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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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Top tags: connections  entrepreneurial  technology  business awards  business showcase  congestion  digital economy  education  entrepreneurs  HOT lanes  Interstate 405  marketing  social media  tech revolution  traffic  trends 

2017 Eastside Business Awards - Entrepreneurial Rainbows

Posted By Betty Capestany, Monday, April 3, 2017

A recent rain storm revealed a magnificent rainbow that ended in Bellevue. It made me reflect on the “pot of golden entrepreneurs” that we are blessed to have in our community. It’s time to celebrate the great companies and the talent they have on their teams. With this in mind, 27 years ago, Bellevue Chamber leaders launched the Eastside Business Awards.


Looking at a sampling of logos from past winners shows we
have impressive companies in our region!

This year’s program continued this theme of success! Judges recognized 40 amazing companies on criteria for four awards. Strategy and focus were key drivers of all of the applicants. Finding niches and opportunities to excel, either in new market opportunities or traditional markets; aligning great talent on their leadership teams and core values that resonated throughout the organization made for an impressive slate of candidates. 

You might ask – how did we get so lucky to have so many local companies that have a global footprint? The answer was simple…the CEOs live here. was the winner of the Innovative Service of the Year. They operate in the $65 billion dollar TV advertising arena. When the judges asked “Why Bellevue? We would have thought you’d start your company in New York or LA.” They heard the founder lives here. Their new product offers attention analytics that measure viewer retention and tune-out while ads are playing on the screen.

 2017 Eastside Business Award Winners

Giving back to the community was also a key element among the finalists. Eastside Business of the Year winner Point Inside’s CEO Josh Marti believes in giving back, not only time but also financially to help make a difference in the community. Launched in 2009, Point Inside has grown and moved three times and each time continued to make Bellevue their home. When launched, they were the first company to do indoor mapping and location-based services. Company leaders stay on top of retail trends and pain points and work to provide retailers with a cloud-based solution to engage the consumer with tailored personalized mobile technology to find items in large retail “box” stores.

Understanding the diversity of the community was essential even for Small Business of the Year Award winner WiggleWorks Kids Bellevue. They build community partnerships to help serve youth and families. They have strong company core values: Be Humble, Think Clean, Stay Safe, Have Fun, Take Initiative. In addition they have high staff retention rates and their staff is rich in language fluency that reflects the community they serve: Hindi, Japanese, Mandarin, Russian, Spanish and other less common dialects.

Leveraging emerging markets: the Start Up of the Year Award winner was RBC Signals. They launched due to the rapidly emerging space marketplace. They also saw a niche with the tremendous growth that has taken place in the SaaS (software as a service) marketplace to define and be a leader in a new marketplace IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service). Their company provides real time access to satellites via their global ground station network.
I encourage you to check out all of the Eastside Business Award companies profiled in the 2017 Eastside Entrepreneurial Magazine. Then put on your creative hat to see how you can engage some of these strategies to grow your team, market niches and seize opportunities. Set a goal to be recognized in 2018 at the Bellevue Chamber Eastside Business Awards!


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Overcoming the Confusion: Marketing Your Business Made Easier

Posted By Betty Capestany, Monday, January 30, 2017

The Challenge
: The business landscape of today is exploding with an ever growing and almost overwhelming variety of marketing mechanisms, technologies and customer touch points. Businesses need help finding and engaging prospects and converting them into customers/clients. This is especially overwhelming to small and medium sized companies that don’t always have dedicated staff to focus on which marketing channels and mechanisms are most effective for growing your company. 

The Solution: The Bellevue Chamber has partnered with IntellaSphere to help small and mid-size businesses save time and increase sales and customer retention using a “turn-key” DIY (Do It Yourself) digital marketing platform. You also have the option of having the pros do it for you.

What is it? Integrated Marketing is a strategic marketing process that integrates all outbound marketing communications, messages and promotional mechanisms. Then helps you deliver them in a cohesive way across channels to your targeted customer/client. Focusing on growing your business and optimizing sales results! The Bellevue Chamber’s partnership with IntellaSphere helps you accelerate your business by creating great web content, effective promotions and email campaigns, improving your SEO to retain and attract customers.

