People often ask why there aren’t more startups in the PNW given all of the local tech talent. Last week, two Microsoft and Amazon alums announced a new program called Venture Out that is targeting this opportunity. Here’s my Q&A with Sean
, the founders of Venture Out:
What’s Venture Out and who is it for?
Venture Out (VO) is an organization dedicated to supporting founders venturing out of their tech day job and into their startup. The Venture Out Program is a nights and weekends launch pad for founders that are either currently working on their startup on the side of their day job, or who have recently left their tech day job to go full time on their startup.
As founders who left great jobs at big tech companies to start something new, what inspired you to take the leap?
While at Amazon, Sean noticed there were many people who had brilliant startup ideas but they did not want to pursue them full-time for two main reasons: First, they did not want to give up their paycheck or healthcare benefits, but second, and more importantly, they were so busy in their day jobs that they did not have time to identify a community of startup mentors, founders, and investors to support them.
This is when we launched a monthly event called Founder Forums. The key to this was that each member had to be either moonlighting on a startup idea, working on their startup full-time, or be a prior founder. Fast forward 20 months and our group has grown to over 170 people and the number one request from the community has been to make this a full-time offering for those serious about venturing out of their day job.
Is compensation typically the biggest hurdle for someone to start something new, or is it something else?
While we have not collected data from our members, we have had numerous anecdotal conversations. For most individuals leaving their tech job they are leaving hundreds of thousands of dollars on the table, especially for those with RSUs/options that have appreciated in the past few years.
Venture Out’s goal is not to convince people to leave their day job, but rather to support those who already know they are going to leave. Usually compensation is not the biggest factor for them to venture out, but rather the need to identify support early on and derisk their concept enough to feel confident to cut the cord and take the leap of faith.
Venture Out’s member base is comprised of engineers, product managers, data scientists, program managers and others. At Amazon they are between an L5-L7 and at Microsoft they are between a level 61-64. But these are not hard rules, we have members who are senior in their jobs with 10-20 years of experience at the director level or above, and some founders that are recently out of college.
- What are the biggest surprises that people who leave big tech for startups experience?
- Besides for Amazon and Microsoft, where do you see a lot of the top engineers, PMs, designers, and tech talent gathering in Seattle?
- …and a few others. Read it here!
Also, if Venture Out sounds like something that would be a great fit for you or someone you know, applications are now open for a ten week, nights and weekends program beginning January 15th. Get more info here!