Author Archives: EDCO

MOVE: Gel Energy Solutions

Gel Energy Solutions - before and after photo of using LED lighting in a warehouse

In October of 2018, GEL Energy Solutions decided to expand its operations from California with a move to Central Oregon. After three years of helping industrial and commercial customers streamline their energy and lighting needs in Northern California, owner Charlie Gerwe saw a vacancy in the Central Oregon marketplace, allowing the company to make the move north.

Today, GEL Energy Solutions is helping companies navigate energy-saving solutions throughout the region. Their turn-key LED lighting process saves businesses up to 70% just by switching outdated, inefficient lighting with high-quality LED solutions.

We chatted with GEL Energy Solutions’ CEO Charlie Gerwe about his move to Central Oregon and how their company can help local businesses.

Why did you choose to move your business to Central Oregon?

I am originally from Oregon and had moved to the Bay Area a few years ago. I knew I always wanted to make it back to Oregon. My first company, GEL America, focused on providing companies these cost-savings solutions with no out of pocket costs. After returning to Bend and seeing there was a space in the market for us to offer these same solutions, I knew the choice was simple. It’s a great place to live and raise a family. It’s been great not only directly helping businesses but also strengthening the local economy by utilizing Central Oregon’s Labor Force.

What is GEL Energy Solutions?

We’re an Oregon business working with Energy Trust of Oregon to help local businesses improve monthly and overall profit by updating their lighting for no money out of pocket. We make lighting upgrades affordable and easy. The great part about GEL’s services is that there is no obligation or any costs to have your facility completely assessed to learn what business decisions can be made for your company.

GEL Energy Solutions focuses on updating both commercial and industrial lighting at no cost to the building or business owner by offering financing methods and turnkey LED lighting solutions. We call it lighting as a service. Businesses that work with GEL never have to worry about their lighting systems again and cut their energy bill by up to 70%. Our customers are positively impacting the environment by reducing their carbon footprint.

What types of companies could benefit from GEL Energy Solutions?

Large commercial and industrial buildings see the most savings, but any building with an energy bill over $300 a month can significantly impact their bottom line. The higher the energy bill, the more savings we can offer.  We enjoy serving a wide variety of businesses in Oregon.

Some of the local businesses that GEL Energy Solutions has worked with are: Deschutes County Jail, Deschutes Children Foundation, Northland Furniture, Smith Brothers Pushrods, Century Market, CLS Fabrication, Columbia Distribution, Roger Langeliers Construction, Cascade Heating, Webfoot Painting, and the Tower Theater.

Any Final Words?

One of my favorite parts about working with our customers is when they realize how affordable and easy a lighting upgrade can be. People think it’s a huge expense that will set them back, is unnecessary, will take a lot of time and effort, and becoming a huge headache. But that doesn’t have to be the case anymore. By using GEL Energy Solutions, our local businesses can update their lights, save huge on their energy bills, cash flow positive every month and reduce their carbon footprint without paying a dime.

Learn more about how GEL Energy Solutions provides Oregon commercial and industrial LED lighting solutions.

Laird Superfood Receives OEDA Business Development Success Award

Laird Superfood staff outside Sisters facility

Laird Superfood Receives the Business Development Success Award Presented by Oregon Economic Development Association

Company-Community Vision and Collaboration Results in Job Growth and Economic Gains

SISTERS, Ore., Oct. 28, 2019 – The vision and collaboration of the town of Sisters, Oregon, with an innovative start-up company in 2015 has led to Laird Superfood today being awarded the Business Development Success award by the Oregon Economic Development Association (OEDA). The award, presented by OEDA at today’s 2019 Awards ceremony in Salem Oregon, honors Laird Superfood for expanding its existing business in an effort to create jobs, expand the local tax base and improve the town of Sisters, Oregon community.

Laird Superfood produces a highly popular assortment of plant-based superfood products, which are manufactured and distributed from its headquarters in Sisters, Oregon. The company is this year’s fastest-growing manufacturer in the tri-county region of Crook, Deschutes and Jefferson. In the past 12 months, Laird Superfood has added 58 employees (210% growth) to meet rising global demand for its line of healthy creamers and assorted plant-based food products.

