From Kicking Off MLS to 50 Startups, Grow50 Founder Aims High
Jonathan Copley considers himself to be one of the world’s biggest Manchester United soccer fans. So when Team Manchester arrived in the Pacific Northwest in the summer of 2011 to face-off against the Seattle Sounders, he faced a choice. Pit his lifelong fandom and upbringing in Manchester, U.K., against the home team in the region he now lived in and loved. It was no contest.
It was “Go Manchester” all the way!
Now, two years later, Copley isn’t repenting for Manchester’s 7-0 win vs. Seattle but reaffirming his allegiance to the Puget Sound community that is sprouting startup companies like blades of grass on his home field turf.
A champion of new business formation, capitalization and valuation, and the founder of CFOcare, Copley has what he believes is a winning Seattle game plan. He has assembled a team of multidisciplinary advisors, 16 professional service firms, in a consortium known as Grow50. As in soccer, there is a goal to achieve that he and his illustrious teammates share. Grow50's mission is to help 50 select companies grow significantly over the next 10 years by getting all the expertise and funding they need.
“I wanted to put together a team of people that had every skill set an entrepreneur would need when starting a business,” he explained. ”We see a lot of startups coming in and asking angel investors for money, and the angels naturally turn around and say, ‘Tell us about your management team.’” That’s obviously the number one success factor, right? The startups typical response is, “Right, you give us the money and we’ll give you the management team. It’s a Catch-22 situation.”
“We believe we can accelerate a large number of aspiring firms and give investors the confidence of knowing these early stage companies have strong, professional support. Recruiting. Product Development. Legal. Sales. Marketing. International. You name it.” he says.
Copley soundly rejects the opinion of Cam Mhyrvold who, writing in GeekWire, blamed a lack of entrepreneurial talent in the Northwest after closing his Ignition Partners venture group and moving to San Francisco. Jonathan considers the Northwest an extraordinary spawning ground for tomorrow’s tech leaders, given the talent, the resources, and the legacy of companies like Microsoft, Amazon, Starbucks and Boeing, to name the forebears.
So if you’re a Northwest start-up, how do you get your fledgling business concept in front of this all-star team?
Train your sights on winning first or second place in theNorthwest Entrepreneur Network’s semi-annual First Look Forums, These competitions test the mettle, the business model and the pitches of hundreds of entrepreneurs from around the Pacific Northwest.
Later this month on April 19th and then again in October of 2013, the winners of the First Look Forums will be awarded $50,000 worth of professional fees from Grow50 members, and the second-placed finishers will receive $25,000 worth of professional fees for an annual total of $150,000 in services for promising entrepreneurs.
Speaking of soccer, (weren’t we?), there’s a valuable listen to be learned from Copley’s experience with the World Cup.
“I met with Alan Rothenberg who was chairman of the World Cup at the time, and because I loved soccer, I said, “Alan, is there any way I can help you?” Rothenberg already had a vast number of people working on the World Cup but he told me he needed someone to help him help build a future soccer league for the U.S.!”
“I spent the next two years developing the business and marketing plan for what was then called the National Soccer League and which we rebranded Major League Soccer,” reflected Copley.
Today’s Seattle Sounder fan base of 40,000, of which he is one, “is astonishing!” he says. “It would make the Sounders the tenth best supported team in Britain! We have fantastic crowds. ”
There’s another lesson to be learned here as well. It’s about how some engagements start out as one mission
(the “World Cup”) and then morph into another — (“Major League Soccer.”) ”It’s called the Pivot,” reminds
Copley. “It is practically inevitable that the first idea a new company founder has will be revised or reinvented
along the path to fruition. ”It’s the skill set and flexibility of the startup, and the advisors, that makes all the
difference as a young company progresses!”
You can’t help but admire this soccer-aficionado-turned-startup-coach’s team spirit! Go Grow50!
Crosscut Community Idea Lab Winner David Harris Wins Consultation with Grow50
We like to say Seattle is a tech-fueled entrepreneurial city. David Harris wants to make that true in one of the places it’s not.
“I’m really excited about this,” he said, stopping on the sidewalk near the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Way South and South Jackson Street in the Central District. He had walked us past the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute and the Douglass-Truth Library, with the Seattle Vocational Institute a couple blocks ahead. But it was things that weren’t there — yet — that interested him most. He pointed out one underused building. Could it be a business incubator and maker space? That’s the kind of thing I’d expect to see in South Lake Union, Fremont and Pioneer Square, but never here, a diverse, historic neighborhood the city’s tech scene ignores and I’m embarrassed to admit I haven’t been to in ages.
