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19th Annual Bend Venture Conference: Minnow awarded $200,000

BEND, Ore. – October 23, 2022 – Economic Development for Central Oregon (EDCO) hosted the 19th Annual Bend Venture Conference (BVC) at the Tower Theatre in Downtown Bend. During the conference, 14 finalists presented their ideas and business models to an audience of hundreds in hopes of gaining investment from prominent funds. Of those finalists, seven companies were awarded a total of $665,000 in investments. Additional investment deals are still being finalized.

“After months of meetings between our companies and investors, it is hugely rewarding to see the response. Companies and investors from around the country have been exposed to Bend and we’ll continue to foster these relationships and offer resources and support,” explained Deanne Buck, EDCO’s Venture Catalyst. “This program wouldn’t be possible without our partners and Oregon-based funding entities including Portland Seed Fund and Elevate Capital.”

Each fall, the BVC LLC fund and the BVC Impact LLC fund are raised from individual investors to invest in the conference Growth Stage and Impact finalists. Beginning in August, applicants for both tracks began meeting with investors from both funds. Meanwhile, applicants in the Early Stage track were evaluated by investors at Portland Seed Fund, who have led the BVC Early Stage investment since 2018.

Jenn Lynch, Fund Manager for the BVC Growth Stage and Impact funds, said, “The BVC Conference Fund investors were so impressed with the caliber of the businesses that elected to pitch. The investors put in a significant amount of work in the weeks preceding the conference – they’re truly invested in these businesses in more ways than one. We’re thrilled to welcome these new companies to the BVC Fund portfolio and look forward to their success.”

This year’s award breakdown is as follows:

Growth Stage

The Growth Stage Competition is for companies that have a proven concept and initial revenues. The finalists that walked away with investment awards this year are:

  • Minnow Technologies (Seattle, WA) – A cloud-connected delivery hub (called a “Pickup Pod”) that makes food delivery efficient and reliable was awarded $200,000 from the BVC LLC.
  • Wild Rye (Sun Valley, ID) – A women’s outdoor brand crafting beautiful and technical mountain apparel that fits, inspires confidence and welcomes more women into the outdoors was awarded $65,000 from the BVC LLC.

Impact

The Impact Competition features for-profit companies with integrated social or environmental missions. The companies that received investments this year are:

  • Ethicann Pharmaceuticals Inc. (Bethesda, MD) – A biotechnology company developing high-value, cannabinoid-based drug therapies using a development strategy of reformulating approved drugs into safer and equally efficacious drugs was awarded $60,000 from the BVC Impact LLC.
  • Photon Marine (Portland, OR) – A company that designs and develops an electric outboard motor system and intelligent fleet management software for commercial boat fleets was awarded $45,000 from the BVC Impact LLC, with follow on investments of $150,000 from Elevate Innovation Gap Fund II and $40,000 from Portland Seed Fund.

Early Stage

Each year Portland Seed Fund (PSF) commits to writing a $30,000 check to at least one BVC Early Stage company. Steve Eichenlaub and Angela Jackson, Managing Directors of Portland Seed Fund IV, evaluated applications and met with founders over the last few months.

“We were blown away. The quality gets better each and every year. In the end, we ended up writing four $40,000 checks,” exclaimed Jackson.

Ultimately, Portland Seed Fund IV awarded $160,000 across four finalists – three Early Stage and one Impact – at Friday’s conference. These companies will join the ranks of Clean Age and Reperio as Portland Seed Fund IV’s latest investments.

The BVC Early Stage companies that received investments are:

  • DailyChela.com (Portland, OR) – An OTT app for Latinos that solves the problem of the lack of Latino news, opinion and sports on Roku, IOS and Android was awarded $40,000 from PSF.
  • Osheru (Bend, OR) – A device that simplifies upper eyelid surgery to make this vision and appearance enhancing procedure available to anyone was awarded $40,000 from PSF.
  • Range Revolution (Madras, OR) – The world’s first leather luggage company using only traceable and regenerative hides was awarded $40,000 from PSF.

**All investments are awarded following considerable due diligence of each of the presenting finalists. Investments and follow-on deals are still being finalized.

 

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The Minnow Pickup Pod unit.
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The Minnow Pickup Pod unit.