▶️ 7 PNW businesses score investments at Bend Venture Conference

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Recently, innovation took center stage at the Tower Theatre. 

Economic Development for Central Oregon’s (EDCO) 18th annual Bend Venture Conference saw seven Pacific Northwest businesses awarded a collective $550,000. 

“Of the seven companies that walked away with the giant checks, three of them were from Central Oregon,” EDCO’s Director of Marketing and Communications Elise Rossman said.

One of them was Tonsil Tech, with their tool designed to remove tonsil stones. 

“That money is going to make a really big difference to our company,” Co-Founder and CEO Sydney Quinten-Cox said.

A $25,000 investment from the Portland Seed Fund will help their year-old business expand.

“One of the number one places that will go is towards marketing, to really get the word out, to help us explore new channels,” Quinten-Cox said. “Another area we’re focusing on as well is trying to update our packaging so we can start to work with dentists and even get this into retail stores as well.”

Portland-based Skip Technology Inc. also took a $100,000 award for the research and development of a unique battery. 

“These are big vats of chemicals, and they would sit in a shipping container outside of town,” Co-Founder and CEO Dr. Brennan Gantner said. “Or near a substation or a power plant or something like that, by the windmills and solar panels…collect the energy as they come off, store them until we actually want to use it, and then at that time, release it onto the grid.”

Investments earned at the Venture Conference have boosted multiple local businesses over the years, including SnoPlanks and software company LeadMethod. 

“$50,000 into a starting company can really change their growth trajectory,” Rossman said. “In the past 18 years the Bend Venture Conference has been around, we have seen at least 1,000 jobs being created directly from the investments that have been given.” 

The full list of winners and investors are as follows:

Growth Stage Competition

The Growth Stage Competition, for companies that have a proven concept and initial revenues, had three winners.

  • Winners of BVC, LLC, Investment Awards*:
    • DeepSurface (Portland, OR) – A risk-based predictive vulnerability management platform that contextualizes vulnerabilities within a business’s digital infrastructure, was awarded $200,000.
    • Lora DiCarlo (Bend, OR) – Makers of sex tech products using advanced technology to mimic human touch and movements, was awarded $100,000.
    • The Run Experience (Bend, OR) – A daily fitness app with daily audio runs and training programs designed to build a healthy running habit, was awarded $50,000.

*The investment arm of the conference, BVC, LLC, awarded the Growth Stage investments following considerable due diligence of each of the five presenting finalists. Investments and follow-on deals are still being finalized.

Impact Competition

The Impact Competition, for-profit companies with an integrated social or environmental mission, had two winners, awarded by the BVC Impact LLC.

  • Winners of the BVC Impact LLC, Investment Awards*:
    • Skip Technology (Portland, OR) – Developers and manufacturers of a novel flow, low-cost battery for use in utility scale energy storage, focusing on solar, wind and waves production facilities, was awarded $100,000.
    • TENZR Health (Vancouver, BC) – Intelligent wearable sensors, gamification and healthcare expertise, providing patients with motivation, guidance and certainty in their recovery, was awarded $50,000.

*The Impact investment arm of the conference awarded an investment following considerable due diligence of each of the four presenting finalists. Investments and follow-on deals 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 two winning Early Stage companies are:

  • Winners of the Portland Seed Fund Early Stage Competition:
    • Radious (Portland, OR) – An online marketplace for rentable home office and meeting space, was awarded $25,000.
    • Tonsil Tech (Bend, OR) – Makers of an at-home handheld device to remove tonsil stones painlessly and effectively, was awarded $25,000.
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