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thinkspace Offers First Coworking Helipad Service Between Seattle and Redmond

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thinkspace Redmond Rooftop Helipad

We are excited to announce that we have a helipad at both of our Seattle and Redmond coworking locations! We recognize that commuting between Seattle and Redmond has been a challenge ever since the toll was put in place between Seattle and the Eastside. Depending on the time of day it can take an hour or more commuting on the 520 Bridge. With this new service, the approximate 15 mile commute can be reduced to approximately eight minutes. We wanted to be able to provide our thinkspace members with a service that allows entrepreneurs to focus on growing their startups instead of spending time stuck in traffic as they go from investor meetings with Madrona Venture Group, Voyager Capital, or Maveron.

After nearly seven and half years of running thinkspace, I have been asking entrepreneurs what is the most challenging thing about running a startup? The answer that I typically get is 1) funding and finding access to capital. 2) is hiring talent and finding a cofounder. We feel that with this service, startup founders will be able to invite VC’s to meetings and possible candidates that are looking to leave their jobs at Amazon, Google, Facebook and Microsoft to join their startups. Attracting talent to join a startup is an incredible challenge. With a service like this, startups can now compete with the big tech companies in the Seattle area.

With recent announcements of Uber partnering with Blade to be able to helicopter rides to Coachella, we have been actively working on our own partnerships to extend the service to the Seattle area. We estimate that the service will cost approximately $62.50 one way or $125 round trip. Similar to how a vanpool works, discounts will be available for groups of four people. As Benjamin Franklin would say, “time is money”, this service definitely puts a premium on time. Please contact us if you’re interested in find out more about how to book this service.

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Member Spotlight: Colvin Pitts of Lytro


Click to refocus. Click and drag for Perspective Shift.

Lytro has just opened a new office in Redmond at thinkspace. We are excited to be expanding our physical presence, and are thrilled to be part of the thinkspace community. The Lytro camera lets you capture and share what you see in a whole new way. The key innovation is light field technology, which captures all of the light rays in a scene to create interactive, living pictures. Instead of capturing a flat 2D image, the light field includes all the rays of light traveling in every direction through a scene. And that changes everything.  By capturing the light field, you can do incredible things. Like refocus pictures after you take them. On the camera you can tap the touchscreen on whatever part of the picture you want to bring into focus. Once a picture is imported into your computer, click to refocus.  It also allows you to change the perspective of the captured image.


Click to refocus.  Click and drag for Perspective Shift.

The company was founded in 2006 by CEO Dr. Ren Ng, whose research in light field photography won best PhD dissertation in computer science at Stanford in 2006 as well as the internationally recognized ACM award. Lytro has raised approximately $50 million to date from Andreessen Horowitz, Greylock Partners, NEA, and K9 Ventures along with individual investors.

Visit www.lytro.com for more details.

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All the Answers in the World

card for blogI’ve always thought people have multiple selves – meaning your actions and reactions vary based on people and settings. It’s hard to be one personality all the time. For example my “personal self” loves horoscopes. A horoscope or fortune is a slight glimmer of hope of what might come tomorrow, or at least a positive placebo. My “work self” would not admit my guilty-pleasure-like love of horoscopes (but apparently I just did). A horoscope, something that predicts the future, is silly and fairly juvenile. But sometimes life feels scattered and so undefined; sometimes I DO want to know what to do with my life.

Enter my favorite horoscope ever.

I had only lived in Seattle for a month when I started working at thinkspace, a coworking community in Redmond. My horoscope said to write the word “creator” on my business card, and synonyms of that word. Then, turn the card over and write “May 2013,” and wait. Was this a silly gesture? Of course it was silly and nonsensical. But I didn’t just want to know what would happen…I NEEDED to know. The words that I wrote as synonyms on the card were: architect, designer, founder, originator, author, initiator, generator, and inventor. These are words with so much gusto and big meaning, words that aren’t thrown around lightly. These are the words that describe entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs are people that do what they want because they believe in what they are doing. Doors will be slammed in your face, phone calls will go un-returned, and rejection is inevitable. So what keeps entrepreneurs creating, inventing, and originating? It’s the hope of knowing that what’s around the corner will be their legacy and their mark on the world.

