Audience chooses final five that will vie for the $10,000 BendBroadband Concept Award
How much can be packed into a three minute pitch? Quite a lot, if you’re a prepared entrepreneur with a unique business proposition looking for exposure and funding. Of course, it helps if you can talk fast.
The Economic Development of Central Oregon PubTalk event on September 27 will be held at McMenamins in downtown Bend, with networking starting at 5pm and the program kicking off at 6pm. The evening features rapid fire presentations followed by tight Q&A from attendees. The audience votes for the final five startups that will vie on October 19 at BVC for the $10,000 grant awarded by BendBroadband. Those interested in attending should register soon as a packed house is anticipated.
The PubTalk was preceded by an event called UpStart Day in September at which experts representing different functional areas such as marketing, finance, logistics, venture capital, and business development interviewed the total pool of Concept Stage applicants for the 2012 Bend Venture Conference (BVC). While the group of eight experts edited the contenders from 20 to 10, a key objective is to provide all companies with useful feedback.
“We always seek scalable businesses that can grow rapidly with the right resources,” said Jim Coonan, Venture Catalyst Manager at Economic Development for Central Oregon (EDCO). “At UpStart day, we see so many great ideas. Our team weighs a variety of factors, ranging from the entrepreneur’s coachability to how compelling the product or solution is to the competitive environment, to select those companies that go to the next level.”
“The concept stage competition provides a great way for companies to get feedback on their ideas, gain exposure to potential investors, and maybe even win $10,000 in the process,” said James Gentes of Good Peeple, one of the concept contenders. “When you’re just starting a business, getting exposure to investors is a big plus. The concept stage competition provides that opportunity, as well feedback to the founders on their ideas and the potential to win $10,000, which can really help an early stage company.”
The 10 concept contenders are a diverse set, evenly divided between those with tangible products and those in the software business. In alphabetical order, they are:
- Agrowpedia brings IT to the first frontier for small farmers and backyard garden enthusiasts. Focus on gardening tips in Central Oregon and the Pacific NW.
- Coyle Treepieces designs, manufactures and sells patented natural fiber, customized protective helmets made in Oregon. Fully customizable, sustainably manufactured and impact performance tested helmets.
- Dog Powered Scooter combines an existing invention, the wheel, with the dog. This company creates a dog pulling system that incorporates onto scooters and the “tadpole” tricycle, creating an urban mush experience.
- E-Z Leave is a web-based SaaS solution to automate the leave plan selection using a TurboTax-like interface, to reduce legal liability. Intent is to help HR managers navigate the confusing legal and contractual world of leave laws.
- Good Peeple is a business referral app for Facebook to empower business owners using social media to drive customer referrals. It also serves as a self perpetuating lead generation tool.
- K.A.D. Innovations – The Kebbaber is the next evolution of grilling products for tailgaters, backyard BBQ lovers and an upgrade on the grilling lifestyle.
- Nourish Clean produces 100 percent non-toxic, biodegradable, organic cleaning products with therapeutic essential oils. Effective products eliminate odors and toxins from cleaning, utilizing glass bottles for a positive impact for the consumer and planet.
- Play Habit – Hardcore gamers are migrating en-masse toward lower costs and more personal devices. Play Habit’s focus is to bring top quality games to core gamers on smart devices, particularly tablets.
- ziPede helps parents and doctors take better care of kids by improving the office visit experience. Now parents can link with their doctor before and after a visit, accessing expert video content to redefine the standard of medical care communication.
- The final contender is the winning team from the OSU-Cascades Entrepreneurship class, LegalUp, which allows an individual with legal needs to find a local attorney anonymously with win/loss records and additional resources.
For the other BVC track, a group of investors in the BVC, LLC have been meeting weekly to narrow 50 submissions to a tighter number for more detailed scrutiny. Launch Stage companies are early stage companies that are typically further developed than Concept Stage companies and are either post revenue or close to sales launch.
In total submissions, this year’s Bend Venture Conference exceeds 2011 by nearly 50 percent. “Last year, we had 48 companies apply to present at BVC,” add Coonan. “This year, we’re looking at a total of 70 startups, with the growth coming in Launch Stage companies. Overall, the quality of the companies is very strong.”
Now in its 9th year, the Bend Venture Conference (BVC) is the premier regional event connecting seed and early stage companies with investment opportunities and attracts more than 300 of the Pacific Northwest’s top entrepreneurs, investors, and business leaders. Held at the Tower Theatre in downtown Bend, the event includes intimate pre-conference seminar opportunities, a pre-conference networking reception at Broken Top Club, the full day venture conference on October 19 and an opportunity to explore Bend’s lively hotel, restaurant and downtown scene.