Seattle Startup Week | Kicking off with Aviel Ginzburg of Simply Measured

aviel ginzburg what is a high growth startup Seattle Startup Week | Kicking off with Aviel Ginzburg of Simply MeasuredYesterday, we spent the afternoon kicking off Seattle Startup Week with Aviel Ginzburg of Simply Measured, which recently raised $20M in venture capital funding. Aviel joined us in our Fremont location to talk about what a high growth startup really means. During his presentation, he mentioned Simply Measured’s first incarnation, Untitled Startup, Inc., which, as Aviel described it, was pretty much two guys with $150K in funding from Founders’ Co-Op “throwing ideas at the wall.”

Which begged the question:

“Why would they put money into you when you didn’t even have an idea or specific plan?”

Aviel smiled and quickly responded, “That is a phenomenal question. You should ask Andy Sack that question.”

But then he explained what investors are really investing in: people. Aviel had a proven track record as a software engineer at Appature, and, during a Startup Weekend, he and Simply Measured co-founder Damon Cortesi built an application called TweetSum. This app utilized something called the DBI, which, no joke, stood for Douche Bag Index. (Now, keep in mind that this was before social media analytics like Klout existed.) The DBI would score your followers from 1-100, letting you know how big of a douchebag they were. The catch?  The only way to see your own score was to tweet it. TweetSum ended up trending on Twitter for four straight days, and Aviel and Damon ended up being approached by Madrona Venture Group.

So why did a company without an idea or a specific plan get funded? According to Aviel:

“We had this track record of being people who could execute and who had interesting ideas…For an investor, it’s like, these guys are going to do something. I want a piece of this.”

For those who were unable to attend the event, watch the full video here:

Seattle Startup Week is in full swing! Join us for one of our upcoming events. Each will focus on scaling up and will feature a speaker sponsored by the Entrepreneurs’ Organization:

Wednesday, October 22 @ 8am | Scaling Sales & Marketing on a Shoestring Budget with Matt Heinz
Thursday, October 23 @ 1pm | Everything I Screwed Up While Scaling up with Andy Liu + Russell Benaroya
Friday, October 24 @ 1pm | Random Acts of Cupcakes with Jody Hall

aviel at thinkspace seattle Seattle Startup Week | Kicking off with Aviel Ginzburg of Simply Measured

what is a high growth startup audience 400x267 Seattle Startup Week | Kicking off with Aviel Ginzburg of Simply Measured


Seattle Startup Week | Scaling, and funding, and cupcakes! Oh my!

StartupWeek EmailHeader 1 wide 1 Seattle Startup Week | Scaling, and funding, and cupcakes! Oh my! We are excited to be sponsors for Seattle Startup Week!  With over 40 events hosted over five days, this is a celebration of entrepreneurship in Seattle.  thinkspace is hosting the “Scale Up” track, which will feature four events with EO-sponsored speakers, each with a focus on scaling up.  Check out our events below, and see the full line up of Seattle Startup Week events here.

eo 40x40 Seattle Startup Week | Scaling, and funding, and cupcakes! Oh my!

Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) is the only global network exclusively for entrepreneurs.  EO helps leading entrepreneurs learn and grow through peer-to-peer learning, once-in-a-lifetime experiences and connections to experts.  EO also has an Accelerator program.  The EO Accelerator program is the catalyst that enables first-stage entrepreneurs to catapult your business to the next level.  Our mission is to empower you with the tools you need to grow your business to more than US$1 million in sales and provide you with the skills to make yourself a better entrepreneur and leader.


Aviel 260x620 Seattle Startup Week | Scaling, and funding, and cupcakes! Oh my!

Matt 260x620 Seattle Startup Week | Scaling, and funding, and cupcakes! Oh my!

AndyRussell 260x620 Seattle Startup Week | Scaling, and funding, and cupcakes! Oh my!

Jody 260x620 Seattle Startup Week | Scaling, and funding, and cupcakes! Oh my!

What is a High Growth Startup?

Monday, October 20th 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm // thinkspace Seattle

[Who] Aviel Ginzburg, co-founder of Simply Measured

[What] What a high growth startup really means.  The mentality, the expectations, the challenges and the fundraising.

[Why you should go] When it comes to raising venture funding, Aviel is a pro.  His company recently raised $20M in VC funding.