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PSBJ says it’s on the rise, but, what exactly is interactive media?

The PSBJ put out an article titled “Interactive media industry on the rise in Seattle area“. I read the article and began to think, uh, what or how is interactive media defined? The article really doesn’t state who’s all included in this group other than “regional games companies”.

Revenues are up and jobs are increasing

The article did state that a study estimated revenues from regional games companies at $9.7 billion in 2010, up from $4.1 billion in 2006, for compounded annual growth of 25 percent. It also showed that local jobs in the industry have grown between 4 percent and 4.5 percent over the past five years, with a total of between 16,500 and 17,500 interactive media employees in the Seattle area now.

The term “interactive media” has popped up a few other times recently in Redmond and that was when the City of Redmond was named as an IPZ:

Interactive Media and Digital Arts Innovation Partnership Zone

I was reading an article on the Redmond Reporter and it stated that “The City of Redmond was recently named “Interactive Media and Digital Arts Innovation Partnership Zone (IPZ)” by the Washington State Department of Commerce.” Wow, that’s a mouthful. I’m glad that they came up with an acronym of IPZ.

When I started to read about what an IPZ is it got me excited because it covers things that I care about such as incubating start-up companies and pulling technologies through technology transfer. The ChooseWashington.com website outlines that the IPZs are actively working with University researchers, developing prototypes with their private sector partners, providing internship opportunities for university students, incubating start-up companies, developing critical training programs, and pulling technologies through technology transfer. All these efforts bring together industry and the community to develop new paths to innovation.

“Redmond is home to some of the most creative companies and individuals in the world,” said City of Redmond economic development manager Erika Vandenbrande. “The IPZ will help foster this excellence and create a center of innovation around interactive media and digital arts. The IPZ will help attract new businesses and create new opportunities that support the businesses and institutions already here.”

What I hope to see spring forth from the Redmond IPZ

I gotta state that I don’t think of “interactive media” as being just about regional games companies. To me, it’s about a cross discipline of digital advertising, mobile and web content, and apps development companies. I also see an explosion of new companies coming out over the next few years as everything is going mobile. For the first time ever, smartphones have outsold PC’s. While the The City of Redmond’s application to be designated as an IPZ was strengthened by partnerships with Microsoft Corp., Redmond Economic Development Alliance, University of Washington-Bothell and Digipen Institute of Technology, provide a solid cornerstone, but, I can envision the biggest impact coming from hundreds of smaller companies being formed that will be be both disruptive with new technologies as well as doing things through price innovation.

In what ways do you think the IPZ will help foster this kind of innovation around interactive media? What are some of the things that you expect to see from this new designation? What are you going to do about it?

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Working Hard To Not Fail Or Working Hard To Succeed?

Facebook has five core values (see below). The one that I like is “move fast and break things”. While this isn’t for everyone, it keeps you innovating and keeps you from becoming stagnant. There’s so many sayings that are similar to this:

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  • If you don’t fall down you’re not learning.
  • Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes.
  • If you’re doing your best, you won’t have any time to worry about failure.
  • You don’t drown by falling in water, you only drown if you stay there.
  • Ask forgiveness, not permission.
  • I’d rather you go too far than do too little.

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Working hard to not fail? Or working hard to succeed?

In your company do you move fast and break things? I was having a conversation today with Ben Liu, founder of Vinasource and he made a comment about corporate America how lots of people working hard to not fail… where startup people are working hard to succeed. Not to bash corporate America because there are lots of good things, but, I don’t miss the CYA (cover your ass) mentality of some people.

Facebook’s Core Values

Focus on Impact
If we want to have the biggest impact, the best way to do this is to make sure we always focus on solving the most important problems. It sounds simple, but we think most companies do this poorly and waste a lot of time. We expect everyone at Facebook to be good at finding the biggest problems to work on.

