Author Archives: EDCO

THE BEND VENTURE CONFERENCE RETURNS OCTOBER 17-18, 2019

THE BEND VENTURE CONFERENCE RETURNS OCTOBER 17-18

CONFERENCE TICKETS ON SALE NOW
COMPANY APPLICATIONS OPEN NOW THRU AUGUST 15TH

BEND, OR (July 18, 2019) – Economic Development for Central Oregon (EDCO) will again host the annual two-day Bend Venture Conference (BVC) on Thursday, October 17 – Friday, October 18, 2019, at the iconic Tower Theatre in downtown Bend. Tickets to the 16th Annual BVC are available here.

Last year, 600 attendees, 50 prominent investors, and over 70 companies joined us for a celebration of entrepreneurship and innovation. Investments, awards, and prizes of approximately $2.35 million were given to multiple winners at the 2018 conference.

“In 2018, we received a record number of company applications as far south as Arizona and as far east as New York. All three competition categories are open to companies located anywhere in the U.S.,” said Brian Vierra, EDCO’s Venture Catalyst. “This year, we will continue that expansion, bringing more promising companies to Central Oregon to compete for the big checks.”

Companies in the Impact Competition have historically competed for investments ranging from $50,000-$100,000. This year’s Early Stage Competition has received a commitment from Portland Seed Fund to invest at least $25,000 into the winning company. Growth Stage Competition finalists could collect an investment of $250,000 or more. The 2019 BVC will feature impressive speakers from across the country representing angel investors, venture capitalists and entrepreneurs, to be announced at a later date.

APPLY

This year’s conference will feature three competition categories: Growth Stage, Early Stage, and Impact. The application period is open now through Thursday, August 15th and companies across the United States are invited to apply.

  • Growth Stage Competition: This category is open to companies that have a proven concept, have generated initial revenues and are prepared to scale quickly with investment. To apply, click here.
  • Early Stage Competition: This category is open to companies that have a great idea and are close to “proof of concept.” They are pre-revenue (or very early-revenue) and are in the process of testing their product in the market. To apply, click here.
  • Impact Competition: This category is open to for-profit companies, whose business models are integrated with a mission to have a significant and measurable social or environmental impact. Applicants should be aiming to generate long-term enterprise value and attractive returns on capital. To apply, click here.

Jason Moyer, Fund Manager for the 2019 BVC, LLC said, “BVC has come a long way. We’re now syndicating with professional funds to invest meaningful sums in many of the region’s most promising ventures. Multiple exits and up-rounds suggest that our selection process is on the right track.”

BVC title sponsors, US Bank, Jones and Roth

About Bend Venture Conference (BVC)

Now in its 16th year, BVC, hosted by EDCO, is one of the largest angel conferences in the country. Over the past five years, more than $10 million has been invested in 38 companies as a result of the conference. This year, over 600 entrepreneurs, investors, and business leaders are expected to attend the multi-day conference on October 17-18, in Bend, Oregon. https://bendvc.edcoinfo.com/

About Economic Development for Central Oregon (EDCO)

EDCO is a non-profit corporation supported by private and public members and stakeholders, whose mission is to create middle-class jobs in Central Oregon by recruiting new employers to move to the region; helping entrepreneurs start new, scalable businesses; and working with businesses that are already here to grow their operations. www.edcoinfo.com

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Bend gets ready to again welcome waves of angels and entrepreneurs

As reported by Malia Spencer, Portland Business Journal – Jul 7, 2015

This year the Bend-based conference is slated for October 15-16.

The angel conference is hosted by economic development nonprofit EDCO (Economic Development of Central Oregon) and seeks early stage and growth stage startups.

In 2014, the event dolled out more than $1 million in investments and other awards and more than 400 people attended. Company’s were able to land investment from the conference as well as follow on investing from individuals and groups.

Events such as the Bend Venture Conference as well as groups such as Bend-based Seven Peaks Ventures and the Founders Pad accelerator are raising the profile of the city within not only the Oregon tech community but along the West Coast.

Last year, Amplion took home $250,000 and PoachedJobs received $100,000.

