A visit with a successful inventor and entrepreneur, insiders’ tours of three vibrant startups, and the chance to watch companies pitch their visions at the top angel conference in the Pacific Northwest—these were among the experiences garnered by entrepreneurially minded undergraduates and MBA students during their two-day trip to the Bend Venture Conference this October.
Day one kicked off in La Pine, Oregon, with a morning event hosted by John (MBA ’72) and Bonnie Rosen in their custom log home.
During breakfast with Oregon MBA students and Lundquist Center for Entrepreneurship program manager Nathan Lillegard, Rosen described how his love of airplanes led him to create a range of products for the airline industry—including the sunvisors and seatback entertainment systems that are now widely used in many industries.
Inspired by Rosen’s story, the MBAs spent a few minutes sharing the passion behind their own entrepreneurial dreams—and then joined Rosen for a quick zip-lining adventure on his property.
Next, the MBA group travelled north to Bend for a lineup of company visits. Joined by undergraduates from the college’s Entrepreneurship Club, the students got insiders’ perspectives on three local companies: Hydro Flask, Kialoa Paddles, and Deschutes Brewery.
On day two of the trip, the Bend Venture Conference took center stage. Lillegard and the students headed to downtown Bend's Tower Theatre to join an audience of more than 400 watching concept-stage and launch-stage ventures compete for more than $900,000 in awards and prizes.