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By Janis Machala

I love the Seattle startup scene. I think we have a really unique culture that makes us a special place to build companies. Part of it is the natural beauty of our surroundings but part of it is the culture of our people.


Seattle’s a terrific place to recruit people to. We have wonderful recreation, a great economy, many choices for types of lifestyle. Are we affordable? Some would say “not so much.” But in fact given the salaries of high tech workers and the wealth that’s been created from so many successful startups, we are probably not too
bad from an ability to live well perspective.


Seattle has a wonderfully collegial startup environment. It isn’t “I win, he loses.” It’s “If you win, that’s good for all of us.” People are willing to share their experiences for how they did something or learned a lesson on something not to do.


I’ve been working with two founders on a stealth company that we’re not ready to share with the world quite yet. However, we have been bringing many serial entrepreneurs into the fold to show them what we’re doing and to get feedback on the idea, technology, business model. It’s been a wonderful experience as these very busy people (many of them are out getting funding for their own company right now or deep in product  development cycles or with pressures of VCs to answer to over revenue commitments…) have been so giving and willing to see the product, offer advice, and make introductions. And with no expectation of what they might get out of it.


I think why we’re unique is our sheer collective joy and enthusiasm for company
founding and in working together to make our state a world class startup culture. I hear this reiterated from serial entrepreneurs I have met here who have moved via acquisition or lifestyle choice from Atlanta, Boston, San Diego, Texas, and Silicon Valley. They all share how open we have been to them and their endeavors.


What does this mean? Use the community to recruit cofounders and exec team members and employees. Use fellow CEOs for introductions to angels and VCs. Find companies who might have similar customers and get them to endorse your technology or introduce you to the decision makers you need to reach. One CEO had his VP Sales sit down with a client of ours and lay out their sales pipeline and current customers and brainstorm what would be the ideal beta sites to have him help my client recruit. What gold there was in that  conversation and door opening. He just wanted to see another company behind him get further up the curve faster than he did.


Maybe it’s all the coffee shops and gathering spots we have. Maybe it’s free WiFi at
Tully’s. Maybe it’s a better work life balance culture that supports civic mindedness
and doesn’t yell “what’s in it for me.” All I know is that I am grateful to be part of this tremendously vibrant startup community.




Janis Machala is the Founder and Managing Partner of Paladin Partners.

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