Awards are divided into Early Stage and Growth Stage categories. The early stage companies, which much be based in Central Oregon, compete for a roughly $15,000 cash prize sponsored by BendBroadband.

The growth stage companies compete for the money raised by the angel conference. At the conference, accredited investors pool their money and then decide on the winner. The final amount awarded isn’t known until all the money is gathered.

Organizers expect that this year’s pool will exceed the $350,000 raised last year. Growth Stage companies do not have to be based in Central Oregon to win.

Applications close Aug. 14.

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$15,000 Early Stage Award up for grabs!

BendBroadband Business steps up their game by 50% on the 2015 BVC Early stage award from to $15,000 from last year’s $10,000.

BendBroadband Business is proud to sponsor the Early Stage Award at the Bend Venture Conference (BVC) again this year. The BVC, hosted by EDCO, is the largest Angel Conference in the Pacific Northwest. Last year, Volcano Veggies scooped the $10,000 award, and this year there’s $15,000 up for grabs.

The search is now on for this year’s winner. Applications are invited from early stage Central Oregon businesses, and typically come from companies that:

  • Have a great idea, and are close to “proof of concept”
  • Are pre, or very early, revenue
  • Are in the process of testing their product in the market

If this sounds like you, or you know a business at this stage whose growth could be accelerated with a $15,000 cash prize, information on how to apply can be found here.

The process works like this: Applications can be filed online beginning July 6. Upstart day is the next stage, with fast-paced reviews of the contenders. Following that, the strongest entries go through to present at PubTalk on September 24. The finalists then have three minutes each to pitch to the BVC audience on October 16, when the 2015 winner will be chosen, and pictured with their $15,000 check.

More information on attending, presenting and sponsoring the Bend Venture Conference can be found here.

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KIDRUNNER ANNOUNCES FIRST RETAIL AMBASSADOR

Bend, OR – April 8, 2015 – kidRunner, the world’s first, high performance, all-terrain kid jogger, bike and Nordic ski product, announces its first Retail Ambassador – FootZone Bend. Through the partnership, kidRunner will collaborate with FootZone to expand awareness of kidRunner and explore new retail/distribution models like demos and pre-orders, while finding shared ways to grow each business.
“As a local, community-oriented specialty running retailer, we think FootZone is the perfect demographic and cultural fit for kidRunner early adopters,” said Will Warne, kidRunner partner. “We hope to develop a shared business opportunity that will enable us to experiment with innovative retail concepts and shared marketing. As local runners, we are already big fans of FootZone. We appreciate their creative, open minded approach to partnership and we’re excited to get started!”
kidRunner will market launch in 2015 following a Spring ‘15 crowdfunding campaign in collaboration with kidRunner’s ambassador team, a mix of elite runners, adventures, every day parent runners, and retailers, like FootZone.
“FootZone is excited to help kidRunner bring a beautiful new piece of gear to the running market,” said Teague Hatfield, owner of FootZone Bend. “New parents are anxious for products to help them stay active and kidRunner is an innovative solution that is going to turn a lot of heads.”

About FootZone Bend
FootZone is Central Oregon’s only full service, locally owned, independent running and walking store in downtown Bend. Since 1995, FootZone has been the hub of the local running community, hosting clinics, training groups, weekly runs, and a number of charitable events each year, in addition to sponsoring local races. To learn more about FootZone, visit www.footzonebend.com.

About kidRunner
Founded in Bend, OR, kidRunner is the world’s first high performance, all-terrain, lightweight, pull-style kid jogger. It is designed to enable runners with kids to run and explore, while retaining the efficiency and form of natural running. It is 50% lighter than traditional joggers. The company has plans to follow their running solution with Nordic ski and bike options. The composite frame and innovative, flexible “bow” that connects to the runner decouples the up and down motion, providing a smooth, safe, high performance ride for both runner and kid. kidRunner will be available for pre-order beginning summer 2015. For more information, visit www.kidrunners.com or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

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Media Contacts
Michelle Poirot / PR for FootZone Bend
michelle@footzonebend.com / (503) 481-0595

