Bend, Oregon, is a great place for entrepreneurs. Located in the center of the state, east of the cascade mountain range which provides year-round recreational activities (snow skiing, hiking, fishing and mountain biking) and collects most of the rainfall Oregon is known for. For example, Bend averages just 11.4 inches of rainfall each year and records 295 days of sun shine. This is far better than Portland's 43.5 inches of rain and 200 days of blue skies. The pure beauty of the area, pleasant weather, and year-round activities make it a great place to live. The friendliness of the people in the community make it the best place I’ve ever lived.
I’m not alone, about 76,000 people agree. What many people don’t know is, Bend has an active mentor community filled with successful executives from every industry. Technology, medical, oil & gas, education, legal, software, fashion, film, theatre and sports, just to name a few. We have a lot of 50 “something” retirees who live in the area, looking for worthy startups to mentor. This past saturday I met a retired Navy SEAL commander who is volunteering his time to help as a project manager. "Failure is not an option" has a totally different meaning for him. He's impressive and so are all of the other mentors I have come to meet and now call friends.
With the help of EDCO and the leadership of Roger Lee and Jim Coonan, we’re starting to see these mentors organize. It started as an excel spreadsheet of local “Stable of Experts”, a list of people who are willing to help entrepreneurs in the area, often for no-charge. Now we have our Bend Venture Conference and the VentureBox business accelerator joining the ecosystem.
Recently, I had the pleasure of working with five startups in Bend, Oregon. All were in our VentureBox business accelerator program. We met each Wednesday (3pm-8pm), for 12 straight weeks. The founders, working with local mentors develop their business strategy using customer development and other lean startup principles. These companies have taken off and are now seeking business and strategic partners, customers (beta testers and early adopters) and angel investors.
Here are 5 great startups in Bend, Oregon.
JettStream, Inc. (http://JettStreamInc.com)...