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WTIA Founder Cohort Helps Startups Level Up

Launching a startup can be a lonely venture. Founders are often faced with serious challenges, including fundraising, hiring, creating a board of directors, learning how to market their business to prospective customers, and more. Without access to expertise and support from others who have “been there, done that,” it can be difficult and overwhelming for founders to navigate all the facets getting a fledgling company off the ground.

Fortunately, founders don’t have to go it alone. WTIA Founder Cohort provides the know-how and guidance startup founders need to succeed as they steer their companies through their early stages. Specifically, the Founder Cohort program’s purpose is to help 20-25 venture-scale, seed-stage startups grow and scale in just six months. WTIA and its partners — which include venture capital firms, accounting firms, and law firms, among others — provide founders with a ready-made roadmap to navigate significant milestones, including increasing revenue, securing funding and growing their headcount. 

Startups that participate in the Founder Cohort program must:

  • Be headquartered in Washington state
  • Have at least one product in development
  • Generate less than $1 million in annual revenue
  • Pass a rigorous application and selection process

To date, 114 startups have been accepted to the program, representing 160+ founders and co-founders. Led by a committee of seasoned tech founders and entrepreneurs — including Dave Parker, a 5x founder, mentor and author; Susan Preston of SeaChange Fund; and Leslie Feinzaig of Female Founders Alliance — the Founder Cohort program supports startups and guides them through the crucial stages of fundraising, corporate governance and customer development.

The program’s goal is to help invest in Washington’s tech ecosystem and use WTIA’s network of connections, sponsors and partnerships to support the next generation of companies through mentorship, education, coaching, and connections. In addition, the program brings together early-stage entrepreneurs with their peers to build cohorts of connected founders and give them an opportunity to grow and thrive together. 

The results of this community and collaboration have proven to be a win for the founders that participate. Collectively, the cohort companies have raised more than $50 million in funding so far to help them grow and build their businesses beyond the startup phase. 

The Founder Cohort program is completely virtual. It kicks off with a 3-day bootcamp focused on all things fundraising. And every month, founders can attend workshops on stage-appropriate topics, with actionable takeaways they can implement in their company right away. Program participation and the application process are free.

The Founder Cohort program is able to provide these resources and many others to startups thanks to generous support from our sponsors, including Clark Nuber, Now CFO, Denali Consulting, WSGR, Fenwick & West, Seed IP, Pike Place Partners of Morgan Stanley, and Rippling. 

Since its 2018 inception, the program has hosted five cohorts, with a sixth slated to start in August. Stay tuned for an announcement featuring the newest class of participating startups, coming soon.

To learn more about the WTIA Founder Cohort program, or to sponsor a future cohort, contact Nick Ellingson, Startup Ambassador and Director of Products, at


  • Nick Ellingson

    Nick Ellingson started his career in software sales on the Eastside before joining the WTIA team. Now he finds new members for the WTIA community, listening to feedback about events and resources, and finding fun and creative ways to get more people involved with WTIA. In his personal time, he can be found playing video games, playing basketball, reading, writing, or spending time with friends. If the Chicago Bulls are playing, he's watching.

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