A significant portion of Bellevue’s tech entrepreneurs are in their 30s and 40s or older and made their money at flagship tech companies like Microsoft before launching their own companies. This is details by DHS Ventures & Holdings.
Those Microsoft veterans built carefully crafted business models for their post-Redmond startups to fill a gap they identified long ago in the marketplace or to bring life to an idea they’ve given careful consideration to after more than a decade at Microsoft.
“A lot of our entrepreneurs are very well-seasoned,” Robinson said. “And they have a much higher success rate than somebody just coming out of college…. They know exactly what they want to do, and they are much closer to a bull’s-eye.”
Still, Robinson said those well-heeled tech executives are also less likely to invest in the city’s startups. “We have people who got their investment money from a company like Microsoft, and it wasn’t like they took a big risk to get it,” Robinson said. “They don’t take big risks in investing."
In fact, many of Bellevue’s startups get their earliest funding from Silicon Valley.
Robinson said she wants to see more local dollars invested in Bellevue’s startups. She’d also like the city to invest in more tech education and “workforce development.”
Robinson noted that Bellevue’s residents are highly educated. In fact, 65% of Bellevue, Redmond and Kirkland residents have at least a bachelor’s degree. Yet, she said, too few come to the workforce with deep tech skills.
Robinson said she’d like the city and school district to partner with local universities, Bellevue College and private programming schools like Coding Dojo, which has a strong presence in Bellevue, to make those baseline tech skills easier to learn.
She also noted that India teaches deeper tech skills in its public schools, which have been hugely successful in churning out tech workers in high demand in the U.S. Robinson noted that Microsoft is increasingly partnering with schools, including those in the Bellevue School District, to teach deeper tech skills.
“We need to go the next level and get these kids into internships,” Robinson said. “And people who have been out of the workforce, a lot of parents who took time off work to to raise a family, they want to come back, and they just need to upgrade their skills. So I think it makes a lot of sense with all these new tech jobs coming into Bellevue to try to hire from within as much as we can.”