Category Archives: Funding

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:

Pierce Footwear Seeks Investment to Launch Lace-less Running Shoe Line

George Pierce’s garage looks like combination of a running shoe store and a Franken-shoe workshop. There are shelves filled with dozens of brands of shoes, many of which George has ripped apart, modified and re-engineered all in with the aim of getting rid of the shoelaces.

Why? “I was losing time during duathlon transitions getting my shoes on and off. I wanted a better way,” George says. His better way – a Bend startup called Pierce Footwear – provides professional athletes, several local runners and the entire U.S. Special Olympics Winter Team with an innovative lace-less shoe.

Now George is starting to raise a Series A to ramp production of his shoes and make them even more widely available.

From couch to Worlds

George’s background is mix of tech, entrepreneurship and professional athletics. Before starting Pierce Footwear in 2013, he spent a decade working in Silicon Valley. He founded a tech company, which gave employers a way to track their employees’ wellness, that was acquired in 2008.

FoundersPad Invests in Bend VR Startup, ZeroTransform

Last week FoundersPad announced the formation of its new fund. This week that fund announced its first investment in ZeroTransform, a Bend-based virtual reality gaming startup. To quote our good friend Ferris Bueller, life moves pretty fast.

FoundersPad has actually been mentoring ZeroTransform for the past year. The early-stage venture fund joins other investors in the startup, including Bend-based Cascade Angels. Neither fund announced investment amounts, but ZeroTransform COO Scott Bayless told the Bulletin earlier this year that he was hoping to complete a $500,000 round by November.

From FoundersPad:
“This is an exciting market with a tremendous amount of potential. ZeroTransform has not only been an innovator in bringing immersive cinematic VR games to life, but is well positioned to be one of the premier game developers in this emerging market,” says Chris Capdevila, Principal at FoundersPad. “With the VR hardware wars heating up, significant improvement in the user experience and dropping prices, VR gaming is becoming a sought-after reality for the mass market.”

FoundersPad Launches New, Early Stage Fund for PNW Startups

Early stage startups in the PNW now have another potential source for funding — and expert guidance. Bend-based FoundersPad announced the closing of a new fund, which will complement its revamped mentorship program. The early-stage fund expects to invest between $25,000 and $75,000 per startups, funding between four and six startups each year. The FoundersPad team isn’t taking applications, but plans to find startups that have already gained some early customer traction, have a balanced founders team, haven’t taken on other professional capital and are primed for growth. “Launching this new fund to complement our deep mentorship approach lets FoundersPad help our portfolio companies in a much more effective way,” says Jason Moyer, the FoundersPad fund manager, in a news release. “Most early stage companies need expertise and capital, typically in that order, and FoundersPad is strongly positioned to provide both.” More from the release:
FoundersPad’s unique model delivers extensive hands-on support to each portfolio company with a carefully curated team of relevant mentors who are committed to de-risk and grow their business.
“Being a Founder is often a long, brutal and lonely journey. It’s survival of the fittest at its very best, where mistakes can be deadly,” said FoundersPad Principal, Chris Capdevila. “Unlike many venture funds that promise support for their portfolio companies and repeatedly fail to deliver, we provide founders an unfair advantage on their journey with intense mentoring from successful founders who have walked in their shoes and the right amount of capital at the right time.”
Bend startups Amplion, CrowdStreet and Droplr are all products of FoundersPad. The early-stage fund’s principals also include Dino Vendetti and Matt Abrams, general partner and investment partner as Seven Peaks Ventures, respectively. FounderPad’s goal is to help startups mature to the point where they’re eligible for further funding, from VCs such as Seven Peaks and beyond. Congrats FP team. Looking forward to a new year of new startups and new investments.

ICYMI: Tom Gonser, DocuSign Founder, Joins Bend-Based Seven Peaks Ventures, Notes that Startups Don’t Have to be “in Big Cities to Succeed”

Tom Gonser, founder of DocuSign, announced earlier this week that he’s joined Seven Peaks Ventures as a partner. Not only is Gonser keen on helping founders launch and grow their startups, but he told GeekWire that he specifically liked the Bend-based VC firm’s geography and ‘rise of the rest’ approach.

The latter refers to the idea that startups can — and should — launch and grow outside of expected places such as Silicon Valley. It’s good for communities, good for founders and as Gosner and Seven Peaks are exploring, hopefully good for investors.

From GeekWire:

“I think smart people will realize that the gains in baseline standard of living are so much higher just one hour away from major metro areas, that we will see a flock of really smart founders decide to build the next great company in a location that allows a better balance, and is actually much more efficient,” he said.

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.

Droplr Raises Another $400,000 to Fund More Hires; Lands Integration w/ Cisco

Droplr recently raised another $400,000 to grow its team and accelerate its outbound sales efforts, says Gray Skinner, the Bend startup’s CEO. Gray described the round as a bridge between Droplr’s initial seed round (which was about $850,000) and a potential Series A.

“We’re planning to grow our team from 10 to 15, and do more outbound sales to the thousands of companies we haven’t gone after before,” he says.

This recent round was lead by Bend-based Cascade Angels, who invested another $150,000 in the startup. Inspiration Ventures, out of Burlingame, Calif., invested $100,000. Seven Peaks Ventures, also from Bend, and a group of individuals from Nashville filled out the rest.

The company makes sharing screen shots and files easier. Earlier this year, the startup announced an integration with Slack to do just that. Most recently, Gray says the startup has forged a partnership with Cisco. Droplr is building an integration for Cisco’s own communication platform, Spark, and then looking to pursue channel sales via relationships with Cisco’s enterprise clients.

Back it Like it’s Hot: Bend Inventor Debuts Fireside Audiobox on Kickstarter

Coming in hot from the land of things-you-didn’t-know-you-needed-but-now-must-have is a Bluetooth-enabled, speaker featuring flames that dance to the beat of your tunes. Designed by Bend-based inventor Tyrone Hazen, the Fireside Audiobox made its Kickstarter debut today.

Tyrone got started on the idea a couple years ago. Interested in the maker movement, he found a maker space in his then home of San Diego and wanted a project that would help him to learn how to use all of the equipment. Tyrone had been fascinated by the Rubens’ Tube — a flame tube that demonstrates acoustic standing waves — since studying physics in college.

“I thought what if I could create a desktop version that you put music through,” he said this morning, sparking the first concept for the Fireside Audiobox. He didn’t initially envision that his project would turn into a business, but people were really interested in the product — and wanted to know when they could buy their own flame dancing speaker.