The tenth Techstars Seattle cohort gathers after Demo Day on Tuesday at Seattle’s Museum of History and Industry. (GeekWire Photos / Taylor Soper) From Seattle to Miami, from blockchain to augmented reality — it was another round of polished pitches at the annual Techstars Demo Day in the Emerald City. Techstars Seattle held its 10th annual Demo Day Tuesday night as founders walked on stage and pitched to an audience of fellow entrepreneurs, investors, family, friends, and community members at the Museum of History and Industry. This cohort marked a milestone as the 10th class for Techstars Seattle, which has now graduated 110 companies to date. Alumni of the accelerator — companies such as Remitly, Outreach, Skilljar, Bizible, Leanplum and Zipline — have collectively raised more than $700 million in investment capital. Most have built their startups in the Pacific Northwest, helping expand the entrepreneurial clout in the region. Techstars Seattle Managing Directors Aviel Ginzburg and Chris DeVore give opening remarks on Tuesday. Techstars provides $120,000 in funding in exchange for 6 percent common stock as part of the three-month accelerator, which is part of a larger Techstars network that spans across the globe and also features a Techstars venture capital fund and a . Techstars Seattle is based at Startup Hall at the University of Washington and shares space with the , a separate program co-led by Techstars and Amazon focused around voice technologies. Amy Nelson, CEO of Seattle-based startup The Riveter — which just won Startup of the Year at the — gave the keynote address before Tuesday’s pitches. She recounted her own startup journey, one that started when Nelson was a corporate lawyer and became pregnant. That’s when she learned how 43 percent of women with college degrees “offramp” after having kids. “To me, that meant the system was broken,” Nelson said. “We all knew it and yet we weren’t doing anything about it.” The Riveter CEO Amy Nelson. Nelson, now pregnant with her fourth child, decided to do something and helped launch The Riveter two years ago. The women-focused co-working space operator a $15 million investment round last year and recently opened its sixth location in Austin, with plans to reach 100 locations by 2022. “Starting a company is, as many of you know, incredibly hard and nearly impossible,” Nelson told the crowd on Tuesday. “There will be many days when it is easier to quit than to keep going. There will be many days when you feel like you can’t keep going. But the thing is, you have to believe in the biggest ideas and believe that you can pull it off — and you likely can, if you truly believe that and dig into it.” Read on to learn more about and see our favorite pitches of the evening. , who reflected on the longevity of Techstars Seattle and on how the Seattle tech scene has changed over the past decade. Tagline: “Growing machine learning teams from hiring to productivity” AdaptiLab co-founder James Wu. Why we liked the pitch: Hiring engineers is hard, and AdaptiLab wants to help. James Wu, co-founder, didn’t miss a beat with his pitch on Tuesday, showing how his startup helps reduce the amount of time and money hiring managers spend interviewing candidates for machine learning-related roles. Wu said companies can spend as much as $180,000 hiring a single machine learning engineer. AdaptiLab has built a technical screening platform that customers use to screen and interview potential new employees. The company applies its own machine learning technology to rank candidates and provide technical report cards. It has already racked up customers such as Pinterest, Zillow, and Remitly. AdaptiLab is similar to fellow Seattle startup Karat, , though AdaptiLab is focused on one specific type of role with machine learning jobs. That specialization could limit how quickly the company can grow, but Wu teased its vision for scale. “Our plan is to use our screening product to build a wedge into the machine learning talent market by solving for the biggest pain points and building industry trust and customer relationships along the way,” he said. ” “As machine learning demand continues to skyrocket, we will leverage relationships to expand to a technical diagnostic marketplace, where we will source, evaluate, and place candidates,” he said. “…We will use this flow of candidate and company data to begin to own the machine learning hiring pipeline and to expand into the even larger talent development market for machine learning with strategic partnerships and SaaS products.” Tagline: “Building your personal electronic memory bank” Kristalic co-founder Jos van der Westhuizen. Why we liked the pitch: Kristalic has a big vision. The San Francisco-based startup is building an AI-powered assistant designed to record your work-related conversations throughout a day and capture all the data in an easy-to-digest searchable format. The idea is to help workers remember important information they might have otherwise forgotten — for example, who agreed to what in last week’s meeting, or what changes did the customer request? Kristalic does not require additional software, using already available hardware such as AirPods or your smartphone to record voice conversations. “We’re giving our customers memory superpowers not available to ordinary humans,” said Kristalic co-founder Jos van der Westhuizen. Both he and his co-founder Filip Kozera earned a master’s degree and PhD in machine learning at Cambridge University — a validation for their expertise that van der Westhuizen called out at this beginning of his pitch. The entrepreneurs aim to ride a surge in voice-related technology and usage. One investor that voice tech will replace keyboards in five years. Tech giants such as Google are also . Kristalic has a huge idea that could very well fall flat. There are also some privacy implications that the company will need to address. But it was refreshing to hear such an ambitious pitch — these “big swings” are something the Seattle startup scene could probably use more of, albeit from a Bay Area-based startup. Tagline: “Web3 made easy” Nodesmith CEO Brendan Lee. Why we liked the pitch: Even though big companies such as are building blockchain-related services along with a flurry of other , the jury’s still out on how important the technology will actually become. “Some of the skepticism is valid,” said Nodesmith CEO Brendan Lee. “Adoption hasn’t exactly been explosive. One of the core reasons for this is the lack of mature infrastructure and tooling that’s available for developers.” That’s where Nodesmith comes in. The Seattle startup provides access to blockchain networks and a suite of services that allow developers to easily build user-friendly applications. It provides the “picks and shovels” for blockchain developers, bringing a “much-needed professional polish to the wild west world of blockchain,” as Lee described. In his convincing pitch, Lee said building a blockchain app today is like building a traditional web app without the support of tools such as AWS, Auth0, or New Relic. It’s unclear how many customers Nodesmith has, and there’s the larger question of blockchain adoption. But investors oftentimes bet on people, and Lee and his co-founder Samm Desmond certainly have the necessary chops to fulfill their vision as they previously spent four years at Tableau building developer platforms. They’ve also been building on blockchain networks since 2016.
