(YesOMS founder Taylor Mahony, left, and CFO Tim Riefke enjoyed attending the Bend Venture Conference | Photo courtesy of YesOMS )
YesOMS Founder Taylor Mahony was honored to have the opportunity to be the only Bend-based company to participate in the 17th annual Bend Venture Conference, hosted by Economic Development for Central Oregon (EDCO).
“We were thrilled to have the chance to reach investors, as well as other like-minded entrepreneurs looking to make an impact,” Mahony said. “We enjoyed the event very much and would highly recommend it to other companies as well.”
The Bend Venture Conference is an annual celebration of entrepreneurship, innovation and connections, and it is one of the largest angel conferences in the United States. Over the past six years, more than $11 million has been invested in 38 companies. Last week, 14 companies — including YesOMS — presented both in-person and virtually to a hybrid audience, and six companies were awarded a total of $503,000 in investments and cash.
The companies were divided into three categories: Growth Stage Competition was for companies that have a proven concept and initial revenues; Impact Competition for companies with an integrated social or environmental mission; and the Early Stage Competition for companies in the pre-revenue stage and in the process of testing their product in the market.
The winners were:
- PypeServer (Seattle) — Software that automates the cutting of industrial steel pipe for construction and industrial uses, was awarded $220,000.
- PetHub (Wenatchee, Washington) — A central hub to manage your pet’s life, helping owners share data safely while also finding trusted services and information, was awarded $100,000.
The Impact Competition:
- Biomotum (Portland) — Creators of a robotic ankle-assist device that offers a cost-effective, lightweight, portable and efficient way to improve mobility in those with movement disorders, was awarded $80,000.
The Early Stage:
- Cozera (Portland) — Creating verified digital identities for remote and in-person identity verification, was awarded $50,000.
- MustDeliver (Portland) — A digital marketplace delivering industry-leading clarity, control and communication between shippers and drivers in the trucking business, was awarded $50,000.
Winner of the Portland Seed Fund and Elevate Capital Audience Award (awarded at EDCO’s September PubTalk):
- Masa (Portland) — The first online farmers’ market, bringing farmers’ markets to people via an online marketplace, won a $3,000 cash award.
EDCO’s Venture Catalyst Brian Vierra said the BVC LLCs raised more money from individual investors this year than ever before. “The Central Oregon investor community continues to grow, showing strong support for our entrepreneurial ecosystem,” Vierra said.
Mahony shared that YesOMS was one of five companies competing in the Early Stage Competition, and that he learned a great deal from listening to what other companies did to reach their goals.
“YesOMS is the future of the magical customer experience, at scale. We offer a platform for merchants and brand owners to offer a superior user experience to their customers through their own branded mobile application, and we are building the cashless, cardless, touch-free, skip-the-line experiences of the future,” Mahony said.
The idea for the company started when Mahony worked for PayPal. He lived in Bend and would travel to San Francisco for three days a month to work. He was standing in a long line at Philz Coffee when he saw people walking up to the counter, grabbing a coffee and walking out. He asked someone exiting how she was able to avoid the line.
“She told me that she ordered her drink today, and every day, ahead of time, on her phone, using the “Philz mobile app,” he said.
He tried the app the next day ordering coffee from his hotel. Instead of fumbling for cash or credit cards, the transaction was already completed, and his coffee was ready.
“I walked across the street to PayPal, where it was my day job to think of innovative solutions to solve people’s everyday problems. It was halfway across Market Street where I invented YesOMS,” he said.
When he moved to Bend four years ago, Mahony immersed himself in Bend’s culture, lifestyle and business ecosystem. He volunteered to be the president of BendTECH.
One of the biggest rewards of that association was the chance to work directly with EDCO on a lot of programs, services and efforts,” Mahony said. “I’ve seen how hard the good folks at EDCO work to support the local business community, both as a business owner as well as a co-working nonprofit volunteer. While it may be tempting to curl up under a rock until COVID passes, instead I would urge other Bend companies to reach out to EDCO now more than ever because EDCO provides companies with the tools to succeed in any environment.”
Mahony said YesOMS grew substantially through its experience at the Bend Venture Conference. “We honed our pitch and fielded countless questions about our business, our model, our projections and our general outlook,” he said, adding that attending the presentations provided his team with information and the motivation to reach their goals.
“CFO and Investor Betsey Nelson, for example, reminded us that trust is the most important factor between a company and their board, that boards should be diverse in thought and perspectives, and fully engaged with,” he shared. “From Paul Evers at Riff, we learned that innovation can be positive both for business and the environment, and that collaboration is one of the keys to growth.”
“In the end, we learned that lots of listening and our ‘the answer is Yes’ collective can-do attitude is what will help us grow and drive our success at YesOMS,” he said.