Move Fast
Moving fast enables us to build more things and learn faster. However, as most companies grow, they slow down too much because they’re more afraid of making mistakes than they are of losing opportunities by moving too slowly. We have a saying: “Move fast and break things.” The idea is that if you never break anything, you’re probably not moving fast enough.

Be Bold
Building great things means taking risks. This can be scary and prevents most companies from doing the bold things they should. However, in a world that’s changing so quickly, you’re guaranteed to fail if you don’t take any risks. We have another saying: “The riskiest thing is to take no risks.” We encourage everyone to make bold decisions, even if that means being wrong some of the time.

Be Open
We believe that a more open world is a better world because people with more information can make better decisions and have a greater impact. That goes for running our company as well. We work hard to make sure everyone at Facebook has access to as much information as possible about every part of the company so they can make the best decisions and have the greatest impact.

Build Social Value
Once again, Facebook exists to make the world more open and connected, and not just to build a company. We expect everyone at Facebook to focus every day on how to build real value for the world in everything they do.

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Are Your Employees Building a Cathedral or Breaking Rocks?

Do your employees feel like they are building a cathedral or do they feel like they are breaking rocks? Are you able to attract the top talent to come work for you and your company? One of the biggest challenges that entrepreneurs face is hiring the best and brightest. When all you have is fledgling startup, your office is inside your garage or at a local coffee shop, that is going to feel pretty sketchy to potential new hires. If you’re just graduating and you have the option of working for a company like Google who apparently is offering newly graduated computer science majors $90k – $105k (NYTimes article) why would the person ever consider working for your startup? Granted it’s going to be very difficult to compete against that kind of salary there are people out there that look at working for companies like Google just like it’s working in a salt mine. Work there and you’ll be doing time — 80 hours a week, sleep on the office floor, never see your family or have a social life.

The reason I’m writing this post is because I had lunch with Paul Anderson, Founder of ProLango Consulting who provides career transition, outplacement support, and puts on the ProLango Career Mixer where 400+ people attend every month.  Paul asked asked me the following question “How do I sell the idea of getting people to work for thinkspace”. I don’t think I gave him a great answer, but, after thinking about it further here’s my top five things:

Culture

It is paramount to have an incredible company culture. This can be a massive differentiator between you and your competition. If your employees love coming to work that’s going to show through to your customers. I can guarantee you that your customers will be able to feel the culture immediately when they walk through the door. Whether you are a person that buys into company culture or not, your company’s culture is going to happen either by design or default. Chances are if it just happens by default it’s not going to be great. I’d rather be one that designs it. This is an area that I have been feeling stronger and stronger about over the last few years and hopefully for my team I’m becoming a better person to work for too. As a team we’ve gone so far as design our core values together and make sure that people know what they are. We’re getting to the point where employees and even customers need to align with our core values. If they don’t align, then they need to be working with someone else. Here’s a link to John DeHart’s “6 Tips on How to Design Core Values“.

BHAG

You must have a BHAG, a Big Hair Audacious Goal. In my MIT Entrepreneurial Masters program we’ve focused a lot on this. [pullquote]Your BHAG is clear and compelling and serves as a unifying focal point of effort, often creating immense team spirit. It has a clear finish line, so the organization can know when it has achieved the goal … A BHAG should not be a sure bet … but the organization must believe ‘we can do it anyway.’ – Jim Collins[/pullquote] The phrase “big hairy audacious goal” was first proposed by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras in their 1994 book Built to Last. Your BHAG needs to be big, a 10+ year goal that can pull you into the future. Let’s face it, if you’re not going somewhere its going to be really hard to get people to want to join you in your quest. Without a BHAG, you’ll end up with people that are there for extrinsic reasons like they need to pay rent, eat food.  The best is to get people for intrinsic reasons so there will be a commitment and they will stay with you for a long time.

