Bend Venture Conference PubTalk


(Photo above by David Clewett)

The finalists are nearly set for Economic Development for Central Oregon’s (EDCO) 14th Annual Bend Venture Conference (BVC) which will take place October 19-20 at downtown Bend’s historic Tower Theatre.

On Thursday, September 28 McMenamin’s St. Francis School in Bend hosted EDCO’s Biggest PubTalk of the year. The PubTalk event featured ten Central Oregon based Early Stage semi-finalist companies competing to advance to the BVC stage.

Each Early Stage semi-finalist gave a three minute company pitch to a sold out crowd at McMenamin’s. The event was live streamed in rooms throughout the building. Following each pitch there was Q & A from the audience and expert panel, all of which had a vote to determine the five finalists advancing to BVC.
BVC is comprised of three different categories: Early Stage, Growth Stage and Social Impact. In 2016 nearly $4 million in funding was awarded to ten companies with investments ranging from $15,000 to $2.5 million.

The ten early stage semi-finalists were selected after a full day of company pitches during BVC’s Upstart Day. Upstart Day is an annual part of the BVC process where Early Stage companies are given the opportunity to pitch in front of experts and investors, while being judged on the content of their pitch and receiving important feedback needed for advancing their ventures.

PubTalk was the chance for each contender to show what they learned with an ever-important presentation hoping to win votes from the audience and earn an opportunity to pitch at BVC.

The five early stage finalists moving on to BVC are:

Tribe Pilot, a social tool to plan outdoor adventure.

BladeRunner Energy, a micro-hydro technology based on biomimicry that harnesses renewable energy from the natural flow of water.

Wildish, makers of outdoorsy gear for outsidey people.

Voilà, providers of specialty instant coffee from top US roasters, delivered monthly.

Mission Limelight, which empowers non-profits and commercial enterprises to maximize their marketing, fundraising and social impact.

“The Early Stage category has traditionally always been a Bend only category. We have a local sponsor (Bend BroadBand) that provides the named award for this track. I think the Early Stage category is particularly strong this year, with many of the companies having already received initial funding. It truly is a testament to what is happening in Bend that we are able to put the category together, year after year,” said Brian Vierra, Venture Catalyst for EDCO.

Bend Broadband has sponsored the Early Stage competition since 2011. This year, the cash award has increased to an impressive $17,500 for the BVC Early Stage winner.

The five growth stage finalist companies competing at BVC were selected by a panel of ten different funds and individual investor experts. Of the ten growth stage semi-finalists, two were Bend-based companies and both will move on to present at BVC. InvestiPro is the first fully automated application for conducting effective and compliant internal workplace investigations. LeadMethod is the first Channel Revenue Optimization software to get channel partner engagement and feedback in order to increase revenue.

The Growth Stage Competition includes companies that have a proven concept, have generated initial revenues, and are prepared to scale quickly with investment. In 2016 companies in the Growth Stage category won prizes ranging from $100,000 to $1,750,000.

The three other Growth Stage finalists are Portland based companies. Drone Complier provides government compliance management solutions integrated with field services to companies entering or growing in the Drone Industry. Handful makes lifestyle products for women that are flattering, versatile and feel great no matter what life throws your way.Tripgrid provides travel management simplified by fixing the complexity of travel planning with a simple, intuitive workspace.

“Our 2017 Growth Stage finalists have gone through three rounds of cuts, resulting in a compelling group of companies that span both digital and consumer products, covering industries from UAV and HR to Manufacturing and Travel,” said Vierra. “Our expectation is that these companies will generate interest from the investment community, with several potentially receiving awards.”

The top ten Social Impact companies competing for a chance to present at BVC are all from Oregon. The list includes Curadite, Inc., Focal Technologies, Inc., Garden Bar, Green Theme International, InPipe Energy and ScoutSavvy from Portland. From Beaverton, Diatomix and eWind Solutions have made the semi-finals. Paid To Go, LLC from Corvallis and The Renewal Workshop from Cascade Locks round out the top ten Social Impact semi-finalists.

These ten Social Impact semi-finalists were selected after review by a panel of fund and individual investor experts. This is the second year ofSocial Impact competitionwhich includes for-profit companies whose business models are integrated with a social or environmental mission. In 2016 companies in the Social Impact category won prizes ranging from $50,000 to $100,000.

The four Social Impact finalists will be announced by EDCO on October 4.

“As a group, the quality of this year’s applicants was extremely strong,” said Vierra. “Companies span a variety of industries: cleantech, software, travel, UAS and much more. The strength of this group might make for one of the most competitive processes we’ve had in a while.”

BVC is hosted by EDCO and is the largest angel conference in the West with over 600 attendees, six funds, 32 prominent investors and 89 companies competing in 2016’s conference. The event takes place at the historic Tower Theatre October 19-20 where attendees will hear company pitches in a high level entrepreneurial atmosphere.

Tickets to the 14th Annual Bend Venture Conference can be purchased at


About Author

David Clewett is a writer and fly fisherman based in Sunriver, Oregon. He is a freelance journalist and poet with his most recent book being publish in late 2016 and two more collections of poetry expected to publish by the end of 2017. He enjoys hiking into and fishing the nearby lakes and streams of the Cascades and draws most of his inspiration from the clean mountain air and wildlife.

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