Since the company’s launch in 2015 with just three employees, Laird Superfood now employs over 100 people, occupies a new state-of-the-art 20,000 square-foot campus, and ranks as the town of Sisters’ largest private employer. The company is in the process of breaking ground on a third building and has purchased additional adjacent lots for future expansion, with the vision of increasing employment to 500 within the next five years.

“We are proud to receive this award. From the beginning, it has been our mission to give back to the Sisters community by providing job opportunities and making an economic impact,” said Paul Hodge, CEO of Laird Superfood. “We are grateful to Economic Development for Central Oregon (EDCO), which played an instrumental role in bringing Laird Superfood to Sisters. By connecting us with key employee hires, helping to find available land to build our new facility, helping us to secure forgivable loans with the city and county, and leading us through tax incentives, EDCO went above and beyond to support our business. We couldn’t be more pleased with how this award recognizes the original vision has become a reality, and how Laird Superfood will continue to grow hand-in-hand with the town of Sisters.”

The criteria for OEDA’s Business Development Award:

  • Extent of the economic impact on the community such as an increase in the overall tax base, the creation of new jobs, or criteria relevant to the goals of the program.
  • Achievement of its stated objective with measurable results.
  • Development of strong relationships, with relevant players and widespread community support.
  • Innovation, originality and cost-effectiveness.
  • Relevance and transferability of elements to other communities

About Laird Superfood

The company was co-founded in 2015 by the world’s most prolific big-wave surfer, Laird Hamilton. His passion project to perfect his personal regimen grew into a dynamic, innovative brand with a mission to bring clean, simple, and thoughtfully formulated superfoods to the masses. As one of the fastest-growing companies in the natural foods space, Laird Superfood’s offerings are environmentally sustainable, responsibly tested, and made with whole-food ingredients that everyone can feel good about.

SOURCE: Laird Superfood

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2019 Bend Venture Conference Winners

2019 BVC Winners

EDCO ANNOUNCES THE WINNERS OF THE 16TH ANNUAL BEND VENTURE CONFERENCE

Six Companies Presented with a Total of $488,000 in Investments & Cash Awards

BEND, OR – October 18, 2019Economic Development for Central Oregon (EDCO) hosted the 16th  Annual Bend Venture Conference (BVC) to a sold-out crowd at the Tower Theatre in Downtown Bend. This August, nearly 100 companies from across the U.S. and Canada applied to the conference in hopes of making it to the Tower Theatre stage. Over the past two days, 14 finalists presented their ideas to nearly 600 attendees.

This year marks the largest fund yet for the BVC, LLC, setting a funding record for the conference.

This year’s award breakdown is as follows:

Growth Stage Competition

The Growth Stage Competition, which included companies that have a proven concept and initial revenues, had two different winners.

  • Winners of BVC, LLC, Investment Awards*:
    • Observa (Seattle, WA) – An AI platform bringing ecommerce-style analytics to brick-and-mortar retail, was awarded $250,000.
    • Belmont (Portland, OR) – Providing break rooms with coffee, simplified draft beverages and fully-managed pantry service using proprietary technology, was awarded $100,000.

*The investment arm of the conference, BVC, LLC, awarded the Growth Stage investments following considerable due diligence of each of the five presenting finalists. This investment included $75,000 from Business Oregon and $10,000 from Oregon Community Foundation. Investments and follow on deals are still being finalized.

Impact Competition

The Impact Competition, which included for-profit companies with an integrated social or environmental mission, had one winner, awarded by the BVC Impact LLC. This is the fifth award given by the Impact LLC in the past four years.

  • Winner of the BVC Impact LLC, Investment Award*:
    • Riff Cold Brewed (Bend, OR) – Upcycling coffee byproduct into an all-natural energy drink, was awarded $85,000.

*The impact investment arm of the conference awarded an investment following considerable due diligence of each of the four presenting finalists. This investment included $25,000 from Business Oregon and $10,000 from Oregon Community Foundation. Investments are still being finalized.

