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Bellevue Chamber President & CEO Betty Capestany shares insights from her vantage point as head of Bellevue's premier business organization.


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Bellevue Chamber Helps Launch 17 New Start-up Companies

Posted By Betty Capestany, Tuesday, April 10, 2018


 2018 Young Entrepreneurs Academy Class













Yes, these 17 amazing sparks of inspiration to fill unique niches or grab opportunities have been created by 24 young entrepreneurs! Students in the 6th-12th grades have participated in a 30-week intensive hands-on business course called Young Entrepreneurs Academy. This year’s cohort is our fifth graduating class. In all, over 62 companies have been launched through the Bellevue Chamber.

Students pitched their business ideas to an investor panel of judges last week. The judges awarded $4,500 to the companies to help with their start-up costs. “I thought the presentations were amazing, with well thought out and innovative ideas. I was most impressed with the students’ ability to articulate their vision and execute on a plan,” said Diane Najm, CEO/President, PhotoPad for Business, who participated as a judge.

The investor panel selected Neil Chowdhury, CEO of iConverge to represent Bellevue to advance to the 10th Annual YEA! Saunders Scholars National Semi-Finals College Scholarship competition May 4 in Rochester, New York. Neil is an 8th grader at Odle Middle School and his product is truly meaningful, making life better for those with similar life challenges. iConverge is a cross-platform app that treats patients with double vision cheaply and efficiently and in a way that’s a lot more fun. It wasn’t until last year that Neil realized he had been born with double vision. He didn’t think the paper exercises he was given were very interesting, so he launched his concept for iConverge. Neil has already developed his mobile platform of eye exercises and is working with a local optometrist to use his platform for other patients.

Meet these budding new entrepreneurs and learn more about their enterprises at the YEA! Student Business Trade Show and Graduation on May 9 from 4:00-5:30pm at the Bellevue Chamber offices.

Here’s a peek at this year’s companies:

  • Ohider Pet Care is a website and app that connects pet owners and veterinarians.
  • Zoompark makes parking more affordable and convenient through an app which lets you reserve a spot and pay for it.
  • AutoMathics is an educational website which helps children and adults improve their mental math skills.
  • Trouvi Trackers is a company that creates fashionable and compact trackers with the purpose of making trackers like accessories, optional but very needed.
  • The Paper Bag creates eco-friendly skincare products made to help you live sustainably.
  • Unfold the World is an innovative non-profit that helps underserved students experience the world. It not only funds field trips but helps disadvantaged students join excursions at other schools.
  • G^2 is a sports equipment company that sells specialized golf grips.
  • Here comes the Shocc team. They are trying to make sports equipment more efficient for players.
  • Still Mind is a non-profit that provides mental health technology.
  • Plug Hug is a hardware company offering a device that screws into a wall socket to prevent power cords from falling out.
  • Wardroballot is an application helping people decide on outfits and keep their closets organized that aims to connect people through fashion.
  • Fuerza is a non-profit centered around empowering women and teaching them more about their rights. Fuerza works with colleges and high schools to create chapters that propel the women's rights movement through the sales of their unique charm bracelets.
  • Immigrant Nation is a non-profit corporation building a resources center for new immigrants in the United States.
  • Bellevue RoboClinic is a non-profit organization that teaches robotics to kids in underfunded schools in Washington.
  • Politikids offers a website that inspires activism along with awareness in kids.
  • Boxfull is an on-demand/subscription box for school supplies; sports; self-care.

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Special Orders are Welcome!

Posted By Betty Capestany, Monday, March 5, 2018

It's a good feeling when you sit down at your favorite restaurant and you know you'll get a meal just the way you like it - where special orders are welcome! At the Bellevue Chamber we love to hear how we can create the perfect Chamber package to meet your "just in time" needs.

We know that every business is unique and continually evolving. That's why we have such a large array of opportunities to help you, your company and your team. Whatever your business stage - we have something to offer you.

Are you a turtle - staying the course and plugging along?
A butterfly - just starting to fly with a new product, service or team?
A gazelle - experiencing exponential growth?
or an eagle - soaring and wanting to give back to the community?

Contact us at to discuss how we can tailor your Bellevue Chamber experience!

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A*Mazing Adventures in Bellevue!

Posted By Betty Capestany, Wednesday, January 24, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Remember back to the days of getting lost in a corn maze? You would take unexpected twists and turns to try and figure your way out. Now, fast forward to today. At every corner in Bellevue you will see construction and detour signs directing you to try a different route. I enjoy walking our City and at first was frustrated by my sudden change of course - but after taking a few new turns, I uncovered some amazing businesses offering an array of services. The other thing I discovered was a lot of others walking along the paths and discovering new things about Bellevue.