Refreshments provided.

Register for “What is a High Growth Startup?” here:

Scaling Sales & Marketing on a Shoestring Budget

Wednesday, October 22nd 8:00 am – 9:30 am // thinkspace Redmond

[Who] Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing

[What] A fast-paced, action-oriented framework for building, managing and executing a scalable, predictable sales and marketing engine without breaking the bank.

[Why you should go] Matt brings more than 15 years of marketing, business development and sales experience from a variety of organizations, vertical industries and company sizes.

Refreshments provided.

Register for “Scaling Sales & Marketing on a Shoestring Budget” here:

Everything I Screwed Up While Scaling Up

Thursday, October 23rd 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm // Graham & Dunn

[Who] Andy Liu, angel investor, CEO of BuddyTV + Russell Benaroya, co-founder & CEO of EveryMove

[What] Both Andy and Russell have built and sold companies.  They will share how they screwed up along the way but still managed to succeed.

[Why you should go] Andy is an entrepreneur and angel investor who has invested in over 40 startups.  A former private equity investor and investment banker, Russell also appeared on Puget Sound Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 list and is on a mission to improve the health of 10 million people in 10 years.

Refreshments provided.

Register for “Everything I Screwed Up While Scaling Up” here:

Random Acts of Cupcakes

Friday, October 24th 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm // thinkspace Redmond

[Who] Jody Hall, founder of Cupcake Royale

[What] It’s not about the cupcakes. How to build a foundational culture of trust, collaboration and fun for a sustainable business.

[Why you should go] Not only is Seattle’s first cupcake bakery and café celebrating 11 years in business and soon-to-be seven locations, Jody was also former marketing lead for Starbucks, helping scale the company’s growth in early years.  (If that doesn’t convince you, come for the cupcakes.)

Cupcakes provided.

Register for “Random Acts of Cupcakes” here:

Frontier: Outage or Outrage?

 Frontier: Outage or Outrage?If you live in downtown Redmond, this week you’re all-too-familiar with “closed” or “cash only signs.”

Saturday, September 20th, was the first day of what has been a massive Internet, Phone, and TV outage.  How did this happen?  Frontier Communications has reported the following initial cause: IMCO Construction ripped up 1000’s of feet of fiber and copper cable near the street at Bear Creek Parkway and Redmond Way.

Now, on day 7 of this outage, many are still experiencing outages.

My own family household experienced a mere 2-day outage, which meant having to pay cash for our traditional weekend Zaw pizza and relocating to watch the Husky and Seahawks game last weekend.  Annoying at most, but nowhere near the level of frustration others in downtown Redmond are facing.  Redmond businesses are facing an impact on an entirely different scale.  Businesses have lost phone services, directly affecting their computer and credit card access.  Because of this, many businesses have closed or scaled down their work hours.  On top of that, some businesses continue to pay employees despite closures.  Which boils down to businesses losing money.

This outage has had a negative impact at thinkspace, as well.  As a company that provides professional phone answering services, Peter Chee (CEO of thinkspace) posted earlier:

“My company has 200 DID’s (phone numbers) and we are answering phones for many small businesses and startups. It’s impacting our ability to take phone calls from prospective customers and provide customer support for our existing customers. It’s very disturbing that Frontier’s engineering team is unable to temporarily move us off a PRI (copper) onto fiber (FIOS).”

Chee and Sami Dyer (Customer Experience Manager) have been providing the community at thinkspace with multiple daily updates on their outage.  Unlike Frontier Communications.  Many customers have tweeted, posted, and commented how the outage is causing an outrage because of Frontier Communications’ unnecessary lack of communication.

On day 5 of the outage, Chee and Dyer both attended a community meeting run by Frontier at the Redmond Community Center.  During the meeting, Chee challenged Frontier by asking the following question on behalf of small business in Redmond: “What will be done to take care of businesses that have lost money?” To which the Frontier representative replied: “I don’t understand what you all mean by losing business but I don’t have an answer for you.”  What an OUTRAGEous response.

The last word from Frontier – which like local business revenue has been severely limited – was that they expect another 72 hours until all is repaired.  Which would tally 10 days for this outage.

