Russell Wilson on the homepage of the Limitless Minds website. (ThinkBig-GoFar.com Image) We already know Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has “no time to sleep.” It looks like his latest company will shed some light on that mindset. Wilson, a busy entrepreneur when he’s not on the football field, launched another venture on Tuesday in the form of , a business coaching consultancy that looks to tap the Super Bowl champ’s competitive thinking and mental conditioning and bring it all into the corporate world. GeekWire about the plans for the business last summer. The startup was founded by Wilson, mental-conditioning coach and Trevor Moawad, business partner DJ Eidson, and Wilson’s brother, Harry Wilson. The goal is to help organizations develop the skills to handle adversity under pressure, in competitive environments. “Mental conditioning and mindset training have been a critical part of my performance on the field throughout my career,” Wilson said in a news release. “Trevor is the best in the world at developing these skills for athletes and coaches. Throughout our relationship, we realized that the skills we work on can benefit many more people. I’m thrilled to pair Trevor’s expertise with Harry and DJ’s business acumen to help more people identify and develop these skills within themselves.” The Limitless Minds founders, from left: Harry Wilson, president; DJ Eidson, chief marketing officer; Russell Wilson, chairman; and Trevor Moawad, CEO. (Limitless Minds Photo) Wilson has worked with Moawad since meeting him just before the NFL Draft in 2012. Moawad’s centers around themes including visualization (psychologically experiencing a situation), understanding the power of your voice, focusing on one thought, and , or the idea that overly positive or negative thoughts aren’t beneficial to an optimal mindset. “The ability to develop a consistent mentality is universal. Period. It will remain a core tenant to success in any field, whether it happens by accident or with intentionality,” Moawad said. The startup is another in a list of attempts by Wilson to establish himself as a force among NFL entrepreneurs. His previous Seattle-based celebrity media company TraceMe pivoted to become , a sports prediction app. His resume also includes , his production company, and , a high-end fashion retailer.
Meet a startup that wants to replace all the bade readers in your office with a Face ID-like camera system. Alcatraz has integrated multiple sensors to identify faces and unlock doors effortlessly. If you think about it, it’s weird that fingerprint sensors took off on mobile but everybody is still using plastic badges for their offices. Sure, high security buildings use fingerprint and iris scanners. But it adds too much friction in too many cases. First, when everybody gets back from their lunch break, it can create a traffic jam if everybody needs to place their finger on a sensor. Second, onboarding new employees would require you to add their biometric information to the system. It can be cumbersome for big companies. promises a faster badging experience with facial authentication. When you join a company, you also get a physical badge. The first few times you use the badge, Alcatraz AI scans your face to create a model for future uses — after a while, you can leave your badge at the office. The company has built custom hardware with three different sensors that include both traditional RGB sensors and infrared sensors for 3D mapping. Customers pay Alcatraz AI to install those hybrid badge/face readers. After that, companies pay an annual fee in order to use the platform. Alcatraz AI customers get analytics, real-time notifications and can detect tailgating. This way, if somebody isn’t supposed to go in the secret lab, Alcatraz AI can detect if they’re trying to sneak in by following someone who is authorized to go in there. The idea is that the on-going license cost should cover what your company was paying for guards. The startup has raised nearly $6 million from Hardware Club, Ray Stata, JCI Ventures, Ruvento Ventures and Hemi Ventures.
