The 10-member board will weigh in on various ideas for companies Madrona Venture Labs considers and develop relationships with spinout companies that are formed.

Share story

Madrona Venture Labs, the division of Madrona Venture Group that creates and spins out startups, has put together an advisory board of 10 well-known entrepreneurs to mentor its startups.

Madrona Labs, like Pioneer Square Labs and Ivy Softworks in Seattle, is a fairly new model of encouraging startups. It doesn’t accelerate companies’ growth as Techstars does or provide a resource-rich environment, like Surf Incubator. Rather, it employs a set team that comes up with ideas for companies and quickly tests them.

If the idea proves to have potential, Madrona Labs then brings in an outside CEO to lead the company going forward. Madrona Labs aims to spin out two to three startups every year.

Its best known spinout so far is Spare5, an app and website that pays users to complete short tasks for businesses.

Members of the newly formed advisory board are Spencer Rascoff, Zillow Group CEO; Darrell Cavens, Zulily CEO; Jane Park, Julep CEO; Raj Singh, Accolade CEO; Dawn Lepore, former CEO of; Oren Etzioni, Allen Institute for A.I. CEO, T.A. McCann, Rival IQ founder; Jonathan Sposato, PicMonkey CEO; Andy Liu, BuddyTV CEO and Mark Mader, SmartSheet CEO.

Advisers will weigh in on various ideas for companies, and then form more permanent relationships with spinouts that they are interested in.

“Advisors will work with companies when they see a natural fit,” Madrona Labs CEO Mike Fridgen said. “They will be engaging in a deep way in the startup community.

Park, who started her cosmetics company in 2007, met Cavens, one of her closest mentors, at a nearly empty event the two were speaking at years ago. They spent most of the time chatting with each other, and he became her mentor.

“Being a founder can be pretty lonely,” Park said. “The weight of responsibility is all on you. …It can help to share stories.”

McCann, who founded startup Rival IQ, said founders are most helpful when they are a mix of three things: comforting when you’re in doubt, a problem solver and a decision maker.

The biggest reason to join the advisory board is to help grow and support Seattle’s startup scene, so the city can be known for more than its existing tech giants, Park and McCann said.