Natalie Dent / PR for kidRunner
natalie.dent@gmail.com / (206) 605-1802

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Jama Software lands $20M

As reported by Malia Spencer, Portland Business Journal
Fast-growing Jama Software is adding fuel to its fire with a $20 million series C funding round aimed at building out more product capabilities.
As part of this round, the company is also bringing on a new investor in Updata Partners. The Washington, D.C.-based private equity firm is no stranger to Portland: it invested in Viewpoint Construction Software and recently purchased Ruby Receptionists.
Also included in the round were existing investors Trinity Ventures, Madrona Ventures and members of Oregon Angel Fund.
The round puts Jama’s total funding at $33 million.
CEO Eric Winquist said the round will help the company add capabilities to its collaboration software, especially for customers that are in highly regulated areas such as medical devices, financial services and consumer electronics.
“This allows us to double down on the success we have been having,” he said.
Jama’s product helps customers through their own product design process. The software allows the right people to collaborate at the right time in the development cycle.
Initially, the company worked with clients who build highly complex products in markets such as medical and aerospace.
However, as the Internet of things and wearables have taken off, complexity has come to more markets.
“When we started eight years ago IoT was just starting,” Winquist said, noting that the iPhone had just hit the market and devices like Fitbit were brand new. “Our sweet spot was hardware and software systems and that has taken off in the last 18 months. We have seen the market shift and all companies are becoming systems engineering companies.”
This year the company moved into a new office at 135 S.W. Taylor St. that allows all 140 employees to work under one roof (click through the photos to get a glimpse inside the space).
Winquist expects Jama will add another 50 employees this year.
As part of the funding round, Jon Seeber from Updata and Tim Porter from Madrona will join Jama’s board of directors.

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KIDRUNNER ANNOUNCES 2015 AMBASSADOR TEAM

Bend, OR – March 3, 2015 – kidRunner, the world’s first high performance, all-terrain, lightweight, kid jogger, announces its 2015 Ambassador Team. The Ambassador Team, which consists of a mix of elite runners, adventure athletes, every day running parents, retail partners, and event sponsors, is led by long-time kidRunner Ambassador and World Champion runner, Max King. Other members include Ryan and Natalie Bak, Stephanie and Ben Bruce, Amy Golumbia, Scott and Lauren Jones, Noel Paine, Gray Skinner, John Tribbia, and Jake Woolley.
“We identified and assembled a team of elite and every day parent runners, adventurers and entrepreneurs who shared our goal to reinvent running, biking, skiing and exploring with kids,” said Will Warne, kidRunner partner, based in Bend, OR. “We wanted athletes motivated to reinvent running and exploring with kids because today’s kid joggers are heavy, awkward and injury prone. We looked for a team who runs on roads, trails, beaches, and tracks and who can share their experiences with the world. And, we’ve found them!”
Following a Spring 2015 crowdfunding campaign, each ambassador will be given their own state of the art kidRunner to run, explore and for some, to train for the 2016 Olympic Trials in their sports. kidRunner will be taking pre-orders in the summer for their 2015 go-to-market launch.
About the 2015 Ambassador Team:
• Max King (Bend, OR):
o 2014 World 100k Champion (American Record 6:27); 2012 World Mountain Running Champion; 2008 and 2012 Olympic Trials Qualifier; 4 X US XC Team Member; 4 X World Xterra Trail Run Champion; 8 X USATF National Champion; winner of BigFoot 10k with daughter in kidRunner
• Ryan and Natalie Bak (Bend, OR):
o NCAA National Champions and runners up; Academic All Americans; Olympic Trialists; winner of 2013 PHX marathon and more
• Stephanie and Ben Bruce (Flagstaff, AZ):
o Elite marathon and half marathon and Steeplechase champs with several top 10 national finishes; Olympic Trialists; USA Track/Field Championships; owners “Running with the Bruces” coaching business
• Amy Golumbia (Calgary, CAN):
o Canadian mountain running champion; raced World Mountain Running Championships in Turkey and Italy; owner of 5 Peaks Trail Running
• Scott and Lauren Jones (Denver, CO):
o Owners/Entrepreneurs and Runners; Athlete on Fire and Running with Kids
• Noel Paine (Quebec, CAN):
o ’11 Boston Marathon; 100K Trail Ultra races in Italy and Ireland; Solo rim2rim2rim of Grand Canyon; blogger and writer for Canadian Running magazine
• Gray Skinner (Austin, TX):
o Runner and Triathlete; ’14 Iron Man World Championship qualifier; 1st Place New Orleans 70.3 (Amateur); USA Cycling Certified Coach
• John Tribbia (Salt Lake City, UT):
o Vertical Kilometer Series Champion; fastest runner up Mt. Olympus; developed “Strollerval” training regime with a kid jogger
• Jake Wooley (Ashland, OR):
o Marathoner, cyclist and marketing/product specialist in sports performance textiles and applications
“I’ve been involved with running and testing each kidRunner prototype because I believe the future of running with kids is about performance, freedom and design rather than pushing something that is awkward, heavy and prone to injury,” said Max King, elite runner and kidRunner Ambassador. “kidRunner solves all of that. They are also committed to regional economic development and I wanted to be a part of that, too.”

