Startup Creation Workshop


Application deadline Oct 8
Kickoff Event Oct 20
Demo Day Oct 24

We’re very pleased to announce the winners!

We had a great weekend with our participants, mentors, volunteers and judges.  We really appreciate everyone’s help and participation!


Hosted by

Fundable ideas •  Expert mentors •  VC access

Pitch a technology based startup idea or join a team. The winning team will not only interact with leading experts and VCs judging the competition but will also receive follow-on mentorship that will allow them to turn their plans into reality.

Apply for a chance to be selected into the event. We are looking for a diverse set of participants with business, software development and data science backgrounds.
Pitch your own idea for a technology startup, focusing within Madrona's investment themes. Solicit other participants to join your team.
Gain access to MVL’s and TiE Seattle’s network of mentors, advisors, and top experts from local technology companies.
The winning teams will receive further mentorship from Madrona Venture Labs and TiE Seattle to help them turn their ideas into real startups

Recommended focus areas

Participants are encouraged to pitch a startup idea within one of the Madrona's investment themes.

Intelligent applications


Low code / no code


Future of work


Event details

This workshop is fully remote and will be conducted virtually over Zoom. The GoVertical workshop will begin with a Kickoff event on Oct 20, 2021. Participants will be encouraged to pitch a startup idea in one of Madrona's focus areas for the workshop. Participants will then join a team formed around the best ideas selected for the event. Thereafter, the newly formed teams will work together to develop detailed business plans and application prototypes for their startup concepts. Demo Day will be held on Oct 24th to judge the best developed concepts and plans.

Tickets to the entire workshop are $69, due upon application acceptance. Student tickets are $25. We offer scholarships if this is a hardship. Please let us know. Each participant will also receive a copy of Shirish Nadkarni's new book From Startup to Exit.

Kickoff event

Date  Oct 20, 5p–7p

This event is mandatory for workshop participants and is included in the fee for the workshop. This event will be conducted virtually over Zoom.

Demo Day

Date  Oct 24, 2p–5 pm

This event will be conducted virtually over Zoom.


Kickoff event

Oct 20, 5p-7p 

This event is mandatory for workshop participants and is included in the fee for the workshop. This event will be conducted virtually over Zoom.


• Pitch your idea for tech startup. Participants are encouraged to focus within one of Madrona Venture Groups Investment themes
• Vote to select the 8 best ideas

Team Up

• Select the team you want to join
• Connect with your team members and develop a plan of action

Concept development

Oct 23, 9am - 9pm


• Explore your business opportunity in depth 
• Validate concept with customers


• Prototype your Application interface
• Get feedback from potential users


• Develop initial business plan and model 
• Meet with mentors to get feedback

Demo Day

Sunday Oct 24, 9a–5p


• Finalize your prototype and business model 
• Get final round of feedback from mentors


• Pitch your business plan and demo your application prototype to the judges 
• Defend your plan

Team up

• Winners will be selected by a judging panel of industry experts and VCs

The Ideation Workshop is a real opportunity to pitch an idea and find a team of talented individuals who are interested in building it with you. Even after the weekend is over!" — 2019 ML workshop participant

Love the energy and entrepreneur nurturing environment of Madrona Venture Labs." — Blockchain workshop participant

One of the best hackathons I have ever attended... There were a lot of interesting projects and smart people involved. Would definitely come again!" — 2018 ML workshop participant


Nancy Wang

General Manager, AWS Backups

Nancy Wang is a General Manager at Amazon Web Services, where she leads P&L, product, engineering, and design for its data protection and governance businesses. Prior to Amazon, she led SaaS product development at Rubrik, the fastest-growing enterprise software unicorn and built for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Passionate about advancing more women into technical roles, Nancy is the founder & CEO of Advancing Women in Tech, a global 501(c)(3) nonprofit with 16,000+ members spanning three continents. Nancy is an angel investor in data security and compliance companies, and an LP with several seed- and growth-stage funds such as Operator Collective and IVP. She earned a degree in computer science from the University of Pennsylvania.

Emily Kruger

VP, Operations and Product at Loka

Emily Kruger is a Seattle-based product and technology leader with a passion for innovative startups and an advocate for female leaders and entrepreneurs. She has led product teams building machine learning and infrastructure platforms for five organizations ranging from early-stage startups to Amazon Web Services. She currently is VP of Operations & Product at Loka, a software consultancy that helps venture-backed startups build and ship innovations. Emily is also a member of the leadership team at Advancing Women in Tech, where she currently runs the Female Founders Initiative and has led the Seattle chapter. She is a Boston Consulting Group and Yale University alumna.

Jay Bartot

CEO, Zeitworks

Jay is a technologist, machine-learning enthusiast and serial entrepreneur whose startup career spans over 20 years and includes co-founding a number of venture-funded data/analytics companies which were acquired by companies such as Microsoft, Nielsen/NetRatings and Hulu. Jay enjoys playing music, collecting guitars and tinkering with his 3D printer.

