The cavnessHR Podcast - a talk with Lee Reeves
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Jason: Hello and welcome to the cavnessHR podcast. I'm your host Jason Cavness and our guess today is Lee Reeves. Lee, are you ready to be great today?
Lee: Jason I am ready and thanks for having me.
Jason: No, thank you for being here. Lee has more than 10 years of experience working in both public and private companies. He graduated with a bachelor's degree from the University of Washington in 2009. Lee is a founder of Venture Catalyst at Cascadia Venture Catalyst group. He is co-founder of Startup253, Director of Business Development at Seattle Startup Week and the former community manager with IBM Global entrepreneur. Lee has Road relationships with Pacific Northwest startups and tech ecosystems, accelerators, incubators, angel investors and venture funds. Lee, thank you very much for being here. You're very involved in the startup community here in the Pacific Northwest and we're interested in hearing your insights.
Lee: Thanks Jason.
Jason: Lee tell us a little about what you have going on right now. Lee: I would say the biggest thing that is happening right now for me personally is Seattle Startup Week. It's coming up October 2nd through October 6th at multiple locations around Seattle. I had a good friend and colleague Randy Rhodes, ask me to participate this year as Director of Business Development. My primary objective this year was to essentially expand events within Seattle Startup Week.
Lee: Taking a look at previous events and looking for areas that we could expand on we've added some great new tracks this year. I just happen to also be leading the corporate innovation track with a colleague of mine. We're essentially bringing in corporate from companies like Adidas and Horizon X. Horizon X Is Boeing's venture capital arm. Also, Microsoft ventures. we've got somebody coming in from Lincoln, Nebraska. Bryan, who is the co-founder of Ikana LLC. We have also got Andy coming up from the San Francisco Silicon Valley area Who is the vice president of Silicon Valley Innovations. So, we're pretty excited about having those individuals in Seattle during that week and we look forward to a successful startup week this year.
Jason: Lee tell me how does a start-up enter startup week? What's the process?
Lee: That's a great question. The entire week is free. This year I think we're going to have over 200 individual events within the week itself. The easiest way for a company to get involved is simply to go to the website. https://seattle.startupweek.co/
If they go to the website, there is a list of events that entrepreneurs or founders can actually attend. All of those events are free for the entire week. If somebody is interested in getting involved and serving as a speaker or maybe a panelist or giving a
presentation of some sort they could definitely reach out to me. I can
help put them into contact with the right person who's organizing an event that they might be interested in.
Jason: Lee, how much has this grown over the years?
Lee: You know pretty extensively. I believe Seattle Startup Week has been around Seattle for you know four or five years. Last year I think there was about a hundred
and seventy-five events. This year there's going to be over 200. We have expanded
the events to the east side as well. I believe there's going to be a couple of events in the Bellevue community as well. The objective is to get as many people involved as possible and just add some events that are interesting to all kinds of entrepreneurs and founders.
Jason: At Startup week, do they actually pitch during this event? Or is it more like an
educational event. Where they just pretty much meet people and attend events.
Lee: That's a great question. There actually is going to be a pitch event that's part of the opening party this year. That's one pitch event. There probably are going to be a couple more pitch events within the week itself. I can't actually speak to those right now because I'm not looking at the schedule. But there is going to be one for sure that takes place on Monday October 2nd at the opening party. If there's a startup that's interested in pitching they can reach out to me. I 'll put them in contact with the right person who's actually hosting the pitch event.
Jason: In the pass have any startups actually been funded during startup week?
Lee: That is more like long-term deal you know. I would say for my own personal experience. As a start-up just come and get involved. Come in and learn and take the opportunity to meet as many people as possible. I think when it comes to raising funding whether it's from an angel investor or Venture Capital. Investor relationships matter and it's important to build as many relationships as you possibly can in the community. I would say come as somebody who wants to learn first and have that be your primary objective. Your secondary objective may very well be to raise funds. But
understand that you have to build that relationship first.
Jason: For the sponsors that come every year. How do they find out about startup week? Do you talk to different sponsors and invite them and tell them what the value
is or they do they reach out to you.
