Spokane Journal of Business

GSI launches Startup Spokane website

Organization says entrepreneurs are embracing service

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A new online resource for Spokane entrepreneurs, called StartupSpokane.com, is getting attention from both users and people who want to pay it forward and help entrepreneurs, says Robin Toth, Greater Spokane Incorporated vice president of business development.

The website, which GSI started developing last spring and launched this fall, includes resources such as links to the Spokane Angel Alliance, venture funding, and other early-stage funding programs, networking programs and events, business plan counseling and entrepreneur training, among others. 

Toth says she was surprised at how quickly the website filled up with the numbers of programs and opportunities, as well as activities and events which quickly added events to the calendar on the site.  

“There is so much going on in Spokane,” she says. “It’s grown quickly and continues to grow. I think there’s much more going on than folks realize and so many people who want to help and see something great happen here.” 

Around the first of the year, GSI’s Startup and Emerging Entrepreneurs program integrated into its operation Connect Northwest events, a natural progression, says Toth, since both programs are dedicated to helping startups start, build, and expand their companies. Responses from five different focus groups revealed that what was missing for Spokane startups was access to service providers, networking events, and educational opportunities and the ability to find the information in one place. 

“We needed to bring those things together and leverage the strength of the distinct services,” she says. 

Toth says Tyler Lafferty, co-owner of Seven2, a Spokane-based digital advertising agency, volunteered staff resources to design the new site based on feedback from the focus groups and research on other startup communities. 

“We looked to sites like StartupSeattle.com and we looked at resources in Bend, Ore., and Austin where they have great entrepreneur climates and are attracting a younger population,” she says. 

Marsh Sutherland, a local entrepreneur who hosts several tech-related meetups, says he uses the site regularly to search for events. “I think it’s a good site. I look to the site for events that I want to attend and use it for my events,” Sutherland says. 

The site lists events like Startup Weekend Spokane, which is being held this year on Nov. 7-9, at Gonzaga University. Startup Weekend Spokane is a competition for entrepreneurs to pitch their business ideas and collaborate with developers and designers to create a viable product within a 54-hour period. Aspiring entrepreneurs can gain experience, resources and contacts to start a business, says Toth. 

Drew Repp, GSI economic development coordinator, says there also are listings for events like a GSI-sponsored pitch panel, which is an opportunity for budding entrepreneurs to get practice pitching their ideas to funders. 

“It’s like Shark Tank without the teeth,” Repp says. 

Repp says applicants have been chosen for the pitch panel event which is scheduled for Nov. 5, at Share Space Spokane in the Steam Plant Square complex. 

The events on the site run the gamut from happenings like hackathons for gamers by SpoCode, an organization whose focus is Spokane computer programmers, to a business builders series training event sponsored by the Spokane-based Women’s Business Center.

Judith  Spitzer
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Reporter Judith Spitzer covers technology, mining, agriculture, and wood products for the Journal. A vintage-obsessed antique collector in her off hours, Judith worked as a journalist in Colorado and Oregon before joining the Journal.

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