Early Stage Competition

The Early Stage Competition included companies that are pre-revenue (or very early) and are in the process of testing their product in the market. The three winning Early Stage companies are:

  • Winners of the Portland Seed Fund Early Stage Competition:
    • FleetNurse Inc. (Eugene, OR) – An app-based on-demand staffing service for healthcare facility supervisors, was awarded $25,000.
    • Steamchain Corp. (Salem, OR) – A blockchain company using smart contracts to reduce high currency conversion costs and fluctuation risk in shipping and logistics, was awarded $25,000.
  • Winner of the Keiretsu Forum Audience Award (awarded at EDCO’s September PubTalk):
    • TerrAmor (Corvallis, OR) – A low-cost, easy to deploy, organic-certified solution for soft fruit growers to address the spotted wing drosophila problem, won a $3,000 cash award.

“This year we’ve raised the most money for the BVC LLCs in the history of the conference,” said Brian Vierra, EDCO’s Venture Catalyst. “This continues to show the strong local investor support for both the Conference and our current startup ecosystem. BVC continues to connect Central Oregon entrepreneurs to a broader, national audience.”

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, nearly 600 entrepreneurs, investors, and business leaders attended the multi-day conference on October 17-18, in Bend, Oregon. bendvc.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. edcoinfo.com

2019 BVC Growth Stage and Impact Finalists Announced

EDCO ANNOUNCES THE FINALISTS IN THE GROWTH AND IMPACT CATEGORIES ADVANCING TO THE BEND VENTURE CONFERENCE, OCTOBER 17-18

BEND, OR – October 4, 2019 – Economic Development for Central Oregon (EDCO) announced the Semi-Finalists advancing in the Growth Stage and Impact Categories for the 16th Annual Bend Venture Conference (BVC) on Thursday, October 17 – Friday, October 18, 2019.

In just two weeks, these companies will travel from across the West to present on the Tower Theatre stage. Last year, companies in the Growth Stage category won prizes ranging from $100,000 to $500,000, while the Impact Category winner walked away with $100,000.

In alphabetical order, the five Growth Stage finalists are:

  1. Belmont (Portland, OR) – Providing break rooms with coffee, simplified draft beverages and fully-managed pantry service using proprietary technology.
  2. Candid Wholesale (Portland, OR) – A suite of enterprise-grade tools for SME wholesalers, providing a SaaS platform where buyers can make orders and manage relationships.
  3. Observa (Seattle, WA) – An AI platform bringing ecommerce-style analytics to brick-and-mortar retail.
  4. SendSmart (Portland, OR) – Automates web lead follow up on multiple communication channels, connecting salespeople with leads once they’ve responded.
  5. ThingLogix (Belmont, CA) – Provides companies with the expertise and tools to design, build, deploy, and manage serverless and IoT Applications on the cloud.

In alphabetical order, the four Impact Stage finalists are:

  1. Beta Hatch (Seattle, WA) – Farming for the future by industrializing insects.
  2. Meli Wraps (Bend, OR) – Creators of reusable beeswax wraps for food storage.
  3. Riff Cold Brewed (Bend, OR) – Upcycling coffee byproduct into an all-natural energy drink.
  4. Sironix Renewables (Seattle, WA) – Maker of high-performance, eco-friendly ingredients for cleaning products.

“These companies represent finalists from close to 100 applications received this year,” said Brian Vierra, EDCO’s Venture Catalyst. “The steady progression in maturity of both tracks continues with a broad range of geographies and ideas being represented. These top companies also show how the tracks have evolved to look more like true Venture-style investments, with revenues ranging from $500k to close to $4 million.”

Hosted by Economic Development for Central Oregon (EDCO), this year’s BVC will once again feature three competition categories: Growth Stage, Early Stage and Impact, bringing together over 600 entrepreneurs, investors and business leaders to Bend, Oregon.

Ticket Sales
Tickets to the 16th Annual Bend Venture Conference are on sale now and are available here.

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. bendvc.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. edcoinfo.com

Jefferson County Offers $143,000 Incentive for Construction of Industrial Space

EDCO logo, Mount Bachelor landscape

Jefferson County Offers $143,000 Incentive for Construction of Industrial Space
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Madras, Ore. Jefferson County has finalized a grant program that offers a cash incentive for
the private development community to construct new industrial or light industrial space within the county’s borders. For years, all existing heavy and light industrial space has been fully occupied in Madras, Metolius, Culver, Crooked River Ranch and Warm Springs, which the Jefferson County Board of Commissioners see as a barrier for business development. This incentive would offer up to $125,000 for construction of a 60,000 square foot building available for lease. The minimum size for eligibility is 20,000 square feet, which would yield a $75,000 cash grant. Sizes in between will be prorated.