Lee: We have an individual that that leads the sponsorship portion of Seattle startup week. I have that person's contact information. Or they could reach out to me and I can put them in contact. I think the value proposition for a potential sponsor is this is probably the biggest startup event in Seattle that companies are going to get the opportunity to drive business development during the entire week. It gives them you know an opportunity to get connected into the startup community if they're not already connected. It is really a great event for just meeting people. Entrepreneurs and startups and other Enterprise companies that you may be interested in partnering with at some point. I would say it's a great event. If you're looking to do some business development things like that.
Jason: Lee, is startup week held at Startup Hall at the University of Washington?
Lee: The base camp this year is actually at Galvanized in Pioneer Square. Which is located on the corner of first and Jackson. That's where most of the events will be held. But there are other venues that are holding events as well. All those events are outlined on the start of week website. https://seattle.startupweek.co/
Jason: Is it safe to say that you would tell any startup in the area they should attend this event.
Lee: I think it's critical. You know from my perspective, everybody is so busy building their companies. A lot of times I think people forget that it's important to come up for air. It's important to make connections. As the city of Seattle and the Puget Sound region grows, relationships become even more valuable. Get out of your comfort zone. Meet people, ask for feedback, make connections.
Jason: Now, I want to talk about Startup253 for a little bit.
Lee: Startup253 was actually built out of this this idea that the Tacoma market and the South Sound market needs a resource for entrepreneurs, startups and tech companies in those communities. We've really just launched the website for Startup253. Entrepreneurs and startups can go to that website, look at the free community calendar where they can go and see different events and things that are happening in South Sound. They can also see resources that are available to them as entrepreneurs or startups or as founders in those markets. Some of those resources include SurgeTacoma. http://www.surgetacoma.com Which is a co-working space. A good friend of mine and colleague Brett Greene runs New Tech Tacoma. http://www.newtechnorthwest.com He has events monthly in downtown Tacoma. There's a Tacoma entrepreneur Network http://www.tacomaents.org/index.html that's run by Lynette Claire. So, there are a lot of resources in that community. We're really just trying to kind of build up that ecosystem. We think we have good start.
Jason: I'm actually doing this podcast from SurgeTacoma.
Jason: From your point of view what is more important, the team or the idea?
Lee: That's a great question. I think execution of the idea is actually the most important. I meet a lot of people with great ideas. But they don't really mean anything if you can't actually execute on that that idea. I would say execution is probably the most
important. The team is important from an execution standpoint. Because it's important I think as a founder to surround yourself with individuals who bring different skill sets, different backgrounds, different perspectives to your idea. Equally important is to have individuals that have you know have kind of been there and done that and understands what it takes to actually take an idea and execute on that idea to create a product or service that solves a real problem in the marketplace.
Jason: Next question - You deal with a lot of startups. When you see a start-up how long does it usually take you to decide, ok they might be able to make it or they're wasting their time.
Lee: That's a great question. I don't know if I have ever really said that. Because I offer my perspective when I meet startups and I always tell people, take my perspective with a grain of salt. Because I'm just one, I'm just one perspective and I think every startup that has a great idea whether it's a product or a service. If you listen to all the skeptics and things like that, the chances of you succeeding are slim. That stuff is all noise. What I would say to startup founders, just take this as perspective and not as truth. Create your own path and go forth with that mindset.
Jason: Thank You. Lee next tell us about a time you were successful, what you learned from this success and what we can learn from this.
Lee: A time I was successful. I consider myself to be relatively successful. The reason that is you know I born in Seattle raised in Southern Oregon in a very small town. There was probably about 5,000 people there at the time that I was there. There was 62 kids in my High School graduating class when I graduated from High School. Which is a relatively small class. I think at the time we were maybe the second or third smallest 3a school in the state of Oregon. You know to come out of an area like that and to be able to make connections and meet people and provide value to the community. To me is the definition of success. I just look at the path that I've taken and how that's transitioned to my professional experience. I consider that to be a win for myself. I like to think of my path as a successful path.
Jason: Yes, I would say that's a very good success. Now talk about a time you failed in the past, what you learned from this and what our listeners can learn from this.
