These high schoolers spent their summer analyzing the GeekWire 200 — here’s what they found

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

A summer of spreadsheets, researching startups, and accessing data may not sound like “out of school,” but it’s been the experience of four high school students in the past few months analyzing GeekWire 200, a company based in the Pacific Northwest. There is a Rank Index of Startups, maintained by Geekwire. 2012.

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Students were paired with the UW Bothel School of Business Dean Sandeep Krishnamurthy Through SparkSIP, a Seattle-area nonprofit whose mission is to connect high school students to internship opportunities with experts from businesses, educational institutions, and industry.

Sonali Vaidya Wanted to gain insight to expand my LLC and meet my entrepreneurial goals. kevin do, a California resident, was interested in exploring the startup ecosystem in a different region. Raksha Zunnuru Wanted to work with a group that brought different approaches to a business related project. And ben epstein Was ready to apply his interest in data science to find out what factors contribute to a successful business.


The group met weekly on Zoom and studied the top startups in the Pacific Northwest using lists and other publicly available data from previous years, along with an April update of the GeekWire 200 rankings.

Why did Krishnamurthy choose this project for his intern?

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“High school students come to data analysis and research with fresh eyes,” he said. “They are able to provide original insights and take things in a different direction.”

Derived from our comprehensive list of more than 1,300 tech startups headquartered in Washington, Oregon and Idaho and British Columbia, the GeekWire 200 ranking is generated using a weighted algorithm that measures social media following, estimated employee count (via LinkedIn) and Responsible for the inbound web. Links.

GeekWire 200 aims to showcase the region’s startup ecosystem and help identify companies that are growing rapidly.

Here are excerpts from Geekwire 200 from Krishnamurthy’s group:

low level of gender diversity

The study found:

  • Of the top 200 startups, only seven (or 3.5%) were founded entirely by women.
  • Of these seven startups, one was ranked in the top 50, two were ranked between 50 and 100 and four were at the bottom of the list.
  • 28 startups (or 14%) had at least one woman on the founding teams. Of the top 200 (or 86%) startups, 172 do not have a female leader.

This data surprised all the students who previously estimated that 30% of the startups on the list were founded by women.

“As a woman aiming to enter the startup environment in the future, I was hoping that I would see a higher representation of female CEOs and founders in the industry,” Zunuru said.

“It was disappointing to see this figure,” Vaid said. “I sincerely hope that the PNW innovation ecosystem will continue to improve its gender diversity in the years to come.”

pitch book It recently reported that all-female founding teams raised less than 2% of all venture capital dollars during the first half of 2021. Companies with at least one female founder accounted for 16%.

The majority of founders are well educated

The study found:

  • Of the 429 founders, 388 have bachelor’s degrees – about 90%.
  • 42% of founders had a bachelor’s degree, of which 15% were founders with MBAs.
  • There was no clear relationship between education level and startup rank.

These findings changed Do’s approach: “I initially assumed that startup founders at the top of the top 200 list were more educated than those at the bottom,” he said.

“As a teacher, I was also impressed by the education level of startup leaders,” Krishnamurthy said. “The narrative about college dropouts starting a company is largely exaggerated and covers up outside fiction. Most startups are led by well-educated people.”

Higher ranked startups have higher investment volume

The study found:

  • Among the top 25 ranked startups in the dataset, the average funding amount was around $272 million.
  • Startups ranked from 26 to 50 had an average funding amount of about $95 million.
  • Average funding continued to decline, moving down the rankings in groups of 25. Mean funding for companies ranked 176 to 200 was approximately $24 million.

The finding matches how the workforce affects the GeekWire 200 rankings, and how companies raising venture capital often increase their workforces.

The “shocking” amount of money at the top of the list left a significant impact on the students.

Vaid said, “These findings have helped me realize that venture funding is highly accessible to startups in this sector and I now feel more confident to pursue my goal of entrepreneurship at PNW. “

Epstein also noted the impact of venture capital, saying, “Given the prominence of technology companies and the importance of funding, in particular shaped my view of what types of organizations are at the forefront of the ecosystem.”

Future startup founders?

Students participating in the study came to the project with an interest in business and innovation. Now, after digging into the data, we asked each of them how this experience shaped their perception of the Pacific Northwest Innovation System and their goals going forward.

In college: “I was under the impression that most of the innovation from startups took place in Silicon Valley, whereas PNW only had large multinationals like Amazon and Microsoft. However, after analyzing the GeekWire 200 list, I learned that we had in PNW. There is a strong startup ecosystem that covers diverse sectors and delivers breakthrough innovations.

Doing: “Participating in this research has shown me that the PNW entrepreneurship ecosystem is very strong, healthy and diverse. In the future, I look forward to establishing a successful startup company of my own and contributing to the innovation ecosystem where I live. I hope

Zunuru: “This experience introduced me to the PNW innovation ecosystem such as technology and other rapidly growing areas in aerospace and has significantly changed my goals.”

Epstein: “This project has only increased my desire to be involved in a field related to data science or business as it has allowed me to gain new knowledge and get a look at my work.

See the group’s full report, methodology and additional information below.

GeekWire 200: A Study of the… By geekwire

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