This week Sound Effect dips into the world of startups to understand what’s so exciting, and so maddening, about working in a DIY enterprise.
We begin by meeting Othmane Rahmouni, co-founder and CEO of Yoga Panda. It is, to use a startup cliché, Uber for yoga. Rahmouni explains to Gabriel Spitzer what drives him to take risks as an entrepreneur. They then repair to a hot yoga studio, where Rahmouni makes a heroic show of not laughing while Gabriel attempts the poses.
It’s one of the great perks of working in a tech startup: getting to make up your own job title. Comedian Bridget Quigg, herself a former Former Creative Content Strategist in the tech world, says it's so much fun, why limit it to actual startups? She and Gabriel play a round of “job-title bingo,” constructing some elaborately disruptive titles that would make even the most sincere Senior Strategist for Leadership Innovation go weak in the knees.
It started as a high school assignment for three seniors at Seattle's Northwest School. Greta Zorn, Alex White and Taya Christianson were tasked with developing an activism project that would help change their school community. Their idea: a punky t-shirt displaying a line drawing of a uterus, shrouded in foliage, along with text which reads: “not a political object.” The group hoped to sell 60 shirts, but they wound up selling closer to 1,700. Artist and graduating senior Greta Zorn told us how and she and her friends wound up founding an accidental startup.
It’s no secret that gender equality is an issue for the tech and startup world. According to the tech data firm CrunchBase, only about 15 percent of U.S. startups that received investor funding from 2009 to 2015 had at least one female founder. That disparity has always rankled Seattle-based venture capitalist and Geekwire chairman Jonathan Sposato. While speaking at last year's Seattle Angel Conference for individual investors, Sposato declared he would only invest in companies that had at least one female co-founder. A year later, Sound Effect host Gabriel Spitzer talks to Sposato about what prompted that decision and whether he's stayed true to his words.
Black Dot is a startup hub in Seattle’s Central District, geared toward providing something sorely lacking in the larger tech sector: support for entrepreneurs of color. We spoke with Black Dot co-founder K. Wyking Garrett about why he thinks it’s so important for African-Americans to share in the region’s entrepreneurial boom. He also notes a personal connection: Garrett is the grandson of one of the founders of Liberty Bank, said to be the first black-owned bank in the Northwest and located right in the Central District, less than a block from where Black Dot now stands.
Almost 60 years ago, Bonnie Guitar had one of the first “crossover” hits, climbing both the pop and country charts. She would go on to co-found her own record label, something nearly unheard of for a female artist in the 1950s and '60s. In that role, she produced some of the most important acts out of the Northwest during those decades, including The Ventures and The Fleetwoods. And for all that, her most amazing accomplishment might be the fact that she’s still performing every week – at age 93. Gabriel Spitzer traveled to Soap Lake, Washington to hear her story.
Sound Effect is your weekly tour of ideas, inspired by the place we live. The show is hosted by KPLU's Gabriel Spitzer.