Lee: A time that I failed. I've had some professional experiences where I've I felt that I've I failed. The first time I would say was a couple of years ago. I was working for an angel investment group here in Seattle that ultimately closed. Myself and a good friend and colleague of mine were working for the company at the time. I really felt like we kind of poured our blood, sweat and tears into trying to build the company up. Ultimately it closed down and I considered that to be a failure at the time. But, you know looking back at that process and that experience to me. It wasn't really a failure. You know tomorrow is always going to come. I think you really just have to take failures and losses like that with a grain of salt. Understand tomorrow is another day and you put that noise and things like that behind you. You find a find another opportunity in the marketplace and attack it.
Jason: I read somewhere that nothing is a failure long as long as you learn from it.
Lee: I would definitely subscribe to that nothing is a failure as long as you long as you learn from it. I think it just it takes the right mindset and you have to really shift your your mindset. It's not a failure, it's a learning experience. Take what you learned from that experience and apply it to your next venture. I think that's an important mindset to have especially in this startup and entrepreneurship space. Where failures are regular occurrence.
Jason: Now you already talked about this a little bit previously. But expand on how you add value and how to solve problems.
Lee: You know on adding value there is a lot of perspectives out there. My own personal and professional take on value is meaningful connections. Really helping people and giving your time whether it's 30 minutes or an hour. Sitting down with an individual or individuals and really taking in what they're asking you and what they're looking for and having empathy in a sense to understand. Know the problem they're trying to solve. What they're going through. Then trying to find a way to help them. That to me that is the definition of value. There are some people who have a more difficult time making connections and meeting people for whatever reason. Maybe they're more reserved. I think it's important to have good professional relationships. I'm willing to try and connect people to you know as many people within my network as I can. If there's potential synergy for them to collaborate or work together or derive value from that future relationship. To me is kind of the definition of a value and how I go about providing value to people that I come across on a daily basis.
Jason: Lee next talk about somebody who has helped you in the past
and how they helped you.
Lee: You know I think just a great example. I think about I think about Dave Parker
https://www.linkedin.com/in/daveparker actually a friend and a colleague. Dave is one of those guys that will sit down with you every single time you ask him as long as the ask is clear. What do you specifically need from me and I think he does that for one specific reason. That is you know he wants to be respectful of your time and he also wants to be respectful of his time. Because time is our most valuable resource and he's been super helpful in that you know every time I'm asked to sit down with him. Which has just been a couple times, he's said absolutely. I'm totally willing to meet with you and sit down. For me just having somebody to listen to you, I think is the most important thing that somebody can do for you. So, I definitely appreciate his willingness to sit down and take time to listen and offer feedback and advice and things like that. That is very important it's something that everybody needs. Someone that they can go to and talk to just bounce ideas off of
Jason: Next tell us something about you that most people don't know. I mean of course your close family and close friends know this. But others do not know this.
Lee: Well I'm a huge dog lover. I have no problem walking up to somebody's saying hey can I pet your dog. Some people might think that's crazy, some people might, not but I'm a huge dog lover. I love animals in general, but dogs are my particular favorite. Then probably a lot of people don't know that I'm a bit of a bit of an outdoorsman. I really enjoy getting outdoors. I really enjoy fishing. I love steelhead fishing. I love salmon fishing. I try to do it as frequently as I can, especially this time of year. When the steelhead and salmon and things like that are running. I would say those are a couple of things that people don't really know about me too much.
Jason: We are coming to the end of our talk. Can you provide some social media platforms so people who reach out to you.
Lee: Actually, LinkedIn : https://www.linkedin.com/in/leereevesseattle/ is probably a good way to reach out to me. My username on LinkedIn is Lee Reeves. You can search me on LinkedIn and I will usually pop up. I'm relatively active on twitter. My twitter handle is lee comma Reeves: @leecommareeves I'm also on Twitter as Cascadia venture catalyst group so you can find me on both of those twitter handles.
Jason: For listeners, all these links will be provided for you in the show notes. Lee before we go any last words of wisdom or advice for listeners.
Lee: Be willing to connect with people. Be willing to pay it forward so to speak. Have empathy for others and just enjoy yourselves and get after it. Work hard, there's no substitute for hard work. Continue to grind and go about your daily tasks and things like that with energy and know that tomorrow is always going to come.
Jason: Lee, thank you very much for your time and your advice we really appreciate it.
Lee: Absolutely Jason. I appreciate you having me on. Thanks a lot and thanks to your listeners.
Jason: For our listeners, thank you for listening to us today. We really appreciate it and remember to be great every day!
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