The tenth annual Bend Venture Conference named the winners of the 2013 event with approximately 425 attendees from all factions of the entrepreneurial community that included angel donors and venture capitalists to starry eyed startups and tech savvy company founders.
The conference ended on a high note as Nouvola was named winner for the $250,000 prize of the Launch Stage companies. Nouvola offers a scalable performance testing suite to help companies deploy their applications to the cloud scale successfully.
Paola Moretto, founder of Nouvola from Portland said, “Winning the BVC was a great validation of the fact that we are addressing a real problem and we have the right product for this need. It’s also a vote of confidence in the Nouvola founding team, our know-how and ability to execute. Nouvola business taps into the rapidly growing cloud services business, expected to be $200 billion by 2016 and represents a tremendous opportunity in the long term.”
The winner in the Concept Stage competition for a $10,000 cash award from BendBroadband is Ochoco Arms, a patented multi laser sighting system that increases target acquisition abilities and turns a shotgun into a precision instrument according to Ochoco Arms founder, Sam Lambert of Prineville.
During the winners reception Lambert said, “Having the opportunity to compete in this years BVC Concept Stage Competition was an awesome experience. The entrepreneurial spirit at this event is unlike anything I have ever seen. Thank you to Bendbroadband for sponsoring the event and to the EDCO staff and over 80 volunteers whose countless hours of work make BVC what it is. I don’t think there is a member of the EDCO staff that didn’t play a roll in our success. If you are a concept or launch stage organization you would be missing the boat by not taking advantage of this opportunity next year. I believe that we were able to do more good for our company in the 48 hours of BVC than we did in the previous six months.”
In a last minute Side Car Deal from another group of investors, The Flybook was awarded a starter fund that has now grown to a minimum of $73,000 confirmed with possible additions. The Flybook is a web-based reservation/business management solution designed for the outdoor industry.
Craig Langer, president and CEO of the Flybook in Bend, was elated to receive the news, “I’m thrilled to have won the side car deal. It’s going to make a huge impact to how quickly we can accelerate The Flybook’s growth and reach our goal of becoming the most valuable technology provider for the outdoor industry. I feel incredibly fortunate to have been a part of the Bend Venture Conference launch stage competition. The rigorous due diligence that we went through with a pretty large group of investors and extremely successful, smart entrepreneurs, was invaluable. We learned and grew as a company with or without the funding. And the good news is, given we are a Bend company, the short term effect of winning means several new sales job openings in Bend.
Other winners included Syndical who won the first ever Palo Alto cash award of $1,500. Syndical is a simple, easy-to-use events publishing system. Syndical CEO Dan Mendell of Portland said, “The Palo Alto Award means a lot to Syndical, it has gone to many up and coming high growth companies in the past.”
There is something special about reaching the annual 10 year pinnacle of achievement for events and the Bend Venture Conference, (BVC) has reached that goal in presenting its Tenth Annual BVC conference. BVC Keynote speaker Steve Blank, when presenting his fireside chat presentation said, “You have something special here in Bend.”
The event has now earned Bend another moniker of achievement as it is ranked nationally as a popular startup hub for tech businesses. Industry reports from the Kauffman Foundation and Oregon State University note that Corvallis is ranked number 12, Bend was number 16, the second-highest ranking for an Oregon city…and Portland was number 23.
Economic Development of Central Oregon (EDCO) put on the event and explain that investors must have a minimum net worth of $1 million individually or jointly or a trust with assets of $5 million or more with incomes above $200 to $300k per year.
EDCO Marketing Manager Ruth Lindley reports, “It’s important that an investor isn’t counting on that money to generate a return the following year because that would be unrealistic. Angel investment is long term patient money.” Altogether, investors contribute about $180,000. The Oregon Growth Account provides $50,000 and the Oregon Community Foundation $20,000; the goal is a $250,000 investment for the launch stage winner.
BVC organizers report that this is the most entrants ever for the event. In total, 65 company applications were received for the Bend Venture Conference—37 at the Launch Stage and 28 at the Concept Stage—a BVC record.
