More than 750 regional executives and leaders from business, education, research, and government joined Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman at the Technology Alliance’s annual State of Technology luncheon at the Seattle Westin. The event also featured three local companies - Loftium, Blokable, and Quadrant Homes - using technology to change housing and our homes. Both Redfin and Blokable recently won GeekWire Awards, Redfin for IPO Deal of the Year and Blokable for best new hardware.
Kelman was interviewed by Streem Chief Revenue Officer Liz Pearce (formerly CEO of LiquidPlanner), who is also a board member of the Technology Alliance. The conversation covered a wide-range of topics with Pearce and Kelman discussing the challenges of leadership when the country seems divided both ideologically and economically, maintaining an entrepreneurial culture in a larger organization, and the growing role that technology companies play in shaping the region and our society at large.
Chris Keane, Vice President for Research and Physics Professor at Washington State University and a member of the Tech Alliance’s Executive Committee, set the context for the luncheon conversation when he shared the organization’s latest benchmarking report, which measures how the state is doing on metrics indicative of a strong innovation economy. He emphasized three key findings:
22% - Current demand for STEM workers met by in-state STEM degrees awarded over 10 years.
19th - National ranking for our private investment in higher education R&D.
$1.76B - Total VC invested in WA startups, placing the state 6th in the nation
Showcasing the region’s entrepreneurial spirit, three local companies using technology to change different aspects of the housing market each also shared their stories.
Yifan Zhang, CEO & Co-Founder of Loftium, shared that startup’s approach to using Airbnb income to help first-time home buyers afford a down payment. The Seattle region is Loftium’s first market. Loftium provides creative new entry points for first time home buyers traditionally priced out of high-demand housing markets like Seattle.
Aaron Holm, Co-CEO of Blokable, discussed the company’s modular, smart housing units. And though recently recognized for their hardware, Holm highlighted the efficiencies that come from their wired panels and smart home technology. Blokable is an innovative provider of affordable housing that meets both acute and long-term community needs by significantly shortening the planning, permitting and building cycle for a range of housing options.
Ken Krivanec, President of Quadrant Homes in Washington, provided the sizzle the audience was looking for when he highlighted the HomeSmart features that now come standard in most Quadrant Homes. From energy efficiency, to appliances connected to your phones, to security systems - Quadrant’s homes bring together some of the best technology (much from other local companies) that will change what we expect from our houses.
The organization’s CEO, Carol Rava, closed the event noting the power of the cross-sector leaders in the audience and their collective ability to lean into strengthening the region’s technology and innovation ecosystem.
Battelle, manager and operator of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Madrona Venture Group
McKinsey & Company
University of Washington Office of President
Washington State University
Cascadia Capital LLC
Clark Nuber, PS
Davis Wright Tremaine
K & L Gates LLP
Pacific Northwest Research Institute
Peregrine Law Group PLLC
Perkins Coie LLP
Point B Capital
Seattle Angel Fund
Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce
Summit Law Group
University of Washington, School of Medicine
Washington Technology Industry Association