A veteran Seattle tech executive is launching a network to provide help and guidance to young companies growing beyond launch and the early startup stage.
Who: Randy Ottinger, founder and CEO of iInnovate Leadership Network
Through the middle: Programs to get young technology companies going, such as incubators and accelerators, are booming in the area. But Ottinger, a longtime tech executive, noticed a gap. Once startups have begun growing, there isn’t much support for them as they’re scaling up.
Tech focus: Other groups, such as the Young Presidents Organization, gather young executives to network and learn from each other. Those groups span a range of industries, and Ottinger wanted to create one specifically for tech executives. “Tech companies move at a different pace than family organizations,” he said.
Monthly meets:iInnovate Network is about to kick off, and will bring together 12 CEOs once a month to discuss business challenges with each other and mentors. An advisory board can help executives make important business decisions, and founders can share stories of what has and has not worked in the past.
20 years in tech: Ottinger has worked in the technology industry for two decades, everything from launching consulting companies to serving as an executive vice president of software company Captaris, which was acquired by OpenText. He is the author of two books, including “iInnovate — A guide for engaging in the innovation economy.”
First stop, Seattle: Ottinger said Seattle was the right place to launch the network. The tech community is booming but is not as mature here as in some areas, such as Silicon Valley. “Here, there’s more and more growth in the tech sector,” he said. “It’s still forming.”
Board of experience: iInnovate has put together an advisory board made up of entrepreneurs and executives to advise the executives of growing companies. The board includes, among others, Vikram Jandhyala, executive director of CoMotion at University of Washington; Heather Redman of the Seattle Chamber of Commerce; and Karl Triebes, the former CTO of F5 Networks.
About to kick off: The iInnovate team of three people is recruiting now for the first group of 12 entrepreneurs that will make up the first class of iInnovate. The executives will pay $500 a month for the program, and it has no set end date. He hopes to have students from nearby colleges take part, as well, to learn before graduating and possibly starting their own companies. Eventually, Ottinger wants to expand the network to other cities across the country.
— Rachel Lerman