 Here are a few quick benefits of this members only offering:

  • Promotional Offers
  • Mobile Marketing
  • Email Marketing
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Lead Generation
  • SEO
  • Reputation Building
  • CRM/Connects Management
  • Comprehensive Reporting

As a Bellevue Chamber Member we encourage your to seize this opportunity and incorporate this platform into your marketing plan for 2017 business results!

Ready for a Deeper Dive? Consider these business reasons for an integrated digital marketing platform:

1. Integrated Marketing is inherently cross channel: Integrated Marketing uses a combination of communication tools and media channels to spread your message. By combining these various tools and strategies, integrated marketing ensures that the target audience is reached quickly and effectively. Integrated Marketing can draw upon the power of traditional media tactics, such as advertising and public relations, but also combines these with newer digital marketing tactics, such as social media, content marketing, and online promotions. Today, rather than relying on just one approach, astute companies use a combination of marketing mechanisms and channels to attain optimal results.

2. Integrated Marketing focuses on the customer: Successful Integrated Marketing starts and ends with the customer. It starts with having a clear target customer, thoroughly understanding your customer and crafting your key messaging to your target audience.

3. Integrated Marketing focuses on both new and existing customers: While many businesses concentrate only on garnering new customers, the growth and longevity of a business depends on satisfied returning customers. Using integrated marketing ensures a pipeline of new prospects and customers, as well as ongoing interaction, engagement and optimizing the experience of existing customers.

4. Integrated Marketing helps provide consistent messaging across customer touch points: A key marketing success factor is that your customers see and expect a consistent message and experience across all their touch points with the company’s products and services. This is where integrated marketing shines.

5. Integrated Marketing has checks and balances: Each marketing channel has its strengths and weaknesses. Integrated marketing helps to leverage the strengths of one to offset the weaknesses of another, thereby improving overall marketing effectiveness and reducing costs.

6. Integrated Marketing helps clarify and focus on key business objectives: Businesses can use integrated marketing to track and improve key business drivers such as reach, engagement, awareness, traffic, sales customer satisfaction and referrals. While businesses can and should track performance against all these key performance metrics, Integrated Marketing helps you focus on your primary objective for your business, i.e., sales or leads or awareness.

7. Integrated Marketing helps save you time and money: By using a good Integrated Marketing System, you can often get more done in an hour than many people accomplish in a day. Speeding up the learning process, and finding with works for your business, saves both time and money. If you choose to work with external communication suppliers, you can work with only one integrated marketing firm, rather than separate solution providers.

8. Integrated Marketing provides creative and intellectual property consistency: With Integrated Marketing, a comprehensive, integrated toolset helps you leverage your creative treatment. You can maintain consistency of headlines, logo treatments, key phrases and images in each communication, to ensure that prospects and customers receive consistent messages each and every time. You can also utilize the same images and the copy across different channels, media and different marketing mechanisms. Thereby reducing, copy writing, design and photography costs.

9. Integrated Marketing provides tracking, reporting and helps ensure continuous improvement across channels: Integrated Marketing ensures that all marketing elements are monitored, tracked and reported across marketing channels and mechanisms. It ensures that the data meshes across marketing mechanisms, and is displayed in centralized dashboard. Thereby enabling continuous business performance improvement.

So, now you know more a bit more about Integrated Marketing and how it can be critical to the success of your business. In the Digital Age, the need for Integrated Marketing and its many benefits is greater than ever before.

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A Few Bellevue Fun Facts for Your Holiday Gatherings

Posted By Betty Nokes Capestany, Tuesday, December 13, 2016


As we move into the December holiday season I would like to thank you for your support of the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce! We appreciate you using the Chamber to help accelerate your business no matter what business lifecycle you are in. As I think back through this last year I am so motivated by the amazing companies and people we have in our community. The vibrancy ranges from start-ups to companies with over 50 rich business years of history. The common thread is an entrepreneurial spirit for a unique market niche and proving extraordinary customer service! Bellevue continues to grow jobs, investments and residents.