— When he invented the World Wide Web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee had a specific vision for how it would evolve, and things haven’t gone exactly as he planned. At its inception, the web was supposed to be a place to create as much as receive information. But web browsers quickly eliminated the ability to edit pages, essentially cutting out half of Berners-Lee’s vision. While things have been moving in the right direction, Berners-Lee, working with MIT, is looking to continue the trend with a new open-source technology called Solid. The Solid community is hosting a May 2 where developers and anyone interested in the new technology can learn what it’s all about. — For most entrepreneurs, figuring out exactly what you want to do with your business can be the easy part. But bringing that business into reality often takes outside investment. And that’s where it gets tricky. Perfecting your pitch and getting your idea in front of the right people at the right time can be not only a challenge but a frustrating process of trial and error. Odds are, you’re going to need some help along the journey. Volition Events is hosting the inaugural on April 26. Part of the Women in Tech Regatta, the event offers a place where you can practice your 3-minute pitch and get valuable feedback on how to improve it. Here are more highlights from the GeekWire Calendar: : A conference to discuss technology’s future in various life science fields at the Washington State Conference Center in Seattle; Wednesday, April 24 – Thursday, April 25. : An event where five startups pitch their companies to the audience at The Collective in Seattle; 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, April 25. : A shark-tank style event where local entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to earn capital at New Holly Gathering Hall in Seattle; 6 to 9 p.m. Thursday, April 25. : An event focused on the preservation of physical as well as digital properties in the event of a disaster at the Living Computers: Museum and Lab in Seattle; Friday, April 26 – Saturday, April 27. : A talk about technology as it applies to air travel at the Sheraton Seattle; 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, April 26. : A presentation for startups about how to cope with business challenges at CoMotion Labs at the University of Washington in Seattle; 12 to 1 p.m. Friday, April 26. A presentation about tactics to have a successful interview for engineering careers at Code Fellows in Seattle; 12:15 to 1 p.m. Friday, April 26. For more upcoming events, check out the , where you can find meetups, conferences, startup events, and geeky gatherings in the Pacific Northwest and beyond. Organizing an event? .
It was Pi Day last week, so naturally, PIE held a Demo Day. The , or PIE, hosted its first Demo Day in five years on Thursday as 13 Portland-area startups pitched their ideas on stage. PIE launched a decade ago as a startup accelerator inside advertising company Wieden+Kennedy, following in the footsteps of organizations like Y Combinator and Techstars. But it that model in 2015 as PIE co-founder looked to help the Portland startup scene in other ways. Last year, though, with a reimagined model as a nonprofit funded in part by Prosper Portland and the Inclusive Business Resource Network. PIE no longer invests capital in participating companies and offers participation and office space for free, with a focus on attracting underrepresented founders. It also moved away from the traditional three-month format, allowing companies to stay in the new space as short or long as they need. After spending several months grooming pitches and tweaking business models, founders from the fifth PIE cohort showed off their ideas last week to a group of investors and other community members. Several folks called out the diversity among CEOs and founders who pitched. “The startups presenting didn’t fit the ‘traditional’ pattern matching of the Silicon Valley startup narrative, which is to say there weren’t any 20-something, white, male coders in hoodies pitching,” noted reporter Malia Spencer. 1/9 I got to see my first demo day Thursday and it was a huge personal reminder for me on how important diversity in background and thought are in the people you surround yourself with — Jesse Reichenstein (@JReichenstein) Here’s a quick rundown of the companies that pitched, in order of when they appeared. You can watch the full pitches at the video above. delivers groceries from local farmers, butchers, bakers, and makers. empowers Latinas to live healthier lives. makes a back support integrated postural alignment system. helps companies create resilient cultures that scale. is a social network connecting student athletes to community. helps support black entrepreneurs with funding. enables commercial architects, designers, owners and contractors to find materials and solutions for their projects. develops high-efficiency vertical farming. produces newsletters in Spanish to help inform voters. creates tools that make shopping according to one’s values convenient. develops cannabis vaporizer technology. hosts the largest database of workspaces for remote professionals provides insights on the comfort and accessibility of public places for plus-size people.