Personally, I can’t say I’ve ever experienced the “Seattle Freeze” — the social disease that Seattlites are sometimes accused of suffering from in which we’re super nice and friendly in a superficial way but virtually impossible to connect with at any deeper levels. I’ve heard the aphorisms: “Have a nice day… somewhere else.” “Welcome to Seattle!… now leave.” But I can’t say I’ve “suffered” from it. At least I don’t think I have… but maybe I’ve just mistaken it for my own social challenges. That said, I’ve been up here for almost 20 years now and have a robust network of relationships born out of years of startup activity… so I may not be a good measure. In any case, I believe folks when they tell me they see/feel it. Over the past six months or so I have run into no fewer than 10 startup folks who have related stories of having dealt with, or currently dealing with, the “Seattle Freeze” — even a few folks who have been around for a fair while. The Freeze was even called out by the TechFlash startup of the week, Fashion Network Seattle, as “The biggest challenge we face is… Growing a business in a tough economy and overcoming the ‘Seattle freeze.'” You hear that… she considers the Freeze a challenge comparable to the shit economy.
Call me a square but I strongly believe that it takes a village to raise a startup and the “Seattle Freeze” is no way to behave like a village — so knock it off! While I didn’t start Poker 2.0 to thaw the freeze I’m happy it helps play that part, i.e., I see the relationships that have come out of Poker 2.0 and I hear what folks tell me about the quality of the relationships. Of course, not everyone makes a killer connection at every event but most folks that attend a few events end up with at least some high quality connections they wouldn’t have had otherwise.
The Seattle startup scene is trending very well and 2011 stands to be a terrific year on many measures. The signs are all around: TechStars was (an will continue to be) a huge boost, Startup Weekend is blowing the doors off, WTIA is making new strides to reach down to the early stage, early stage funding continues to mature, STS/Hops & Chops/TechCafe/StartupDrinks/Poker 2.0/StartPad/NWEN/CrowdPitch and a bunch other startup orgs continue to grow… even the VCs seem more “present” (although not nearly enough!) These are all good for Seattle startups. The”Seattle Freeze” is not.
Ok, you know the drill. I hereby challenge the Seattle startup community to go the extra mile this year to counteract the Freeze.