Tag Archives: START

Bend Sauce: A Local Family’s Journey into the Chipotle Sauce Industry

Bend, Ore., December 13, 2020 – Family owned and operated, Bend Sauce is a small batch chipotle sauce and seasonings company based in Bend. Handcrafted with organic Chipotle peppers from a family farm in New Mexico and Jacobsen Salt from the Oregon coast, this chipotle sauce delivers a unique balance of flavor and heat for the discerning chili-head.

Hear more about this startup’s journey into the chipotle sauce industry as Craig Rheinhart, Bend Sauce co-owner, shares their store, their community involvement and their connection to EDCO.

EDCO: Tell us your story and how you got your start.

Craig: Our story is simple. Bend Sauce was founded the summer of 2019 in Bend by Nikki, Craig, Talia, and Royce Reinhart out of a family passion and need for quality hot sauce. After years of eating around Bend on our weekend retreats, we grew tired of having to settle for typical watered-down hot sauce. With Chipotle flavor being our family favorite, on Saturday August 10, 2019, we endeavored to make our own. Pulling 20+ hot sauces out of the fridge, we stared at the ingredients in each bottle and immediately decided we would only use all-natural and organic ingredients. Starting with only the finest ingredients from Newport Avenue Market in Bend, Oregon (our first retailer as well) we set out to craft a super-premium organic Chipotle sauce with a thick, smooth seedless constancy that dazzles with every bite of any meal. Think about it.  We should chew our food and not our sauce, right?

In the following weeks, our sauce received universal acclaim from our friends, family and colleagues throughout the state, so we decided to take the next step and test our initial recipe at the Oregon State Food Innovation Center and found we were immediately shelf-stable. Launching our product during Winterfest in Bend in February 2020 we were delighted to deliver on our simple promise to bring only the best products to market. Bend Sauce does just that.

This summer we brought on a full-time high school student (and nationally recognized piano virtuoso) Maxwell Friedman as our first entrepreneurial intern to round out the Bend Sauce team as we know it today.

What started as a simple hot sauce has now been adopted by the chef and grill communities all over the world. We get notes all the time from chefs about how Bend Sauce has become a “secret ingredient” and posts from grill masters and pit bosses around the world with creative recipes using our products on social media almost daily.

EDCO: Where can we find your product today? 

Craig: Locally you can buy our products at Newport Avenue Market, Market of Choice, CE Lovejoys, West Coast Provisions, Primal Cuts Market, Savory Spice, Prineville Produce, Oliver Lemons, Black Butte Ranch Store, and Central Oregon Locavore.  We are online and in stores in California and throughout the Portland area.

EDCO: Why operate your business in Central Oregon?

Craig: Central Oregon is a unique place with friendly people and an abundance of expertise, including makers in the food-related business. The comradery here and throughout Oregon is exceptional and we couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.

EDCO: What makes Bend Sauce unique?

Craig: Bend Sauce is unique in its quality of ingredients, it is smooth and rich versus runny, and our flavor, smoke and heat give us a unique position as both an everyday hot sauce and that secret ingredient for what you choose to create at the grill or in the kitchen. We only make one sauce and plan to keep it that way.

EDCO: How has the pandemic affected your business? 

Craig: Covid-19 hasn’t changed much for us except that we can’t offer tastings and demos of our sauce which has likely impacted our in-store sales. That pales in comparison to the hardship of others in our ecosystem. The biggest impact has been on our wholesale customers – grocery, specialty retailers, restaurants, and food carts. We measure our success by the success of our customers, and we are doing all we can to support them and enhance the hard work these key stakeholders are doing.

With all the change and variable pain, there has been so much good that has come out of the circumstances surrounding the pandemic.  For us, a sense of community and shared experience in Central Oregon has been a blessing as we all navigate these unique times together.  New and old friends in Oregon, nationally and globally are now closer to us through this event. The love of family, friends and business relationships is palpable.

EDCO: Have you worked on any COVID-19 related initiatives to support neighbors and the community?

Craig: Yes, when COVID 19 hit we immediately pivoted from selling to restaurants to giving them Bend Sauce at no cost and doing all we can to support the community in other ways, including through SOS Bend. Our tagline is BEND SAUCE LOVE HERE.  We want to demonstrate that through our actions as well as our sauce.

EDCO: How do you support EDCO and why?

Craig: First, we are a member because of the great work EDCO does in helping support, expand and recruit business opportunities for Central Oregon.

Second, EDCO has always been a part of our world.  From PubTalks, to the initial call Craig made to EDCO regarding Bend Sauce and our hope to be introduced to Food Cluster members here in Central Oregon, to Craig and Royce attending the Bend Venture Conference, and coordination with EDCO regarding business recruitment and technology industry activities. Craig and Royce’s day jobs in commercial real estate first brought the family to Central Oregon in 1995 on business matters when Craig helped Tektronix kick off the Old Mill District with Bill Smith.


If you would like to surprise your customers and/or your employees with a special Bend Sauce gift view their corporate gift program.

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.

Start: LeadMethod Immersed in Bend

August 20, 2019 – In 2013 LeadMethod Founder & CEO Justin Johnson moved from Seattle to Bend. Unsure how to immerse himself in the business community, he reached out to EDCO for resources that allowed him to connect with many local leaders, influencers and mentors.

One local resource he connected with was the Bend Venture Conference, and in 2017 LeadMethod walked away from the annual angel investing event with over $485,000 in funding. The winners of the largest Angel Conference in the West kicked their growth into high gear. The money raised from BVC allowed LeadMethod to increase its staff by 50% and move into a new 5,000 square foot office space, giving them both the manpower and room to scale the business while also adding the ability to test new and innovative ideas.

LeadMethod, a creator of the first channel revenue optimization software, allows manufacturers and distributors to get more information on the leads provided throughout the entire sales cycle. With 25% of their customers surpassing $1 billion in revenue, they continue to gain industry trust worldwide while expanding their footprint in Bend.

For more info on LeadMethod, visit: https://leadmethod.com/

The Water Kefir People’s Probiotic Beverages Available Across Central Oregon

TWKP's different flavors

BEND, OR (December 27, 2017) – Bend-based probiotic drink company The Water Kefir People have partnered with renowned natural foods distributor UNFI to increase their product availability across the Pacific Northwest.

Five flavors of the beverages are currently available in stores around Central Oregon, with locations being added to California and Washington in the New Year. Their product line includes five flavors: Hibiscus Rosehip, Dragon Fruit, Lavender Blueberry, and EDCO’s two favorites Turmeric Ginger and Strawberry Basil. The sodas are all natural, GMO-free, dairy free, organic, and kid-friendly.

A healthy alternative to popular beverages, The Water Kefir People offer positive change to the masses. Most beverages do not offer much nutritional value, let alone beneficial probiotics. The demand for tasty probiotic beverages is growing rapidly and The Water Kefir People look to lead this exciting new category.

The Water Kefir People pitched their company idea to a sold-out audience at the March 2017 PubTalk. Since then, they have been growing their producing and distributing their products throughout the Pacific Northwest. Moving production to Bend has allowed them to grow, while also remaining true to their small batch roots.

So next time you are grocery shopping, pick up a bottle or two. Your body (and taste buds) will thank you.

For more info on the company, visit The Water Kefir People’s website.

And for more information on how EDCO can help your start-up, check out our resource page.