Daily I chance upon the opportunity to help direct walkers to their destinations. I must have “Chamber of Commerce Wayfinder” written on my forehead. While helping them track down what they are looking for, I have also taken the opportunity to engage in conversations to find out where they are from and how they found Bellevue. Just last week, there was a young couple from Chicago looking for the 550 bus route and they fell in love with Bellevue thinking it was a “mini-Chicago” with interesting design and open spaces. I also met a spouse traveling with her partner from Portland to shop. She had been to REI and HomeGoods and then was looking for Bellevue Square and an Uber since she had purchased more than she had planned. Another gentleman was looking for a bank at a particular address, not realizing he had the right address, he just had to go up 22 floors. All of them were very impressed with our City.

So, my challenge to you, is to encourage your customers, suppliers and employees to look at the positives of a great economic cycle. Have them look for amazing opportunities and connections that may be just around a corner – unexpected detours that lead to new encounters. Let’s embrace our inner child and find a sense of wonderment. Bellevue is a beautiful, well-planned, and clean city that attracts home grown and global companies and their teams.


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Seizing Disruption – Advancing Transportation Opportunities

Posted By Betty Capestany, Wednesday, January 10, 2018
The Bellevue Chamber of Commerce is an innovative business association focused on the future. Our business leaders continue to blaze new trails and create new opportunities. Many of these leaders are leveraging technology to disrupt business models and think of things differently.

With a focus on your top challenge of removing transportation log-jams, the Chamber is working with companies to help accelerate and integrate technologies to help reduce peak period demands. We are working to ensure your employees have better first and last mile commute options and your customers and suppliers can get more efficiently to your door.

The ACES sector (Autonomous, Connected, Electric, & Shared) is anticipated to be a multi-billion-dollar industry in the next couple of years. Innovation is happening in traditional companies like auto-makers and truck manufacturers like PACCAR, in addition to new technology companies that provide elements to make these connected experiences operate seamlessly.

Why are we passionate about this opportunity? The Bellevue Chamber has always looked to the horizon to help bring new economic opportunities to our community. We have a long history of smart business leaders working to bring needed infrastructure and growing companies to Bellevue and the Eastside.

As an early adopter in this disruptive transportation space, Bellevue can attract innovative companies in the ACES sector to be part of our local economy. This will bring in new jobs and ensure we continue to be a technology market leader. As an added benefit, we’ll bring new, flexible, on-demand opportunities that help you and your co-workers get to work and home faster.

Some of these efforts require legislative fixes, so join us for Chamber Day in Olympia on January 24th to help us chart the course for the future. We are urging the adoption of legislation that will eliminate statutory barriers to shared employer shuttles; that allow private shuttle providers to access park ‘n ride lots; and to incentivize TNC’s and flexible van pools under the Commute Trip Reduction Act. Interested to learn how you can engage in this initiative? Contact me - I look forward to hearing from you!

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A Shout Out of Gratitude!

Posted By Betty Capestany, Friday, December 15, 2017

As we enter the magic of the holiday season we would like to give a shout out of gratitude to all of our awesome sponsors, members and most importantly the people that make the Bellevue Chamber rock with entrepreneurial spirit. As you engage in the Chamber to accelerate your business you are helping advance our mission to help businesses prosper and our community thrive.

As I think back through this last year I am so thankful for the amazing companies we have in our community - from start-ups to companies with over 50 years of history. What really drives our success are the dedicated business leaders that serve on our Board of Directors and run your companies. As Bellevue continues to grow jobs, investments and residents we look forward to furthering our existing relationships and the new partnerships we will form in the year ahead.

May your holidays be bright and 2018 the most prosperous year ever. As part of your New Years resolutions, why not add maximizing your business connections through the Bellevue Chamber? You'll be glad you did!


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Disruptive Transportation Technology

Posted By Betty Capestany, Saturday, October 21, 2017
Updated: Thursday, October 19, 2017

In our fast-moving world, disruption is an instantly unsettling word. It produces a state of uncertainty, making us unsure of where we fit. Tony Seba, cofounder of RethinkX, a center focused on disruptive technologies, captivated the audience at the Chamber's Eastside Annual Dinner. He showed us change is fast moving in the transportation space and highlighted the opportunities Bellevue and our region have to capitalize on new technologies that help reduce congestion.

Click here to view Tony Seba's slide presentation.

We are talking about the ACES economy that is fast approaching and just around the corner. ACES stands for autonomous, connected, electric and shared vehicles and is projected to be the next major revolution that will take hold between 2 and 10 years from now.

