Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos and Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz’s venture capital firm, Maveron, are tossing their support behind General Assembly, a New York City startup incubator which started last year with “little more than an idea and concrete floor.” The Seattle entrepreneurs — joined by well known investors such as Yuri Milner and Tom Vander Ark — are sinking $4.25 million into the concept.
The idea behind General Assembly is to create a welcoming space where entrepreneurs, designers, developers and dreamers can learn, hack and interact with others who are taking the startup plunge.
Sounds great, doesn’t it? So, why aren’t Bezos and Schultz putting their money to work for a similar project in Seattle?
We’ve asked Maveron about that opportunity, and we’ll update this post as we hear more. But here’s the skinny: It is not outside the realm of possibilities that General Assembly expands here.
Seattle entrepreneur and former Amazon.com employee Dave Schappell has long been touting the power of the General Assembly model, publicly stating that he’d love to bring a branch to the Pacific Northwest. (We’ve reached out to Schappell for comment, and he says via email that he participated as an angel investor in the most recent round. We’ll follow-up to get more details from Schappell later).
In a blog post today, General Assembly’s Brad Hargreaves didn’t rule out the possibility of new campus expansion. He writes:
“So will we open a bunch more campuses? Put all our classes online? Start training executives? We don’t know. Right now we’re singularly focused on continuing to create a great, meaningful experience at our New York campus. That said, we see the bigger picture: there is immense demand for social, application-driven education in technology, design, and entrepreneurship, and we’re committed to addressing this real need.”
The Seattle tech community rallied to bring TechStars to Seattle, providing a much-needed boost to the early-stage startup ecosystem. Based on what I’ve been hearing from entrepreneurs, however, TechStars alone is not enough to meet the demands of entrepreneurs.
Could General Assembly — which offers both office space, workshops and education programs that stress “learning-by-doing” — help fill that gap?
Perhaps it is time to let your voices be heard on that matter.