Pipeline Entrepreneurs, the Midwest’s most successful organization of high-growth entrepreneurs, recently completed their Seattle module.
SPN spoke to Pipeline President and CEO Joni Cobb to get a recap and to find out more about who and how the Pipeline fellows expanded their network outside of the Silicon Prairie.
A year of Pipeline consists of four modules, three of which are held regionally in Kansas City, St. Louis, and a Nebraska rotation of Omaha and Lincoln. The fourth module is typically held in a community where the chances for growth and networking are new to the fellows.
Years past have seen modules in Boston, Silicon Valley, Chicago and Ireland for Pipeline’s 10 year anniversary. This year, the current fellows, long-time Pipeline members, national advisors and supports all made their way to Seattle.
“It increases our access in a short amount of time to expertise and networks that can help our entrepreneurs,” said Cobb. “The flip side of that is it makes people in those markets very hyper-aware of the quality of entrepreneurship we have back here at home. When you have that many entrepreneurs and experts that rally around Pipeline and show up in a market, people pay attention.”
Day 1 of the module was hosted by Microsoft, a natural fit since the company has a long-standing relationship with Pipeline and is located right outside Seattle.
The day included a master session with Microsoft where Pipeline fellows learned about mergers and acquisitions in a candid session with Brian Schultz, Managing Director of Strategic Investments and Corporate Development at Microsoft.
Jim Brisimitzis, a national advisor to Pipeline and general manager or Microsoft for Startups, also talked to the fellows about how Microsoft’s programming has been revamped to be much more relevant to entrepreneurs.
The sessions were followed up by a Seattle Family Cruise with Microsoft executives around Lake Washington and Lake Union.
“This was time to enjoy each other, learn more about the Seattle entrepreneurial scene and connect with our respective families who also came to enjoy the time together,” said Cobb.
Day 2 of the module was hosted by Zillow as a way of increasing connectivity between entrepreneurs and resource providers in the market. The trip inside Zillow’s headquarters was a rare opportunity for the fellows since the company’s offices don’t host too many entrepreneurial organizations.
The afternoon included professional development opportunities for the fellows. Rich Barton, founder of Zillow, Expedia and Glassdoor, and a board member at Netflix, came and presented his entire entrepreneurial journey in a closed-door session to the Pipeline members. Barton told stories of getting lucky, doing what you have to do and keeping up on your expertise in order to succeed in business.
Micah Baldwin of Amazon’s web services flew in from Silicon Valley for a roundtable session based around the topic of scale and growth. There was also a panel of entrepreneurs and folks who host the Alexa Accelerator, powered by Techstars.
Afterward, fellows participated in a networking event designed by Pipeline member Tim Donnelly and JR Jones from Zillow.
“We had good fun mixing and mingling the Settle and Pipeline ‘markets’ together and created a good ole’ fashioned ‘Seattle Salmon throw’ to find ways to help each other in our respective markets,” said Cobb. “And of course we turned it into a competition.”
Day 3 took the Pipeline crew to Startup Hall, the home of Techstars and a hub for startup activity. While there, the fellows had the chance to connect with nearly anyone from Amazon’s team that works with the startup community including the Alexa Accelerator and Launchpad.
Other Seattle/National Participants include:
Greg Gottesman, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Pioneer Square Labs
Frank Artale, Ignition Parters
Yifan Zhang, Loftium
RJ Jones, Zillow Group
Rebecca Lovell, City of Seattle
Kevin Crosby, Amazon
Bill Holland – Head of US Business, Amazon Launchpad
Jed Wang – Head of Strategic Initiatives, Amazon LaunchPad
Stu Tong – Startup Business Development, AWS
Brian Adams – Sr. Program Manager, Alexa Fund
Jaren Schwartz – Techstars Seattle
Brian Gorbett – Microsoft ,Silicon Valley
Sonal Mane -Director US Startups, Microsoft
Jeff Smith – Truth Labs, Chicago
Chris Bernard – Truth Labs, Chicago
Joe Hadzima MIT Senior Fellow, Boston
Irene Hrusovsky, Belle Capital, Chicago
Chuck Norris, Nelnet, Lincoln