CFE Sets Foot on New Ground in the Emerald City

By Jeremy Fallis, Marketing and Communication Maven

Three time zones and 2,300 miles from CFE headquarters, a group of Michigan alumni, students and entrepreneurs gathered on a Thursday night in August to learn how a one of the nation’s best fed entrepreneurial ecosystem is ready to be unleashed.

This would not be any ordinary entrepreneurial meetup on the West Coast.

The CFE’s inaugural foray into the Pacific Northwest further proved the Center’s reach beyond Michigan’s borders and the Bay Area. And the entrepreneurial spirit brought by those affiliated with the University of Michigan produced ripples across the Emerald City.

“I heard connections being made, issues being debated and actions being taken across so many themes and at so many levels,” said Kristin Smith, chief operating officer of Dolly, Inc., a startup in downtown Seattle that has raised over $8 million in Series A round funding.

Smith’s company hosted the special CFE event at Dolly’s headquarters. Four Wolverines took part in the panel:

o Smith (BSE ’97, MSE ’98 in IOE), COO of Dolly, Inc.

Serena Glover (BS ’83, Computer Science; MBA ’91), an independent angel investor and board advisor to several startups and leading startups in the region including OfferUp.

Jason Stoffer (BA ‘99, Economics), a venture capitalist at Maveron since 2007

David Harris (BS, ’06, Electrical Engineering), a startup advocate for the City of Seattle’s Office of Economic Development

With over 50 members of the University of Michigan community on hand, the Michigan Meetup for Seattle Startups provided programming for an entrepreneurship-starved audience. Those in attendance were insistent on making Seattle a premier destination for attracting entrepreneurial leaders and talent who can leverage anchor innovators in the region.

“The event was very valuable to me as I learned about new startups and ideas being hatched by the broad community of UM alumni in Seattle,” Glover noted. “I was also able to connect several of the new entrepreneurs to specific resources and contacts.”

Harris went on to mention how Seattle reminded him of Detroit’s burgeoning startup ecosystem, and how the University of Michigan’s influence in terms of alumni and student internships in the city makes a difference.

Moreover, the Center for Entrepreneurship’s ability to stoke the conversation in Seattle furthered the intensity for success of those in attendance. Wolverines are leading the entrepreneurship ecosystem in Seattle and the alumni panelists are proud of the University’s support.

Kristin Toth Smith event-attachment“It was awesome to get the UM community together in Seattle,” noted Smith. “It’s a testament to UM and to CFE how many people came out and the astounding quality of the people who were a part of the program. It was humbling how quickly leaders in our community jumped at the chance to be a part of this.”

It was an invaluable night of idea sharing and storytelling brought together by the Center for Entrepreneurship’s M Engage program to unite students, alumni and industry leaders in one room.

With the CFE’s roots are firmly planted by alumni cultivating Seattle’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, future University of Michigan alumni can seize the available opportunities in the Pacific Northwest.