Startup Day in Bellevue sold out the day before it began. It’s encouraging to Bellevue Mayor John Stokes and Councilmember Lynne Robinson, who opened the GeekWire-hosted conference on Friday morning.
Robinson called the conference a “dream come true” for Bellevue, saying that it makes sense to host a conference about startups in a city that’s become a breeding ground for startups.
The evidence of Bellevue’s influence in business was all over the stage. Even LiquidPlanner CEO Liz Pearce called back to the now Seattle-based company’s early days near “the gun range and the dump” in Bellevue.
The Eastside showed up often in the day’s events. Here’s a rundown of the Eastside representation at #GWStartupday
Henry Albrecht, Co-founder and CEO of Limeade
Bellevue-based Limeade creates comprehensive well-being assessments for businesses, and back in 2006 it was a startup company. Cofounder and CEO Henry Albrecht spoke about building a sales-friendly startup and how sales make a difference in startup success.
Albrecht admitted that he is a marketer and project manager by trade, so talking about sales was different for him. However, he felt he could emphasize the importance of sales when it comes to a new business.
“New sales are the one thing that can keep your startup going when times get tough,” Albrecht said.
Mark Mader, CEO of Smartsheet
Mark Mader wanted to make his advice a little different, so he titled his talk “Lessons from the Sea: Help Your Startup Succeed.” His advice drew on analogies of sailing and fishing. All the water talk is relevant to Mader, who said he dislikes the traffic so much he sometimes commutes to work via SeaDoo. A real commitment in the Northwest weather.
“So if you see some maniac in October and it’s dumping rain… that’s probably Mark Mader,” he told the audience.
Of all his water analogies, including dressing for the weather and knowing when to pull out of the dock, Mader left a nugget for the end: Enjoy the scenery.
“Your startup experience is the aggregate of all those moments you experience,” he said. “It’s those moments that shape (my career) and give me the reason to keep going.”
Nick Huzar, Cofounder and CEO of OfferUp
When OfferUp first started, Nick Huzar knew that if he was going to create a competitor to Craigslist, he needed to do something to set himself apart.
“The one thing I knew I could do was just hustle,” Huzar said. “If I do that better than everyone else that’s increasing the odds that we can be successful.”
Huzar talked about the importance of gathering a team that believed in the startup, because the beginning can be pretty lean and you need people that are there for the right reasons.
Huzar also talked about cutting corners, using examples from OfferUp’s early days. At the start, there wasn’t even office space, OfferUp would meet at the Bellevue Public Library or at a Starbucks, he said.
Above all, Huzar encouraged the room to take the leap: “Life is short. You should just do it. Get out there and take that step.”
Josh Marti, Co-founder and CEO of Point Inside
Startups come with inherent risks, something that Josh Marti knows about. As the cofounder and CEO of Point Inside, he’s navigated the waters of fundraising and getting a business off the ground. His presentation focused on the hazards of investment.
Marti warned founders not let their vision get compromised in the search for investors.
“If someone asks you to turn your gyrocopter into a juicer you should just put them back in their seat,” he said.
Marti started Point Inside in 2008, the throes of the recession. Marti and his company handled the recession and the regular hazards of investing to create a successful business.
His advice? “You’re going to get a lot of ‘no’s. It’s OK, take the ‘no’ in stride and regroup.”