Startup 425 devises work plan, asks for entrepreneur input

Demand assessment survey touches on co-working space and workshops.

Startup 425, a multi-municipality organization focused on providing resources for Eastside entrepreneurs, circulated a demand assessment survey as part of its three- to five-year work plan to better serve aspiring business owners.

According to Startup 425 regional business partnership manager Ellen Miller-Wolfe, the work plan focuses on identifying two things primarily: local entrepreneurs’ preferences for co-working spaces, and ways to enhance Startup 425’s free, ongoing educational workshops.

Though Startup 425 is a coalition among the cities of Bellevue, Kirkland, Redmond, Issaquah, Renton and the Port of Seattle, it is the city of Kirkland’s economic development staff that has been managing operations on behalf of all parties.

“We were charged with a number of things, chief among them was kind of our basic bread and butter effort, which has to do with providing Foundations classes in the libraries in the cities that are part of the alliance, and those workshop classes are really available to newcomers,” Miller-Wolfe said. “[Foundations] is basically a primer on how to start a business, in ideation, developing the concept for the business, then structure and licensing, mentoring and networking and how to get financing, and defining a target market.”

For these Foundations classes, Startup 425 partners with SCORE, a nonprofit pairing retired business executives’ know-how with up-and-comers’ eagerness to learn. In the spring session, 380 people total attended one of the five classes in the five city libraries.

A fall session will take place between September and December, though exact dates are yet to be determined.

A key part of the work plan involves making Startup 425 more sustainable. Currently, the group receives city funding from each of the five cities, the King County Library System and grants and subsidies.

To help devise new models, Startup 425 has formed an advisory council that comprises small business owners and college representatives of Bellevue College and Lake Washington Institute of Technology. The ideas fleshed out in these advisory group meetings form the basis of the demand assessment survey.

“It’s not just ‘What else can we do?’ It’s what else can we do that pays for itself or that we’re able to get grants and subsidies to do,” Miller-Wolfe said.

One idea floated was membership fees, “not unlike an athletic club or a chamber of commerce,” Miller-Wolfe said; entrepreneurs might pay a fee to access different private co-working spaces while receiving certain Startup 425 curricula.

Startup 425 is considering creating its own co-working and hot desking space like WeWork in Seattle or Co-Box in Bellevue, where entrepreneurs and mentors could mingle with regularity.

“We’re trying to assess whether there’s a reason for us to get involved in that part of the ecosystem,” Miller-Wolfe said. “These are just ideas being truthed out, nothing is set in stone.”

Miller-Wolfe also highlighted what she called “easier-to-implement ideas,” which she said can be devised outside of the work plan. These may include career fair-like events where Startup 425 introduces startups in need of specialized employee skill sets with the appropriate candidates. Another example may be a concerted effort to identify more volunteer mentors in the Eastside communities eager to share their business experiences.

“We want to lower the barriers to entry,” Miller-Wolfe said. “Ultimately, we’re interested in providing pathways to prosperity for everyone in the community, prosperity for all.”

Duncon Milloy, a business consultant on contract with the city of Kirkland, helps lead Startup 425 and has been mentoring entrepreneurs one-on-one.

“The most rewarding part of mentoring entrepreneurs is assisting them with the acquisition of business knowledge and skills that help put them on a path to success,” Milloy said.

More in Business

Networking to recession proof your career

Make a networking plan for yourself. You don’t have do it all in one day.

Boeing Renton plant to halt 737 Max production

Suspension expected to begin in January

Decreased inventory for buyers in local real estate market

By Erin Flemming Special to the Reporter The month of December reliably… Continue reading

Business alliance serves women of African diaspora in King County

Nourah Yonous launched the African Women Business Alliance in 2017 to find ways to lift women up.

New recycling service hits the Kirkland market

Ridwell is a recycle service that for $10-14 a month will pick up difficult-to-recycle goods.

Adding credentials can recession proof your career

Look at hard skills and soft skills to see where there may be a gap.

Chiropractic instrument takes the crack out of spinal adjustment

Disc Centers of America Bellevue uses the Impulse iQ for comfort and results

Winter chill begins to settle into real estate market

While there was an uptick in new listings, pending home sales and sold properties the last two months, things are quieting down.

Armoire opens second location in Kirkland. Armoire is a start-up company that is based in Seattle and has branched out to the Eastside. Unlike most retail stores, Armoire rents their clothing to their customers through a membership. Photo courtesy of Armoire
Armoire opens second location in Kirkland

Retail stores are adapting to modern working women and their needs.

Anko opens doors at new Kirkland location

The retail chain can also be found in Lynnwood, Bellevue, Mill Creek and Burien.

PupPod owner Erick Eidus won the crowd favorite award and received $500 from the Greater Kirkland Chamber of Commerce during last year’s Kirkland Investor Sharks. Aaron Kunkler/staff photo
Investor Shark continues with the tradition to help fund Kirkland startups

The event will also feature a teen startup team from LWSD.