Additionally, the grant recipient may also apply for up to $18,000 in “rent gap coverage” to
defray costs if the building remains vacant after completion. This grant is designed for maximum flexibility and does not require a specific property to be identified at the time of the application.

However, those applications with land control (lease or ownership) will be scored higher. Applicants also need not have a tenant in hand to apply. The deadline for applications for this incentive is November 4th, 2019, 2:00pm.

“It is widely known that a shortage of built industrial space available for lease in a community is a barrier for both existing businesses to expand and companies outside our borders to relocate,” said Jefferson County Commissioner Kelly Simmelink. “We don’t want to lose opportunities due to a 12-18 month permitting and construction time frame,” he noted.

Commissioner Mae Huston emphasized that financial capital is also a constraint. “Many of the economic development tools to attract business to Jefferson County are geared to businesses that can be patient through a building project and have sufficient capital for ground-up development,” said Huston.

“The data tells us that most business owners would rather direct their capital and attention to the business rather than real estate,” continued Huston.

Wayne Fording, local business owner and longtime Commissioner, sees the incentive as a way for the public sector to help mitigate private sector risk of investing in new speculative space. “The grant program’s goal is to get someone to add inventory, and we believe occupancy will follow quickly,” said Fording.

This grant program may be used in conjunction with the Oregon Enterprise Zone program,
which offers 3-15 year property tax exemptions for qualifying companies on buildings, equipment and certain types of personal property. Local jurisdictions including Jefferson County, City of Madras, City of Metolius, City of Culver and the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs volunteer to temporarily give up some property tax revenue via the Enterprise Zone programs in order to attract new jobs and capital investment.

The source of funding used for the industrial construction incentive program is a portion of the net proceeds of a 1980s Oregon Community Development Grant that the County used to establish a business economic development loan program. The County originally received $400,000. Today, the program has grown with principal and interest repayments to a current value over $800,000.

Grant details are available at www.jeffco.net/RFPs and the deadline for sealed
applications is November 4, 2019 at 2:00 PM.

Contact: Kelly Simmelink, County Commissioner – 503.730.6573
Jeff Rasmussen, County Administrative Officer – 541.460.0889

About Jefferson County:
Established in 1914, Jefferson County comprises the northern portion of the Central Oregon region and includes Oregon’s largest Native American reservation. It is home to some of the largest manufacturers in the region, has among the state’s most diverse population and its farms produce the majority of the annual U.S. and global carrot seed supply.

2019 BVC Early Stage Finalists Announced

ANNOUNCING THE FIVE EARLY STAGE FINALISTS TO PRESENT AT THE 16TH ANNUAL BEND VENTURE CONFERENCE OCTOBER 17-18
Finalists Chosen During Last Night’s Central Oregon PubTalk

BEND, Ore. – September 27, 2019 – Economic Development for Central Oregon (EDCO) announces the Top Five Early Stage Finalists advancing to the Bend Venture Conference (BVC) on Thursday, October 17 – Friday, October 18, 2019. These companies will present on the historic Tower Theatre stage in Downtown Bend, competing for a possible investment of $25,000 from Portland Seed Fund.

The Early Stage competition received 42 company applications from six states. It includes companies that have a great idea and are close to “proof of concept.” They are pre-revenue (or very early) and are in the process of testing their product in the market. The competition will take place on the morning of Friday, October 18th.

During last night’s Central Oregon PubTalk, TerrAmor won the Audience Vote and received a $3,000 cash award, courtesy of Keiretsu Forum.