About kidRunner
Founded in Bend, Oregon, kidRunner is the world’s first high performance, all-terrain, lightweight, pull-style kid jogger. It is designed to enable runners with kids to run and explore, while retaining the efficiency and form of natural running. It is 50% lighter than traditional joggers. The company has plans to follow their running solution with Nordic ski and bike options. The composite frame and innovative, flexible “bow” that connects to the runner decouples the up and down motion, providing a smooth, safe, high performance ride for both runner and kid. kidRunner will be available for pre-order beginning summer 2015. For more information, visit www.kidrunners.com or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

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Media Contact
Natalie Dent
PR for kidRunner
natalie.dent@gmail.com
(206) 605-1802

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Help Wanted

ONE DAY A FEW years ago, entrepreneur Kirk Thornby and restaurateur Peter Bro — owner of Portland venues Café Broder, Broder Nord and Savoy Tavern — got together to talk about how hard it was to nd good employees on Craigslist and other generic job sites. e problem?Email accounts flooded with unqualified applicants. “People would post an ad for $25, and you never knew what you were going to get,” Thornby says. “We thought there was room for something new.” at something is Poached Jobs, an employment website focused on the food-service industry. For a fee, restaurants and hotels post ads; in return they get access to a “back office,” in which hiring managers can flip through résumés “like they would through photographs in iPhoto,” says ornby. Managers can also sort and rank applicants and add notes to profiles for future reference. “It gives them a hiring platform, which is valuable because 85% of our clients are small-or medium-size businesses that don’t have anyone dedicated to HR,” says Thornby. Launching in a foodie town like Portland helped jump start business. e challenge now is becoming a recognizable brand in major metropolitan areas outside of the Northwest. Not that Poached Jobs hasn’t thrived; since launching in 2012, the company has expanded to 11 cities — including Austin, Seattle and New York.

Still, growth hasn’t come easy. “We bootstrapped this thing, so growing and scaling on a limited budget has been the hardest thing we’ve had to do so far,” Thornby says. “Trying to spread your message as far as you can — you have to get pretty crafty how you spend your marketing dollars.”

Money trail

Poached Jobs was one of the winners at the 2014 Bend Venture Conference and in 2015 received an additional $42,000 from the Cascade Angels Fund. The startup also secured $50,000 from the Portland Seed Fund. “[Raising money is] the hardest thing I’ve done in my career, and I’ve owned businesses since I was 22,” says Thornby, now 53.

Insider’s game
Bro’s experience as a restaurateur gives Poached a competitive advantage. “That’s one of our secret sauces,” Thornby says. “We know exactly how the industry works. [The industry is] held together by duct tape. We know what processes are like, where the weak points are and what they need.”

Poached Jobs streamlines the hiring process for business owners. Other companies aim to improve the selection process for consumers looking for professional services.