One Facebook user brings up an interesting perspective and comments: “The City as a whole has bitten off way more than they could handle by allowing all the construction to go this way. It’s ridiculous. Too many apartment boxes at once and too many streets torn up. And who monitored the construction companies with the utilities locates? Grade F goes everywhere on this goat rodeo.”

What are your thoughts on this “goat rodeo?”  Is this an outage or an outrage?  How have you been affected?




Status Update from Massive Frontier FIOS Outage: Day 5

Day 5: Earlier Frontier held a community meeting at the Redmond Community Center for residents and businesses impacted by the massive Internet, Phone, and TV outage that has been going on since Saturday, September 20.

Frontier made it clear that IMCO Construction was the company that ripped up 1000’s of feet of fiber and copper cable in the street at Bear Creek Parkway and Redmond Way. Frontier representatives said that while 99% of customers are back up except for copper wire customers.

I stood up and asked a question on behalf of small businesses in Redmond that have been impacted — what will be done to take care of businesses that have lost money? I explained to the audience that we have people dropping by my company who are not even sure we are open. It’s impacting our businesses. Banner Bank and Chase Bank on our street have been closed for days. Businesses are paying their employees who don’t have as much work to do. The representative from Frontier had a response of:
“I don’t understand what you all mean by losing business but I don’t have an answer for you.”
Here’s the schedule for when they plan to fix things:
  • Education Hill – Next 48 hours
  • West of Avondale Rd – Next 72 hours
  • NE 83rd & 161st Ave NE – Next 72 hours
  • 168th Ave NE (Downtown apartments) – Next 96 hours
  • Businesses in Redmond Town Center may not get service until the first of October.

While I’m glad that they held this meeting at the Redmond Community Center, it seems like they should focus on over communicating with residents and businesses until this is all fixed.

Who does Google think you are?

jamie and kate at google 400x298 Who does Google think you are?Yesterday, Google and the Fremont Chamber of Commerce hosted an educational lunch on the ins and outs of Google’s free, online analytic tools.  While at the event, I met representatives from other local businesses; watched thinkspace Community Manager and recycling enthusiast Jamie fawn over Google’s sophisticated, color-coded recycling bins; and posed for a photo op with a pillow shaped like one of the little green Android robots.  Thanks to a representative from the Google Analytics team, I also learned how this tool can help businesses better understand their website’s traffic, and how to use that information to implement better marketing strategies.

One of the reports that Google Analytics generates is the “Audience Report,” which helps you get to know your website’s visitors.  Google Analytics has the capability to break these statistics down by age, gender, interests, location, etc.  Where does Google get this information?  By analyzing the websites you visit, Google has glimpsed into your cyber soul.  They have you figured outOr at least they think they do.

Want to know who Google thinks you are?  Sign into your Google account and check it out.  Me?  According to Google, I’m a 25-34 year old, English-speaking female, with apparent interests in language resources, t-shirts and vans & minivans.  So let us know: Who does Google think you are?  Are they right?

Fall Kickoff: Five Local Fall Favorites

Fall: hands-down my all-time favorite season.

What’s so great about fall in Seattle?

Here is my personal list of five local fall favorites to kickoff your season.

running 80x80 Fall Kickoff: Five Local Fall Favorites 5)  Running.  Is there anything better than running in the crisp fall air with leaves crunching beneath your feet?  A few events I look forward to in the fall: The Seattle Marathon,   The Poultry Predictor Race trail run in Redmond, and the Leavenworth Oktoberfest Marathon/Half-Marathon.


pump 80x80 Fall Kickoff: Five Local Fall Favorites 4) Craven’s Corn Maze.  The Craven Farm is a must-visit fall activity.  They have great pumpkins, and their Corn Maze (especially the night time maze) has been a staple in my fall traditions for ten years and counting.
okt 80x80 Fall Kickoff: Five Local Fall Favorites 3)  Oktoberfest.  Whether it’s making the well-worth-it drive up to the magical Bavarian town of Leavenworth, cashing in tokens at the Fremont Oktoberfest, or drinking a seasonal brew…I love celebrating Oktoberfest.

