Haiku Deck & Techstars Seattle Summed Up

When Giant Thinkwell got accepted into the 2010 Techstars Seattle class, they were working on an idea that used celebrities as main characters in games. It turned out to be harder to convince celebrities to participate in this idea, than they had hoped. The Techstars program was going at full speed and they were running out of time. Despite not having any celebrities on board, the team decided to create a game loosely based on Lady Gaga and launch it. In just 24 hours they managed to get tens of thousands of users to play 500,000 times. Unfortunately, they also received a few friendly notices from lawyers. They had hit a road block and needed to come up with a different idea. 

Like many other Techstars companies they pivoted. Instead of making games, they decided to create a mobile presentation app, that was simple; beautiful; and fun. Haiku Deck was born.

Techstars Seattle created a deck that sums up what Haiku Deck and Techstars are all about. Check it out below.  

TechStars Seattle is Hiring HackStars!

You’re a brilliant developer, a great designer, a UX star, you can execute like mad, sling top-quality code with the best of them, or turn pixels intro perfection, and you’ve always wanted to go through TechStars… but you just don’t have a team or idea.  Dilemma!  Until now…

The TechStars companies always need more technical skill to help them do more faster during the program. Hackstars are highly-skilled software developers and designers that would love to work with the companies and go through the TechStars program.  Plus, you get paid $6K for the program (just like the founders) and might even land a job with one of the startups. What a great way to hack into TechStars!

Do you meet this profile?

  • You're a a code-slinging mac-daddy superstar guru at PHP, Java, .NET, Python, Objective-C, Ruby, JQuery, or design/UI/UX.
  • You can design, cut and code efficiently and brilliantly
  • You want to have a TechStars experience so you can learn all about startups and funding from our mentors.
  • You want to work side-by-side with some of the country's most promising new founders and young companies.
  • You live in Seattle, or are willing to relocate for the program and are willing to dedicate 100% of your time during the program to TechStars. 

HackStars is your chance to get an amazing experience, broaden your network in ways you could never imagine, and get exposure to some of the greatest up and coming companies and teams in the country.  Interested? Email kayla@techstars.org to apply.

How Founder's co-op is helping Seattle?


This may be a repeat for some of you, and is a bit self promotional....but Mark Suster (General Partner at GRP in Los Angeles) wrote a thoughtful piece in TechCrunch yesterday about the startup scene here in Seattle, including a very generous mention of what we're up to here at Founders Co-op
Last night I was fortunate enought to be voted Best Angel / VC Investor at the Seattle 2.0 Awards. I am truly honored -- and feeling undeserving. I will work harder to actually earn this award. There are lots of more experienced and better vc's than I in Seattle -- They may not be as good at promotion but when it comes to making great bets on great companies I still have a lot to prove.  I'll get there though. Thanks for the acknowledgement. 


What bothers me still about Seattle?

I've been living in Seattle for a decade now. I have grown to really like Seattle and the pacific northwest, more generally. However, I was reminded this past week of a few things that I don't like about Seattle. The following is a list of stuff that bothers me about Seattle:

  • Matzah ball soup -- there's no good place to get this soup. period.
  • Swimming pools -- I've struggled to find a world class swim center any where near Seattle. And federal way is not close enough to Seattle to make swimming there practical. 
  • Basketball -- losing the sonics sucked. I grew up watching Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, and Robert Parish and the Boston Celtics. Professional sports seemed to be lacking. The Sounders are great! But, they don't play basketball.
  • Traffic -- and the lack of traffic solutions. Why can't we make a friggin' decision about the 520 bridge and the viaduct. 
  • Public access to the water -- I just got back from Vancouver. Why we allowed lake washington and lake union to be private spaces without making the first 100 feet of access more public was a mistake. Just imagine this city if each body of water were like Green lake!
  • Sun in the winter -- I still need more sun than I get in the winter. It's not the rain that bothers me...it's the lack of sun.  That said, this winter was great!

Keith Grinstein dies?!

I was at Open Coffee this morning and someone told me that Keith Grinstein died.   Here's the article confirming the fact . I didn't know Keith well -- but he was a real character in the venture capital / angel investing scene in Seattle.   He always seemed like a gregarious, outgoing, good guy -- he was known as a little wild and crazy but I liked that about him.  It's weird when peers start dieing unexpectedly -- he was only 48!  Makes me feel mortal.

Seattle Tech Entrepreneurs networking is improving

There's a small group of technology entrepreneurs (mostly CEOs) who are getting together once a month for informal dinner, drinks, talk, and the occasional poker game. I went last night and got home at 1:30AM. Had a really fun time. All the people there were high caliber. This was our second meeting. If you'd like to be invited to the next one please email me -- while this is an invite only event out of necessity, it's an open good group. Maybe there is hope for networking Seattle entrepreneurs.
Reminder: the first Seattle coffee club is next Tuesday. I look forward to seeing you at Louisa's on Eastlake.

Complaints about Seattle

So you've heard the things that I was worried about prior to moving to Seattle. Now that I've been living in Seattle for the better part of 5 years, I have a clear idea about the areas where Seattle is lacking. While I'm quite willing to point these limitations out, I want people to know that I think Seattle is great -- it's a great place to live period.

The following are my complaints about Seattle:
1) The restaurants scene is just ok
I wouldn't say the scene sucks and I wouldn't say it's great....and that's just it -- the scene is just ok. Unfortunately, it's below the restaurant scenes in other major metropolitan areas that I've lived or frequented such as NY, Providence, San Francisco, LA, and Boston. In my opinion, it's fair to say that there are a couple really good restaurants, the salmon and crab are great, and everything else is just ok . But the food that my wife and I love to eat -- anything asian -- is just ok in Seattle.

2) The entrepreneur scene is just ok
Much of what I just wrote about the restaurant scene can also be applied to the entrepreneur scene. It's taken me a while to make sure that it wasn't me, that the entrepreneurial scene I craved wasn't simply occuring somewhere in Seattle that I was not -- and while that there's a chance that may still be the case, my confidence in stating that the entrepreneurial scene is just ok has risen. Not sure why this is so -- and I haven't given up hope, but Seattle lacks the entrepreneurial spirt of most of the cities on either coast. There are pockets of people who are working hard to improve this situation -- to make the city more of an entrepreneurial mecca. In the meantime, people might be sleepless in seattle because of the coffee, just know that in my experience to date -- it's not the entrepreneurial buzz keeping everyone awake.

I'm not one to openly compain and not do anything about it. I've gone ahead and started a company (www.Judysbook.com), teach entrepreneurship at the UW, and continue to eat out lots!