RAIN Incubator in Tacoma named finalist in DHS S&T in $300K Biothreat Prize Competition

Credit: DHS S&T Press Office

ive finalists were announced today for Stage 1 of the $300,000 Hidden Signals Challenge. Issued by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T), in collaboration with the Office of Health Affairs National Biosurveillance Integration Center (NBIC), the challenge calls for the design of an early warning system that uses existing data to uncover emerging biothreats. The announcement was made at the American Society for Microbiology’s 2018 ASM Biothreats meeting.

“We were impressed with the diversity of concepts submitted to the Challenge,” said William N. Bryan, DHS Senior Official Performing the Duties of Under Secretary for Science and Technology. “The five finalists explore new ways we can uncover emerging biothreats and we are confident they’ll inform a system that could enable city-level operators to make critical decisions.”

The five finalists are:

  • Readiness Acceleration & Innovation Network (RAIN), Tacoma, WA forCommuter Pattern Analysis for Early Biothreat Detection, a system that cross-references de-identified traffic information with existing municipal health data and internet keyword searches. The tool will be developed to recognize commuter absenteeism to flag a possible disease outbreak.
  • Vituity, Emeryville, CA for Monitoring emergency department wait times to detect emergent influenza pandemics, a model that alerts authorities of spikes in emergency room wait times that can be attributed to emergent flu pandemics. The solution sources real-time data from a network of 142 hospitals in 19 states and is updated hourly, allowing agencies to quickly intervene.
  • William Pilkington & team, Cabarrus County, North Carolina, for One Health Alert System, a symptoms database that analyzes the Daily Disease Report’s top ten symptoms as seen by 43 health care providers in North Carolina. The model flags disease outbreak using textual predictive analytics and accounts for seasonal rates of change.
  • Computational Epidemiology Lab at Boston Children's Hospital, Boston, MAfor Pandemic Pulse, a tool that integrates six data streams to detect bio-threat signals. First, it alerts agencies using Twitter, Google Search, transportation, news, and HealthMap data of an anomaly in the data stream, then it tracks potential biothreats using live transportation data on Flu Near You.
  • Daniel B. Neill and Mallory Nobles, Pittsburgh, PA,for Pre-syndromic Surveillance,  a machine learning system that overlays real-time emergency room chief complaint data with social media and news data using the semantic scan, a novel approach to text analysis. The model detects emerging clusters of rare disease cases that do not correspond to known syndrome types.


Big commitment from BitCoinLatina boosts TopiaCoin ICO

Credit: Business Examiner

Topia Technology’s TopiaCoin cryptocurrency received a boost today when the Tacoma cybersecurity firm announced that BitCoinLatina Foundation has committed one million of its own tokens toward TopiaCoin’s initial coin offering.

In a nutshell, BitCoinLatina — already one of Topia Technology’s clients — is purchasing TopiaCoins with one million tokens of its cryptocurrency, BitcoinLatina. TopiaCoins are currently in private pre-sale, with the public ICO scheduled for March 5.

Topia launched TopiaCoin to raise money to fund its development of new cybersecurity technology that combines its own software with blockchain. Blockchain is a technology already used by several in the cryptocurrency world to provide transparency within transactions.

“We are committed to working with the blockchain community to advance data security,” said Janine Terrano, CEO, Topia Technology. “We are excited to partner with an existing customer, BitcoinLatina Foundation, to bring data security to decentralized systems. This partnership represents a giant step forward in enabling consumers and enterprises to use the resources on the internet without going through a central authority.”


Tacoma startup Kade & Vos, Founder, featured in NY Times

Credit: Ellen Rosen, NY Times

Nadia Boujarwah knows personally that shopping for plus-size clothes can be difficult. But it was only while she was a student at Harvard Business School that she realized something else: The lack of options presented a commercial opportunity.

A year after graduating, Ms. Boujarwah and a business school classmate, Lydia Gilbert, began testing the market by acting as personal shoppers. And they saw their opening: offering women sizes 14 and up five articles of clothing chosen by a stylist who takes into account individual preferences. In 2015, they started an online retail site, Dia & Co.

“I hadn’t intended for retailing to be a career choice,” Ms. Boujarwah said. “But when I was in business school, I realized that my formative experiences were shared with millions of women. It was a call to arms for me. This was a problem for many women that I could play a role in.”

