Venture Out expands to help more people validate their startup ideas while still working at a day job

Venture Out executives Sean Sternbach (left) and Ken Horenstein. (Venture out photo)

Venture Out expanded: The Seattle-based organization that aims to help technicians quit businesses and create their own startups has added a new program called Moonlighter Lab.

What it does: The lab charges $ 1,499 for an 8-week program of validating startup ideas from people who are still in full-time employment. Venture Out was originally launched with the offer of its 12-week Venture Lab, which prepares entrepreneurs for their fundraising campaign for startups and receives 4% equity in return.

“When we put ourselves in the shoes of the founders, we found that trading equity for participation in a lab where the founders were still full-time in their day-to-day work was not founder-friendly,” said Sean Sternbach, co-founder of Venture Out. “That’s why we’ve decided to change our pricing model to include an upfront fee instead.”

The laboratory launched its first program with eight startups in January. Some of these founders eventually quit their daily jobs to pursue ideas. Applications for the second cohort are due on Thursday.

Venture Out Background: Sternbach left a managerial role at Amazon in 2019 and worked with Ken Horenstein, who was previously manager at Microsoft’s VC arm M12, to start Venture Out.

Last year, a $ 700,000 investment round was conducted under the leadership of Microsoft’s M12 VC arm. Other venture capital firms, including Founders’ Co-op, Flying Fish, and Liquid 2 Ventures, invested.

Venture Out also offers a free founder network where founders can ask questions and get support from other startup builders, mentors, consultants, and investors.

More context: Seattle has become a global epicenter for tech talent, but many of the top engineers, data scientists, program managers, and others work in large corporations like Amazon or Microsoft or one of the region’s 130+ tech outposts – Facebook, Google, Salesforce, Oracle, and others have large offices.

As a result, these giants are accused of sucking up much of the potential entrepreneurial talent across Seattle with their “golden handcuffs” and opportunities to work on some of the leading technologies. This trend, along with the lack of domestic investment firms, is one possible reason why Seattle’s startup ecosystem is not as strong as some might expect.

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