GoVertical presents

Feb 13 Kickoff Event
Feb 22–24 Weekend Event


Vertical ML/AI Startup Creation Weekend

Hosted by Madrona Venture Labs & TiE Seattle

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!


Thank you to our judges, panelists, mentors & participants – and congratulations to our winners!

Vertical focus •  Fundable ideas  •  VC access

Join us at Madrona Venture Labs on Feb 22-24 for a vertically-focused startup creation weekend. Pitch a startup idea in one of our 6 focus verticals 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.  The winners will also be advanced into the final round of consideration for the Madrona Labs Accelerator.  Accepted Accelerator companies will receive further mentoring, office space at Madrona Venture Labs, and $100K in seed funding for their startup.  

Apply for a chance to be selected into the weekend event. We are looking for a diverse set of participants with business, software development and data science backgrounds.
Choose from 6 focus verticals and pitch your own idea for a Machine Learning startup. Solicit other participants to join your team.
Learn about startup opportunities in the 6 vertical focus areas from industry expert from each vertical
Gain access to Madrona's network of mentors, advisors, and top experts from local technology companies.
Build Machine Learning models with the help of mentors with deep Machine Learning expertise.
The winning team will be advanced to the final round of consideration for the Madrona Labs Accelerator.

Hosts & Sponsors


Event details

The weekend event will kick off with a pre-event where participants will hear from industry professionals and this is also the chance to pitch an idea and join a team. The actual Startup Creation Weekend will be held Feb 22-24 where the newly formed teams will work together to develop detailed business plans, machine learning models and application prototypes for their startup concepts.

Kickoff event

Date  Feb 13, 6p-9p
Location  thinkspace SEATTLE
1700 Westlake Ave N Suite 200, Seattle, WA 98109

The kickoff event is mandatory for workshop participants and is included in the fee for the workshop

Startup creation weekend event

Date  Feb 22, 6p – 10p to Feb 24, 9a – 6p
Location  Create 33 @ Wells Fargo Center:
999 3rd Ave, 33rd Floor, Seattle, WA 98104

Participation is limited to 50 people. 


We’ve assembled a set of Machine Learning resources for our participants to reference in preparation for the event. You'll find everything you'll need here to dive deeper.


As a free benefit for participants, we would like to extend an invitation to the Amazon SageMaker workshop on Feb 14 from 1p-5p.



Kickoff event

Feb 13, 6p-9p @ thinkspace SEATTLE

The kickoff event is mandatory for workshop participants and is included in the fee for the workshop

Panel discussion

• Learn about startup opportunities in the 6 vertical focus areas from industry experts
• Learn from industry experts where both opportunities and pitfalls lie when building startups in these verticals


• Pitch your idea for a Machine Learning startup
• Vote to select the 8 best ideas

Team Up

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

Weekend Day 1 & 2

Friday Feb 22, 6p–10p & Saturday Feb 23, 9a–10p


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


• Select your Data set & build an initial predictive model
• Prototype your Application interface
• Get feedback from potential users


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

Weekend Day 3

Sunday Feb 24, 9a–6p


• 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 winners will also be advanced into the final round of consideration for the Madrona Venture Labs Accelerator. Accepted Accelerator companies will receive further mentoring, office space at Madrona Venture Labs, and $100K in seed funding for their startup.  


Hope Cochran

Managing Director, Madrona Venture Group

Hope became a Managing Director in early 2019, following two years as a Venture Partner. As Managing Director, Hope identifies and leads new investments, provides strategic and operational advice to Madrona portfolio companies, and fosters corporate and strategic business development relationships with larger companies and investors. Hope led Madrona’s early investment in The Riveter while a Venture Partner and also spearheads Madrona’s leadership in the OnBoarding Women program which is focused on a business first education for prospective women corporate board members. Hope serves on the boards of three public companies, Hasbro, Inc, MongoDB and NewRelic.

J. Corey Schmid

General Partner, Seven Peaks Ventures

Innovative and collaborative digital healthcare leader. Trusted executive advisor to regional healthcare systems, industry consortiums, and venture capital partner and mentor backing brilliant entrepreneurs looking to create their next big thing; across the Western region.
Previously, accomplished and results-driven General Business Director with a consistent, demonstrated record of successfully navigating P&L turnaround, diverse product/services portfolio management, marketing expertise, new business integration, team and culture-building change agent, and improving organizational productivity, performance, and outcomes.