The scarcity of larger sizes stems from a deeply rooted stigma in the fashion industry — many designers either ignore or reject requests to offer their styles above a certain size. There are also manufacturing complications: Progressing from size 2 to 12 can be a simple matter of scale, but larger sizes often require a separate pattern to account for different proportions and entail more fabric, raising the production cost.

“I sat in on hundreds of meeting with designers, and this customer was never part of the conversation,” said Mariah Chase, an industry veteran and the chief executive of Eloquii, an e-commerce site devoted to plus sizes. “Once I understood the sheer size of the population and the dearth of merchandise, it blew my mind.”


Home buyers in Tacoma could benefit from Seattle tech startup, Loftium

Credit: Clare McGrane, Geekwire

Loftium made a splash last year when it launched a novel homebuying service in Seattle. The startup provides customers with cash for their down payment if they agree to then rent out a room on Airbnb and split the profits with the company. Today, Loftium is expanding beyond Seattle proper to the greater metro region.

Homebuyers in Tacoma, Bellevue, and Everett are now eligible for the service, though there is already a waitlist in the greater Seattle metro.

Loftium bills itself as a way to make buying homes more affordable, particularly in expensive markets like Seattle. Home buyers agree to rent out part of their home on Airbnb for 12 to 36 months. Loftium splits the profits from the Airbnb with the customer on a sliding scale, depending on their contract.

“The goal is to ensure that cities don’t become places where only the very, very wealthy can afford to own, that there’s still this ability for middle-class people to be able to own a home,” Loftium Co-Founder Yifan Zhang told GeekWire in a previous interview.

Zhang told GeekWire in an email that expanding outside Seattle will “show that Loftium works just as well outside tourism-heavy, expensive urban areas,” and inform the startup as it expands to more cities later this year.


Margaret Groves: How I Ended Up Co-Hosting a Women In Tech Event (Or, My Dreams Came True!)

Credit: Margaret Groves, Engineered Process Improvement

I had no idea what he would say, but I had to ask. 

"Would you like a co-host?" I said. "I'm available."

Plain and simple. Words of one syllable. Put it right out there. And then, I gave him options. "But if you'd like to use someone else, Ms. X of LocalTechCo and Ms. Y of LocalTechOrg might be good options. I don't know them personally, but I'm sure they'd be delighted." (This was possibly a big presumption, but heck, *I* would have been delighted, so I assumed they would be, too.} And then, the selling point: "I think it would be good PR to have a woman in tech as a co-host for this Women In Tech event."

I read over the email: Pitch, options, selling points. Not too long. High value (I used specific examples), low word count. No weasel words, or overuse of the word "just", as in, "I just think..." (When I see or hear that, I always want to respond, "Yes, that's all you're doing. You're JUST thinking. When you're ready to contribute something of value, please let me know.") But I digress.

I hit send. 

I had to wait, maybe, a few hours. Not long at all. "I would LOVE a co-host," he wrote back. And then he refunded my ticket with the caption, "Hosts don't pay. :)" It was that easy. 

I've said this before and I'll say it again: as women, we are NOT TRAINED in the art of the ask. Why? Well...when was the last time YOU asked someone out? Think about those ramifications for a second.

That's right. In the society in which we live, men gather ten to twenty years of experience, in their EARLY and FORMATIVE years, of asking people out. Women don't. TEN to TWENTY YEARS of EXTREMELY EARLY EXPERIENCE ASKING PEOPLE OUT. And, just to compare, women...don't have this. It's not a subjective discussion question. It's a fact. 

So the next time some well-meaning "meritocracy" apologist says to you, "Well, men get paid more because women don't ASK for raises!", I suggest this plan of action: resist strangling that person, nod, (because it's true) and then make a note to yourself to go out and practice asking for things three times that week. At the second-hand store, ask if they'll take less for this bag.  At work, ask for informational interviews with high-ranking women or men you admire. In line at Safeway, ask the person in front of you with 40 items if they wouldn't mind letting you go ahead with your half gallon of milk. The key to this practice is to ask LEVEL or UP. Don't practice asking by "asking" the waiter for extra sauce or the barista for an extra shot. They're getting paid to be nice to you and that is not fair. Ask for favors from those on YOUR LEVEL or UP. 

