Startup Creation Workshop

Sep 16 Kickoff Event
Oct 4 Demo Day

We’re very pleased to announce the winners!

Thank you to our participants, mentors, volunteers and judges!


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

"Go Virtual" with the GoVertical Startup Creation workshop. 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 Madrona'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

Last chance applications accepted now.

This workshop is fully remote and will be conducted virtually over Zoom. The GoVertical workshop will begin with a Kickoff event on Sept 16, 2020. 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 4th 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.

Kickoff event

Date  Sept 16, 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 4, 2p–5 pm

This event will be conducted virtually over Zoom.


Kickoff event

Sept 16, 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

Sept 17 to Oct 3


• 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 4, 2p–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


Leslie Feinzaig

Founder & CEO, Female Founders Alliance

Leslie Feinzaig is Founder & CEO of the Female Founders Alliance, a national network with 20,000 founders, investors, executives, partners and supporters. FFA offers programming, community, incubation, deal flow and investment opportunities, with a mission to accelerate the success of underrepresented startup founders. Leslie’s background is in technology and strategy consulting, with a BSc from the London School of Economics and an MBA from Harvard Business School. Leslie was named one of Forbes Magazine’s 100 Most Powerful Women from Central America & the Caribbean, Seattle Magazine’s Most Influential People, and Puget Sound Business Journal’s 40 Under 40. She was born and raised in San Jose, Costa Rica, and now lives in Seattle with her husband Micah and their daughters, Dora and Ruth.

Maria Karaivanova

Principal, Madrona Venture Group

Maria joined Madrona in 2017. As part of the investment team, Maria is focused on sourcing and evaluating new investment opportunities, working with portfolio companies to explore and evaluate business strategies and developing investment themes for the firm. She is particularly interested in founders doing new things in the enterprise software, cloud security, IOT, and infrastructure arena. She serves on the board of Madrona companies including Pulse Labs and Rigado.

Jaren Schwartz

Senior Director, Create33

Jaren is the Senior Director of Create33, a membership organization for venture-scaling technology startups in Seattle, where she leads the programming and operations. Prior to Create33, Jaren was the Program Director for Techstars Seattle and the Alexa Accelerator, two premier 12-week accelerators based in Seattle supporting startups through mentorship, capital, and a global network. Jaren also worked at a food technology startup, a local nonprofit increasing investments into Africa, and served in the Peace Corps. She has an undergraduate and graduate degree in International Relations. 

Prakash Kondepudi

Serial Entrepreneur

Prakash Kondepudi is a serial entrepreneur and business executive in leading several technology companies. Till recently he was President and CEO of Intelius Inc, a Bellevue based SaaS(software as a service) company. In 2015 he led the sale of Intelius to a private equity firm and continued to lead the company post acquisition. Past couple of years he is involved in advising young companies and selectively investing in startups that build unique technologies. Prior to joining Intelius, Mr. Kondepudi was the founder and CEO of Bellevue based DepotPoint Inc., a company that built a SaaS based technology to streamline mortgage default servicing. Mr. Kondepudi raised $12M in venture money, built a strong team with industry experience and deployed DepotPoint technology to some of the marquee players in the industry.

Terell Sterling

Founding CEO, Go Paladin

Empowering Connector. Innovation Strategist. Venture Capitalist. Believer in the right to access entrepreneurship. Silicon Valley node building and broadening the channels of connection between people and ideas for access and innovation to flow. Come-up game strong: @ColdStone > @Apple > @Tesla > @Oracle > @A16Z > @GoPaladin


Liz Pearce

CEO, Fresh Chalk

Liz Pearce is the co-founder and CEO of Fresh Chalk, site for sharing recommendations for local businesses and professionals with friends. Prior to Fresh Chalk, Liz was CEO of LiquidPlanner, a project management software company, and Chief Revenue Officer at Streem, a Portland-based augmented reality startup. Liz serves on the board of the UW Buerk Center for three years and is an active mentor and speaker in the Seattle entrepreneur community. When not working, she’s hanging with her kids and pup, cooking, or practicing yoga.

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.

Mona Akmal

CEO, Falkon AI

Mona is a lover of cats and dogs, and has played roles as head of product, engineering, data science and design at early stage startups like Amperity and, mid sized companies like Zulily, and large corps like Microsoft. Nothing makes her happier than working with an amazing team and delivering great products to real people.

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.

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.

Elisa La Cava

Senior Associate, Madrona Venture Group

Elisa joined Madrona in 2018. Elisa focuses on sourcing and evaluating new investment opportunities that span the full breadth of Madrona’s investment themes, as well as working with portfolio companies to develop strategies for growth and success. Elisa is particularly interested in intelligent applications, multi-sense interfaces, and fintech.

Maria Hess

Partner & Head of Growth, Madrona Venture Labs

Maria has a passion for and experience in researching the customer; vetting and validating startup ideas; testing user acquisition, engagement and retention tactics; and driving outcomes to achieve growth goals. She has led product management, product marketing, or product-led growth in big tech (Google, Amazon, and Expedia), as well as SaaS startups (Picnik, PicMonkey) and mobile recommendations startup, Likewise. Through a series of strategic roles, Maria led the launch of new products, built a talent acquisition pipeline and process, and drove media engagement, partnerships, and social media programs.

Sanket Akerkar

Technology Executive, Advisor, Board Member, Investor

Sanket Akerkar is an experienced High-Technology sales executive who has significant experience growing businesses and teams across the globe.
For the last 2 1/2 years, Sanket was the Senior Vice President of the Fleet and Insurance Business for Nauto. Sanket was responsible for sales, marketing and services and led Nauto’s expansion across North America, Europe and Japan. During his tenure, the business grew from $0 to >$70MM of TCV booked. Prior to Nauto, Sanket spent 14 years at Microsoft in various senior leadership positions including VP Global Enterprise, Chief Evangelist of the United States and Managing Director of Microsoft India. As VP of Global Enterprise, Sanket led the strategy and implementation of Microsoft’s Top 400 account structure, which led to $500MM in revenue growth within the first year.


Shirish Nadkarni

Serial Tech Entrepreneur

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.

Jay Bartot

CTO, Madrona Venture Labs

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.

GoVertical Team

Maria Hess

Madrona Venture Labs

Minee Verma

TiE Seattle

Jason Flateboe

Madrona Venture Labs

Flora Ku

Madrona Venture Labs

Accepting last chance workshop applications now


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