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. Nouvola offers a scalable performance testing suite to help companies deploy their applications to the cloud scale successfully. Ochoco Arms is a patented multi laser sighting system that increases target acquisition abilities and turns a shotgun into a precision instrument.
The Conference ended on a high note as Nouvola was named as the winner for the $250,000 prize for the Launch Stage companies. Paola Moretto, founder from Portland, submitted the company that “offers a scalable performance testing suite to help companies deploy their applications to the cloud scale successfully.”
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.
In a last minute Side Car Deal from another investor, 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 said Craig Langer, president and CEO 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 was founded by Dan Mendell CEO of Portland. After three days of seminars, conferences, pitch jobs, speeches and networking sessions, the Bend Venture Conference participants were more than ready to hear the results of the the Tenth Annual BVC competition.
Anyone attending the late afternoon announcement at the Liberty Theatre could feel the excitement peaking in the air as the conference participates crowded around waiting to hear the results.
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.
In the words of keynote speaker Steve Blank when presenting his fireside chat presentation, “You have something special here in Bend.”
One of those special qualities is that the BVC event has inspired Bend city leaders to make an official proclamation that October 17-20 is now named Bend’s Entrepreneurial Weekend. The BVC conference required over 80 volunteers, 100 or more meetings and ultimately was perfectly choreographed with cooperation from all sponsors, restaurants and vendors that produced this year’s conference.
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 claim that, “Corvallis is ranked #12, Bend was #16, the second-highest ranking for an Oregon city…and Portland was #23.”
The conference was projected to attract 400 or more of the regions top startup/seed companies investors, business leaders, venture capitalists and entrepreneurs. The conference networking session was very well attended as the room was filled with shoulder to shoulder groups of BVC participants sharing ideas, making introductions and cementing future connections vital to their ideas.
I took the time to interview as many attendees as possible and received many different reasons for attending. I met several venture investment players one of which was a soft spoken experienced investor of start up companies. He said, “there is no guarantee with any startups but a good one will should be poised to experience a greater success after three years.” He further explained, “But I have one investment that I started in the late ‘90s that is finally at the stage where in three years it could go big….so then again, there are no guarantees for fast success.”
Economic Development of Central Oregon, (EDCO) is the organization that puts on the event and they 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 Lindley said. The Oregon Growth Account also provides $50,000 and the Oregon Community Foundation $20,000. The goal: a $250,000 investment for the launch stage winner.
GIna Kaveny vice president, business development officer from LSQ funding, explained that her firm is, “a lender beyond venture capital funding, known as a second stage lender for companies that have already delivered products or goods to customers and can be financed and advance companies up to 80 percent of their accounts receivables.”
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.
The selected five finalists in the Launch Stage category are:
Droplr (Ryan Andrews; Bend, OR; (www.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, OR; www.hello.theflybook.com) The Flybook is a web-based reservation and business management solution designed specifically for the outdoor industry.
MedRock (Michael Tippie; Portland, OR; www.medrock.com) MedRock develops and markets medical devices for the physical therapy market.
Nouvola (Paola Moretto; Portland, OR; 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,OR; www.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, www.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 ofequine athletes.
Ochoco Arms (Sam Lambert, www.ochocoarms.com) patented multi laser sighting system increases target acquisition abilities andturns a shotgun into a precision instrument.
OnBoard Dynamics (Rita Hansen, JeffWitwer, Dr. Chris Hagen, www.onboarddynamics.com) technology permits a vehicle owner to refuel at a homeor business with natural gas costing less than $2.00 per gallon.
TurboPup (Kristina Guerrero, www.turbopup.com) allows dog owners totravel light with complete meal bars for active dogs.
While the excitement was building waiting for the winners announcement, BVC participants were treated to a fireside style keynote speech by well known entrepreneur, educator and author Steve Blank, and 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 that by repeating the corporate mentality it can be a death wish on your startup dream. “Blank says,” Startups cannot model large corporations as they can’t operate as a smaller version of a big model.”
Blank is also known for his innovation and 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 and in order to be a successful entrepreneur one must have that 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, “that 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 that 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 10 Tenth Annual Bend Venture Conference can best be summed up by Jim Coonan, Venture Catalyst Manager for EDCO when he says. “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,” Coonan added. “The audience was clearly engaged with Steve Blank’s ideas on the lean startup philosophy and the quality level of the presenting entrepreneurs.”