In alphabetical order, the five Early Stage finalists presenting at the Bend Venture Conference are:

  1. FleetNurse Inc. (Eugene, OR) – An app-based on-demand staffing service for healthcare facility supervisors.
  2. Lisi Global, Inc. (Richland, WA) – Environmentally safe, patented electronics technology that eradicates soil pests and pathogens.
  3. Speak Technologies (Portland, OR) – A time-saving productivity tool using AI to follow-up on meetings by automatically capturing notes, key decisions and action items.
  4. Steamchain Corp (Salem, OR) – Steamchain is a Financial Technology company that has created a platform using smart contracts, blockchain technology and proprietary processes to simplify international B2B payments.
  5. TerrAmor (Corvallis, OR) – A low-cost, easy to deploy, organic-certified solution for soft fruit growers to address the spotted wing drosophila problem.

Tickets to the 16th Annual Bend Venture Conference are on sale now and are available here.

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. bendvc.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. edcoinfo.com

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2019 BVC Early Stage Semi-Finalists

EDCO ANNOUNCES THE BVC EARLY STAGE SEMI-FINALISTS
10 companies to present at the largest PubTalk of the year September 26th;
Competing for a $3,000 cash award and a spot on the BVC Stage

BEND, Ore. – September 17, 2019 – Economic Development for Central Oregon (EDCO) announced the 10 semi-finalist companies advancing in the Early Stage competition for the 16th Annual Bend Venture Conference (BVC) on Thursday, October 17 – Friday, October 18, 2019. This group of companies is one step closer to presenting on the historic Tower Theatre stage in Downtown Bend, competing for an investment of $25,000 from Portland Seed Fund.

These Early Stage semi-finalists will pitch against each other at the September 26th PubTalk with five companies advancing to the Bend Venture Conference. In addition to advancing to the BVC, an audience vote will determine one Early Stage company to receive a $3,000 cash award, courtesy of Keiretsu Forum. Tickets for PubTalk are on sale now and available here.

In alphabetical order, the 10 BVC Early Stage semi-finalists that will compete at the September 26th PubTalk are:

  1. Analog Biometric Technologies (Portland, OR) – A firearm lockbox preventing children from accessing firearms using the length of fingers to unlock.
  2. eCode.me (Bend, OR) – A product recommendation platform that recommends products based on a unique sensory profile.
  3. FleetNurse Inc. (Eugene, OR) – An app-based on-demand staffing service for healthcare facility supervisors.
  4. Honistly (Portland, OR) – Creators of financial instruments that ease anxiety through alternatives to predatory lending and the comfort of predictable expenses via warranties.
  5. Lisi Global, Inc. (Richland, WA) – Environmentally safe, patented electronics technology that eradicates soil pests and pathogens.
  6. Referit Wellness, Inc. (Bend, OR) – An app that helps doctors grow their practices by incentivizing patients to share their favorite doctors.
  7. Shift (Bend, OR) – VR enhanced online training to help educators recognize and mitigate implicit bias in the classroom.
  8. Speak Technologies (Portland, OR) – A time-saving productivity tool using AI to follow-up on meetings by automatically capturing notes, key decisions and action items.
  9. Steamchain Corp (Salem, OR) – A blockchain company using smart contracts to reduce high currency conversion costs and fluctuation risk in shipping and logistics.
  10. TerrAmor (Corvallis, OR) – A low-cost, easy to deploy, organic-certified solution for soft fruit growers to address the spotted wing drosophila problem.

 

During PubTalk, an audience vote, along with a panel of experts, will determine the five companies that advance to BVC October 17-18. With the largest crowd of the year, the action will be live-streamed throughout McMenamins. Don’t wait to secure your seats – tickets are going fast and this event will sell out.

With the largest crowd of the year, the action will be live-streamed throughout McMenamins. Don’t wait to secure your seats – tickets are going fast and this event will sell out.

PubTalk Agenda
5:00 pm to 5:45 pm Networking, drinks & appetizers
5:45 pm to 8:00 pm Early Stage Company Pitches, Audience Vote, Winner Announcements

PubTalk Cost and Registration
$27 EDCO & OEN Members (Become a member here.)
$37 Non-Members
Cost includes appetizers and a free beverage (choice of beer, wine, or soda)

Ticket Sales
Tickets to the September 26th PubTalk are on sale now and available here.
Tickets to the 16th Annual Bend Venture Conference are on sale now and are available here.

