Last week, the Lighter Capital attended the graduation of nine startups that went through a 4-month program organized by 9Mile Labs, a Seattle-based high-tech accelerator that specializes in fostering rapid growth of B2B software and cloud technology companies. Participating startups get $35,000 pre-seed funding (in exchange for a 8% equity stake), mentoring and introductions from the 9Mile Labs network of entrepreneurs, a workspace, access to special networking and social events, and the opportunity to pitch to angel investors and VCs.

At graduation, startups of cohort IV gave their final presentation to an audience packed with investors, entrepreneurs, and mentors. Here’s what I learned from this event.

 

Seattle has a thriving ecosystem of startups

With Microsoft and Amazon attracting so much talent to the region, Seattle is fertile ground for entrepreneurs and startups, particularly in the B2B and enterprise space. It’s the birth city of many successful B2B companies like Concur and Tableau, and it’s a ripe market for businesses selling their products and services to other businesses. Many of the 9Mile Labs graduates are already demonstrating good traction: users, contracts, and revenue.

 

Hey, who knew B2B was in?

Consumer-focused startups may capture the imagination of the public at large, but there are many viable, fast-growing B2B businesses. The companies in the latest cohort of 9Mile Labs provide innovative solutions for problems other companies face. Many entrepreneurs have worked in a specific industry and experienced a paint point they want to solve. Many of them focus on helping businesses reach their audience. For example, Camp Native helps outdoor lovers search and reserve camp sites, at the same time helping camp sites reach their customers. Faster Bids provides a platform to home improvement professionals to pull and provide quotes on home parts.

 

Perfect your pitch.

All the pitches presented at this graduation had the same format: an opening video, a description of the problem the product is solving, the addressable market size, traction, competition, and the team roster—a very standard investor pitch. I sympathized with the entrepreneurs because pitching may not be the most fun part of the job, but I also sympathize with the investors. When you hear hundreds of pitches a day, how do you keep track and really sort out who you want to invest?

As an entrepreneur, put yourself in the investors’ shoes. You want to show traction and articulate the addressable market, but telling someone “how” you can get there and “why” they should bet on you instead of others in a creative way is how you deliver memorable presentation and interactions with investors. Remember, running a startup is not about winning a pitching contest. It’s about execution, leadership, and commitment.

And just so you know, all that hard work can pay off.

Six months ago, I saw Transpose (then Kustomnote) present at the 9Mile Labs graduation day for the third cohort. Last week, the information management platform announced that it received an investment of $1.5M from early-stage venture fund Founders Co-op. It’s well-deserved and we’re excited for them!

If you’re interested in learning more about 9Mile Labs and their program, here’s the list of the 9 startups and that presented in Cohort IV.

 

At Lighter Capital, we don’t provide pre-seed funding, but if your startup is gaining traction and has monthly revenues of at least $15K, a revenue-based loan may be a good fit for you. See how much you may qualify for.