This high school group spent the summer analysing GeekWire 200. Here’s what they discovered

Clockwise from top left: Ben Epstein, Kevin Do, Dr. Sandeep Krishnamurthy, Raksha Zunnuru and Sonali Vaid.

Although it might sound strange to think of summer spent researching startups, spreadsheets and manipulating data as “school is out,” four students from high school experienced exactly that during the last few months while analyzing the GeekWire200,, a ranking index of Pacific Northwest startups, which GeekWire has kept since 2012.

Through SparkSIP a Seattle nonprofit that connects high school students to internship opportunities in businesses and educational institutions, the students were placed with UW Bothell School of Business Dean Sandeep Krishnamurthy.

Sonali Vaid was looking for insights that would help her expand her LLC, and achieve her entrepreneurial dreams. Kevin Do is a California resident who was keen to explore the startup environment in another region. Raksha Zunnuru was looking for a team that had different viewpoints on a project related to business. Ben Epstein wanted to use his data science interest to find out what elements contribute to the success of a business.

The group met every week over Zoom to conduct a study on top Pacific Northwest startups using the GeekWire 200 ranking updates, past years’ data and historical lists.

Krishnamurthy chose this project to train his interns.

He said that high school students approach data analysis and research as freshmen. They are capable of providing original insight and taking things in a new direction.

The broader list of over 1,300 tech companies based in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and British Columbia is used to generate the GeekWire 200 rankings. It uses a weighted algorithm which accounts for social media followers, employee numbers (via LinkedIn), and inbound links.

GeekWire 200 is a showcase of the region’s startups and helps to identify companies that are rapidly growing.

These are the key takeaways from Krishnamurthy’s GeekWire 200 group.

Gender diversity is low

According to the study:

  • Seventeen of the 200 top startups, or 3.5 percent, were created entirely by women.
  • These seven startups were all ranked among the top 50. Two were between 50 and 100, while four others were in the lower half.
  • A total of 28 startups, or 14%) were founded by at least one woman. No women have been elected to leadership in 172 (or 86%) of the 200 top-ranked startups.

All of these data shocked students who previously believed that 30% of all startups were created by women.

Zunnuru stated, “As a woman who wants to get into the startup world in the future,”

Vaid said, “It was disappointing to look at this statistic.” I hope that the PNW Innovation ecosystem improves its gender diversity over the next few years.

PitchBook reported recently that only 2% of venture capital dollars were raised by female founders in the first half 2021. For 16%, there were at least two female founders.

The vast majority of founders are educated

According to the study:

  • 388 of 429 founders hold undergraduate degrees, which is approximately 90%.
  • 42% of founders were graduates, with 15% having MBAs.
  • It was not clear if there was a correlation between educational level and rank in the startup ranks.

Do was able to see the truth.

Krishnamurthy stated that “as an educator, it was also impressive with the education level the startup leaders.” The stories about college drops starting their own company is mainly exaggerated and cover up outliers. Many startups are managed by educated people.”

Investment amounts are higher for startups that rank higher

According to the study:

  • The mean funding amount for the 25 top-ranked startups was $272 million.
  • The average funding for startups ranked 26-50 was approximately $95 millions.
  • The mean funding fell further as the ranking of companies in the 25-groups dropped. The mean funding was $24 million for the companies that were ranked between 176 and 200.

This is consistent with the GeekWire 200 ranking of employee counts. Venture capital funding can also help companies grow their workforce.

Students were struck by the “staggeringly high” amounts of funding at the top.

Vaid stated, “These discoveries have helped me recognize that venture financing is very accessible to startups in this area and now I feel more confident in pursuing my goal of entrepreneurship within the PNW.”

Epstein noted also the influence of venture capital, saying that “seeing technology companies rise to prominence and the importance funding particularly shaped me view about the type of organizations that are in the front of the ecosystem.”

Are you a future founder of a startup?

The students that participated in this study had an interest in innovation and business. After digging through the data we asked them each how the experience affected their views of the Pacific Northwest’s innovation system as well as their future goals.

Vaid I was wrong to believe that startups are primarily found in Silicon Valley, while the PNW has large multinational corporations like Amazon and Microsoft. After analyzing GeekWire 200, I discovered that the PNW has a strong startup community that spans a wide range of industries and has produced breakthrough innovations.

What: This research showed me the strength, diversity, and health of the PNW’s entrepreneurial community. “I hope to start a startup and help the local innovation community.”

Zunnuru “This experience exposed me to other rapidly growing industries in the PNW Innovation ecosystem like technology, aerospace, and has substantially changed my goals.”

Epstein This project only increased my interest in getting involved in data science and business because it allowed me to gain new knowledge, see the results of my work, and to make a positive impact on others.

Below, you can see the full report of the group as well as its methodology.

GeekWire 200: An Examination of the…

Publited Fri, 17 Sep 2021 at 14:37.05 +0000

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