BVC Title Sponsors

PubTalk Title Sponsors

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. bendvc.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. edcoinfo.com

Start: Q&A with BrainChild Technologies’ Carly Kiselycznyk, PhD

Bend, Ore. – September 9, 2019: Meet Carly Kiselycznyk, Ph.D., co-founder of BrianChild Technologies. Throughout Carly’s career, she has been focused on taking innovations from neuroscience to help improve the quality of everyday life. She’s trained as a scientist but has worked hard to gain interdisciplinary experiences in business, intellectual property, and government grants management. Before Carly’s work with BrainChild Technologies, she researched the behavioral and pharmacological interventions that influence mental health and resiliency. This academic experience led her to a career with the Department of Defense where she served as a scientific advisor for government-funded research on Post-traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury.

Hear more about Carly Kiselycznyk, BrainChild Technologies and their relationship with EDCO:

EDCO: Tell us about your business background

CK: BrianChild Technologies was formed by academic neuroscientists who met while studying at the National Institutes of Health. We had the idea to create consumer versions of research tools used to study infants so everyday parents could track their own baby’s neurodevelopment. Our business and startup experience began when we were selected for the NeuroLaunch Startup Accelerator that focused on bringing innovations in neuroscience to the market. Since then, we have grown from academic researchers to startup founders through our experiences at NeuroLaunch, FoundersPad, and Promise Studio’s Early Futures program for innovators in early childhood. These experiences have helped us identify critical value propositions for caregivers and providers working with hearing loss in infants that will lead to new market opportunities in consumer digital health. We have since successfully gained two SBIR grants for our work from both the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.

EDCO: What inspired you to start this business?

CK: BrainChild Technologies was formed when one of our co-founders was expecting her first baby. As neuroscientists, we, of course, had tons of questions about this exciting time in brain development. We knew about the tricks researchers in baby labs use to better track an infant’s cognitive and language milestones and wanted to give everyday parents the same tools. We started with a smart pacifier that recreates the High Amplitude Sucking paradigm, where researchers wire up a pacifier to measure how infants change their sucking behavior when they’re interested in images or sounds. Our goal was to provide parents a new way to have back-and-forth interaction with their infant, while also helping them recognize issues such as hearing loss so they can pursue interventions early when they are most effective.

EDCO: Why did you choose to start your business in Central Oregon? What’s different about the Central Oregon business community than other communities? How has this community helped you to thrive?

After receiving funding to work on the company full-time, I had the opportunity to move anywhere in the country to start growing our team. I was looking for a startup culture with easy access to the outdoors and had always loved the Northwest. While visiting Seattle and Portland, I decided to stop by Bend and was immediately impressed with the startup community. Just after one or two visits at local co-working spaces, I had 10-15 warm introductions to others in the community and people were happy to make time to meet during my short visit. Since moving here, everyone has been more than happy to meet for a quick chat over coffee and suggest more resources or introductions. It’s great to be in a smaller, tight-knit community where you can be sitting and having coffee with one person and the connection they’ve just mentioned happens to walk in the door a few minutes later.

EDCO: How did it feel to win the Cambia Grove Trails Competition? What do you hope to accomplish with this win?

Winning the Cambia Grove TRAILS competition was a great validation of our pivot to focus on hearing screening in infants, especially coming from judges with expertise in pediatric concerns from 3 leading children’s hospitals. The competition provides us with the opportunity to be embedded in 3 children’s hospitals for a week of shadowing providers. Being able to observe our future users and customers in their work environment is a great opportunity while conducting customer discovery. These visits will help us ensure that we not only create improved solutions for hearing loss screening but that it also fits into the workflow and day-to-day realities of our future users.

EDCO: What projects are you currently working on? 

CK: Right now, I am continuing my work on pilot testing our hearing screening platforms for infants as part of our NIH SBIR grant. I will be finishing up some of our software development and then looking for some parents and baby scientists who are interested in participating in our research studies. As part of our IRB-approved study, I am looking for families who are interested in participating in a one-hour session in their home where the infant tries out our smart pacifier while listening to different sounds.

EDCO: What is Your Best Word of Advice to the Entrepreneur Community.

CK: Learn to recognize how much you, and even the experts, still don’t know about a topic. Realizing how much of our standard way of doing things was based on our limited information at the time is a great way to start identifying areas ripe for innovation.

