Building a dynamic startup ecosystem and robust buying and selling environment: How the ‘Startup Liaison’ can help the ecosystem.

If you didn’t attend Milestone9 Demo Day on Thursday, you missed an opportunity.  Bob Kelly, the corporate vice president of M&A strategy and business development at Microsoft and a new advisory board member at 9Mile Labs, offered an interesting perspective, noting that there is a “dirty secret” about the startups built in the Valley (Credit to Geekwire –  as this is their paragraph).

Silicon Valley startups typically gain early sales momentum because they sell to other startup or mid-tier companies in the Valley.  But in Seattle — which lacks that sort of dynamic startup ecosystem and robust buying and selling environment —startups need to find real customers who fork out cash because the technology solves a real problem.”

I don’t believe in truth, only perspective.  And from my perspective, the City of Seattle can, and should, do more to support the startup ecosystem.  I believe that the City of Seattle can play role in molding the ‘dynamic startup ecosystem and robust buying and selling environment’ that Bob Kelly discussed at Milestone9.

Here are a few ways:

1) Customer Service and Marketing. The website needs WORK.  Like yesterday (Website: Startup Seattle). The last blog post is from February 1st.  Before that is was January 26th, 2016.  Before that is was October 12th, 2015!  This kind of inconsistency causes headaches for marketers and content strategists that preach consistency!  Especially in today’s digital age where you must maintain consistency via digital mediums in order to understand what customers want and need.

2) Publisher. Have you ever seen a hard copy version of the ‘Book of Lists?’  You know, the one that the Puget Sound Business Journal publishes.  The Puget Sound Business Journal Book of Lists provides  listings of hundreds of the hottest area companies in their fields, by ranking. You’ll also receive the names of key decision makers, along with their titles and complete contact information.  We need a Book of Lists – specifically for the startup community.

3)  Connect, Facilitate, and Connect Some More. Having a book of lists isn’t enough.  We need someone who has the  background AND soft skills (to communicate with executive level decision makers), needed to facilitate introductions between startups, corporations, non-profits, NGOs, manufactures, angel investors, venture capitalists, the list goes on.  What can the Startup Liaison do regionally?  He or she should be better connected to Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, Canada than anyone in the ecosystem.  While I don’t subscribe to the entire report (Kauffman Report: Guidelines for Local and State Governments to Promote Entrepreneurship), I do believe in a ‘Bottom-up and Connecting Approach’ which is outlined in the aforementioned report.

” There must be a long-term focus on entrepreneurs as individuals distinct from small businesses, who learn by doing and interacting with others. “

4) Support and Host a ‘Reverse Pitch.’  I’m very fond of this format, and Cambia Grove has done an outstanding job (in partnership with CHI Franciscan Health) of showcasing this format (see CHI Franciscan Health: CHI Franciscan Health Pitches What It Needs to Digital Startup FirmsWhy not the City of Seattle?

5)  Identify Solutions in the Market.  As you’re well aware, the City of Seattle has seen an increase in the number of homeless individuals and families living on the streets.  I won’t get into the blame game, but I think we can all agree that technology has played a role – to what degree, I won’t go there.  With that said, there are some innovative solutions in the marketplace – thanks to…  Meet Jonathan Kumar, CEO of GiveSafe (Hacking for Social Good) (Vimeo Video:Helping Us Help Homeless). Technology may be part of the problem, but it can also be part of the solution.

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