Hello, Seattle!

Last evening, August 2nd, nearly 100 brilliant minds and ambitious souls gathered together at Madrona Ventures space for a special Startup Poker 2.0 event — a highlight of the inaugural Seattle Tech Week. The event was hosted by two of Seattle’s most active pre-seed investors, Bob Crimmins of Startup Haven Ventures and Martin Tobias at Incisive Ventures. The event was made possible by the support of by Silicon Valley Bank and Cooley LLP.

Startup Haven Ventures, a fund, accelerator, and network of over 2,300 vetted, venture-scale founders and investors, hosted this exciting gathering. Founders Dinner and Startup Poker 2.0 events have been a tradition in six cities for more than 15 years, attracting full-time venture-scale startup founders and active investors to the table. 

The purpose of this memorable evening went beyond just playing cards and building relationships among founders and investors. The proceeds of the game were dedicated to a noble cause – supporting the groundbreaking work of the Fred Hutch Cancer Center. The buy-in stakes were not especially high, but the unlimited enthusiasm of the players (and the unlimited rebuys) raised an impressive $3,000.

As the cards were shuffled to start the game, 54 of the 100 guests took their seats at the poker tables, ready to embrace the challenges and thrills that No Limit Texas Hold’em had to offer. The energy in the room was electric all night, punctuated throughout by cacophonous eruptions of laughter, hollers, and high-fives from each table, as big pots and bad beats created moments that players will never forget.


The impact of the evening is hard to quantify. It is a rare occurrence to see two dozen venture fund partners and super angels, along with 70+ venture-scale startup founders, all engaged in a singular quest. Certainly, the funding raised for cancer research was the raison d’être of the evening. But the relationships that were built that night will no doubt generate incalculable value for every founder and investor who participated.

Throughout the night, the tension and excitement escalated as the players vied for victory. The competition was fierce, and the poker faces were on point. In the end, eight exceptional (and lucky) players rose above the rest to make the final table. As the sun set over the city, the eight final-table winners gathered to capture the moment.

There were two prize pools, one for the Big Dog players and one for the Small Dogs. Along with gifts and prizes from Silicon Valley Bank and Cooley, both first-prize winners scored one of the highly-sought-after Startup Haven silver medallions – 2 oz. of solid .999 silver and a custom trophy. 

The first-place Big Dog winner was Erik Jansen, a 15-year veteran member of Startup Haven, extraordinary startup investor and one of the most-generous characters you’ll ever meet. The first-place Small Dog pot winner was entrepreneur and angel investor Erick Watson.

In addition to his prize haul as Small Dog winner, Erick won a very special golf for two at the prestigious Seattle Country Club with none other than Phil Gordon, the renowned entrepreneur and ex-poker pro. Special shout out also to James Wong, who came in second place behind Erick. Neither James nor Erick knew at the time that their negotiation to split the pot at the end would result in only one of them winning the silver medallion, the sponsor gifts and the golf outing with Phil. Since Erick had the bigger chip stack going into the heads-up match at the end, Erick scooped the loot. James, we know that was a bitter sweet victory… live and learn. 

As the night wound down, the camaraderie among the participants was palpable, as laughter and conversation filled the room. While the competition may have been fierce, the spirit of unity and giving back to the community prevailed throughout the evening.

Startup Poker 2.0 was not only a night of intense poker action, but it was also a celebration of innovation, entrepreneurship, and the power of collective impact. The event brought together some of the brightest minds in the tech industry, all working together to support a cause that touches the lives of countless individuals.

We extend our heartfelt gratitude to Startup Haven Ventures, Incisive Ventures, Silicon Valley Bank, Cooley, and all the participants who made this event a tremendous success. We will all continue to strive towards a future free from the burden of cancer.

Until next time, Seattle – keep innovating, keep dreaming, and never play jack-six off suit.

Bob Crimmins

Are you a full-time venture-scale founder or active investor? Apply for Startup Haven membership here and join us for more activities like this.