“They’re everywhere — these marketplaces that are popping up to make our lives easier,” says Matt Ehrlichman, CEO of Porch, a Seattle-based online indexing site that helps people choose, schedule and review home-improvement contractors. “The cool thing is there’s so much pain around working on your home,” Ehrlichman says. “But now you can push a button and get anything in your home done by a professional. The trend for most industries is going to be working to make its processes as easy and simple as possible.” New York-based ZocDoc takes a similar approach to booking healthcare professionals. The website allows consumers to shop for doctors and access their schedule in real time. Patients can leave reviews of doctors and fill out paperwork ordinarily completed in the waiting room. Closer to home, Financial Friend— a Portland-based startup that launched last month — connects potential clients with financial professionals. Hoping to recreate ZocDoc’s model, Financial Friend verifies the credentials of CPAs, retirement planners, insurance brokers and lenders, and customers can schedule appointments directly. “We noticed other industries moving toward a consolidated online directory with appointment booking, and we realized that there isn’t one for financial services,” CEO Brandon Rigoni says. “We want to make things convenient for consumers while we sell to businesses the transparency and trust building they can exhibit through the customer-review process.”

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BVC’s Wild card entrant, The Handsel Corporation, advances at OEN’s Angel Oregon Spring 2015 Program

Twenty-five companies have made the first cut in OEN’s Angel Oregon Spring 2015 Program and will proceed to compete in the next round.

Hailing from Albany, Bend, Corvallis, Estacada, Eugene, Portland, Wilsonville, and Vancouver (Wa.), the companies represent a wide range of sectors—including business products/services, clean tech, consumer products, education, electronics, fashion, food & beverage, healthcare services, internet/web services, marketing/advertising, mobile, and software.

From a record 61 applications, these 25 companies have survived the first cut and will be presenting to OEN’s Angel Oregon investors. On March 17, up to 12 companies will be selected to proceed. The winner of the investment award, historically between $200,000 to $300,000, will be announced at OEN’s Angel Oregon Showcase on April 22.

The 25 companies currently in the running for our spring investment award are as follows:

Amorphyx (Corvallis/Electronics) “Redefining the cost and performance of today’s displays through new backplane technology; redefining manufacturing and supply chain for the future of displays.”

BuddyUp (Portland/Mobile) “BuddyUp is a matchmaking site for study buddies.” FUNDA (Portland/Education) “When your kids play, what are they learning? FUNDA can tell you.”

GarageSkins, Inc. (Albany/Consumer Products) “We’ve identified a $14B space in the home improvement markets that is untapped and have developed and patented a DIY product to launch into that market.”

GrowlerWerks, Inc. (Portland/Consumer Products) “We designed the world’s first growler system that works. It keeps beer fresh, cold and carbonated so you can enjoy it wherever and whenever you like.”

HydroStar USA (Estacada/Clean Technology) “Enabling a clean hydrogen industry with low cost systems and safe, clean electrolyte. Targeting green sustainable ammonia for fertilizer and energy storage.”

HygenaMobile (Portland/Business Products) “HygenaMobile is the world’s first patent-pending device that prevents germs from transferring from mobile devices to consumers in any environment.”

iTogos (Portland/Food & Beverage) “iTogos is an app targeting small-scale food vendors and people who have limited time to dine out. It saves 20 mins/meal for the customer and creates a new sales channel for the vendor.”

Language Zen (Portland/Education) “We’re a language learning web app that leverages music, data, and adaptive technology so our users can learn faster and with less frustration.”

LeaseEasy (Portland/Internet & Web Services) “We help landlords and tenants save time, money and risk through pre-qualified online search.”

Lumen Learning (Portland/Education) “Lumen is fixing a broken textbook market with open digital courseware that replaces traditional textbooks.”

MotioSens, Inc. (Portland/Consumer Products) “Smart technology monitoring activity, mobility, and wellbeing of seniors living alone. A growth market.No wearable. Easy to install. $30 a month for peace of mind.”

Outdoor Project (Portland/Consumer Services) “Combining inspiration, resources and social community to create the most dynamic marketplace for outdoor adventure.”

Presspoint CRM (Portland/Business Services) “Presspoint is a CRM and business platform for the 34M organizations that run on WordPress, the world’s number one content management system.”

Red Duck Foods, Inc. (Eugene/Food & Beverage) “Red Duck Foods is perfectly positioned to re-shape the $9.6B condiment industry with five certified organic condiments and national distribution.”