Rebecca Lovell

Director at Create33

Mission-driven leader with over 20 years of operating and management experience in public and private sectors, within for-profit and non-profit organizations. Experienced in strategy and program development and implementation, mentorship, and team-building. Accomplished public speaker committed to race and social justice, gender equity, education, and entrepreneurship.

Anoop Gupta

Co-Founder and CEO, SeekOut

Anoop co-founded SeekOut after a 20-year career at Microsoft which started with the acquisition of his first startup, VXtreme, in 1997. During his tenure, Anoop started and was the Corporate Vice-President of the multi-billion dollar Unified Communications group in addition to serving as Technical Assistant to Bill Gates and earning the title of Distinguished Scientist in Microsoft Research. Anoop taught at Stanford University after earning his PhD in Computer Science from Carnegie Mellon University.

Luis Ceze

Venture Patner, Madrona Venture Group; Professor, University of Washington

Luis is a computer architect and venture partner at Madrona Venture Group. He does research in the intersection of computer systems architecture, programming languages, machine learning and biology. Current projects include efficient hardware and software systems for machine learning, video and image analytics/storage, and DNA-based data storage.

Zain A. Gulamali

Venture Investor & Corporate Development, Amazon Alexa Fund

Zain A. Gulamali manages the Amazon Alexa Fund, Amazon’s $200MM venture capital fund investing in artificial intelligence, voice technology, robotics, and IoT across consumer, enterprise, healthcare, and other sectors.  Zain has led the Alexa Fund’s investments in Tact, SevenRooms, Greenlight Financial Technology, June, Owlet Baby Care, Embodied, SevenRooms, Aiva Health, Arrive, Plant Prefab, Mojio, Rachio, Adero, and Roby.  He also helped establish the Alexa Accelerator, powered by Techstars, which has run for the last 2 years.  Zain is also part of the broader Corporate Development team at Amazon.  Prior to Amazon, he worked in mobile gaming (Pocket Gems), private equity (Warburg Pincus and Monitor Clipper Partners), and investment banking (Goldman Sachs), and he has served in various non-profit capacities through the Aga Khan Development Network (global NGO) since 2002.  Zain is a graduate of the Stanford Graduate School of Business and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).


Joseph Sirosh

Corporate Vice President, Cloud AI Platform at Microsoft

Joseph Sirosh is the Corporate Vice President of the Cloud AI Platform at Microsoft. This is Microsoft's platform for enterprise customers to build AI applications, and covers a rich collection of components including Cognitive Services, Bot Framework, Machine Learning, Azure Search etc. My team also engineers the core algorithmic toolkit for Machine Learning that's used both internally at Microsoft as well as in our external products. Prior to this, I was a Corporate Vice President of the Data Platform at Microsoft responsible for Databases, Big Data, ML and Information Management. Before Microsoft, I was the Vice President of the Global Inventory Platform at Amazon in the Consumer Business.

Kris Allan

Founder, Chief Kinektor and Strategist, Kinektiv Solutions

Kris is an energetic, dynamic leader and influencer with 30 years of success across the retail, luxury, commercial real estate, and hospitality industries. Extensive experience in the retail space including GM of the Seattle Flagship store for one of the nation’s most renowned retail companies, Nordstrom; and VP of Leasing and Development for Kemper Development Company, collaborating on the strategic leasing and development of a renowned upscale mixed-use center in the Seattle suburb of Bellevue - The Bellevue Collection, including retail, office, restaurant, hotel and residential.

Joel Gendleman

Founder & CEO, n2uitive Corporation

As CEO and Founder of N2uitive, Joel Gendelman oversees the strategic direction and operations of N2uitive and serves as the company’s product visionary and evangelist. A leading entrepreneur in the Property & Casualty (P&C) insurance claims market, Joel has founded several technology and service companies helping P&C insurers improve claim outcomes, workforce efficiency and customer service. A passionate innovator and entrepreneur, Joel has built a vast network of trusted industry relationships among insurance executives and leading vendors to the claims market. His 20+ years building and operating companies include founding N2uitive Corporation and co-founding Allegis Communications, a leading insurance transcription firm and ClaimsDesk Corporation, an early entrant in the Software as a Service (SaaS) market for claims solutions.

