Startup 425 aims to help small businesses on the Eastside

The program is a partnership between the cities of Bellevue, Issaquah, Kirkland, Redmond, Renton and the Port of Seattle.

Kirkland City Hall

Kirkland City Hall

Potential small business owners looking to take the plunge have new tools available to them with the ramping up of a collaboration between five Eastside cities.

Startup 425 is a partnership between Bellevue, Issaquah, Kirkland, Redmond, Renton and the Port of Seattle that focuses on connecting would-be startup entrepreneurs with resources. The program was started more than a year ago, but it is ramping up for another round of seminars and workshops this year.

Jesse Canedo is the economic development manager for Bellevue and said the programs are focused on getting startups off the ground.

“Making sure that they focus on the ideation portion,” he said.

In his view, Canedo said Seattle has a monopoly on younger tech industry workers and startups, but the Eastside has more seasoned professionals who are further along in their career and may have families or other commitments. That alters their risk analysis when deciding whether to start a business, he said.

One of the focuses of the program is helping entrepreneurs develop their business idea and figure out if there’s enough substance to survive in today’s startup economy. Around half of those who utilize Startup 425 make less than $50,000 annually and many are already fully employed.

Helping startups succeed is beneficial to the local economy, said Redmond economic development manager Jill Smith.

“It’s our goal to have healthy businesses in our cities and the Eastside,” she said.

While the programs aren’t limited to serving just residents from Eastside cities, it is marketed here.

Programs aren’t just for beginners though. One of the services offered is called Global Passport which helps businesses prepare for selling internationally. This includes workshops but also a delegation trip to the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. All 2018 slots are filled, but more information about a 2019 trip will be available later this summer.

The six workshops currently offered by Startup 425 include topics such as ideation, helping people develop and assess business ideas, business licensing, developing a business plan, exploring financing options, marketing strategies and networking and mentoring.

During the first year, Startup 425 served more than 150 residents during 16 workshops. A press release from the organization said more than 60 percent of attendees identified as women and nearly two-thirds were people of color.

More information can be found at www.Startup425.org.

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