Five BVC Early Stage finalists selected


Five Central Oregon startups are one step closer to earning $15,000 from BendBroadband Business.

CushCore, Fire Funder, Free Rain Designs, Hytchr and InvestiPro will advance to the finals of the Bend Venture Conference’s Early Stage competition on Oct. 14 after surviving Thursday’s semifinal round at Bend’s McMenamins Old St. Francis School.

Touted by EDCO Executive Director Roger Lee as the largest PubTalk event in the state, audience members chose the aforementioned companies from a roster of 10 semifinalists. Each semifinalist was give three minutes to pitch their business and an additional three minutes to answer questions from the public.

The five Early Stage finalists will next have three minutes to pitch their companies at the Bend Venture Conference on Friday, Oct. 14, at the Tower Theatre. One winner, voted on by the audience, will win $15,000 from BendBroadband Business, which has funded the prize since 2011 as part of its commitment to championing economic growth in Central Oregon.

Here’s more about the five Early Stage competition finalists:

  • CushCore: The world’s first “inner-tire suspension system,” according to its designers. Built to help mountain bikers corner better, preserve momentum and protect against flat tires and wheel rim damage.
    • How they’d spend the $15,000 Early Stage cash prize: Staffing and additional tooling required as production increases.


  • Fire Funder: A crowdsourcing site designed to help build and sustain businesses and non-profits associated with the weapons and outdoors industries.
    • How they’d spend the $15,000 Early Stage cash prize: Launching a web platform.


  • Free Rain Designs: Sustainable and innovative designs for rainwater collection bins and raised garden beds.
    • How they’d spend the $15,000 Early Stage cash prize: Finish prototyping a second product, marketing at trade shows and patent and trademark protection.


  • Hytchr: A mobile app for on-demand photo sharing and sourcing. Users can crowdsource real-time movements by sending out photo and video requests to any GPS location.
    • How they’d spend the $15,000 Early Stage cash prize: Building out licensing features for the Hytchr app.


  • InvestiPro: A fully automated cloud-based application for conducting effective and compliant internal investigations.
    • How they’d spend the $15,000 Early Stage cash prize: Marketing.


Five BVC Early Stage finalists selected

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