Adam Cisler

Senior Project Engineer and R&D Manager, GLY Construction

Adam is a member of GLY's Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) Group where he manages research and development in advanced technologies with jobsite applicability. He focuses on emerging XR Technologies (augmented, virtual & mixed reality) and the potential impacts and advantages in construction management. Adam is an FAA part 107 certified drone pilot and is currently testing drone based reality capture and integration with ongoing VD Coperations. Other areas of interest and research include AI, machine learning, robotics, exoskeletons, 3D printing, block chain technologies and the future implications for our company specifically and for the industry in general in the near and distant future.

Steve Wimmer

Director, IS and Digital Strategy, Providence St. Joseph Health

Steve advises technology, healthcare and startup companies on tech strategy and healthcare innovation, with over 25 years’ experience developing and shipping digital solutions. He has a deep background in product and software development, and has led consumer product teams for RealNetworks, Microsoft, Vulcan and Medio Systems. He has also run large creative teams in the US, China, Europe and South Africa, with leadership roles at frog design and Sapient/Razorfish focusing on the automotive, consumer, enterprise and retail sectors. He currently drives technology and digital strategy at the US’s third largest health system, and absolutely loves to help companies of all sizes solve tough product problems.

Taylor Odegard

CIO, Founder NavigatorCRE

Taylor is the original visionary behind NavigatorCRE. He started developing innovative technology applications while gaining a Real Estate and Finance degree from USC. Nationally recognized as a pioneer in real estate technology innovation, driving significant transactions and success for his clients. Over the past decade he has refined best practices for data visualization and property research, while running his own web development company and collaborating with commercial real estate firms. His ability to develop proprietary code and digital functionality allowed him to lead a top-tier NavigatorCRE development team to create a revolutionary platform that significantly elevates performance levels of Commercial Real Estate professionals through the digitization of processes related to business development, market research, valuation, site acquisition, property and asset management through final disposition.

Zach Bruhnke


Zach Bruhnke is a Los Angeles based Entrepreneur. He built his first software company while attending college in Louisiana and has parlayed that experience into a career in (mostly) Fintech including most recently as the CTO of Cyndx. Currently he’s the Co-Founder & CEO of Halleman Bradley, a Technology first bank that aligns itself with the customer by allowing anyone to earn status by what they do, not just what they have.




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Liz Pearce


Liz Pearce is a Seattle startup CEO with 11 years of experience at LiquidPlanner, building a SaaS Project Management business from the ground up. Liz began as the company's marketing contractor and worked her way up as a full-time employee, from Director of Marketing, to VP of Sales & Marketing, to COO, and ultimately to CEO in 2012. She serves on the Executive Committee of the Technology Alliance, the board of the UW Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship, and was a founding board member of the Ada Developers Academy. Liz left LiquidPlanner in November 2017 to pursue new interests; prior to LiquidPlanner, she held marketing roles at Amazon, Google, and PlayStation and ran an independent marketing consulting business. She holds a B.A. in Political Communication and a M.A. in Telecommunications from The George Washington University.

Yi Li

Manager Strategic Initiatives, Amazon

Yi is the former CEO of Orbeus, an AI image recognition startup that she and her co-founders sold a few years ago to Amazon, where she now works as a manager for strategic initiatives at Amazon.

Satbir Khanuja

President and CEO, Datasphere

Satbir Khanuja is responsible for leading the overall growth and managing day-to-day operations of DataSphere Technologies. He previously served as SecondSpace's senior vice president of marketing and business development, responsible for the company's partnership, traffic-building and revenue-generating initiatives. He also spent seven years at as a member of the executive team and was vice president of's Worldwide Traffic organization, responsible for driving billions of dollars in sales through free and paid traffic to all websites worldwide. Previously, he was vice president and general manager of's and In-Theater businesses, where he created all business functions and built the division into one of the 50 most-trafficked websites in the world.

Mona Akmal


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.

Raj Thiagarajan

Global Director and Startup Advisor, Microsoft

Raj is a startup adviser at Microsoft. He advises solution ready AI ML IoT data science startups (partners of Microsoft) go-to-market and drive their revenues working with the Microsoft Field and Microsoft Channel partners. Startups in his portfolio market to Financial Services, Healthcare, Retail, Manufacturing, Automotive, Media & Entertainment, and Public Sector (Fed, State and Local Government). Before taking this role, Raj was the COO of Microsoft HealthVault (a healthcare startup from Microsoft). Before joining Microsoft, Raj was a startup guy, and his company was sold to a competitor (Enterprise) as part of their Digital Transformation acquisition. Raj comes from a strong global background, has worked in Asia, Europe and North America, and has proven experience in product management, launching V1 & MVP products to market, go to market, and driving revenues for early stage startup companies. Raj works with global startups, investors, channel partners, and enterprise customers from around the world. Raj is selectively open to Board Membership to growth companies.