Or, you know, if you'd prefer, just quickly walking away from the meritocracy apologist and taking a professional development class about emotional intelligence are good options, too. 


UPS grad and Seattle startup veteran, Jesse Proudman, unveils new cryptocurrency company Strix Leviathan

Credit: John Cook, Geekwire

Seattle entrepreneur Jesse Proudman — who recently quit his job at IBM to launch a new cryptocurrency startup — is sharing more details about the new initiative.

The 6-person startup company is called Strix Leviathan, an ode to the mythological creatures of Strix, the owl that in the words of the startup is “always watching and always listening,” and Leviathan, the sea monster with “eight legs, a big brain.”

The company is venturing into a complex, yet hot area of technology of helping organizations better trade cryptocurrencies. It describes its software platform as a way to combine “order execution and data ingestion engine with artificial intelligence, machine learning and proprietary algorithms to create the optimal environment for automated trading.”

“As the past several weeks have proven, the market value of crypto assets can fluctuate wildly,” said Proudman in a statement. “Cryptocurrency markets lack a way to address this volatility in an automated and algorithmic way. Strix Leviathan has solved that problem.”

Cryptocurrency remains a hot — yet relatively misunderstood — area of the startup world. According to PitchBook, 179 venture capital investors in the U.S. participated in at least one crypto startup deal in the past two years.

Proudman is well known in Seattle startup circles. He previously founded Blue Box, the cloud computing company that sold to IBM in 2016. At IBM, he served as a distinguished engineer. He’s also the past winner of the Young Entrepreneur of the Year, and Deal of the Year Award at the GeekWire Awards.


State Farm move: For Tacoma, two steps forward, two and a quarter steps back

Credit: Bill Virgin, Tacoma News Tribune Contributor

To understand Tacoma’s latest economic-development setback, let’s time travel to this space about five years ago, when the city was celebrating – sort of – what appeared at the time to be an economic-development victory.

But for Tacoma, there’s always a feel of two steps forward, one and three-quarters steps back. And maybe it’s two and a quarter steps back, and the retreats often come before the advances. What the town gains feels like a make-up for some earlier loss (or one that’s sure to come, just to be really Eeyore-ish about it). Rarely does it seem as though there’s a succession of successes, one building on another.

The occasion that prompted that musing was the announcement that insurer State Farm would be taking over the former Russell Investments building, which had sat empty for the three years since that company moved its operations to Seattle.

Now State Farm plans to unwind its presence in downtown Tacoma. Of the 1,400 jobs the company has there, 600 will go to DuPont, 400 will go to operations in Illinois and Arizona — and the rest will go away entirely.


New veteran job training program to launch at UWT

Credit: Business Examiner

Pharmaceutical corporation Bayer and national nonprofit VETTED are partnering to debut a new job training program for veterans, with University of Washington-Tacoma among the first schools targeted for a launch.

Dubbed VETTED’s Veteran Accelerated Management Program (VAMP), the program will be sponsored by Bayer and will see its inaugural campaigns at the University of Texas and Texas A&M University starting next month.

Expansion plans for VAMP are already well under way, with University of Washington’s Foster School of Business to begin its first program in June. Three other schools, including UWT, are working on program dates for fall of this year.

The eight-week program, specifically designed for experienced military leaders, aims to provide a rigorous business curriculum to equip veterans with marketable skills for employment in the private sector. Participants will learn graduate-level concepts in business operations, strategy, commercialization, innovation and entrepreneurship. Case studies, presentations, simulations, performance assessments and guest speakers ensure that veterans are well prepared for the challenges awaiting them in the corporate world.

"Hiring veterans is not only good business; it's the right thing to do," said Raymond F. Kerins Jr., senior vice president of corporate affairs for Bayer. "Partnering with VETTED furthers our mission of advocating on behalf of veterans both inside and outside our company."  


Startup253 Company Profile: Scout Military

Startup253 serves the Tacoma and South Sound startup communities through events, resources, data and insights.  Through the Startup253 Company Profile, Startup253 supports entrepreneurs and startups in Tacoma and the South Sound by providing them with a platform to share their story.

Startup253 Company Profile: Scout Military.