The next three items come straight from Daniel Pink’s book “Drive“. I had the opportunity to meet Daniel Pink in Seattle a few years ago and what he shared definitely had a strong impact on how I want to work with my employees. After learning more about what thinkspace is, Daniel said to me “It’s more than simply real estate, interesting!”

Autonomy

Fostering innovation and creativity is key for me. Allowing people to be self directed allows them to feel like they are in control of what they are doing. I want my employees to make smart decisions and take their ideas and be able to implement them. I provide them with the outcome and let them figure out how to get there. If someone needs to be told exactly the path to take to complete something then likely the are not a good candidate to work for me.

Mastery

Mastery is the urge to get better at stuff. One of our core values is “Appetite for learning”. You want to have fun, to learn something and get really good at it. You have to be someone that wants to learn and get better at something. If a person is looking to work in place where its fine to just do what something the same way because that’s the way it’s always been done, then they will immediately feel that this is not the kind of place that they should work. Accepting the status quo sucks. Getting better and better at something is much more interesting.

Purpose

Is your company looking to be the leader in your industry or you just doing what everyone else is doing? Are you looking to be the best in the universe? Are you just about making a profit or is there something bigger than just making a buck? I have to be honest and say that I’m in business to make money. The reason why I want my business to make money is so that we can create more jobs, so my employees can be well taken care of which allows them to take good care of their families. However, at the same time, I don’t want to create a product or provide a service that is exactly the same as what is already out there. There is a bigger purpose in what we’re doing and creating.

Do your employees feel like they are building a cathedral or do they feel like they are breaking rocks? Please share some ideas that you’ve implemented as this is challenge all entrepreneurs, small companies or people building teams go through.

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Take comfort in being uncomfortable about being comfortable

There are two areas that I personally want to strengthen: 1) Communication and 2) Leadership. Over the last few years, I’ve come to recognize that in order for thinkspace to be a place where amazing things happen it requires people and a team that are highly motivated to do remarkable things. A team that understands and embraces the vision for the company which is to create a community that fosters inspiration and passion. This last week, I’ve read two articles that touch on both communication and leadership. The first article is from Art Petty’s blog where he talks about “Leadership Caffeine: 7 Odd Ideas to Help You Get Unstuck“.

“Take comfort in being uncomfortable about being comfortable” – Art Petty

That pretty much sums up what I’ve been expressing to my team. In order for the business to grow and be remarkable, it’s about getting out our comfort zone and thinking about ways to do the same thing better or come up with some crazy new ideas that haven’t been done before inside of thinkspace. It’s about taking existing processes and challenging the status quo.  It’s about asking questions like why do we do things this way and what are ways where it can be done more efficiently and save us money.  Ultimately the goal is to do these things that impact the customer experience, to make that experience remarkable.

The second article that I read was by Scott Berkun (@berkun) who gave a speech on Innovation at The Economist. Scott brings up that in order for their to be innovation you have to have a couple things:

Culture of Trust:

“First, most teams don’t work. They don’t trust each other. They are not led in a way that creates a culture where people feel trust…Without trust, there is no collaboration. Without trust, ideas do not go anywhere even if someone finds the courage to mention them at all.” – Scott Berkun

Leaders that take risks:

“Second, most managers/leaders are risk averse. This isn’t their fault, as most people are risk averse. We have evolved to survive and that typically means being conservative and protecting the status quo.” – Scott Berkun

“But without the ability to take risks, innovation and progress can not happen. Even if you have a good idea, to bring it into the world is risky.” – Scott Berkun

These two things resonate with me. In order for there to be trust there needs to be good communication. Understanding each other on the team is a big part of that. Understanding each others communication styles is also very important. I recently took a Leadership DISC survey to better understand myself. It was a bit of an eye opener when I read the words used to describe me when I’m under pressure are: “abrasive, demanding, and aggressive” not exactly flattering. Some other things that the DISC report said that I am a “Change agent–looks for faster and better ways”; “People oriented”; and “Forward-looking and future-oriented”. I’d like to share the entire report with my team and find ways to improve my communication and grow as a leader. It’s through these things that I feel will help build a great company.