Sujatha Sagiraju

Senior Director, AI Platform, Microsoft

Sujatha is a Group Program Manager in the Azure Cloud & AI group. Her expertise is in building large scale distributed systems. Her latest mission is accelerating and democratizing Artificial Intelligence via Automated Machine Learning. She has been at Microsoft since 2001 and worked on several products as a developer and program manager. Other interests – Sujatha is a diversity & inclusion champion at the Azure AI platform org and is passionate about recruiting, mentoring and growing diverse talent.

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.

Itzik Paz

AWS Solutions Architect, Amazon Web Services

Itzik has 20+ years of engineering experience with most of them in various startups as an engineer, architect, CTO, and founding teams. In the last 2 and a half years he’s been mentoring and helping early stage startups to build their cloud solutions on top of the AWS platform.

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.


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

Shauna Causey

Madrona Venture Labs

Kira Franz

Madrona Venture Labs

Minee Verma

TiE Seattle

Jason Flateboe

Madrona Venture Labs

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!"

Love the energy and entrepreneur nurturing environment of Madrona Venture Labs."

"One of the best hackathons I have ever attended."

There was a lot of interesting projects, smart people and good food involved. Would definitely come again!"


What is the purpose of the Startup Ideation Workshop?

The purpose of the Startup Ideation Workshops is to help jump start the formation of new companies based around innovative technologies. In 2017, we held workshops on Machine Learning and Blockchain technologies. Over 14 teams and 75 participants participated in both workshops. These workshops showcased many interesting ML and Blockchain based startup concepts many of which are being actively pursued by the winning teams. In the future, we will explore other interesting technologies such as AR/VR, IoT etc.

Do I need to have Machine Learning experience to participate in this workshop?

You don’t need to have prior Machine Learning Learning experience to participate in this workshop. We have mentors with deep Machine Learning experience who are available to help you. However, to get the most out of the workshop, we would recommend learning the basics of Machine Learning technology. Our Machine Learning resources section will provide you with guidance on how to get up to speed quickly..

How do I apply to the workshop?

Here are the steps to apply to the Workshop:
1. Click on the "Apply Now" button or navigate to the Application page
2. Fill out the application form with background information about yourself and any idea that you would like to pitch. You will have until March 26, 2018 to fill out this information and submit it.
3. On April 2, 2018 you will be informed whether you have been accepted or not.
4. You will then receive an email from us indicating your ticket has been released on Eventbrite. You will have 24 hours to purchase your ticket to the workshop.

How do I improve my chances of being accepted?

We will kickoff the Blockchain workshop with a Panel event on Oct 12th to educate everyone on the fundamentals of Blockchain technology, platforms, use cases and token based business models. This will be followed by the Startup Ideation Weekend workshop on Oct 27-29 where teams will work together to formulate exciting Blockchain startup concepts. Your fee for the Workshop includes the fee for the Panel event.

It is mandatory for the Workshop participants to attend the Panel event as the Ideation and Team formation will start at the Panel event. Participants are encouraged to bring their own ideas and pitch them to other participants. Participants then get to vote on which idea they want to work on. Once the teams are formed, they can start collaborating on their startup concept in advance of the Workshop. We will establish a Slack channel to connect all the team members with each other.

The Startup Ideation Workshop will begin on a Friday evening (Oct 27). Teams should be prepared to begin work on their startup concept in earnest including developing a solid business plan and a dApp prototype. Throughout the weekend, teams will be supported by experienced mentors with deep startup and Blockchain experience. By Sunday afternoon, teams should have finalized their business plan presentation and application prototype to present to a distinguished panel of judges who will select the top 3 winning concepts. Each of the winning teams will receive exciting prizes and the support to continue working on their ideas to turn them into real companies.

How do I prepare for the workshop?

Please refer to the Terms and Conditions outlined on our website.


Terms & conditions

Please visit our Terms & Conditions page if you have any questions concerning legal terms,
refund policy, or other details.