The Bulletin: Bend Venture Conference selects 9 of 10 early-stage prize competitors

Investment conference pool narrows

Bend Venture Conference selects 9 of 10 early-stage prize competitors

By Jordan Novet / The Bulletin

If you go

What: Central Oregon PubTalk
When: Sept. 27, 5-8 p.m.
Where: McMenamins Old St. Francis School, 700 N.W. Bond St., Bend
Cost: $15 for members of Economic Development for Central Oregon or the Oregon Entrepreneurs Network; $25 for non-members
Contact: 541-388-3236

Organizers of the Bend Venture Conference on Tuesday identified nine of the 10 entrepreneurs who will compete for a chance to win a $10,000 prize at next month’s conference.

The Concept Stage Prize, for people with little more than ideas for companies, became a part of the annual Bend Venture Conference last year. It is separate from the larger Launch Stage Prize, which is an investment in an operating company.

Last year’s concept prize winner, Sheetal Dube, of Portland, went on to secure additional funding and legal clients for her company AudioName Inc., an online tool for recording names, she said.

This year, 20 companies applied for the concept stage, and conference organizers selected nine that will pitch their business concepts at an upcoming Central Oregon PubTalk event (see “If you go”). Audience members will vote for the five who will go on to compete for the $10,000 at the conference on Oct. 19.

The 10th participant will emerge from an entrepreneurship class at Oregon State University-Cascades Campus, said Ruth Lindley, marketing manager at Central Oregon Community College.

That person has not been identified.

Two competitors, ziPede and Good Peeple, both based in Bend, participated in the initial 12-week FoundersPad business-training program earlier this year. Founders-Pad was previously known as VentureBox.

Good Peeple runs a Facebook application that lets users recommend businesses, while ziPede produces educational videos for kids and their parents who visit pediatricians.

Dan Coyle, of Corvallis, made the cut for the PubTalk event with his company, Coyle, which produces and sells helmets made out of wood and other natural fibers.

Also in the running is, a Bend seller of devices that harness a dog alongside a person riding a recumbent tricycle or scooter, a practice the inventor calls urban mushing.

Mark Schuette developed his scooters around 2003 and has been riding them around Bend since. “I’ve got this invention that’s just fabulous, and I’ve been selling them on my own,” he said. “I need to get to the next level, which means I need some investment capital. I can’t do it on my own.”

Schuette says he wants to use the money to promote his company’s products.

The other competitors are:

• agrowpedia, a Bend-based provider of up-to-date local online gardening information;

• E-Z Leave, a concept for a Bend-based website that enables human-resources managers to quickly check laws on state- and federally mandated leave, such as the Family and Medical Leave Act;

• K.A.D Innovations, a company that seeks to develop products in Bend that simplify kebab making;

• Nourish Clean, a Bend company that wants to sell organic, biodegradable cleaning products; and

• Play Habit Inc., a Bend developer of video games for mobile devices.

Starting this year, only companies from Central Oregon will be eligible for the $10,000 prize. The participant from Corvallis wanted to take part anyway because of the feedback he will receive from potential investors, Lindley said.

The Concept Stage Prize is in addition to the launch-stage investment that’s projected to be at least $250,000, although organizers are still soliciting funds from investors. Generally speaking, companies that have received revenue and have other business elements in place are eligible for that investment.

Including both award tracks, conference organizers received more applications this year than ever, with 50 for the investment, Lindley said.

— Reporter: 541-633-2117


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