For those pondering the speed of change and if it can really happen that fast, Tony showcased how at the turn of the century (1900’s) in New York City, it was only 13 years between the time a car was introduced amidst horse and buggies to 99% car usage.

Other quick facts:

  • Today 20% of all vehicle miles travel in San Francisco’s trips are Uber and Lyft.
  • New York City has 500,000 ride-hailing rides/day

Tony highlighted how disruption happens: a disruption is when new products and services create a new market and significantly weaken, transform or destroy existing product categories, markets or industries. The new technology cuts costs and intersects with business model innovation and product innovation.  He also highlighted that business model innovation is as important and as disruptive as technology innovation and cited AirBnB - the world’s largest hotel that doesn’t own any inventory.

When the iPhone was launched in 2007  there was a convergence of the touchscreen, Li-ion batteries, computing and sensors that made the smartphone possible. This has totally transformed what was a traditional phone into a min-computer in your pocket - and even a transportation device with the mapping and able to hail rides upon demand.
The key to the transportation disruption that is quickly approaching is the convergence of the technologies listed below – couple that with Moore’s Law (the doubling growth every two years).

For transportation - the key technologies that are converging are:

  • Internet of things (IoT)/sensors
  • AI/Machine Learning
  • Robotics
  • Solar PV
  • Batteries
  • 3D Printing
  • 3D Visualization
  • Mobile Internet & Cloud
  • Big Data/Open Data
  • Unmanned Aerial Vehicles/Nano Satellites
  • Blockchain

Disruption also happens when the economies of scale align and the costs drop at least 10 percent.  For transportation technology, a critical component is the changeover to electric vehicles. There are huge impacts and ramifications from car ownership that overlays the sharing economy. 

Electric vehicles will be the vehicle of choice since they are 5X more energy efficient and 10 times cheaper to charge/fuel and maintain. Other states, cities and countries are leading the way on this movement. As of last spring there were over 40 corporations working on autonomous vehicles. The Bellevue Chamber is actively working in this space to help the employees and customers of our region’s businesses that don’t have easy access to our city due to transportation gridlock. Our goal is to help the 405 crescent neighborhoods have flexible options to get them into the established infrastructure.  If you are interested in knowing more and how you can plug into the ACESNW movement contact


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Betty's Bench: David Masin's Story

Posted By Betty Capestany, Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Welcome to the inaugural edition of Betty's Bench, Bellevue Chamber President & CEO Betty Capestany's roving video series. In this episode, Betty visits with Bellevue Chamber immediate Past Chair David Masin. Hear his story about being part of a four generation family-owned business.

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The Future is Bright and Lightning Fast - Let’s Be a Part of It!

Posted By Betty Capestany, Tuesday, August 22, 2017

You’ve been hearing the buzz of “Smart Cities” and 5G and probably thinking what does it mean to my company or my family? 5G is the name given to the next generation of mobile data connectivity that comes after 4G. It is anticipated that pilot cities will potentially begin deployment of the technology in the next 2-5 years. After reviewing the info below – I think you will see there are tremendous benefits to adding your voice as the Chamber advocates for Bellevue to be the place of choice for early adoption.

While 5G has unbelievably fast mobile/broadband speeds, its selling point is the reduced latency (lag times) so everything is in real time. Like within 1 millisecond (which is wickedly fast - a thousandth of a second). The aim of 5G is to be software versus hardware focused. The goal is to be invisible similar to electricity. In urban areas, 5G technology will be in the form of small cells that are in traffic lights, lamp posts, rooftops and even inside bricks in new buildings. This allows for key uses to reach their full potential like IoT (Internet of Things) and Augmented, Virtual , and Mixed Reality (AR, VR, MR) and even more importantly driverless vehicles.

Let’s fast forward to 2020. Internet of Things (IoT) devices are expected to number 24 billion, and IoT is predicted to be a $3.2 billion industry cluster. This is where gadgets and objects employ smart, connected features. This can range from existing technology like smartphones, tablets and smart watches, to refrigerators, cars, augmented reality specs and even smart clothes. Analysts are predicting that every person will own and use 27 internet connected devices.

A/R, V/R, and M/R are predicted to be a $150 billion industry cluster in five years, crossing all industries and lead to future prototyping, new features, driving sales, and enhancing retail store experiences. Opportunities are endless in education, healthcare, training, simulation and entertainment.

The connection to smart city infrastructure includes smart roads, smart parking, and driverless vehicles, and smart metering just to name a few. 5G economic impact to Bellevue alone is anticipated to be over $400 million and is expected to create 1,200 new jobs.