I’ve gleaned a few fun nuggets so you have a fun fact to toss out at your holiday gatherings:
  • Bellevue is the largest majority-minority city in the State of Washington.
  • Information Technology companies are the largest concentration of jobs in the city.
  • It is also the fastest growing sector.
  • The City has more jobs than residents and over the next 20 years is projected to add 25,000 residents and 63,000 new jobs.
  • Bellevue is now home to approximately 70 foreign-owned companies from 15 countries.
  • Bellevue is also home to forty-five corporate headquarters. Many of whom have continued to grow and expand in Bellevue.
  • In August of 2016 Bellevue was named the Best Quality of Life City in the U.S.
  • Bellevue is well-known for having a highly educated and well trained workforce. The percentage of Bellevue’s residents 25 years and older with a Bachelor’s degree or higher has continued to increase from 54% in 2000, 59% in 2010, to nearly 66% in 2015 - one of the highest percentages not only in the State, but also nationally.
  • The Bellevue School District reported that 99 other first languages were being spoken by children enrolled in the district during the 2015-2016 school year.
  • The Bellevue School District has over 20,000 students and a 94.9% graduation rate (adjusted 5 year cohort graduation rate 2014).
  • In addition, the City has a vast network of trails and nearly 100 parks.
  • Bellevue College is the 3rd largest college in the state with an annual enrollment of over 37,000 students.
  • The Bellevue Collection attracts over 22 million visitors each year and provides Snowflake Lane holiday magic with a family friendly free entertainment nightly (7pm in December).
Wishing you the magic of the season and a tremendous 2017!

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Bellevue Has a Pulse!

Posted By Betty Nokes Capestany, Tuesday, November 29, 2016


Joe Quinlan, Bank of America (right) with Bellevue Chamber Past Chairman Craig Foreman, Merrill Lynch

“I love coming to Bellevue - you have a pulse!” – Keynote Speaker Joe Quinlan, Bank of America

The 23rd Eastside Economic Forecast Breakfast earlier this month was chock full of terrific fact, data and predictions for 2017. Click the links below for a few highlights.

Thanks to you we have amazing corporate leaders whose products and services range from hyper-local to global. You continue to attract the best and brightest companies and talent to our marketplace. As our Keynote Speaker Economic Strategist Joe Quinlan, Bank of America, noted in his opening remarks, “I love coming to Bellevue - you have a pulse!” 

Each year, Joe names his top three must reads which are tied to both the global and US economy. This year’s list includes:

  • Rise and Fall American Growth – Robert Gordon
  • Future Crimes: Inside the Digital Underground and the Battle for our Connected World – Marc Goodman
  • Wish Lanterns: Young lives in new China – Alec Ash

Another annual highlight of the event is our drill down on the pulse of the Eastside and region’s key economic indicators. Download the 2017 Eastside Economic Strategy Guide which is filled with 62 pages of incredible information. The guide is also easily viewable on your phones or tablets.

Did You Know?

  • Bellevue is now Washington’s biggest majority-minority city
  • Bellevue’s median household income is $99,000, even higher than Seattle’s
  • Seattle is the fifth whitest among the nation’s major cities
  • Bellevue continues to be a top tech talent marketplace
  • The Bellevue School District has developed a computer science pathways program for all students pre-K to 12th grade. The program is ranked #2 in the world behind Shanghai, China. 

Check out other interesting nuggets in the 2017 Economic Forecast Strategy Guide!

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Elegant Solutions

Posted By Betty Nokes Capestany, Monday, October 10, 2016

Eastside Annual Dinner keynote speaker Matthew May prodded and encouraged attendees to step outside their comfort zone and to reach for elegant solutions to problems and challenges. May encouraged business leaders to find the simplest, cheapest, least-intrusive, most effective changes you can make to a system, but also take time to slow down and ask questions to reach these solutions. He encouraged leaders to not overthink a problem or to jump to a conclusion.