Harris, 30, is no land developer, public official or millionaire. The former Microsoft engineer leads entrepreneurial education at the Technology Access Foundation, which works with underserved populations, and has owned his condo here — near the neighborhood’s eclectic heart at 23rd and Jackson — since 2007.
This month, his idea to host an entrepreneurial hackathon in the Central District took top prize in a contest put on by Seattle news organization Crosscut to channel the city’s tech boom to easily overlooked corners of the city. That got him a free business consultation with Grow50 (a consortium to help entrepreneurs), six months at Pioneer Square co-working space Impact Hub and even a pledge of support from tech investor and recent Seattle transplant Michael Arrington. But it’s his conviction that things have to change that makes Harris the bridge builder the neighborhood needs.
Harris grew up in Detroit. That tends to raise eyebrows in Seattle, the nation’s fifth-whitest and second-most-gentrifying city. When he moved to the area straight out of college to take the job with Microsoft, the contrasts were stark. “In Detroit, I could go one month without seeing someone not black. Coming here, it was the total opposite,” he said. “It’s my first job, and it really hits you: This is what life is like.”
Under pressure to demonstrate a commitment to diversity amid calls for equity in Silicon Valley, Google and Facebook made news this spring when they revealed, for the first time, the diversity of their employees. At both world-defining companies, 2 percent are black. Just 2. (It’s 3.4 percent at Microsoft.)
Changing things, Harris knows, starts with education. It starts with grass roots collaboration. And it starts with active, energized spaces — right where communities grow. South Lake Union is this city’s best study in the power of putting good things together. Amazon.com here, startups there, incubators, coffee shops and public transportation everywhere, and one of the most stagnant neighborhoods in the city has become the heartbeat of its lucrative tech boom.
But not everyone can work in South Lake Union.
Not everyone can live in South Lake Union.
Not everyone who wants to tap the energy of Seattle’s
anchor industry should have to.
It took Harris a few months of living in Redmond to realize he’d be happier in the Central District. Twenty-five percent black and bustling with hubs for its many cultures, it felt more like home. This spring, a friend of his from Detroit got a job offer from Amazon he wasn’t sure about. Could he thrive in such a white-dominated industry at the heart of such a white-dominated city? It’s questions like these that keep the world’s most exciting enterprises from representing the people whose lives they transform.
Fixing that will take work, but we’ve got to start somewhere. Maybe in the Central District. Maybe with David Harris. At the Starbucks on 23rd and Jackson, Harris told me about Clayton Pitre Sr., the Congressional Gold Medal-winning World War II veteran of the renowned Montford Point Marines. Pitre cooks Harris dinner and tells him stories about old Seattle while Harris troubleshoots his email, his new iPhone, or something else giving him trouble.
Before we left, Harris said hi to Leilani Lewis, an acquaintance who works at the Northwest African American Museum. Two minutes out the door, he greeted another familiar face, architect David Harmon.
It was clear Harris had put down roots in one rich community. Now to see what bridges he can help build to another.
Grow50 member, immigration attorney, Cletus Weber, co-founder of Peng & Weber, is rapidly becoming a leading authority on all aspects of the law relating to EB-5. Growing proof of his authority can be seen in some of the leading publications he has either authored or edited during 2014:
SEATTLE, WA--( Apr 16, 2013) - Grow50 (www.grow50.com) today launched its consortium of 16 premier professional service firms with extensive entrepreneurial experience to better help early stage companies in the Pacific Northwest. Grow50's mission is to help 50 select companies grow significantly over the next 10 years by enabling high potential businesses to get the expertise and funding they need. This will contribute to a stronger entrepreneurial ecosystem and improve employment opportunities in Washington.
Cam Myhvold of Ignition Partners suggested in a recent article published via Geekwire (http://bit.ly/XosTmc) that Seattle lacks
entrepreneurial talent. We strongly disagree with that assertion and we believe that Seattle's entrepreneurs are among the greatest in the world as demonstrated by the likes of companies including Amazon, Microsoft and Starbucks," said Jonathan Copley, founder of Grow50 and CEO of business consulting firm CFOCare (www.cfocare.com). "With greater nurturing from our experienced team of advisors we know we can help unleash even more of that entrepreneurial talent and help companies grow more rapidly and successfully."
