Five lessons learned from BendTECH.com’s #50startups project.
By Guest Writer, Kelly Kearsley.
When I started the #50startups project late last summer, I was looking for a way to generate regular content for the newly launched BendTECH.com blog. I knew that I loved talking to startup founders, hearing their ideas and absorbing some of their seemingly boundless energy. And I hoped there’d be enough of them to reach my goal of 50.
Now nine months and 23 startups into the project, I’m happy to report: There’s a lot going on here. From indoor, organic farming operations and B2B SaaS companies to makers of collapsible water bottles and low-sugar snack bars, Bend has a lively startup scene that only seems to be growing.
Here’s five takeaways from the (still-in-progress) BendTECH.com #50startups project:
1. There’s more here than you think
When I started this project, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to find 50 startups to write about. Now I’m worried about how to choose between the various startups that are here. I don’t think this is a happy accident. The efforts that many here have put into to building out the entrepreneurial infrastructure are paying off. And while we are in the beginning stages, startup founders can find the basics of what they need to be successful in Bend including expert resources and services, sources of investment and a defined path for how to obtain it as well as other experienced entrepreneurs. Consequently founding a tech or other type of startup here instead of in a major metropolis no longer seems like such a crazy idea. It’s not only possible, but to many people, preferable.
2. There’s more here than tech
If our local startups were an investment portfolio, then I think we’d be considered well-diversified. There’s no doubt that tech startups garner a lot of attention from media, investors and (ahem) bloggers. But Bend is also home to new businesses in several other markets. Among our first #50startups, half are B2B or B2C tech companies and the other half hail from a variety of industries including outdoor gear, food products and medical technology. We’re big fans of the Bend Outdoor Worx accelerator, the burgeoning biotech cluster and the food and beverage manufacturers springing up. There’s lots of room in this entrepreneurial pool. Hop in!
3. There’s a huge need for talent
Most of the two dozen startups interviewed for #50startups are hiring in some capacity. Not surprisingly, there’s a big demand for technical talent from both startups and existing tech companies such as Navis. Blog posting about jobs are often our most well-read posts, and we’ve launched a free jobs board to help further get the word out about open tech/startup jobs in Central Oregon. Check it out at bendtech.com/jobs.
4. The dogs are secretly in charge
Like everyone else here, Bend startup founders love their dogs. Startup offices are filled with dogs of all sorts, some of them lounging around and some them filling in as developers. Kidding! (Obviously only cats could do that.) We have a side project to #50startups called #dogsofstartups, where we post pics of the pooches that support our local startup founders and may or may not secretly be running the whole show.
5. People are here on purpose
By and large, Bend startup founders are here by choice. They are aware that this is not San Francisco or Seattle or even Portland. Many have come from bigger places, where they’ve founded other businesses or worked for bigger organizations. They see this as a place of opportunity: there’s access to (many) big city resources without the big city hassle. Are there gaps? Absolutely. Remember, this isn’t San Francisco, Seattle or even Portland. But there’s also creative solutions and — as comes with this hearty group — a lot of optimism.
I’m excited to see what our #50startups pull off and the economic benefits their efforts will bring this awesome place we call home. We’ll continue to post updates on the companies we’re following, and introduce you to new ones nearly every week.
BendBroadband Business is proud to sponsor the #50startups project.
Kelly Kearsley is a writer, editor and project manager. When she’s not blogging, she creates content for Fortune 500 companies, national journalism publications, tech companies and startups. Find her on LinkedIn, at bendtech.com or email her at email@example.com.