Former Techstars Seattle Program Director Jaren Schwartz is taking on a new role at Create33, the new “founder center” established by Madrona Venture Group, GeekWire has learned. Schwartz will serve as the center’s director of operations.
“I’m excited to work at Create33 to build off my experience helping startups grow and scale during my time at Techstars Seattle and the Alexa Accelerator,” Schwartz told GeekWire in an email.
Schwartz added that she will transition between the roles through Oct. 9, after the Demo Night event for the Alexa Accelerator.
Madrona unveiled Create 33 in July, describing the initiative as a hub for startups and entrepreneurs in the Seattle region to rub shoulders and learn entrepreneurial skills. The space is set up similar to a WeWork or Galvanize location, with co-working areas, an event space and startup training rooms. It is run by Executive Director Micah Baldwin.
Though Create33 is largely supported by Madrona, with offices connected to Madrona’s headquarters on the floor above, Madrona Managing Director Scott Jacobson told GeekWire the initiative is about more than just Madrona’s network.
“It’s part of our strategy to help grow the ecosystem to help people become better founders,” Jacobson said.
In her new role, Schwartz will be working to make that founder ecosystem more robust. “This includes managing a curated membership of resident companies working out of Create33, offering strategic programming for founders by founders, building out business development opportunities for members, and helping founders tell their stories through our media studio,” she said.
Techstars Seattle Managing Director Chris DeVore said the program has already lined up a replacement in Schwartz role.
“Jaren is an incredible leader and a cherished colleague, and I’m thrilled that she’s partnering with Micah (another Techstars alum) to help drive Seattle’s startup community forward in a new and different way,” DeVore said.
Although Marketo is based in the Bay Area, Yamamoto will remain in Seattle in her new role. Marketo has a presence in the city through the office of Bizible, the Seattle-based marketing technology company that it acquired in April.
“I am beyond excited to join Steve and the exceptional team at Marketo to lead the company through its next phase of growth as we scale to become a one-billion-dollar company,” Yamamoto said in a statement, referring to Marketo CEO Steve Lucas. “I look forward to supporting and serving Marketo, our customers, and the broader Marketing Nation community.”
Yamamoto was most recently the chief digital marketing officer for business software giant SAP. She formerly led marketing and merchandising for Amazon Books and spent six years leading marketing efforts at Microsoft in areas including windows and Microsoft Stores.
— Transpara Health, a startup building a price transparency platform for healthcare, tapped Connie Bourassa-Shaw to join its board of directors. Bourassa-Shaw led the Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Washington for nearly 12 years, establishing the UW’s Foster School as a leader in Seattle’s startup community. She retired last year.
Transpara Health, which was founded in 2017, is led by CEO and co-founder Susan Kataoka and chief medical officer Dr. Jeffrey Roh.
“I’ve always been impressed by the entrepreneurs— both students and others—who are driven to solve big problems. Transpara Health is doing that, focusing on what consumers want: transparency in health care costs and outcomes,” Bourassa-Shaw told GeekWire in an email. “I was thrilled to join the advisory board, working with Jeff [Roh] and Susie Kataoka and the team. Let’s see what we can do!”
— Pet insurance company Trupanion added longtime finance executive Jackie Davidson to its board of directors. Davidson was most recently the CFO of Market Leader, which sold to real estate company Trulia in 2014 for $355 million. She has more than 25 years of experience in finance, the majority in leadership positions.
— Funko, the maker of Pop! vinyl figures and other pop culture artifacts, added Jessica Piha as its new director of press relations. Piha, who formerly held positions at We Communications, Strange Brew Strategies and JVP Media, reports to Funko CMO Molly Hartney.