He showed us ways for us to use our brains to “win” consistently in a world of disruption. He challenged us to use mindful thinking to get a new competitive edge.

Recognizing the world is getting more complex and moving faster – this often pressures us to reach for fast solutions that might not be the best. He used an example of a luxury health club with 40 shower stalls, each equipped with a free standing full-sized bottle of salon-exclusive shampoo. The problem the health club had was they had a 33% theft rate of club members stealing the shampoo bottles. So, with the goal of:

  • 100% theft elimination
  • Not to change/end the current offering (full-size, free standing)
  • No additional burden on the patrons
  • Extremely low, preferably no cost (pennies on the bottle)
  • Easy to implement, no disruption of normal club operation.

He challenged us to solve the problem. Yes, as you can imagine there were tons of ideas and solutions brainstormed. None of which met all of the requirements above. Things like: installing locks around the containers; putting the shampoo in unmarked bottles; giving out free-samples at the front desk; hiring shower security guards…and the list went on.

The simple, yet elegant solution was…removing the lids to the bottles. May then walked us through the seven fatal flaws of thinking and how to fix them so we can have “Elegant Solutions” in our businesses and daily lives.  He ended with a mantra of….

  • What appears to be the problem isn’t;
  • What appears to be the solution isn’t;
  • What appears to be impossible isn’t.

…and encouraged us to look at issues from a different perspective since that is where the solutions become elegant.

To find additional details on how you can overcome the fatal flaws check out Matthew May’s latest book Winning the Brain Game. Or to help you with Elegant Solutions on what is instore for our economy in 2017…save the date and plan join us for the Eastside Economic Forecast Breakfast November 17!

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Unlocking the Code

Posted By Betty Capestany, Monday, June 20, 2016
Trying to figure out how you can connect to the generations in the workplace and what motivates them? Or are you intrigued about technologies that are transforming the way business is done? Does the “inner geek” in you want to see what the future may hold in the way we work and live? If any of these statements intrigue you - then the Eastside Leadership Conference is a place for you.

The Eastside Leadership Conference encapsulates 15 years of melding, science, technology and the wickedly smart people transforming how business gets done. It’s known as the place to be to get an insider look into the disruptive technologies shaping our world and the companies that are on the forefront right here, at home.

The Eastside Leadership Conference is a rare opportunity for traditional business and civic leaders to get a peek at the people and technologies that are transforming the world. Daily our feeds are loaded with amazing discoveries or new technologies. We’ve distilled these large forces for you and are highlighting rapidly emerging clusters that are becoming multi-billion dollar industries.

Now, you may think “Why does it matter? We’re a traditional company providing traditional services.” I would challenge you on this one. My guess is you have a smartphone, your company has updated its IT and is taking advantage of consumer data to find your perfect customer. You are also probably dipping your toe in the water to figure out how to monetize social media to help expand your customer base. You might even use a 3D printer to manufacture prototypes or parts. Exponential growth in these areas is centered in our region – and you have an opportunity to join us for a fast, informative glimpse of what’s in store on topics like the Internet of Things (IoT); Artificial Intelligence, Augmented and Virtual Reality, Cybersecurity, 3D Printing, and Big Data; delivered in a manner even “non-geeks” can understand.

I know these all sound out there but you would be amazed at the small businesses that are taking these concepts and turning them into successful business strategies. You will get to meet these companies. You’ll also hear from Anna Liotta on how to unlock the generational codes in our workplace.

It’s amazing to look back on the cool stuff that was highlighted before it was common place in the market. A few years ago Dave Hasslinger from Washington Federal summed up the conference well. He said, “I left the conference wondering what the bank branch of the future would look like, or if we would even have branches or if the next branch would be on Mars!” The Conference will give you critical insights on how to integrate, respond, and adapt to the disruptive forces changing our world and to use these ideas to help shape our future!

With technology advancing at an exponential pace, hold onto your seats - the next big thing is happening right here, right now. Do you have your reservation? The Conference will sell out - only a handful of tickets remain so reserve your ticket today for the June 24 Eastside Leadership Conference!

