What is Fledge?
Fledge is the “conscious company” accelerator, here to help those entrepreneurs who are bringing products and services to the growing number of consumers, who in their consumption are conscious of the environment, their health, of community, sustainability, and even conscious of consumption itself.
What’s your traction been like thus far?
Fledge is in the middle of our third 10-week session. To-date we’ve worked with 19 companies within the Fledge program, plus 100 other entrepreneurs via a variety of other programs we’ve operated.
Our measure of success is the number of our graduates who continue to operate their businesses, and so far, all our fledglings are still doing that.
What do you know now that you wish you would have known when you started Fledge?
Fledge itself is a startup, and we’re thus going through all the normal stages of getting off the ground, including raising funding from investors. I would have been great when we started, and still great today, to have a directory, newsletter, blog or other service to find the “impact” investors who would be interested at a fund like Fledge or companies like the fledglings. It’s a small but growing niche of early-stage investors.
What’s a hypothesis that you’ve had that has failed? And how did you respond?
I had expected to find the impact investing community to be more organized. Twenty years as a software entrepreneur led me to take for granted the well-connected venture capitalists, Angel groups, Silicon Valley Bank and other financial support ecosystem.
In response to this learning, I’ve spent more time networking, trying to tie the Seattle community into the small but growing efforts around the country. I’ve founded Realize Impact, an impact investment fund. I’ve volunteered at Social Venture Partner’s Fast Pitch event, to try and inch the venture philanthropy community over to impact investing. And I’ve published a list of 200 impact investing funds, foundations, and accelerators, to help the next people with my assumption not have to repeat all my efforts.
What’s your favorite startup in Seattle? (Besides your own!)
GeekWire. Without John and Tood and the team over there, most of what happens in Seattle would never get talked about. Every entrepreneurial city needs a GeekWire.
What’s your favorite thing about being a startup in Seattle?
This city draws great people. People who understand a work/life balance. People who get outside. Who are lifelong learners. And who care to leave the world better than they found it.
What’s your favorite thing about being an entrepreneur?
I’ve been an entrepreneur my whole adult life. I’ve founded six startups, and helped hundreds of others. By far, my favorite part is taking an idea (doesn’t matter whether its mine or someone else’s) finding a good path to market based on that idea, and then seeing the first dollar of revenue. The love of this very early stage is why I run a business accelerator.
What does the success look like for Fledge?
The measure of success at Fledge is the number of fledglings who are operating their companies, earning revenues, and satisfying customers. Long-term success is beating the norms of seeing most companies close their doors after three years.
What’s your favorite local sports team?
If your company were an animal, what would it be and why?
Obviously Fledge is a bird, one that flies. Given the speed at which we operate, we are perhaps a sparrow. Or given the focus we instill on our fledglings, perhaps we’re a hawk, osprey, or eagle.
If you were to take Fledge on a date, where would it want to go?
We’d go out into the mountains to explore.