Sadie (Portland/Fashion) “Sell More Products Online. Sadie is Product Photography and eCommerce made simple.”

SavorSearch (Vancouver/Food & Beverage) “SavorSearch changes the game for the world’s $500 billion specialty food & drink trade with automated matchmaking to drive new business for buyers and sellers.”

SightWorks, Inc. (Portland/Marketing & Advertising) “Branded learning experiences for commerce, classrooms and corporate training environments.”

SpaceView, Inc. (Portland/Mobile) “SpaceView provides a streamlined visual approval process. SpaceView enables you to place a virtual object into a real space within seconds.”

SpinRiot, Inc. (Wilsonville/Internet & Web Services) “Our immersive publishing platform (SpinFolio) evolves how you market, sell and educate by delivering a personalized content experience. ”

The Handsel Corporation (Bend/Consumer Services) “A Facebook Canvas & web app that augments “classified advertising” Facebook Groups: We deliver curated content, powerful discovery tools and more to members.”

Third Ocean (Eugene/Software) “EB5.org is a digital marketplace that enables Immigrant Investors to receive permanent US visas by making an investment that creates 10 new jobs.”

Ultra Inc (Portland/Consumer Products) “Innovative environmental mobile health solutions that empower people to live ultra healthy.”

VDO Interpreters (Portland/Healthcare Services) “VDO Interpreters is Language company that provides Medical Interpreters for the Healthcare Industry utilizing the latest video conferencing technology.”

Willow Games (Portland/Mobile) “Willow equips mobile games with skill-based competitions that have limitless cash prizes which raise the stakes for gamers and make games more profitable.”

About Angel Oregon: OEN’s Angel Oregon is the premier investment program in the Northwest for angel investors and early-stage entrepreneurs.Since 2005, 612companies have applied to compete at Angel Oregon, and 89 have been selected to present. Three million dollars have been directly invested through OEN’s Angel Oregon LLC investment award and there have been three favorable exits. Additional investment has been made outside of the LLCs, and more than 740 jobs have been created. Learn more.

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CrowdStreet Forms Strategic Partnership With FNEX and Applied Capital

PORTLAND, OR–(Marketwired – Feb 12, 2015) –  CrowdStreet, a real estate marketplace solution leader that connects accredited investors with institutional-quality real estate investments, and FNEX, a leading online alternative investment marketplace, today announced entry into a strategic partnership. FNEX and its registered broker dealer, Applied Capital, will be a distribution partner for CrowdStreet clients and their offerings, and will conduct diligence services for deals CrowdStreet posts on the FNEX platform.

CrowdStreet’s clients, commercial real estate operators and developers, can now benefit from the partnership by gaining access to an additional pool of accredited investors, institutional investors and family offices for accelerated capital formation.

“We are committed to providing our investor members the highest quality commercial real estate deals with total transparency,” said Tore Steen, CEO of CrowdStreet. “Partnering with FNEX and Applied Capital is an important step forward for CrowdStreet that allows us to engage Applied Capital’s broker-dealer services and provides us the benefits of distribution through the FNEX platform. FNEX is a fantastic marketplace for the broad universe of alternative investments and we are excited to contribute to their commercial real estate offerings.”

CrowdStreet will provide FNEX with institutional-quality commercial real estate investment opportunities that meet stringent posting criteria. CrowdStreet opportunities are only offered by highly experienced sponsors that can demonstrate a history of success. Sponsors have included Mainstreet, Olympus Property, Windmill Investments and EverWest Real Estate Partners.

“We are excited to partner with CrowdStreet on their expanding pipeline of deal flow,” said Todd Ryden, CEO of FNEX. “CrowdStreet’s vigilant adherence to institutional-quality commercial real estate managed by best-in-class sponsors is in direct alignment with our vision for the FNEX marketplace.”