Tags:  connections  entrepreneurial  technology 

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Catch the Spirit!

Posted By Betty Capestany, Monday, April 18, 2016
 Betty racing in the Berlin Marathon

Can you feel it? There is something about more daylight, flowers in bloom, birds singing and the pitter patter of feet hitting the pavement that jump starts my day and makes me feel alive. Yes, I must confess I get my inner Zen early in the morning with my trusted Brooks running shoes. Whether it is the fun of a new route, the buzz from a great run, quiet moments to solving problems or just the magic of capturing the sunrise – I love running. My only regret is that I didn’t start running earlier in life. Running long distances has analogies to business - you are in it for the long haul. There are peaks and valleys, twists and turns, but the thrill of victory when you cross the line with an amazing new product or new customers makes the journey worthwhile.

So as I get ready to complete my 5th World Major Marathon (yes, 26.2 miles) I challenge you to lace up your shoes and join us for the Spirit of Bellevue 5K and 12K on May 22nd. This fun event allows you to walk the 5K or jog/run the 12K and see the amazing sights our City has to offer. Plus, your efforts are helping raise funds for college scholarships for deserving kids and budding entrepreneurs. And it is even more fun when you have family and friends join you. Register now and use discount code CatchTheSpirit by May 13th to save $5 off of your registration fee!

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March Comes in Like a Lion – Goes Out Raining Great Companies!

Posted By Betty Capestany, Monday, March 21, 2016

Last week I received a call from a reporter at 425 Magazine. She asked me what I thought about the National Small Business optimism report that was just released. My response was an easy one. While it may be raining in our area, it is raining with great companies, great ideas, great talent and people that are investing capital. So, our optimism is more bullish that in many parts of the country. We are also fortunate to have diverse economic clusters (Aerospace, Technology, Tourism, Retail, and Telecommunication) that are all continuing to innovate and spin off great ideas. These new sectors are multi-billion dollar economic drivers. Sectors like Cloud, Auto-telematics, Space, Interactive Gaming, Virtual and Augmented Reality, IOT (Internet of Things which includes wearables), personalized medicine and the list goes on and on.

So, you might ask - how do I know this?

  • First, our 2016 Eastside Business Leader Survey released in November shows over 90% of those surveyed believing the Puget Sound economy will continue to expand in the next year.
  • Unemployment rates show our region below 4%.
  • We have featured these emerging sectors annually at the Eastside Leadership Conference and the headlines have shown evidence of the growth in these sectors as well as capital investments growing these ideas.
  • SEEING THE IMPRESSIVE LIST OF EASTSIDE BUSINESS AWARD APPLICANTS! The companies are very impressive and the cool things they are doing are even more impressive. I can hardly wait until the envelopes are opened to reveal who the judges have selected for this year’s winners of the Entrepreneurial Spirit - Startup of the Year, Innovative Product or Service of the Year, Small Business of the Year and Eastside Business of the Year.

The Bellevue Chamber of Commerce has been highlighting Entrepreneurial Companies for the last 27 years! One of this year’s judges remarked “the Bellevue Chamber is the only one, I’m aware of that really champions entrepreneurship and innovation across a range of sectors.”

So, come celebrate with the leaders of these great companies on March 31st – space is limited click here to reserve now as we celebrate the Eastside Entrepreneurial Spirit, meet the impressive people behind these companies, and keep innovation, talent and investments pouring into our community!

Tags:  business awards  entrepreneurs 

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The Icing on Our “Cupcakes”

Posted By Sara Garner, Monday, March 7, 2016

Yes, while everyone loves the taste of cupcakes, often it is the most beautifully or creatively decorated cupcake that grabs the eye and leads to the quickest devouring. But, you might ask how did the topic of cupcakes come up in the first place? In this case, it was something that made it onto our twitter feed – a tweet from a Nebraska Legislator thanking us for showing up on Bellevue cupcake day.  We often get calls, tweets, even people wanting to join the Bellevue Chamber from Bellevue Nebraska or one of the other Bellevue’s, since there are over 121 across the globe. So, it is usually with a chuckle that we have to kindly note - wrong Bellevue. My most memorable Bellevue confusion was when Jamie Lee Curtis (yes the actress) asked for my business card in Sun Valley since her sister had just purchased a historic property downtown and was going to redevelop it. My mind quickly went to “where would that location be” to “do you mean Bellevue, Idaho?”

