What Entrepreneurs Need Most in 2010—and Which Seattle Startups Are Hiring

January for startup companies is a little like spring training for baseball teams. Everyone is 0-0, they have the whole year in front of them, and anything is possible. With that in mind, I recently checked in with Rebecca Lovell, the executive director (and commissioner?) of the Northwest Entrepreneur Network, to hear her thoughts on the outlook for entrepreneurs in 2010. (NWEN now organizes about 65 events per year for startups and entrepreneurs.)

Lovell was her usual upbeat but realistic self, and she talked pretty openly about the slow pace of economic recovery and the dearth of early-stage funding in the region. “The downside of having a really experienced angel community is most of their money is tied up in their existing portfolios,” she said. “The danger is they’re getting distracted from new deals. Hopefully that triage process is coming to a close.”

In the meantime, entrepreneurs are still really struggling to score early-stage funding. “There is money out there, but we don’t have true seed capital,” she said. “There are ideas dying on the vine.” This is part of the reason why Lovell says she’s excited that a prominent program like TechStars, the Boulder and Boston-based startup bootcamp, is expanding to Seattle later this year.

“I’m very bullish on how many cool new ideas are bubbling under the surface,” Lovell said. “I think we’re going to see a resurgence in new businesses. We’re going to see a lot of companies make it, but not [have] enough capital infusion to ramp up. We’ll see a lot of one-to-three-person companies. I’ve got enough confidence that these ideas are bubbling up, and will start making an economic impact in 2011. There are some fast failures out there. There’s not a lot of dumb money going around. I think we’ll see [young companies] grow and flourish next year.”

Lastly, I asked Lovell what one thing entrepreneurs need the most these days. “Matchmaking,” she said, referring to finding the right co-founders and employees for their companies. “It’s around the team. They need self-awareness of what they’re missing.” (More on this soon.)

On a separate but related note, here’s a quick rundown of a few Seattle-area tech startups that have been actively hiring in the past month: Adaptiva, Appature, Cheezburger Network, DataSphere, Gist, Ground Truth (which just emerged from stealth mode yesterday), Melodeo, The Rubicon Project (which acquired Others Online), Socrata, Swype, and Tableau Software. Most of the open positions have been in engineering, but there are also some in sales, marketing, business development, and operations. This is an anecdotal list; I’m sure there are plenty of other prominent startups hiring at the moment. If you’re one of them, please leave a comment below or drop me a note.

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and Editor of Xconomy Boston. E-mail him at gthuang [at] xconomy.com. Follow @gthuang

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