BVC participants were treated to a fireside style keynote speech by well known entrepreneur, educator and author Steve Blank, moderated by Dino Vendetti, founder of Bend, Oregon-based Seven Peaks Ventures. Blank is widely recognized as a thought leader on startups and innovation. His books and blog have redefined how to build successful startups.
Blank delighted the audience with humor, wisdom and wit. His talk was filled with well experienced ideas from his history of re-defining how startups are different than large corporations, and repeating the corporate mentality can be a death wish on a startup dream. Blank says, “Startups cannot model large corporations as they can’t operate as a smaller version of a big model.”
Blank is credited with the lean startup movement as well as the entrepreneur’s motto: ready, fire aim. Odd as it may sound, Blank likens a successful startup formula to that of a passionate artist: in order to be a successful entrepreneur one must have a passion to succeed. “Startup founders are closest to art….artists and entrepreneurs are passionate to their goals and dreams… It is a calling to crazy people, not a job choice, but a mental illness.”
Blank first encountered the CEO mentality for startups when he discovered Silicon Valley in 1978. He says, “It was the age before internet…. our tools were the phone and coffee… if you wanted money for a startup you had to imitate the large business model… then only to find out later it was all wrong as the startup failed.”
Blank explains, “Whatever plans you have before you start, they will all need to change in order to succeed…. based on innovations in the Lean Startup Principal, the business model must be founded by outside experience.”
Blanks’ ideas resonate with the successful startups because they found out what their customers wanted was often not what they set out to give whether it was products/goods or services. To that end Blank encourages founders of startups to complete their “customer development first and then aggressively engineer their strategy to their customer needs for success,” and that would follow his methodology for customer development.
The conference can best be summed up by Jim Coonan, venture catalyst manager for EDCO, “We are very pleased with the performance of the Bend Venture Conference. The Conference attendance hit an all-time record of 425, befitting the tenth anniversary of the event. While all of the investments are not yet counted, we believe this year will at least meet and quite possibly exceed last year’s investments.
“The Bend Venture Conference showcases Bend’s growing entrepreneurial impact, going beyond the exciting competition of the day. The audience was clearly engaged with Steve Blank’s ideas on the lean startup philosophy and the quality level of the presenting entrepreneurs.”
THE FIVE FINALISTS IN THE LAUNCH STAGE CATEGORY:
Droplr (Ryan Andrews; Bend; http://droplr.com/hello)
Droplr is a service that enables businesses to share files internally in an extremely intuitive and user-friendly interface, and externally with their customers.
The Flybook llc (Craig Langer; Bend; http://hello.theflybook.com)
The Flybook is a web-based reservation and business management solution designed specifically for the outdoor industry.
MedRock (Michael Tippie; Portland; http://www.medrock.com)
MedRock develops and markets medical devices for the physical therapy market.
Nouvola (Paola Moretto; Portland; http://www.nouvola.com)
Nouvola offers a scalable performance testing suite to help companies deploy their applications to the cloud scale successfully.
Syndical (Dan Mendell; Portland; http://syndical.com)
Syndical is a simple, easy-to-use events publishing system. With just one-click, Syndical enables public events to be easily shared on websites and blogs, social and traditional media, and across a targeted network of community and industry related websites.
THE CONCEPT STAGE FINALISTS:
Axis Mundi (Piper Lucas, pipelucas.com)
seeks to manufacture collapsible, durable, expandable, insulated, safe structures to meet the growing need for temporary housing.
IDEAL Equine Gear (Kelly Barnett, www.idealequinegear.com)
develops equine gear to save the legs and lives of equine athletes.
Ochoco Arms (Sam Lambert, wwwochocoarms.com)
patented multi laser sighting system increases target acquisition abilities and turns a shotgun into a precision instrument.
OnBoard Dynamics (Rita Hansen, JeffWitwer, Dr. Chris Hagen, wwwonboarddynamics.com)
technology permits a vehicle owner to refuel at a home or business with natural gas costing less than $2.00 per gallon.
TurboPup (Kristina Guerrero, www.turbopup.com)
allows dog owners to travel light with complete meal bars for active dogs.