In the case of Bellevue Chamber of Commerce, and I need to quickly note - not our counterparts in Bellevue, Nebraska nor Bellevue, Idaho - it is the sprinkles on top that continue to have Bellevue, Washington at the top of the livability lists. 

Our City and downtown have gotten more diverse and younger. We continue to attract and grow amazing companies and the talent that makes our community a destination of choice. So, here are a few “sprinkles” of amazing things that our kids are doing within the Bellevue School District in the area of STEM and Computer Science Initiatives (stats courtesy BSD):

  • All elementary students are learning the engineering design process through engineering challenges embedded in K-5 science curriculum. Similar challenges are being developed and refined at the middle school level.
  • Every elementary school has resources for after school robotics programs for K-5 students, free of charge.
  • Teachers have received intensive, ongoing professional development at K-5 to teach engineering and incorporate new standards into their instructional practice.
  • Elementary schools are supported in hosting Family Engineering Nights to encourage engineering design and problem solving beyond the school day.
  • All elementary schools as well as some middle and high schools participated in Hour of Code in December 2015.
  • Nearly one-fourth of elementary teachers participated in a computer science pilot this year focusing on teaching coding using either Scratch or the courses.
  • Middle school teachers piloted a course that integrated computer science into the core science curriculum.
  • Middle school teachers piloted a line-based coding class using Python supported by Tech Smart Kids.
  • Advanced Placement computer science is offered at 5 Bellevue School District high schools.
  • BSD awarded OSPI grant to develop computational thinking professional development course for teachers and develop lessons integrating computational thinking in Math, Science, Social Studies, and Visual Arts.
  • Most of the Bellevue School District Graduates take an average of six Advanced Placement courses before graduation.

Kudos to Superintendent Mills, the Bellevue School Board, the terrific teachers and staff but most importantly the kids in our district that know the icing on our “cupcakes” is centered around STEM!

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Posted By Betty Capestany, Wednesday, February 10, 2016

 Source: WSDOT via
Congestion relief and mobility are top priorities for the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce. To sustain a vibrant economy that works for all, employees, residents, consumers and commercial drivers have to be able to get where they need to go with a fast and reliable travel time. I-405 is the central artery for East King County and vital to the long-term success of our business climate. So, not surprisingly, the recently implemented managed lanes with tolls have generated a lot of energy and conversation.

The Bellevue Chamber’s Board of Directors took on this issue at the January Board meeting, receiving timely updates, including the latest data, from WSDOT and INRIX, a private firm that offers real-time traffic data.

While their data told different stories, the view from the 10,000 foot level is that HOT lanes appear to be working for those who are willing to pay for a faster trip. Not surprisingly, tolls are exceeding revenue expectations. For those traveling in the general purpose lanes, however, travel times have lengthened and total hours of congestion have increased. With these changes, new pinch points and safety challenges have also emerged.

Following this presentation, Eastside Business Leaders met with our legislative delegation in Olympia to voice frustration and to offer solutions to improve travel times in the I-405 corridor for all users. As a follow up, our Transportation Committee received an update from WSDOT staff on the I-405 Master Plan (projects from 2016 – 2024), as well as clarification of key data points included in the earlier presentation.

Chris Johnson, Director of Government Relations for the Chamber has been actively working this issue. He is a great resource if you need additional information. He would also like feedback from you and your workforce. Understanding real impacts helps our lawmakers find meaningful solutions. Please, tell us how you have been impacted (good or bad).

Our goal is to influence good public policy decision making that keeps Bellevue and the Greater Eastside as THE choice for businesses, talent, customers and residents alike.

Tags:  congestion  HOT lanes  Interstate 405  traffic 

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