Nine years, 139 startups, $700 million raised.
Techstars Seattle has become a mainstay of the local tech ecosystem for nearly a decade, helping groom early-stage entrepreneurs as they sharpen their pitches and build their business models. Nearly 140 companies have graduated since 2010 and have collectively raised more than $700 million in investment capital. Graduates of Techstars Seattle include companies like Remitly, Outreach, Leanplum and Zipline.
The latest cohort stepped on stage Wednesday night after three intense months as part of Techstars Seattle, pitching an audience of fellow entrepreneurs, investors, family, friends, and more community members as part of Demo Night at the Museum of History and Industry.
“Thank you to everyone here today for helping make Seattle one of the best places in the world for a startup founder,” said Chris Devore, managing director of Techstars Seattle.
Brad Feld, managing director at Boulder, Colo.-based Foundry Group who helped launch Techstars 13 years ago, also spoke on stage Wednesday and credited the Seattle startup community for helping Techstars succeed. The accelerator now funds around 400 startups per year across 40 programs and 12 countries.
“The amount we learned as an organization from being able to work with Seattle as one of our early expansions has been incredible,” he said.
This year’s Techstars Seattle cohort was its most diverse group yet — three companies led by women, three African-American founders and three teams from Canada. Techstars provides the startups with mentorship, guidance, and a $100,000 investment.
Here’s a quick recap of my favorite pitches from Wednesday. You can read more about each company with our Startup Spotlight feature.
“Diversity matters.” That’s how Stella Ashaolu began her pitch, which was the best of the night. The WeSolv CEO explained how workplace diversity has become a top priority for Fortune 500 companies, yet many are struggling to find and hire high-performing diverse candidates. Her startup is changing the recruiting model, matching companies with MBA students who get a chance to work on projects and build connections with potential employers. There are more than 1,600 MBA students on the platform — 50 percent women; 70 percent from underrepresented groups — and WeSolv has paying customers like Salesforce and Discover. “I know you’ve seen the headlines,” Ashaolu said. “We are at an inflection point. I welcome you to come talk to me about how WeSolv is a timely solution changing hiring.” WeSolv certainly faces stiff competition from giants like LinkedIn and Indeed, but its model and timing seem promising.
Educative had the most impressive traction of any company on Wednesday. The company has 10,000 paying customers across 80 countries who are using Educative for software development training. Its marketplace offers interactive and adaptive coding courses, helping developers stay up-to-date with the latest programming frameworks and APIs. “Developers need Educative to learn and get hired,” said Educative CEO Fahim ul-Haq, a former Microsoft senior engineer. “Their employers need Educative so that their workforce is up-to-date and productive.” The startup bootstrapped its way to $500,000 in revenue last year and now has investor validation — Yuval Neeman, a partner at Trilogy Equity Partners and former Microsoft executive, announced on stage that his firm will be leading Educative’s seed round.
Andrew Sampson was calm and confident during his well-paced pitch, clearly explaining the value proposition behind Rainway’s gaming service. The Atlanta-based startup has developed technology that lets gamers stream their PC games onto any device, allowing for continued gameplay beyond the confines of a desktop machine. “Mobile devices just can’t meet the demands of PC gamers, leaving the entire market underserved or completely left out when PC gamers want to play on the go,” Sampson said. Rainway is part of a new trend of technology that goes beyond just gaming and allows people to run a “computer” from any device. The company has racked up 60,000 users in three months and plans to rollout a paid premium version. With an addressable market of 1.2 billion PC gamers, Rainway seems poised for big growth.
Check out the other Techstars Seattle companies below.