cupcake 80x80 Fall Kickoff: Five Local Fall Favorites 2)  The Pumpkin Maple Cupcake at Cupcake Royale.  I almost planned my wedding around this limited-edition seasonal favorite.  The pumpkin puree is not from a can – it’s fresh and special ordered months in advance from Stahlbush Island Farms in Oregon.  AND topped with maple frosting? Yum!  When this cupcake is available, I start to put on my “winter weight.”  Yes, it’s that good.

seahawks 80x80 Fall Kickoff: Five Local Fall Favorites 1) Football!  Winter, spring, summer, FOOTBALL.  It’s football season!  The most integral part of my fall is football.  Tailgating and attending games at Husky Stadium, and cheering on the Hawks on Sundays.  What else do people in Seattle do on the weekends?  #GoDawgs #GoHawks


What’s on your top five list?

Emerge from Corporate to Startup: Approaching Sales With Empathy

e2s panelist cracking up 400x266 Emerge from Corporate to Startup: Approaching Sales With EmpathyFive years ago when taking an HR survey, PR and marketing executive Shauna Causey discovered that she was in the 100th percentile for empathy.  And it freaked her out.  But five years later, Shauna, along with Don Gerould of Cogent Equity, Sandeep Phadke of Airlift, and senior technology exec Brad Carpenter, was a panelist at thinkspace’s Emerge from Corporate to Startup event, and she had this to say:

“What I can do a good job of is putting myself in the customer view.  I just am obsessed with what the customer wants.”

Later in the evening, the panel was asked, “How important are sales skills for a startup founder?”  Sales are key for any startup founder.  Event moderator and CEO & founder of thinkspace Peter Chee made the point:

“My personal feeling is that if you are adverse to sales and you don’t want to do sales, you probably shouldn’t be a startup founder.”

I think it’s safe to say that a lot of us are adverse to sales in the traditional sense.  It conjures up images of used cars salesmen and pushy telemarketers.   Shauna touched on that point, but also circled back to her customer-centric viewpoint from earlier in the e2s audience emotion 400x266 Emerge from Corporate to Startup: Approaching Sales With Empathynight.

“I feel like ‘sales’ is sort of a bad word to me, because I don’t ever want to be ‘salesy.’  But simplifying what the customer needs, and the communication side, I think is so valuable.”

So, as a startup founder, how can you reconcile this idea that “sales” is a bad word with the fact that it’s a huge part of what it takes to make your startup successful?   Maybe we can start by reinterpreting the act of selling itself. What happens if we approach our sales from a place of empathy?  See things from our customer’s viewpoint? Relate to them and really figure out what they need?  You can create a symbiotic relationship, where you are not coming from a place of asking for something, you are offering something that can really help your customers.  You are creating connections.  You are creating true value.  And, as Don Gerould responded to Shauna:

“That’s exactly what a good salesperson does, by the way.  If you’re something other than that, and you think you’re good at sales, then you’re not very self aware.”

Video clip from the event:

Handouts from the event:
1) Questions to ask before you quit your job and join a startup.
2) Recruiting Services provided by thinkspace.

e2s audience front view smiling 400x267 Emerge from Corporate to Startup: Approaching Sales With Empathy e2s audience smiling 400x267 Emerge from Corporate to Startup: Approaching Sales With Empathy e2s don shauna sandeep 400x267 Emerge from Corporate to Startup: Approaching Sales With Empathy e2s eddie crowd lobby 400x267 Emerge from Corporate to Startup: Approaching Sales With Empathy e2s kate jamie registration desk 400x267 Emerge from Corporate to Startup: Approaching Sales With Empathy e2s panelist peter sandeep shauna don 400x267 Emerge from Corporate to Startup: Approaching Sales With Empathy e2s peter sandeep laughing 400x267 Emerge from Corporate to Startup: Approaching Sales With Empathy e2s shauna causey 400x267 Emerge from Corporate to Startup: Approaching Sales With Empathy

Questions To Ask Before Quitting Your Job To Work At A Startup

emerge from corporate to startup 380 Questions To Ask Before Quitting Your Job To Work At A StartupTwice in my career I have left corporate jobs for startups. The first time I left was because I wanted to be in an innovative work environment where we would be inventing and creating technology that never existed. I tasted what it was like to work in a fast moving amazing technology company. I felt alive and the energy from my team was amazing. Before joining the startup here are the questions I asked myself:

Questions I Asked:

  • How much money was being raised through venture capital?
  • What was the burn rate?
  • How much equity would I be getting? How many total shares were there?
  • Do I believe in the CEO’s vision for where the company is going?

