Startup425, an alliance of five Eastside cities dedicated to small business assistance is partnering with Bellevue College’s Tombolo Institute to offer Startup425 Innovation Lab, an intensive, four-week program designed to help existing businesses and entrepreneurs interested in starting a business to acquire new knowledge and adapt to the changing economic environment created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The program has a customized approach to meet the unique needs of participating businesses.  By conducting a comprehensive assessment of each business at the outset of the program, faculty can address the pain points that each is experiencing. This year, the program has added developing an online presence, critical in the post-COVID economy.  Preparing to access capital, thereby increasing a business’s chances of getting a loan, also will be offered by Business Impact NW, a CDFI that helps underserved businesses secure loans.

Professor Leslie Lum is a published author of Multicultural Marketing and Business Consulting, one of whose co-authors includes UW Foster School’s Michael Verchot. Professor Judith Paquette has over a decade of experience in accounting, auditing, and financial planning.

They will be assisted by a group of experts, business advisors, and mentors, all recognized on the Eastside, who will be available to provide their insights and expertise, and connections to the region’s business ecosystem along with follow-on business assistance at the conclusion of the program.

What You Will Learn:

  • Acquire knowledge of the M3 Model of Markets, Money, and Management as a framework for analyzing your business.
  • Conduct an assessment of the key factors that drive the success of your business.
  • Work in teams with instructors, peers, mentors, and advisors to develop strategies to improve your business and create a support network to execute.

Click here to view an informational video about the program.


Hear directly from three business owners about their companies, what led them to Innovation Lab, and how it has served them. Click on their names below watch.

Dr. Ebony Blackmon-Humphrey, CEO, Caritas Critical Case Management

Anita Roberson, CEO, Make Ready Services

Jessica Kravitz, JD, Krueger Beck PLLC

Dates and Application Procedure

This exciting new program will take place in October 2021 on the following dates:

  • The Fall 2021 Innovation Lab will be held synchronously on Zoom in four sessions:
  • October 9 (Saturday): 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
  • October 14 (Thursday): 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
  • October 23 (Saturday): 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
  • October 28 (Thursday): 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
  • Total classroom hours: 12 hours

Space is limited and admission is selective.

2021 Startup425 Innovation Lab – Application

Interested in being a Mentor for the Innovation Lab  

Startup425 is looking for volunteers interested in becoming mentors for the Innovation Lab, an intensive program, delivered virtually and designed to help existing Eastside businesses that have advanced beyond the pre-revenue stage to acquire new knowledge and adapt to the changing economic environment created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mentors are experienced Eastside business owners and managers. One or more mentors will be assigned to each participating business and can assist during the course and beyond. Their role will be to help the participants stay on task, offer feedback on homework assignments, and provide general guidance and networking opportunities based on their own business experience. The mentor is expected to attend an orientation and also, follow the business and continue to help them for at least six months beyond the Innovation Lab.

To apply, please click here.

Please note: this link will take you to a City of Kirkland site.