Grow50 is a sponsor in the Northwest Entrepreneur Network's semi-annual First Look Forum (http://bit.ly/XSN4Z4), a competition involving hundreds of entrepreneurs from around the Pacific Northwest. Later this month on April 19(th) and then again in October of 2013, the winners of the First Look Forums will be awarded $50,000 worth of professional fees from Grow50 members, and the second-placed finishers will receive $25,000 worth of professional fees for an annual total of $150,000 in services for promising entrepreneurs. Prize winners will select from services offered by Grow50 member firms with specialized skills and critical expertise in key areas spanning from fundraising, legal & tax advice and product development to marketing & sales, among others. For a complete list of members and their expertise go to: www.grow50.com/Professional_Network.html.
Social Venture Partner's Fast Pitch is a Novel Approach to Grantmaking
On the ABC show “Shark Tank,” entrepreneurs have mere minutes to persuade investors to line up behind their proposal. And on the FOX show “American Idol,” the audience weighs in on contestants, helping to select winners. A blend of the two television shows offers a sense of what’s in store at Social Venture Partners Seattle’s Fast Pitch, where non-profit and for-profit innovators will compete Wednesday evening for a slice of $250,000 in grants and investments.
Since 2011, SVP has put on the series of competitive rounds, winnowing the field from 90 applications to 44 quarter-finalists, 23 semifinalists and 13 finalists. Among this year’s finalists is Teachers United, a two-year-old organization of about 250 public school teachers...
Chris Eide, a Seattle teacher and one of the group’s founders, will deliver the pitch.
Eide tells me that Teachers United is a nonprofit worth investing in because it offers
a way forward in the teaching profession. The nonprofit seeks to invert the typical
top-down paradigm in education policy-making in which public institutions and the state Legislature make the decisions.
“We want teachers’ voices to be the ones to actually shape education policy,” says Eide. ”We want the considerations and perspectives of the best teachers in the profession to be the voices that actually shape education policy. To do this, we go to schools, we meet teachers where they are and connect them with policy leaders, for example kindergarten teachers and (Seattle City Councilmember) Tim Burgess to discuss early learning programs.
As recognized leaders in the business community, Jonathan Copley CEO of CFOCare and Pradnya Desh Managing Partner of Desh International and Business Law, both founder members of the Grow50 consortium were invited to accompany Governor Jay Inslee on a 9-day trade mission to Korea and Japan on August 28. The focus of the trip was to promote Washington’s agriculture, aerospace, advanced manufacturing and technology sectors; “Friendship Delegation” to visit sister state Hyogo.
“Washington state’s trade and cultural ties with Japan and Korea run deep, and I look forward to strengthening these important relationships. As their economies thrive, consumers and businesses in Korea and Japan open up new demand and markets for the quality products from Washington. That expansion creates economic activity and jobs throughout our state.”
The Grow50 team plays a key role in expanding exports and trade and improving the international business development strategy, contributing to an increased foreign direct investment (FDI) into Washington state.
Desh Law Firm Named Service Provider of the Year by World Trade Center Tacoma
Grow50 is proud to recognize that one of its member firms,Desh International Law,has been named as "Service Provider of the Year" by the World Trade Center of Tacoma.
The award recognizes Desh International Law’s active involvement in drawing inbound investment into the region, as well as providing advice and counsel to companies who are exporting or otherwise involved in international business. Pradnya Desh, the firm’s managing partner will be accepting World Trade Center’s prestigious Globe award at a ceremony on October 2. Pradnya, a former US diplomat, accompanied Governor Gregoire on a successful trade mission to India and Korea in 2012.
Grow50 will provide the winners of this year's Fast Pitch with "pro bono consulting services," announced Jonathan Copley, the Founder of Grow50. "Our consortium of 15 professional services firm is honored to be invited by Social Venture Partners to provide some ongoing support for the winning companies." The final of this year's Fast Pitch will take place on November 15.
Seraph Capital Forum, the first all women angel investor group created in the United States, Today announced its new co-presidents, Jennifer Olsen of Resourceful HR and Annette Rubin of HydroPeptide. Since 1998, Seraph members have funded numerous early stage companies located in the Pacific Northwest. The goal of the organization is to create opportunities for entrepreneurs and investors to form strong networks through investment, mentoring, and collaboration. As an organization the group is exploring new ways to support the start-up community and forge a path to help companies grow, innovate, and succeed for the long-term.
“I’m honored to have the opportunity to continue Seraph’s mission and its influence on the success of start-ups in our region,” said Jennifer Olsen, Resourceful HR president. “Our membership has grown by 200% over the last 18 months, which impacts our ability to invest in the success of our start-up community. We are always looking for innovative companies to invest in and identify ways in which we can support entrepreneurs in the best way possible to support their hard work.”
