(Another) Brick in the Seattle Startup Ecosystem


Last night at the grand opening of Startup Hall in the “innovation district” emerging near the University of Washington campus, the crowd witnessed a new key component being added to the Seattle startup ecosystem. It’s an innovation tried in few other cities around the world.

This new center of entrepreneurship is not just another coworking space. It’s not just another university space for university students to do innovative, startup-y work. It’s a location at the intersection of the existing Seattle startup ecosystem and the UW campus, which could only be pulled off by placing it within a UW building.

The next few years will see how well that location draws UW graduates and companies seeking closer ties to UW up into the U District, a section of town not widely known before this week as a center for startups. My guess is that it will work, and will add another key startup neighborhood to the Seattle map.

What made yesterday extra fun for me was my personal calendar of events, taking me through all of four neighborhoods. I started in Pioneer Square, inside Impact Hub Seattle, the home of Fledge, the conscious company accelerator. From there, it was on to the Central Business District, where I passed the Wells Fargo tower, the new home of the expanded SURF Incubator, Fledge’s first home. I continued north to a speaking gig at WeWork in South Lake Union, the land of immense holes in the ground and giant cranes in the air as Amazon continues its urban campus expansion. Then finally on to the newest startup neighborhood north of Lake Union for the opening of Startup Hall.

Most amazingly, looking back just three years, Seattle had none of these. No Hub, no SURF, no WeWork, and not even an idea for a Startup Hall. Five years ago, I can’t think of anyone who could be the key tenants in such a space. Techstars and Startup Weekend were then just Boulder, CO-based orgs, yet to plant a flag in Seattle. Perhaps Seaton Gras had the first inkling of SURF that long ago. Chris DeVore, the keystone that made Startup Hall possible, and Andy Sack were just getting Founders’ Co-op up and running, transitioning from building one company at a time to helping build a whole startup city.

Days like yesterday make me proud of this city we share. Thank you to the leaders of these organizations and everyone else who brick-by-brick, event-by-event, and space after space makes this city ever-better for startup entrepreneurs.

Luni is a 20+ year serial entrepreneur, founder/co-founder of five companies. His latest startup is Fledge, the conscious company accelerator and has published six books in The Next Step series, guiding entrepreneurs from idea to startup. In addition, Luni is Entrepreneur in Residence and Entrepreneurship Instructor at Pinchot, the university for the common good, and an Entrepreneur in Residence Emeritus at the University of Washington’s Center for Commercialization. Follow @lunarmobiscuit

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