Announcing the BVC Growth Stage & Impact Track Semifinalist Companies

Announcing the Growth & Impact Semifinalists

Economic Development for Central Oregon (EDCO) is excited to announce the semifinalist companies advancing in the Growth Stage and Impact Track competitions for the 20th annual Bend Venture Conference (BVC) on Thursday, October 19 – Friday, October 20, 2023.  The ten semifinalists in the Early Stage competition category were announced last week.

Each year, new BVC Growth and Impact Funds are raised to invest in the most promising ​companies that compete in the annual conference. At the 2022 BVC, these funds invested a combined $530,000 in Growth Stage and Impact Track finalists. In the weeks preceding the conference, angel investors meet with ​semifinalist companies at a series of due diligence meetings to narrow the companies to a list of finalists, which will be announced ​in early October. ​

Jenn Lynch, Fund Manager for the BVC LLC Funds, explained, “The investors in the Bend Venture Conference Funds are local businesspeople who enjoy learning about the semifinalists’ startups as much as they do hearing each other’s perspectives and building their own investment thesis. With a record number of applicants across all categories this year, we are thrilled with the variety and growth potential represented in the semifinalist companies.”

In alphabetical order, the nine BVC Growth Stage semifinalists are:

  1. Avoli (Portland, OR) – The first and only athletic brand dedicated exclusively to the performance needs and aspirations of women and girl volleyball athletes.
  2. Gnara (Gunnison, CO) – A revolutionary new approach to women’s clothing with a patented zipper design that helps everyone to answer nature’s call.
  3. Heather’s Choice (Ashland, OR) – A line of lightweight, packable meals and snacks made with wholesome, quality ingredients for adventuring.
  4. Hepatx (Palo Alto, CA) – An innovative, regenerative medicine solution for liver disease.
  5. iDentical Inc. (Mountain View, CA) – A dental device company that is disrupting the global dental implant market with personalized, drill-free dental implants.
  6. Po Campo (New York, NY) – A leader in modern daily travel, making stylish and sustainable designs specifically for commuters using bikes and scooters.
  7. Square Baby (Bend, OR) – A baby food subscription service that offers 100% daily nutrition and early allergen introduction for food allergy prevention.
  8. Toolbelt Inc. (Vancouver, WA) – A mobile software that allows contractors to post projects and directly connect with tradespeople.
  9. Varlo (Philadelphia, PA) – An inclusive athletics brand designed for endurance athletes of all sizes and body types.

In alphabetical order, the seven BVC Impact Track semifinalists are:

  1. Birch Biosciences (Portland, OR) – Engineering enzymes that break down plastic polymers for efficient and economic plastic recycling.
  2. ESG Brands (Portland, OR) – A proprietary technology for converting agriculture waste into textile fiber for the fashion industry.
  3. Harvest Thermal (Kensington, CA) – Electric heating, cooling and hot water systems for homes to support a strong and renewable electricity grid.
  4. LeapFrog Design (Bend, OR) – Modular, scalable, all-natural, plant-based treatment solutions for onsite greywater and blackwater recycling.
  5. Leap Photovoltaics (San Francisco, CA) – A revolutionary process to manufacture silicon solar cells at half the cost of silicon wafer-based cells using domestic supply chains.
  6. OpConnect Inc. (Portland, OR) – A turnkey EV charging solution provider that offers smart charging hardware and software for fleet operators and multi-family properties.
  7. Opolis (Kennebunk, ME) – A trademarked and patent pending blend that creates a monetizable plastic economy for the developing communities most impacted by plastic waste.

The Bend Venture Conference (BVC) is the longest standing and largest angel investment conference in the Pacific Northwest, serving as a catalyst for startup investment in Central Oregon. Throughout the conference attendees hear company pitches, break away for multiple networking activities and learn from aspiring entrepreneurs and industry thought leaders. Tickets to the 20th annual Bend Venture Conference are on sale now and are available here.

EDCO’s Central Oregon PubTalk: The Road to BVC

Ten Early Stage semifinalists will present at EDCO’s September PubTalk on September 28th at Worthy Brewing in Bend in hopes of moving on to present at BVC. Tickets are available through Eventbrite at