Tech leaders Gillian Muessig, Kelly Wright, Lisa Hammitt, and Jennifer Savage discuss barriers and opportunities for women in venture-backed startups. (GeekWire Photo / Monica Nickelsburg) in leadership is often cited as a driving factor behind the broader tech industry’s gender balance issues. The theory? If more women sat on corporate boards and wrote the checks, then more women would feel comfortable entering male-dominated fields and more female entrepreneurs would get funded. But even though there is a growing body of research to show that increasing women in leadership roles makes good business sense, the market is not correcting itself, at least not very quickly. That begs the question, should regulators step in? It’s a question that was raised Thursday during an event in Seattle that brought together women venture capitalists and executives to discuss opportunities and barriers in the venture capital world. Create33, under the umbrella of Madrona Venture Group, hosted the event. Create33 Director Rebecca Lovell moderated a discussion with Lisa Hammit, vice president of data and artificial intelligence at Visa; Gillian Muessig, general partner at Outlines Venture Group; Jennifer Savage, Partner at Illuminate Ventures, and Kelly Wright, board director at Amperity, Even, and Fastly. Tech leaders Rebecca Lovell, Gillian Muessig, Kelly Wright, Lisa Hammitt, and Jennifer Savage discuss barriers and opportunities for women in venture-backed startups. Reports from and the indicate that companies with at least one woman founder yield better results for venture capital firms, though when measuring by metrics like valuations. Researchers at the discovered female-founded companies generate more revenue than startups that only have men on their founding teams. In February, the (CAE) published a study asserting that women-founded companies perform at least as well as startups founded by men. But despite this track record, women-founded companies accounted for just 16 percent of first venture capital financings between 2005-2017, according to the CAE study. This year, researchers found 63 percent of startups have no women on their board of directors and 47 percent have no women in leadership. Regulators are starting to zero in on the slow progress toward gender parity across the tech industry — from startups to big public corporations. The question of whether government should regulate diversity in tech is more than theoretical in California. In September, California enacted a landmark law that requires public companies domiciled in the state to have at least one woman director by 2019 and larger corporations will need to have three women on the board by 2021. “Given all the special privileges that corporations have enjoyed for so long, it’s high time corporate boards include people who constitute more than half of the ‘persons’ in America,” former California Gov. Jerry Brown wrote in his to the California State Senate. New Jersey and Massachusetts . Legislators in Washington state, the West Coast’s other big tech hub, aren’t formally pursuing a board diversity law though that could change if the idea picks up steam. States are in a handful of European countries that require corporate boards to have women directors. A from 2016 found “evidence that firms with a larger fraction of female directors on their board have greater dividend payouts.” But the tech leaders on the Create33 panel and other female board members GeekWire interviewed have mixed feelings about regulators mandating diversity quotas. Muessig, who co-founded Moz and a venture fund that backs women-led startups, wondered if it was “thin thinking” to force this type of regulation companies. “Government does this so often,” she said. “It’s a knee-jerk reaction to something that didn’t really solve the problem. I’m not against the idea … but I haven’t dug in deeply enough to say, is that really going to be the root of the problem or not?” Flying Fish Partners co-founder Heather Redman is concerned that the narrow focus on corporate boards could actually hurt efforts to increase representation of women in other tech leadership roles. “The data, so far, on how well the regulation works is kind of mixed,” she said in an interview with GeekWire. “One of the phenomenons that I’ve noticed is that we’re already seeing a lot of women retiring early from C-suite jobs instead of becoming CEO. The board path is becoming the easier path.” Redman added, “If I had to pick where I would want to see women be, I would pick CEO all day long … the board does not have its fingers on the knobs.” Several executives expressed a begrudging acceptance of the mandate’s necessity. “Frankly, I was disappointed that it had to be mandated,” said Nicole Piasecki, a Seattle executive who sits on several board seats, including Weyerhaeuser, in an interview with GeekWire. “I understand why it was mandated because progress wasn’t occurring.” California’s law will open up 692 board seats to women by 2021, . If the rest of the nation followed California’s lead, it would amount to more than 3,000 board seats available to women, nearly a 75 percent increase. During Thursday’s panel, Wright said that California’s board law is moving the needle. The former longtime Tableau executive noted that without a legal requirement, California’s big corporations were not making much progress on gender diversity among directors. She explained that California’s law actually started as a recommendation from the government, not a mandate. “Unfortunately, over time, nothing happened,” she said. “There was no change.” From Wright’s perspective, the power of California’s law — which governs some of the most powerful tech companies in the world — is the impact it’s having beyond the state’s borders. Seattle-based Amazon, for example, added to its board in February; it now has six men and five women on . “It’s at least raised the conversation to the point where now people are actually looking at the data and looking at the facts, and we are starting to see some positive progress,” Wright said.