Transforming Ideas into Real Business Ventures

After spending the past few years focusing efforts around entrepreneurship as an economic development strategy, the greater Spokane region has successfully established the foundation for supporting startups.  We have convened nearly 50 organizations, all of whom are touch points for entrepreneurs, startups and small businesses.  We are working collaboratively, and referring entrepreneurs and businesses to the appropriate resources at the appropriate time.  The volume of activity has significantly increased over the past twelve months, and it’s now time to focus on the next objective – creating more idea flow in our region. We have eight colleges and universities in our immediate region.  They are educating nearly 70,000 students every year, and most of the recent graduates export out of our region for lack of high paying jobs.  We also have many “boomerangers”, young people who initially leave our region, but later return to start families and enjoy a better quality of life.  But the challenge still exists – how can we create more high growth businesses in our region so that there are high paying jobs for our graduates and boomerangers? The answer is simply that we must focus on harnessing more ideas from our students, faculty, researchers, business and industry, and our communities.  In a recent meeting with Mark VanDam, WSU’s Entrepreneur Faculty Ambassador, I learned that there are a myriad of researcher led ideas and prototypes that are sitting on the shelf for lack of time, interest, or business experience to take them from idea to product. Industry also has challenges they need to solve for their respective businesses.  For example, at Avista we have an innovation...

Looking Back at 2016 & What’s Ahead in 2017

The end of 2016 was also the end of Startup Spokane’s  second year, and what an incredible year it was.  In addition to growing the number of participants in the region-wide entrepreneurial ecosystem, Startup Spokane convened, connected, and facilitated a myriad of new activities and programs.  The inaugural Triangle Venture Expo was very successful in creating awareness across our entire region about our high growth technology startups.  We officially launched our Mentor Connect program in October, with over 20 proven entrepreneurs offering to be mentors to budding entrepreneurs and startups.  Startup Spokane met with nearly 130 individual entrepreneurs and provided direction and guidance to each of them, including a multitude of referrals to other organizations for support and assistance.  The snapshot below provides a high level overview of the outcomes from Startup Spokane.  This does not include the outcomes from each of the other 35+ organizations that serve entrepreneurs in our community. In 2017, Startup Spokane will continue to provide assistance and programming to entrepreneurs and small businesses seeking to grow.  In addition, a major area of focus will be on creating more “idea flow” in the region.  This has been identified as a critical need, and will require collaboration among the colleges, universities and private sector.  With over 70,000 students attending our area colleges and universities, there is an opportunity to facilitate greater ideation, and work closer with university researchers, technology transfer, and commercialization to transform ideas into businesses.  We are on the precipice of creating many high growth companies in our region, and will accomplish this through intentional cooperation and collaboration between all of the partners and...

Global Entrepreneurship Week in Eastern Washington

Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) has become an integral part of the region-wide entrepreneurial ecosystem, providing a myriad of diverse events for entrepreneurs and small businesses of all types.  During the 3rd week of November, counties across the state plan and deliver as many entrepreneur-focused events as possible.  And GEW 2016 did not disappoint! In addition to Startup Weekend Spokane, Ignite Northwest demo day, and featuring three amazing companies at the Spokane Angel Alliance luncheon, Startup Spokane hosted Entrepreneur Connect featuring Women in Entrepreneurship. Startup Asotin and Whitman in southeastern Washington held several events, including Clarkston High School DECA Entrepreneurship Development Conference, Business Plan Competition, Lunch and Learn – Building your Personal Brand, Resource Fair at WWCC – Clarkston, and Startup Stories – Tales of the Palouse Venture Launch The events during GEW were in addition to regularly occurring events in our region: Startup Spokane – Executive Connect, Entrepreneur Connect, Ecosystem Connect, plus two exciting new event series coming in 2017 Startup Whitman – Cup O’Joe, 1st Thursday, and Office Hours Startup Asotin – Pub Talks, and a myriad of education workshops A huge thank you to the staff of Startup Spokane (April Needham and Meagan Garrett), Startup Whitman (Sarah McKnight), Startup Asotin (Heather Markwalter) and South Eastern Washington Economic Development Association (Dawn Smith) for a very successful GEW across our region!...

Global Entrepreneurship Week – Ignite NW Demo Day

As part of Global Entrepreneurship Week, Ignite Northwest held their Demo Day for their Fall 2016 accelerator class on November 15th at Spokane’s Lincoln Center.  The Ignite Northwest Accelerator is a 12 week program that accelerates local companies using Business Model Canvas philosophies along with industry-recognized instructors, experienced advisors, and knowledgeable coaches. This was the 3rd cohort to complete the accelerator program, and each of the 16 companies made three-minute presentations to a crowd of around 75. Presenting companies included: Afterimage Arise Assist BluPrint Business Intelligence Solutions Coeur d’Alene Wood Compass DMS Dionysus Technology Concepts PlayBash Remio Rugged Trading Company SCRYPTmail Stay Alfred Wedding Nook WholeStory xCraft Ignite Northwest also announced their Growing and Accelerating the Inland Northwest (GAIN) equity fund, which will be a $2M fund for investments into early stage companies.  This fund will complement investments made by the Spokane Angel Alliance, a region-wide angel investment network in...

Global Entrepreneurship Week – Startup Weekend Spokane

Startup Weekend Spokane held its 9th event November 11th-13th at Gonzaga University.  Over 125 participants, coaches, and judges participated in this 54 hour ideation event.  On Friday evening, 35 individuals made one-minute pitches of their ideas, followed by the group voting and narrowing the ideas down to the top ten.  Teams were formed around the ten ideas, and spent the remainder of the weekend conducting market feasibility, developing a minimum viable product, and preparing for their final pitch in front of judges on Sunday evening. Teams with very diverse ideas, included: Social Craft (1st place) – Monthly subscription of craft kits. Smokey Stacks (2nd Place) – Cannabis cigars Yogini (3rd Place) – smart yoga mat that interacts with smartphone app Pupil (crowd favorite) – a blend of virtual reality with text books for education Passion Net – App for civic and volunteer engagement H2Diagnostics – smartphone app that analyzes human samples for a myriad of diseases UReps – campus advisors for travel and other products StyleMe – Smartphone app to help individuals with their personal fashion and style choices Rivr Gaming – allows individuals to watch online gaming as spectators K9 Kitchen – Dog necessity vending machines located in public areas BlockHouse – Cross Laminated Timber for modular construction of Accessory Dwelling Units Congratulations to all of the teams and everyone who participated in Spokane’s premier ideation...