STTR Assistance Program, Grant Writing Consultant | Accessing the $2.5 billion in early stage funding from America’s largest seed fund
- Julie Harrelson, Co-Founder & Fund Manager with Cascade Angels | What are angels looking for?
- Rita Hansen, CEO Onboard Dynamics | Technology conceived at OSU-Cascades and a ARPA-e grant recipient. VertueLab portfolio company. Experience in raising public and private capital while also being an active angel investor.
- Katie Pettinger, Managing Director Gadusol Labs | Technology out of OSU. SBIR federal grant recipient and a VertueLab portfolio company.
Interested? Questions? Learn more here. Be sure to register prior to the event, so we can get a count of how many will attend.
BadAss Women Entrepreneurs
Thursday, January 10, 2019
5:30 PM – 8:00 PM PST
Thump Coffee @ BendTECH
1001 Southwest Emkay Drive
The audience turned out. We counted nearly 130 people, ready to ring cowbells, drink some beer and ask thoughtful questions. They then voted on this year’s winners. The pitches that took the prizes were:
- First place ($2,500) went to Mandala Mission, an anxiety and depression management app pitched by founder McKenna Dempsey.
- Second place ($1,500) went to LuDela, a remote-controlled, real-flame candle, pitched by founder Jamie Bianchini.
- Third place ($500) went to Lacuda Swim, resistance training swimwear pitched by founder Claire Oester.
The winners also received memberships to BendTECH coworking. In addition to the winners, there were a few other items that I believe are worthy of noting. First up, our startup community has been working so very hard to support local entrepreneurs via programming, inexpensive coworking space, resources, mentorship, funding and more.
The fruits of those efforts were definitely on display yesterday. Consider that nine of the 16 founders pitching hail from the OSU CoLab, the BendX Entrepreneurial Women’s Bootcamp, or BendTECH. It’s gratifying to see those organizations, many of which are run on a shoestring and/or supported by volunteers, lift up founders, and in turn, see those founders truly progress.
Another observation: Seven of the 16 founders pitching were women. Having female founders represent nearly half the field was inspiring, and notable because that hasn’t always been the case for the unConference — or other pitch competitions as well. Women founders comprise 17% of venture-backed companies. Yes, the unConference founders are early stage, and many not seek investment. However, part of remedying the founder gender gap (and the funding gender gap) is increasing the ranks of women founders, and creating a bigger pipeline of potentially fundable companies.
Lastly, congratulations to everyone who pitched yesterday. Reiterating the earlier sentiments, every entrepreneur really brought their best, from startups creating Choose Your Adventure style films (Upickflix) to gluten-free granola (Bird Seed Food Co.) to software to reduce subscription cancellations (Raaft) and many more.
Of course, the unConference couldn’t happen without our sponsors, who continue to step up and support our startup community. A heartfelt thanks to Business Oregon, Bendbroadband Business, Get Benefits and the Associated Technologies Council, Price/Fronk, St. Charles Health System, City of Bend, and the 1001 Tech Center.