BEND, Ore. - A sold-out crowd of 425 Bend Venture Conference attendees last Friday heard the pitches of five Launch Stage finalists and six Concept Stage finalists. In addition, they listened to an inspired and insightful "fireside chat" with Steve Blank, a serial entrepreneur and one of the founders of the Lean Startup movement in entrepreneurship.
All of the prior BVC conference winners were on hand to provide updates on the growth of their companies.
Total conference investment currently stands at $334,500 and may grow to reach the record $345,000 investment from last year. Conference winners were:
- Launch Stage finalist Nouvola, which offers a cloud-based, scalable performance testing suite to help companies scale successfully in the cloud, won the conference's major prize, a $250,000 BVC investment. The investment arm of the conference, BVC, LLC, awarded the investment following considerable due diligence of each of the five presenting finalists.
Nouvola's customers are small to medium sized companies who want to deliver a great user experience, targeting an underserved $200B cloud services market. The company's performance suite includes stress testing, user metrics, performance analytics, and benchmarking. Founded by Paola Moretto, the Nouvola team boasts cloud domain expertise, prior startup experience with successful exits, and deep software execution background. Nouvola is a graduate of FoundersPad, Bend's technology accelerator.
- Concept Stage finalist Ochoco Arms, with its multi-laser sighting system that turns a shotgun into a precision instrument, won the $10,000 prize in the BendBroadband Concept Award. Conference attendees voted on the company they believe had the greatest potential. Founder Sam Lambert of the Prineville-based startup, is offering a family of devices for home defense, police and military markets.
- Launch Stage finalist Syndical, which automates the time-consuming process of publishing event information, won Palo Alto Software's LivePlan competition for a $1,500 prize. 2013 is the first year this prize has been offered at the conference.
- In a side car arrangement that is still being finalized, The Flybook garnered investment for a minimum of $73,000. The Flybook provides streamlined, real-time management of reservations and back-end office activities for the outdoor industry, which is currently underserved by comprehensive technology solutions. Craig Langer, a former outdoor guide, is founder of Bend-based The Flybook. Based on investment terms, additional investors may join the side car deal.
"This year's Bend Venture Conference was exceptional at many levels," said Jim Coonan, EDCO Venture Catalyst. "The quality of Launch and Concept Stage finalists was the strongest we have seen, and we credit much of that to the growth to the expansion of Central Oregon's entrepreneurial infrastructure."
"The time commitment our group of investors make to screen and vet companies also contributed to the overall quality of the competition," added Coonan. "We could not have been more pleased with Steve Blank's keynote presentation, facilitated by Dino Vendetti, Managing Partner of Seven Peaks Fund. Steve laid out how profoundly the Lean Startup approach is democratizing the startup scene—both financially and geographically—and that bodes well for Central Oregon."