BendTECH Presents the 11th Annual unConference

BendTECH is proud to host the annual unConference, a fun, casual, friendly pitchfest that kicks off the Bend Venture Conference week of startup events. The event started as a grassroots effort to share business ideas. More than a decade later, it’s evolved into an awesome resource for early-stage founders, and a fun afternoon for everyone involved.

What even is the unConference?

The unConference is a pitchfest for early-stage founders. How early? We’ve seen companies still in idea form through already launched startups. But basically early enough that a prize pot of a couple of thousand dollars makes a material difference in their progress – and the feedback and exposure to a couple of hundred people helps further their idea.

What’s it like?

A really fun party with a big heart and a mission to help startups. The event traditionally attracts 150 to 200 people. We serve some drinks, people cheer on the founder pitching, the crowd is supportive and offers shouts of encouragement and guidance. There are lots of cowbells. We have students who come to pitch. We hear dozens of interesting ideas. People vote on the winners. Everyone has a good time.

How do founders participate?

We offer between 15 and 18 slots for 3-minute pitches. Per our tradition – and in keeping with the “un” feel – pitch spots are first-come, first-serve. Part of the festivities include founders lining up early to snag a spot, bringing lawn chairs, and meeting other founders in line. Some have suggested that we move to an online application, but we like the ability for people who are inspired to show up to have access to the event. We attract a broad group of entrepreneurs this way, and the format adds a dose of passion that comes through in the event. If you’re camping out for your idea, we want to see you on that stage.

What do they win?

The unConference will award cash and prizes to the top three companies. We’re aiming to award $2,500, $1,000 and $500 for first, second, and third places respectively. We polled founders and they overwhelmingly noted that given the early stage of unConference startups, these awards help them make progress toward their next milestone – launching a website, funding a prototype, hiring contract labor, etc.

Where and When?

Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021, 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Outdoor patio, at BendTECH’s HQ at 1001 SW Emkay Dr. in Bend, OR. Pitch slots are assigned at 2 p.m. Pitches start at 2:30 p.m.

The winner will be announced at 4:30 p.m.


Any startup founder or aspiring founder can sign up to pitch. Once you have your spot, you’re given a microphone, three minutes, and the rapt attention of more than a hundred interested audience members. In the spirit of unConference, please, please, please don’t ask to show a deck.

Sign-ups to pitch are first come, first served. You can sign up beginning at 2 p.m., though sometimes a line forms early. The spots do fill up quickly, so plan accordingly! Audience attendance is encouraged! Upon arrival, you’ll receive a ticket for a free beverage. Then, you can grab a cowbell, ring it, cheer, show the people pitching some love, maybe win a raffle prize, make a connection, or a friend!


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