In hindsight where these good questions?

  • We raised $21M.
  • We burned through that money in less than 12 months. You’d think $21M would last a long time. It doesn’t when you’re hiring like crazy. I was one of the first few hires and we ended up hiring 90 people at our peak. Hiring and growing can mask how a company is really doing. From the outside it looks like you’re successful. The burn rate was out of control.
  • I got a ton of stock options. Worthless if the company doesn’t survive. The initial job offer had two options A) Higher pay, lower stock options. B) Lower pay, high stock options. I counter offered and asked for option C) Higher pay, higher stock options. If you think you’re worth it, ask for it.
  • I met and believed in the founder and CEO, I drank the Kool-Aid. I was in the inner circle.

Today I would ask a different set of questions:

  • Would I personally invest in this startup?

Joining a startup is akin to investing in a startup. You’re about to put a ton of your time into building up this startup. You’re investing more than what an investor is putting in. This question leads to more questions such as market potential, addressable market size, competitive landscape, founders’ backgrounds, customer validation, etc. If I wasn’t ready to invest money into the startup, I would’t want to go work there.

  • What are the credentials of the founding team?

If I don’t believe in the people that started the company, there’s no way I would go work for them. This is actually more important to me than what the startup actually does. Startup will shift direction and for lack of a better word, pivot. There are people that I would work for where I don’t care what the idea is, I would just join them because I believe in them.

  • What are the core values of the company? Do my core values align with those of the founders?

This question is more important to me than ever. If we don’t align here there’s no way I could go work for that startup. Startup pressure is so intense and when the founders are facing the darkest moment only their core values will stand the test. Who are they when they hit the wall. Is that something you want to be associated with. Is that something that you will be proud of their decision making. If not, don’t even bother working for them.

  • What kind of work culture do I want to work in?

You will be spending most of your day with the people in this startup. What’s the culture like? I want to enjoy working with the people I’m around all day long and the work environment. I personally want to work with people that have a goal crushing attitude, love to serve their coworkers and customers, and are always learning. We all have a choice in what type of work culture we want to be in.

  • Will this be a demanding, learning environment?

If you’re the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room. I want to work really hard, that the only thing I know how to do. I also know that I have a ton more to learn. If I’m not in an environment where I’m always learning, I don’t want to be there.

What are some questions that you would ask?

If you’re looking to make the jump from corporate to startup and have questions like these, you should attend our event “Emerge from Corporate to Startup” on August 14, 2014 at 6pm.



6:00 – 6:30pm – Networking (Meet some startups who are hiring!) / Pizza and Drinks
6:30 – 7:10pm – Session 1: Emerging as a startup founder or co-founder / QA
7:15 – 8:00pm – Session 2: Emerging as an early stage startup employee / QA

bradcarpenternewline150 Questions To Ask Before Quitting Your Job To Work At A StartupBrad Carpenter  @bradcarpenter

Brad worked for Microsoft for over 20 years — he was a GM worked on Surface v 1.0 as well as managed the Keyboard Mouse Device Division. Brad has also been involved with multiple startups as CEO. He is also an angel investor and part of the Seattle Angel Conference board.

dongerould Questions To Ask Before Quitting Your Job To Work At A Startup

Don Gerould @dgerould

Don’s corporate life was spent at Citysearch and as a Senior Manager with Sales Operations at Amazon. Don’s last company was the Surf City Marathon. Don started his current company Cogent Equity more than 12 years ago and provides services including exit strategy planning and capital fundraising.

3ca77bb Questions To Ask Before Quitting Your Job To Work At A StartupSandeep Phadke @viaairlift

Sandeep was responsible for the Kindle rending engine at Amazon. Sandeep also worked for many years at Microsoft. Sandeep quit working for big corporate companies for life changing personal reasons. He is on his first pivot and now joining forces with another Seattle startup!

shaunacausey Questions To Ask Before Quitting Your Job To Work At A Startup

Shauna Causey @shaunacausey

Shauna started her career in Marketing and PR working for the Seattle Mariners, Q13, Comcast, Nordstrom and has worked at a handful of startups like Ants Eye View (acquired by Price Water Coopers), (acquired by Ebay), and UP Global (aka Startup Weekend). Mentor and advisor for startups.