The Bellevue Chamber has recently launched the Bellevue/Eastside Chapter of ACESNW (Autonomous, Connected, Electric and Shared) vehicles. In partnership with other key stakeholders, efforts are underway through public and private partnerships to secure ways to increase mobility and connections in lower density areas (where your employees live) and get them faster and more efficiently into the denser infrastructure network. If you are interested in learning send me a note.

5G has benefits to transform the future - let’s seize the opportunity!

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Posted By Betty Capestany, Monday, June 19, 2017

Some of these indicators we take great pride in achieving since they showcase the prosperity in our region. Others may be spin-offs from the opportunities a vibrant economy brings.

Let’s take a peek at a few of the stats:

#1 - Washington State is the fastest - yes, the fastest - growing economy in the United States! This was cited in a recent 24/7 Wall St. list

  • 2016 GDP growth: 3.7%
  • 2016 GDP: $414.2 billion (14th largest)
  • Largest industry contribution: Information
  • 1-yr. population change: 1.8% (5th largest growth)

Like the U.S. as a whole, Washington’s pace of economic growth has steadily increased over the past several years, from 2.4% in 2013 to 2.9% in 2015. Washington’s economy grew 3.7% from $399.4 billion in 2015 to $414.2 billion in 2016, the largest increase of any state and more than twice the 1.5% national pace. Between 2015 and 2016, the population increased by 1.8%.

Also like the rest of the country, Washington’s information sector contributed the most to economic growth. The information services sector GDP rose $5 billion in 2016, and today it accounts for 11.4% of the state’s economy as a whole - the largest share nationwide.

According to another 24/7 Wall St. list, Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue is the fastest growing "city" in our state:

  • Population (2016): 3,798,902
  •  Population chg. (2011-2016): +8.6% (WA: +6.8%)
  •  Jobs added (2011-2016): 261,300 (+15.3%)
  •  Unemployment: 3.8% (WA: 4.9%)
  •  Largest driver of growth: Natural change

Zillow’s Chief Economist, Dr. Svenja Gudell, noted at the June Business Lunch program that the Seattle/Bellevue region is the hottest real estate market in the nation. The top designation applies to both ownership and also the rental market.

Crane Index: I recently overheard that Seattle and Bellevue have more cranes (construction) than New York, San Francisco and LA combined. And not only have we built a lot of new projects they are filling up. The 710,000 square feet expansion of Lincoln Square – Two Lincoln Tower is nearly 100% leased. Amazon has leased Center 425, totaling 360,000 square feet and the list goes on.

The vision of the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce is to be the top choice for talent, investment and businesses. Our goal is to create a sustainable environment where our entrepreneurial businesses can thrive. Kudos and applause to all of our business leaders for continuing to pivot, create, and push the envelope the last six years. Your efforts have the Bellevue/Seattle marketplace top in the country. With this in mind – we want to continue our momentum. Please drop us an email on your good news stories so we can feature your efforts!

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The Synergy of Tech Talks, Tech Trends, & Non-Techies

Posted By Betty Capestany, Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Recently, Deloitte did an eight year look back on the top technology trends and the spin-off implications of how these trends are integrated into the workplace. Well guess what - our Eastside Leadership Conference over the last 16 years has showcased all of these top technology trends showing that we’ve hit the mark consistently at this event.


Over 450 business and civic leaders gathered for our most recent Conference last week and the kinetic energy in the room was off the charts. The synergy created when you have established corporate citizens, startups, techies and brick ‘n mortar companies all under one roof (view the photo gallery to see who was there) to hear emerging trends and opportunities was exhilarating.

The Conference is a unique opportunity that takes tech talks and innovations to business leaders in a manner that is readily understood. The techie event for traditional companies – it is the melding of science, technology and the extremely bright people transforming how business gets done. Companies get an inside look at some of the disruptive technologies that are global game changers, carving out niches that are multi-billion dollar industry clusters.


Over the next few weeks we will highlight the trends, companies, and topics we explored this year including 5G; drones and autonomous vehicles; Big Data for business results; Artificial Intelligence; Mixed Realty; attention is the new currency; medical advances; and national data comparing our region to other tech sectors in the country. We also highlighted startup businesses that are developing cool business concepts. Congrats to FanWide for winning the Best in Pitch & Show!


I’d also like to give a special shout out to our Sponsors that made this event so successful! They are transforming how business gets done. What is really unique is all of these companies – even though many of been in business for decades – understand what entrepreneurial energy contributes to the vibrancy of a community!

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