EDCO: How did you hear about EDCO and why did you choose to engage with the organization? Did EDCO help you and your business? If so, how?

CK: I learned about EDCO when I first passed through on a visit to Bend. They were one of the first introductions recommended to me and have been a great resource along the way. The PubTalks have been a great way to start getting to know the entrepreneurial community, and the staff at EDCO was instrumental in introducing me to multiple leaders in the health care space in Bend, both in medical device and digital health development, as well as health policy. The connections to health care leaders in the community have helped us identify new business opportunities unique to Oregon and Bend, including programs for infants from the local NICU, and new legislation for home visiting and health screening services for all parents with new infants.

2019 BVC Semi-Finalists for Early Stage

EDCO ANNOUNCES THE BVC EARLY STAGE SEMI-FINALISTS
Ten companies to present at the largest PubTalk of the year September 26th;
Competing for a $3,000 cash award and a spot on BVC Stage

BEND, Ore. – September 17, 2019 – Economic Development for Central Oregon (EDCO) announced the 10 semi-finalist companies advancing in the Early Stage competition for the 16th Annual Bend Venture Conference (BVC) on Thursday, October 17 – Friday, October 18, 2019. This group of companies is one step closer to presenting on the historic Tower Theatre stage in Downtown Bend, competing for an investment of $25,000 from Portland Seed Fund.

These Early Stage semi-finalists will pitch against each other at the September 26th PubTalk with five companies advancing to the Bend Venture Conference. In addition to advancing to the BVC, an audience vote will determine one Early Stage company to receive a $3,000 cash award, courtesy of Keiretsu Forum. Tickets for PubTalk are on sale now and available here.

In alphabetical order, the 10 BVC Early Stage semi-finalists that will compete at the September 26th PubTalk are:

  1. Analog Biometric Technologies (Portland, OR) – A firearm lockbox preventing children from accessing firearms using the length of fingers to unlock.
  2. eCode.me (Bend, OR) – A product recommendation platform that recommends products based on a unique sensory profile.
  3. FleetNurse Inc. (Eugene, OR) – An app-based on-demand staffing service for healthcare facility supervisors.
  4. Honistly (Portland, OR) – Creators of financial instruments that ease anxiety through alternatives to predatory lending and the comfort of predictable expenses via warranties.
  5. Lisi Global, Inc. (Richland, WA) – Environmentally safe, patented electronics technology that eradicates soil pests and pathogens.
  6. Referit Wellness, Inc. (Bend, OR) – An app that helps doctors grow their practices by incentivizing patients to share their favorite doctors.
  7. Shift (Bend, OR) – VR enhanced online training to help educators recognize and mitigate implicit bias in the classroom.
  8. Speak Technologies (Portland, OR) – A time-saving productivity tool using AI to follow-up on meetings by automatically capturing notes, key decisions and action items.
  9. Steamchain Corp (Salem, OR) – A blockchain company using smart contracts to reduce high currency conversion costs and fluctuation risk in shipping and logistics.
  10. TerrAmor (Corvallis, OR) – A low-cost, easy to deploy, organic-certified solution for soft fruit growers to address the spotted wing drosophila problem.

 

During PubTalk, an audience vote, along with a panel of experts, will determine the five companies that advance to BVC October 17-18. With the largest crowd of the year, the action will be live-streamed throughout McMenamins. Don’t wait to secure your seats – tickets are going fast and this event will sell out.

With the largest crowd of the year, the action will be live-streamed throughout McMenamins. Don’t wait to secure your seats – tickets are going fast and this event will sell out.

PubTalk Agenda
5:00 pm to 5:45 pm Networking, drinks & appetizers
5:45 pm to 8:00 pm Early Stage Company Pitches, Audience Vote, Winner Announcements

PubTalk Cost and Registration
$27 EDCO & OEN Members (Become a member here.)
$37 Non-Members
Cost includes appetizers and a free beverage (choice of beer, wine, or soda)

Ticket Sales
Tickets to the September 26th PubTalk are on sale now and available here.
Tickets to the 16th Annual Bend Venture Conference are on sale now and are available here.

 

BVC Title Sponsors

PubTalk Title Sponsors

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. bendvc.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. edcoinfo.com