Venture capitalists coach entrepreneurs at First Look Forum

A program that helps budding entrepreneurs perfect their pitch and business plan is coming to Bellingham.

The First Look Forum, put on by the Washington Technology Industry Association and hosted by the NW Innovation Resource Center, gives entrepreneurs a chance to practice their pitch in front of venture capitalists and angel investors.

The biannual showcase is in its eighth year, but this is the first one outside King County.

It may sound like the TV show Shark Tank, but Diane Kamionka, interim executive director for NW Innovation Resource Center, said it’s much friendlier.

Investors and successful entrepreneurs will coach participants through the process, and there’s plenty of time for networking. The winner gets $10,000 to put toward their idea.

Applicants must have never publicly pitched their idea or received investment. The forum is open to applicants in any industry, from all over the state and lower B.C., but Kamionka is hoping for a large local turnout.

“We clearly want to have as much local focus and investment as possible,” she said. “We don’t want it to be a Seattle event that just happens to take place in Bellingham.”

Ideal applicants will have a compelling idea, a strong team, willingness to be coached, and the ability to present a case for potential growth, according to a press release for the event.

“For people who are thinking about applying, just give it a shot,” Kamionka said. “It helps to think through the process.”

The forum is from 2 to 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 18 at the Bellingham Golf & Country Club. Applications are due Saturday, Oct. 18. For more information, or to apply, go to


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