Red Russak is the founder of StartupSeattle, a partnership with Startup Weekend, Microsoft BizSpark, TechStars, and Founder’s Co-op to help startups connect with resources. Under StartupSeattle, Red created a set of web and offline resources, and he has become the hub for Seattle’s technology startup activities. He is passionate about building a sustainable and successful entrepreneurship community. StartupSeattle is focused on supporting entrepreneurship in an organic fashion so as to develop an ecosystem that lasts.
MO: StartupSeattle is a great tool for building entrepreneurship and connecting a community. What made you realize that something like this was necessary in Seattle?
Red: I was originally inspired by a 2011 startup awards show in Seattle, where Mark Suster gave a talk on how to take the Seattle startup community to the next level. His talk inspired me to think selfishly. “As a startup, what does Seattle need?” I discovered that, with as many resources as there were, it was incredibly hard to navigate them all. I created StartupSeattle in an attempt to aggregate all the things that make Seattle a great city for startups and, ultimately, make it easier for other entrepreneurs to navigate the Seattle startup community.
MO: Is this an idea that could work in every city? Why or why not?
Red: Absolutely! In fact, other cities have built similar websites, including http://www.builtinchicago.org/, http://proudlymadeindc.com/, and http://siliconflorist.com/, as just a few examples. One neighboring city even asked to borrow our template as a starting point: http://www.launchspokane.com/.
MO: StartupSeattle also facilitates organizers, tech meetups, coffee clubs, and community office hours to encourage a sense of community between Seattle entrepreneurs. Why is this such an important part of entrepreneurship?
Red: These events and resources help bring like-minded peopled together for networking and educational purposes; in many cases, they are the cause for establishing a co-founder, funding, mentorship, and more. Something special happens at every one of these events. These activities are the fuel of a community, and they help entrepreneurs get out of their garages, homes, and cubicles and get the support they need.
MO: It seems like StartupSeattle does it all! If you had to pick, what is your favorite aspect of the company?
Red: I love working with, and advising, startups.
MO: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve heard as an entrepreneur?
Red: Be aware of time wasted and stay focused.
MO: With all you have going on, what is the one thing on the horizon that you’re most excited about?
Red: I’m excited to start watching more startup communities grow. The tools available for young and emerging communities are incredible and constantly expanding. If you’re a startup, ask yourself, “What does our community need?” Then, go out and fill that need. Chances are there are pre-existing options, like StartupDigest and StartupWeekend, but in many cases, you may have to take on the role as the leader in your community and build these tools yourself. Just know that you’re not alone. Feel free to reach out to me if you have questions – I’d love to help!
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