Pass the veggies, please.

I recently watched the documentary, “Forks Over Knives.”
The premise for the documentary:

“What has happened to us?  Despite the most advanced medical technology in the world, we are sicker than ever by nearly every measure.  Two out of every three of us are overweight.  Cases of diabetes are exploding, especially amongst our younger population.  About half of us are taking at least one prescription drug.  Major medical operations have become routine, helping to drive health care costs to astronomical levels.  Heart disease, cancer and stroke are the country’s three leading causes of death, even though billions are spent each year to ‘battle’ these very conditions.  Millions suffer from a host of other degenerative diseases.  Could it be there’s a single solution to all of these problems?  A solution so comprehensive, but so straightforward, that it’s mind-boggling that more of us haven’t taken it seriously?”

Fruits and Vegetables 400x268 Pass the veggies, please.  “Forks Over Knives” makes the argument that most – if not all – of what makes us “sicker than ever” can be addressed (and in some cases reversed!) by cutting out our menu of animal-based and processed foods.  The researchers (two doctors: Dr. T. Colin Campbell and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn) featured in the film call for a plant-based diet.

Now, hold up.  Plant-based?  That sounds super strict right?

What about my juicy grilled steak?  What about having goat cheese on my salad?
A “plant-based diet” would say to replace the steak with grilled eggplant and the goat cheese with some kind of legume.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m totally for plant-based foods.  I just don’t know if I can commit solely to plants just yet…

But despite my inability to instantly implement a plant-based diet…I can’t stop thinking about what was presented in this documentary.

Since watching it, I’ve changed my intake.  It’s caused me to stop and ask questions like:

“Do I really need that much cream in my coffee?”  (yes, yes I do)

“Do I really need to eat some sort of meat for dinner five nights a week?  (no, no I don’t)

“Forks Over Knives”  was powerful for me to watch because of two primary reasons:
1) my family history, and
2) my current context.
My family has a history of diabetes and high blood pressure, so unless I want to be a part of the family-history-sickness-legacy, I need to take my health seriously.  And change the patterns.
My current context is working as a Chaplain in a hospital, where I see the effects of how we treat our bodies on a daily basis.  Not a day goes by that I don’t encounter sickness and death caused by poor health choices.

So…pass the veggies, please.  And keep ‘em coming.  If plant-based foods can help reverse the patterns of health our country is facing, then sign me up.  I’ll try my best to keep the cupcakes and hotdogs to a minimum (really, I will!).

I invite you to journey with me in this conversation.  Let me know your immediate feedback, or watch the film – it’s on Netflix – and let me know if you agree/disagree.  See you in the comments section!

Comparison works the opposite way you want it to.

comparison Comparison works the opposite way you want it to.We compare all the time and in all sorts of ways.  I compare my startup to another startup.  I compare my marriage to another’s marriage.  I compare my car to another’s car.  I compare my _______ to another’s _______.  It’s an endless cycle.

There are two types of comparison – comparing “upward” and comparing “downward.”  Upward comparison is when you beat yourself up by thinking other’s lives/businesses/bodies/kids/cars/houses/etc are better than yours.  Downward comparison (keeping those same things in mind) says “I am better.”

Both types of comparison work the opposite way you want them to.  Comparing upward doesn’t automatically get you what you want. More often than not, it creates an entitlement mindset that leaves you ungrateful for what you currently have.  Comparing downward uses the limitations of others to feel better about yourself.  Which is a shallow way to feel good.

Though comparison is a way to gauge how we measure up to others, it doesn’t always help you accomplish your goals.  Unless you compare yourself to yourself.  If you want to grow your company – compare where you are at the of the first quarter to where land at the end of the second quarter.  If you want to run a faster mile, compare your time at the beginning of the month with your time at the end of the month.  Comparing your company’s growth with another company’s growth, or your body’s performance with another body’s performance, isn’t fair and isn’t accurate.  And that type of comparison will end in one of two ways: with insecurity (upward comparison) or an over-inflated sense of self (downward comparison).

Our 26th President of the United States sums it up well:

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” -Theodore Roosevelt