Taylor Soper

Geekwire Reporter

Taylor Soper is a GeekWire reporter who covers a wide variety of tech assignments, including emerging startups in Seattle and Portland, the sharing economy and the intersection of technology and sports. A native of Portland, Ore., and graduate of the University of Washington, he was named a “New Journalist of the Year” by the Society of Professional Journalists.

Sona Venkat

Head of Cloud, Comcast

Sona Venkat is a senior technology executive with more than 20 years of experience across corporate strategy, product marketing and management and business development at Comcast, Microsoft, SAP and Oracle. Sona has helped these industry  leaders navigate market change and embrace disruptive technologies through her work crafting new business models, establishing new and adjacent businesses and driving market-leading product innovations. Currently, as Vice President and Head of Cloud Product and Customer Success at Comcast, Sona helps drive Comcast’s broader cloud strategy and leads cloud product management, cloud financial operations and "Cloud First" migrations.

Frank Chang

Partner, Flying Fish

Frank Chang has been a technology leader at the region's largest tech companies. At Amazon he led the global Associates program, the largest affiliate marketing program in the world. Prior to this role, he was VP of Technical Program Management for Amazon's Audible subsidiary. At Microsoft he held various engineering leadership positions. With a knack for knowing how to work across time zones and cultures, he would be put in charge of building and managing teams across China (Shanghai, Suzhou, Beijing) creating some of the building blocks for Azure. He also took his passion for machine learning to the Speech Recognition and Natural Language team where he led the core engineering teams. Earlier in his career Frank was part of a startup, Reef Technologies, building Content Management Systems. He has experience as a professional home theater and hi-end audio consultant, taught computer science to children at MIT summer camp programs, and was a nationally ranked US fencer.


Maria Hess

Partner, Madrona Venture Labs

Maria is an executive marketing leader, technology product builder, and startup advisor; leveraging over 20 years’ experience to successfully bring consumer and business software products to market. She’s currently a Partner and Head of Growth at Madrona Venture Labs, a Seattle startup studio, building multiple startups each year. Throughout a series of strategic senior leadership roles, she’s led marketing, product, and growth in both big tech (Google, Amazon, and Expedia) and successful startups (Picnik, PicMonkey, Likewise). 

Satbir Khanuja

Operating Partner, Fuse Ventures

Dr. Satbir Khanuja currently is an Operating Partner at Fuse Venture Partners and Venture Advisor at Ignition Partners. He serves on the boards of Digi International, a leading IoT company and LevelTen Energy, world’s largest renewable marketplace.  He also is an advisor to several technology startups including Symend, Enlyft, Livestories and Corestack. He led DataSphere Technologies Inc. as the Chief Executive Officer and President and created two successful businesses- LandWatch, world’s largest land and rural properties marketplace and DataSphere Local- leading online and mobile marketing platform for small and medium businesses.  Both the businesses were acquired by publicly traded companies.  He also spent seven years at as a member of the executive team and was the Vice President of Worldwide Traffic Organization, responsible for driving billions of dollars in sales through free and paid traffic to all Amazon websites worldwide. He also served as the Vice President and General Manager of Amazon's and In-Theater businesses, where he created all business functions and built the division into one of the 50 most trafficked web sites in the world.

Neetika Bansal

Head of Engineering, Money Movement

Neetika leads engineering for Stripe's Money Movement teams across San Francisco and Seattle, responsible for global Money Movement platforms and products.

Andrew Albertson

Partner, Fenwick and West LLP

Andrew counsels public and private life sciences and technology companies. Andy’s practice focuses on providing strategic and practical counseling to high growth life sciences and technology companies, ranging from early startup teams to mature public companies, as well as many leading venture capital and private equity firms. Andy has extensive experience structuring, negotiating and executing a wide variety of corporate transactions including: seed and venture capital financings, growth equity/structured minority equity financings, debt financings, corporate reorganizations and recapitalizations, joint ventures, complex mergers and acquisitions and other strategic transactions.

Matthew Kirk

Chief Scientist & Founder, Modulus

Matt Kirk is a data architect, software engineer, and entrepreneur based out of Seattle. For years, he struggled to piece together his quantitative finance background with his passion for building software. Then he discovered his affinity for solving problems with data. Now, he helps multi-million dollar companies with their data projects. From diamond recommendation engines to marketing automation tools, he loves educating engineering teams about methods to start their big data projects.

Sanjay Puri

Co-Founder and General Partner, 9Mile Labs

Sanjay is a marketing and product management leader who has successfully helped commercialize a wide range of breakthrough technology offerings -- spanning roles with innovative startups and mid-sized growth companies, as well as top global enterprise / B2B organizations. As a products executive at startups (iConclude, Opsware, Edifecs) and large companies (Microsoft and HP), Sanjay has helped companies achieve successful exits and exceptional revenue growth. Sanjay holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from IIT-BHU and an MBA from Kellogg School of Management.

Puja Lakhanpal

Management Consultant 

Puja is a marketplace entrepreneur and product commercialization executive. She has experience in identifying, launching, and scaling business opportunities both in start-up and corporate environments. She is a Wharton and BCG alumna. 

