Hey, I'm Dan! I invest in early-stage startups at Madrona and write the DL, a weekly newsletter about tech in the PNW

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Founders’ Co-op Deep Dive

In April’s PNW deal roundup, there were a bunch of new deals announced by local VCs, so I thought this would be a great time to jump back in to analyzing Seattle VCs’ investment strategies. This week we’ll look at Founders’ Co-op.


Founders’ Co-op was founded in 2008 and has invested in 100+ startups. They target $250-750K seed investments in PNW startups, and last year, they closed a $25M fund. One cool piece of their history is they launched the Techstars Seattle program in 2010 and continue to run it today.


Chris DeVore, Founders’ Co-op’s managing partner, has said, “We aren’t thematic investors but are focused on technical founding teams solving hard problems into which they have unique insights,” but here’s a look at where themes have emerged from their investments over the last three years.


🖥️ Vertical SaaS

Makes sense that if you’re looking for “teams solving problems into which they have unique insights” that the largest category of investments for Founders’ Co-op is software platforms built for specific verticals.

  • Bateau - Compliance software for long-term care providers
  • Boundless - Tech platform to automate the family immigration process
  • Downstream - Software to optimize Amazon Advertising performance
  • Ganaz - Workforce management platform for agriculture
  • LogixBoard - Customer engagement platform for freight forwarders


📊 Data and ML Platforms

If you’re looking for “technical founding teams solving hard problems” in the PNW, you’ll come across a lot of people building ML and AI products with ties to organizations like UW, AI2, Microsoft, and Amazon.

  • Advanced Voice Research Labs - NLP platform based on proprietary decision tree traversal tech
  • Comet.ml - ML platform allowing teams to track, compare, and optimize experiments and models
  • Kaskada - ML studio for feature engineering using event-based data
  • MDMetrix - Healthcare analytics platform to analyze patient outcomes


🛒 Marketplaces

Many of our region’s most successful startups are marketplaces, so it’s great to see Founders’ Co-op investing in the next generation of these companies. This is another category where unique insights about a market can lead to better tech-enabled solutions.

  • LevelTen Energy - Energy marketplace for PPA buyers and sellers
  • Loftium - Real estate agency offering rent assistance if the client agrees to host Airbnb guests
  • Mystery - Personalized night out at local restaurants and experiences
  • Source – Discovery platform for the commercial design community


💡 Others

There are definitely a couple of other themes here, but overall seems like the key thread through this entire list is great teams – many repeat founders and experienced leaders going after rapidly growing markets.

  • Ally - Scalable OKR software for startups, teams, and enterprises
  • Brave Care - Operator of clinics focused on urgent care for children
  • Routable - Online platform to simplify B2B payments
  • Trusted Key - Blockchain-based identity platform
  • Stackery - Secure delivery of serverless applications
  • The Riveter - Community to serve women in their work
  • Strix Leviathan - Investment management platform for digital assets


Hope you enjoyed this review of Founders’ Co-op’s investments! I’m slowly working my way through the list of PNW venture firms, so stay tuned!


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