$1.7M invested in 8 Oregon startups at the 2017 Bend Venture Conference

By: Malia Spencer - Oct 26, 2017
Source: Portland Business Journal

With women's apparel and sales software garnering the most interest, eight Oregon companies collected more than $1 million from investors at the recent Bend Venture Conference.

Each year, hundreds of investors and entrepreneurs descend on Central Oregon for the conference at Bend's Tower Theater. This year, 14 companies pitched and mingled with 600 attendees. All told, $1.7 million was invested across eight companies, with some side investments still to be finalized.

“The quality of companies that continue to apply and present at BVC is overwhelming,” said Brian Vierra, venture catalyst for Economic Development of Central Oregon, one of the hosts of the event, in a written statement. “Over the past four years, we’ve announced numerous winners — almost all our finalists are ending up with some type of funding or mentoring as a result of the conference. Our goal is to move all these companies forward toward the next step in their lifecycle.”

The conference has become the stage that many investors use to announce investments. The conference itself creates an LLC that provides a vehicle for people to invest money. The LLC then invests in the winning companies.

The BVC LLC includes $10,000 from the Oregon Community Foundation and $25,000 from the state run Oregon Growth Account.

Here’s the breakdown of who collected what:

  • LeadMethod walked away with $485,000 in investment. The Bend-based company received $110,000 from the BVC LLC; $150,000 from Business Oregon; $175,000 from Cascade Angels; and $50,000 from Portland Seed Fund. LeadMethod built a software platform to help companies that sell product through channel distributors. The software helps automate leads and distribute sales information. 
  • Handful received $400,000 in investment. The Wilsonville-based company makes sports bras and other active women’s apparel. The company secured $100,000 from the BVC LLC, $250,000 from Elevate Capital, Credo Investment and TiE Oregon; $50,000 from Portland Seed Fund.
  • Drone Complier received $225,000. The Portland-based company landed $200,000 from Business Oregon and $25,000 from Portland Seed Fund.
  • Levrum received $175,000 from Business Oregon. The Corvallis-based company uses simulation and machine learning to more efficiently deploy emergency services.
  • InvestiPro received $150,000 from Business Oregon. The Bend-based company makes human resources software that automates the workplace investigation process.

The event also featured a social impact competition for businesses with social or environmental missions. Portland-based Green Theme International, which offers a textile and fabric finishing technique that doesn’t use water, won the $110,000 investment. The Oregon Growth Account contributed $25,000 to the award while Craft3 contributed $15,000.

Two early-stage companies were also recognized during the program.

BladeRunner Energy, based in Bend, won the $17,500 BendBroadband Business Early Stage award, voted on by conference attendees. The company created a micro-hydro technology that generates power.

Bend-based Voila, which created a specialty instant coffee product, landed $85,000 from Business Oregon.

Over the last four years, the Bend Venture Conference has invested more than $7 million in 30 companies.