Aaron Khoo

Head of Engineering, AWS Backup

Aaron is an engineering leader who has worked at Microsoft, Axon (formerly Taser) and Amazon. In a career spanning 20 years, he has built and scaled teams for such diverse areas as video game platforms, police body cameras, enterprise compliance and data protection. Passionate about cloud computing, he joined AWS five years ago to create Internet scale products that impact millions of users globally.  Aaron holds a PhD in Computer Science from Northwestern University.

Arean Van Veelan

Co-Founder and CTO, Offer Up, Inc.

Arean Van Veelan is a technologist with nearly 20 years cross functional experience with the design, building and management of software products. He is currently involved in management of products and teams touching social media, cloud, crowd-sourcing, mobile app development and LBS. Prior to Offer Up, Mr. Van Veelan designed, sold, implemented enterprise and consumer products at Boeing, Philips, Marconi, Union Pacific, FirstGroup, CAT, GE and other large corporations.

Paul Zimmerman

Venture Business Development, Amazon Web Services

At AWS, Paul works with the venture capital ecosystem to help entrepreneurs, start-ups, and their venture capital backers successfully leverage AWS, and Amazon, to build and scale their businesses. Prior to joining the team at AWS, Paul was CEO of three startups over thirteen years - Aegis Mobility, Angstrom Power and Oregon Scientific. Each startup was sold in a successful exit and the innovations born in these startups continue in the market today. Prior to his CEO roles, Paul was a co-founding Managing Director of the Softbank Asia Infrastructure Fund (SAIF) – a $2B venture capital fund. Paul had joined SAIF from Cisco Systems Inc where he was a senior director responsible for the wireless business across the APAC region.

Kenny Daniel

Founder, Algorithmia

Kenny is a founder at Algorithmia, building a community around state-of-the-art algorithm development, where users can create, share and build on other algorithms. Algorithmia gives developers the ability to turn algorithms into scalable web services with a single click. Application developers can then integrate the algorithm into their own applications with under 10 lines of code. Algorithmia hosts the web services, makes them discoverable and enables algorithm developers to get paid for usage.

Stefan Schoenmackers

Data Scientist, Madrona Venture Labs

Stef's interest and expertise are in using Data Mining, Artificial Intelligence and Natural Language Processing to make products and tools that make people's lives easier. Stef had data scientist roles at eBay and He earned a Ph.D. in Computur Science from the University of Washington.

Dinesh Chahlia

Engineering Leader, Google Cloud

Dinesh is a a engineering leader with a passion for cloud computing and artificial intelligence. He has built and scaled teams in the areas of distributed machine learning, storage systems, Internet scale near real-time systems, relevance and recommendation systems. Dinesh has helped hundreds of teams embrace cloud computing and have taught cloud computing to 500+ engineers. He has also worked on ideas that grew to 1000+ people orgs.

Elizabeth Mandle

Associate, Perkins Coie

Elizabeth Mandle advises entrepreneurial clients at all stages of the business life cycle, from incorporation and expansion through exit. She has experience representing private and public companies as well as angel, venture and other strategic investors on a range of transactional and corporate matters, including venture equity and debt financings, mergers and acquisitions, corporate governance, public offerings and securities law compliance. While in law school, Elizabeth was a member of the Boston College Entrepreneurial Clinic and was a legal intern with NetCracker Technology Corporation assisting the legal department in contract review and regulatory compliance for immigration matters.

Trey Chenier

Associate, Perkins Coie

Trey Chenier counsels high-growth companies on corporate issues, including financings, commercial agreements, and general corporate matters. His experience includes representing early-stage companies across numerous industries as they raise capital through angel rounds or series financings and advising venture funds as they manage their technology portfolios. In his mergers and acquisitions (M&A) practice, Trey has worked on a number of high-value transactions and financings. He drafts the definitive transaction documents and manages the deal process for both buy- and sell-side transactions. He also manages the disclosure schedule and diligence process and drafts ancillary deal documents.


Shirish Nadkarni

Serial Tech Entrepreneur & Author

Shirish Nadkarni is a serial entrepreneur with proven success in creating multiple consumer businesses that have scaled to tens of millions of users worldwide. Shirish was the co-founder of Livemocha, the world’s largest language learning site with 15+ million registered members from over 200 countries. Livemocha was acquired by RosettaStone in 2013. Prior to Livemocha, Shirish was the founder of TeamOn Systems, a mobile wireless e-mail pioneer that was acquired by Research in Motion in 2002. The TeamOn technology served as the core foundation for Blackberry Internet E-mail which serviced over 50 million BlackBerry users. Shirish is the author of “From Startup to Exit - An Insider’s Guide to Launching and Scaling Your Tech Business”.

GoVertical Team

Minee Verma

TiE Seattle

Jason Flateboe

Madrona Venture Labs

Flora Ku

Madrona Venture Labs

Kate Watts


Accepting last chance workshop applications now – deadline Oct 8


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