Bend Venture Conference brings big name - and bucks

Six young firms with big ideas to vie for $250,000

By Renee Nelson
POSTED: 10:40 PM PDT October 12, 2012    UPDATED: 10:47 PM PDT October 12, 2012 
BEND, Ore. -

Six companies will "swim with the sharks" at this year's Bend Venture Conference next Thursday and Friday.

The 2012 class of competitors have been selected for this year. The annual competition connects concept and early-stage companies with investors.

On Oct. 19, the winner will walk away with close to a $250,000 investment, generated from several investors from around the Northwest.

For the first time, the Oregon Community Foundation made a matching investment of $25,000. The Oregon Growth Act will contribute $50,000 again this year.

The six launch-stage companies are not only from Central Oregon, says Jim Coonan, Venture Catalyst Manager at Economic Development for Central Oregon.

"Companies come from all over the state -- that really provides a great competitive environment" he said. "If they can stand up to that kind of competition, they can go toe to toe with anyone."

People often have the misconception that the conference is reserved for software companies, but that not the case.

This year, the competition has two medical device companies, two clean technology companies, a software company and a human bio company, which Coonan calls "unusual."

About 300 to 400 of the Pacific Northwest's top investors, entrepreneurs and business leaders attend the event at the historic Tower Theatre.

The competition, now in its ninth year, is a perfect sink-or-swim platform for the presenting companies.

"They put them on the hot seat, and what will they do under that," Coonan said. "That is a big component of whether they win  or whether they're just getting great exposure."

This year's competition also has a little star power.  Daymond John a "shark" and panelist on the hit reality show "Shark Tank" and the founder of the FUBU clothing line, will be this year's keynote speaker and panel judge.  \

This is a first for the conference, which normally doesn't have that high profile of an individual.  According to EDCO representatives. having Daymond John involved in the event is going to be a lot of fun.

As much as the Bend Venture Conference is about investing in an idea, Coonan tells us the investment is really in the people.  The event showcase's some of the best and brightest entrepreneurial minds in Central Oregon.

To find out more, visit www.bendvc.com.