About CrowdStreet

CrowdStreet provides real estate operators, funds and private equity companies a full-service marketplace solution for presenting investments online, marketing opportunities publicly, managing the offer process and maintaining ongoing investor relationships. The CrowdStreet solution is enriched by services and business partnerships that empower real estate sponsors to modernize their fundraising processes and embrace online capital formation. Accredited investors, institutional investors and family offices access an intuitively-designed platform to find institutional-quality real estate investments, complete an online offer workflow, track investment performance and build a commercial real estate portfolio. Based in Portland, Oregon, CrowdStreet was founded in 2013 by a team with deep experience in commercial real estate, securities and finance, marketing, consumer Internet and software development. For more information, visit www.crowdstreet.com.

About FNEX

FNEX is “The Private Securities Marketplace” connecting accredited and institutional investors to investment opportunities in private companies, hedge funds and managed futures accounts. FNEX’s mission is to help investors source investment opportunities, and help offering groups connect with investors. FNEX was founded in 2012 by professional investors, entrepreneurs and attorneys. For more information, please go to www.FNEX.com.

Media Contact:

Theresa Maloney
Cogenta Communications
415-225-5261
theresa@cogentacom.com

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Raising the Stakes

The 2014 Bend Venture Conference set a record for the most cash, investments and prizes awarded at an angel conference in the Pacific Northwest. Investments in the six winning companies exceeded $1 million. The 11th annual conference was hosted by Economic Development of Central Oregon.

Jason Moyer, BVC’s fund manager, tells us how they did it.

How we got so big

We wanted it to be big this year. My personal goal was to create a step function change in perception regarding the sophistication of the conference. And to make clear it really is a venture conference — not an amateur angel conference but an event worth attending. It needed to compete on a national scale.

The five-point plan

Cultivate a well-defined framework for investor discussions.
Significantly increase expert involvement in the process: substantial contributions from venture capitalists, private-equity professionals and accomplished corporate investors.
Revise educational components for participants less experienced in angel investing: talk about fun facts, evaluation concepts, risk and reward profiles.
Put philosophical emphasis on objective-driven efficiency.
Allocating funds: having enough money to do multiple deals, vs. one deal which is what BVC would traditionally do.

Applicant quality

This is the first time since I’ve been involved with the conference that I truly considered all companies onstage to be investable companies. There was a perception that BVC only wanted to do tech companies. That’s not the case. Tech/software companies tend to have profiles that are investor friendly: scalable and capital efficient. That doesn’t mean BVC has a bias.

Goals

The BVC serves two purposes from an economic development point of view: to prepare entrepreneurs through coaching and experience and to cultivate capable and active investors. This is not a community service.

Straight talk

A lot of entrepreneurs go into this thinking they are going to raise venture capital. Statistically, they’re not. For early-stage companies looking for money, the angel venues are probably the place to get it. We wanted to up the game, to be on the sophisticated side, but I very much wanted to make it accessible to amateur angels and new entrepreneurs.

Small town, big dreams

Bend is a smaller market. It’s much easier for people to get well connected here. There’s a little inbreeding that happens with Silicon Valley, where beautiful people interact with each other, and there’s not a lot of interaction for newcomers. Some of the alternate markets may not have the volume of Silicon Valley or Boston or New York. But there are opportunities in different forms: the cost of living, the wage comparisons. You still have a chance at influencing the ecosystem in Bend.

Solving the mystery

If you go back a decade or two, starting a company was a black-box mystery nobody understood except venture capitalists themselves. But entrepreneurial activity is becoming more visible. I do think the venture capital model needs to evolve because there are more alternative funding sources for interesting ideas, whether it’s alternative angel investment or crowd funding. The visibility of this whole process seems to be improving.

Hard knocks

The downside to increased notoriety is people remember the exceptions, not the rule. There are people who start a company, get a team of six people, have no revenue and sell it for a billion dollars. Everybody remembers that. What they don’t remember are all the people who drop out of college and don’t sell for a billion dollars — who end up on the wrong side of the roughly half of companies that crash and burn. We help keep people on the right side of those statistics. Entrepreneurship means entrepreneurship done well.

The upshot

BVC concentrates its collection and review of companies within a period behind the scenes that covers several months, but from a public perspective, happens in the course of two days. So for someone who is looking for perspectives on this process, this is a very concentrated opportunity to witness that. Hopefully we’ve helped increase expectations in Central Oregon. If you can compete at BVC, you can compete anywhere.

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