Co-Founder and CEO, Rob Coons

Location: Portland, Oregon and Tacoma, Washington


Elevator pitch, GO!  Explain what Scout Military does:

Scout Military makes it easy for military families to find & redeem military discounts.

How (and when) were you inspired to start your company:

I joined Scout as a co-founder in 2015. Prior, I was building growth systems for startups. Scout Military was poised to help millions of people, fix a completely broken system, and give my nerdy side billions of data points to analyze. It was a perfect match from the start.

The path to funding (Bootstrap, Angel or VC):

We had an angel back out of an LOI commitment on signing day, and the team bootstrapped for an entire year on some small advertising revenue. During that time, we accumulated tens of thousands of downloads and kept the product moving. We exhausted every angel and debt-based resource before going on the VC tour in late 2016. With so many downloads and a large market, VCs were interested and we closed a modest seed round about 6 weeks after we started pitching. Today, we’re opening a new note and raising our “Series Seed” throughout 2018.

Tell us about your ‘secret sauce’ without giving away your ‘secret sauce’:

Focus on the product. All the fancy pitches, scaling strategies, and cool startup offices only come when you have a product that people love.

What's the smartest move you've made thus far?

Staying true to our users and using the last of our seed funding for a comprehensive rebuild. Our investors wanted us to use it for marketing to attract people to an app that, we thought, didn’t fulfill our promise to our users. We didn’t make many friends in the boardroom, but we allocated marketing funds to improve the product; and it’s turned out to be a choice that may have saved us in the early stages.

What's the biggest mistake you've made thus far? (Note: There are no mistakes, only learning lessons)

See above - dedicating our early seed stage money to an app that tried to monetize before it had built an audience. Product first!

Windows Phone, Apple, or Android?

All three

How do you strengthen the relationship(s) with your team? 

We play an old game called OpenRA. RA stands for Red Alert, and it’s a classic 90’s strategy game. We’ll stay in the office late sometimes and just play out some nostalgia and listen to good music.

What characteristic(s) do you look for when hiring a new employee:

Simple execution. At an early stage, it’s easy to have too many coaches and not enough field players. If everyone plays their position, it’s much more productive.

What’s the one piece of advice you’d give to other entrepreneurs just starting out?

Two things:

Focus on the product and make sure your customers/users love it. Find a small use case, put it in front of a small group, and ensure they love it.

A small, dedicated, and engaged user base is a quicker way to venture capital than a big idea and a slick presentation, I promise.

Seattle Female Founders Alliance celebrates the Champion Awards on 2/1

Credit: Female Founders Alliance

We are the Female Founders Alliance, a private network of startup founders born here in Seattle and now expanding nationally. Our mission is to accelerate female founders success, correcting the dramatic gender gap in our industry. In 2016, only 2% of all venture capital was invested in women. We can do better.

In a year that has seen huge leaps forward in exposing companies, people and behaviors that affect women negatively, we believe it's more important than ever to recognize the companies, people and behaviors that affect women positively. We want to shine the spotlight on our allies; to celebrate those who have done right by us; to say thanks where thanks are due.

So please join us as we celebrate the champions of the Seattle startup community. It will be a fun and memorable evening, featuring winner announcements from the stage, food and beverages from local women-owned companies, plenty of time for celebrating and networking, and more surprises. It promises to be the biggest gathering of female founders and CEOs Seattle has seen in a long time... if ever.

Because individually we are drops of water, but together we are a thunderstorm.

All proceeds will fund the growth of the Female Founders Alliance. Thank you for being a part of our movement.

Thank you to our sponsors:


Event Sponsors:

  • Pacific Science Center
  • UPS
  • Sweeney Conrad
  • Lifecapsule Productions

Annual Sponsors:

  • Washington Technology Industry Association
  • Uniquely HR
  • Fuel Talent
  • Atlas Workbase

Media Partners:

  • Geekwire

Event Partners:

  • Women in Tech Regatta
  • Black Women in Tech
  • F-Bomb Breakfast Club
  • Women in Product, Seattle Chapter
  • National Association of Women MBA's, Seattle Chapter
  • The Riveter


Tickets Here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/champion-awards-tickets-41064925297?utm_content=65092774&utm_medium=social&utm_source=linkedin