By Rachael Rees

The Bulletin

Four out of five launch-stage finalists at the Bend Venture Conference went home Friday with at least a $100,000 investment.

And the $940,000 in total prizes and investments awarded Friday set a record for the 11-year-old event. Additional deals could take the total higher.

“Our goal was to beat not only what they raised last year, but what the largest angel conference had raised so far in Oregon, and that was a little bit less than $500,000,” said Brian Vierra, venture catalyst for Economic Development for Central Oregon, which manages the BVC. “The companies were so good this year that the money is flowing in. Everybody sees that every single one of these launch-stage companies is investable, and they’re throwing their money at them.

“Next year we’ve got to crack $1 million — if we can.”

Amplion Research Inc., the only Bend startup to compete in the launch-stage category, won both that category and its $250,000 investment, as well as an additional $150,000 from Seven Peaks Ventures, a Bend-based venture capital fund.

Adam Carroll, Amplion’s co-founder and chief science officer, said the money will allow the software company to add employees. He expects at least three jobs to be posted online Monday, he said, and he hopes to hire more employees in 2015.

“I’m elated,” he said after the awards were announced at the Liberty Theater in downtown Bend. “I feel like I’m floating. It’s absolutely wonderful. I really do take a very serious sense of pride from being able to do this for a Bend company in Bend.”

The investment arm of the conference, BVC LLC, awarded a secondary investment of $100,000 to Poached Jobs, a hiring platform created in Portland for industries with high turnover rates, such as restaurants.

Volcano Veggies, a Bend company that raises fish and grows organic fruit and vegetables year-round using a process called aquaponics, won the $10,000 BendBroadband concept-stage award.

Seven Peaks Ventures also invested $100,000 in two other launch-stage finalists: CrowdStreet Inc., a commercial real estate crowdfunding site created in Bend, and, a Portland company that builds software intended to cut the cost of health care visits. Originally, Seven Peaks committed to investing only $100,000.

“When you look at all of the companies it is clear why we invested in these three and increased our award,” said Dino Vendetti, general fund manager of Seven Peaks Ventures. “We backed the three companies that are clearly attacking huge markets where their products are solving problems that are core to their customers’ businesses.”

— Reporter: 541-617-7818,