Entrepreneurs vital to Federal Way’s economic future

By Graham Evans, CEO of Cascadia MedTech and Cascadia Velocity

Right here in Federal Way, we are preparing the ground for a robust cluster of technology-based companies.

Early stage companies in medical technologies, clean technology, energy efficiency software, robotics and hand-held devices are being supported as they take their first steps toward viable commercial businesses.

What’s our rationale? New businesses will play a core role in our economic growth as we emerge from the great recession — and protect us against the severity of future recessions.

As King County Councilmember Pete von Reichbauer stated at the Federal Way Chamber’s Economic Breakfast: in Bellevue malls, there was little sign of economic turndown during the great recession.

We can do that here too. We will build technology-based businesses with local talent to bring revenue to Federal Way from around the world and sustain our prosperity through economic cycles.

However, we must be clear that our work on building a local start-up community is a multi-year project. Elsewhere, strong start-up communities have been fostered from foundations of great research universities and a culture of entrepreneurialism.

Our foundations and strengths for a strong start-up community lie elsewhere. They include the technology resources of Weyerhaeuser and other established local businesses, educational resources and graduates from both UW Tacoma and Highline Community College, the qualities of our school district and the talents of our many medical centers.

These are reinforced by the sustaining support of the City of Federal Way, the Economic Development Council of Seattle and King County, and by the Federal Way Chamber of Commerce.

Our challenges are to encourage prospective technology entrepreneurs to step forward, and to sustain communitywide support for their efforts. This includes local successful business founders paying forward by giving the benefit of their experience to the next generation of Federal Way entrepreneurs.

What help do these new entrepreneurs need? Realistically, founding a new business is a high-risk endeavor, particularly for novice business founders.

Typically, a novice founder takes five attempts at start-ups before being successful. We can improve that performance by giving support in all aspects of business development – from identifying an efficient low cost supply chain to focusing limited marketing resources to achieve best effect.

Often, novice business founders think that having a smart invention is 99 percent of their journey to founding a viable business — "build it and they will come." The reality is that they need to expose their creativity to the brutality of the marketplace. They need to be smart in listening to feedback and to change course or design where warranted. There's a significant tension between keeping true to their initial vision and adapting to what customers will buy.

Our support in Federal Way is focused through two incubators, Cascadia MedTech ( and Cascadia Velocity ( If you are an early stage technology entrepreneur looking to build your business in this region, please contact us at


Graham Evans is CEO of Cascadia MedTech and CEO of Cascadia Velocity based in Federal Way. Contact: (253) 838-2605 or


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