“I’m excited about the entrepreneurs that will be presenting over the next 12 months,” said Annette Rubin, HydroPeptide managing partner and COO. “Our members are adept at business, building relationships and excited about exploring how they can further the Northwest start-up communities’efforts. As an organization, we will continue to look for new members who can contribute to our mission of helping entrepreneurs succeed. It is great to be a part of an organization that is focused on making this happen.”
Jennifer founded Resourceful HR in 2008 with over a decade of human resource experience. She has advised clients on an array of HR issues including successful recruitment techniques, quick integration strategies for new employees, employee compensation and rewards and employee performance. She co-chairs the HR Group for the Washington Biotechnology and Biomedical Association (WBBA), serves as Board President of AHOPE for Children, a non-profit organization focused on assistance programs for vulnerable children in Ethiopia and has served on the Board of Directors for Seraph Capital Forum since 2012. In 2012 she was honored by the Puget Sound Business Journal with the ’40 Under 40’ award. She is a graduate of the University of Washington, where she earned her MBA and BA degrees.
MovingWorlds Wins First Look Forum and a Series of Dates with Grow50 - "Where Peace Corps Meets Match.com"
When it comes to volunteering, there’s no shortage of global organizations looking for extra hands, but it’s not always easy finding a place to lend your efforts.
Enter MovingWorlds, a Seattle startup that’s building a platform where people can go, list their expertise, and find an organization looking for exactly what you have to offer.
Co-founder and University of Washington alum Mark Horoszowski says his company could change the game in global volunteering. MovingWorlds connects professionals in marketing, business, and tech fields who are looking for skill-specific ways to volunteer with the small organizations who need their help.
Here’s how MovingWorlds works: Professionals post where they’d like to go and what they have to offer, and organizations post their plans and the skill sets they need Or, as Horozowski explains it, it’s where “the Peace Corps meets Match.com.”
The company just won the grand prize at last week’s Northwest Entrepreneur Network First Look Forum, taking home a $50,000 donation of business building services from Seattle’s Grow50 Initiative.
Horoszowski said the idea for MovingWorlds really came out of a market need he originally thought was already filled.
In 2011, Horoszowski was traveling the world. He’d left Seattle with a plan to donate his marketing and business skills in the global volunteer network. He had a specific skill set, and figured there would be plenty of ways to use it in other communities. But as he searched, he found something he didn’t expect — regardless of the country, it was actually difficult to find places to volunteer with the skills he had to give.
“If you did a Google search, you’d just find some organization trying to charge you $2,500 a week to build a house or a well,” Horoszowski said. “That’s just not sustainable work.”
Horoszowski wanted a program that felt meaningful in the longterm, a place where he could put to use the skills he’d spent years developing. So he began looking into communities on his own, searching for people who might be looking for help in growing and sharpening their small businesses. As he expected, there was no real shortage of people looking for his expert help.
Horoszowski eventually landed in Buenes Aires, Argentina, where he continued to advise business owners. While working there, he met MovingWorlds co-founder Derk Norde. Norde had spent the last eight years in Latin America supporting local entrepreneurs. When Horizowski told him how much trouble he had finding opportunities to volunteer his own skills, Norde was a little shocked.
Professionals go through a series of questions, where they answer where they'd like to go and what their skill set entails.
“He said it was fascinating because entrepreneurs would come to him and ask for [business] support but they had no idea where to find these professionals,” Horoszowski said.
On the other hand, Horoszowski had been blogging about his experiences since he began finding local businesses to advise. And with each new post, he received emails from professionals in the United States — lawyers, marketing professionals, and entrepreneurs — asking how they could help.
From opposite ends, both founders realized the same thing: developing businesses needed help, and professionals wanted to give it. Problem was, there wasn’t yet a way of connecting the two. It was in that market gap where they realized a new startup had a chance, and MovingWorlds was born.
After a year of development, the company now has several volunteers on projects and a few who have already returned. Horoszowski said the site allows both the organization in need and the professional to tailor their requests.
“There are organizations that are coming to us and saying they need someone like this now,” Horoszowski said. “From a social impact standpoint, that’s really important.”
They currently offer three different price-point packages for participating professionals. Starting at $99, each package offers various degrees of Moving Worlds support to the volunteer.
Apart from business management advisors, many organizations have come to MovingWorlds with requests for specialized talent in software engineering and tech support.
Horoszowski thought the factor that separated the program from other volunteer opportunities was simple. He said the need for various highly skilled volunteers is all across the board, and it’s something professionals are aching to do as well.
“It’s a place where professionals can find the best place to donate their expertise around the world,” he said, “We’re really just trying to connect the right human capital to helping to ensure progress.”