Rooting for the Underdog: 6 Iconic Seattle Start-ups

Seattle is the iconic underdog city. It may not be as bustling as the Big Apple, or as glitzy as Hollywood, but it has undeniably carved out a special place for itself in American lore as a city of start-ups. Microsoft, Starbucks and Amazon didn’t begin as household names. So what is it about Seattle that makes it ideal for kick starting independents?

Downtown Seattle has come a long way since its Pioneer days. Photo credit: Louisa Gaylord.
Seattle’s Pioneer Square has come a long way since its Pioneer days. Photo credit: Louisa Gaylord.

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Wakuda Studios’ Jonathan Wakuda Fischer

Anyone walking by the Dexter-Denny intersection lately probably won’t notice the large orange and black mural that’s gone up within the last couple of weeks on the sides of 90.3 FM KEXP.  In fact, many of the studio’s neighbors don’t know there is a radio station there at all – the gray concrete one-story block, affectionately called the Berlin Wall, looks far too small to house the approximately 80 employees and 200 volunteers they have on rotation to keep the non-profit studio running smoothly.

I got a chance to take a break from preparations for the fall fundraising drive to talk with artist Jonathan Wakuda Fischer as he put the finishing touches on the mural. He has been a longtime listener and donor to KEXP since he moved to Washington from Wisconsin 8 years ago. “I didn’t know I wanted to be an artist before I came to Seattle,” Jonathan says, “I found my creative self here.”

The mural features many Seattle icons - the Space Needle, Mt. Rainier, and great music. Photo credit: Louisa Gaylord
The mural features many Seattle icons – the Space Needle, Mt. Rainier, and great music. Photo credit: Louisa Gaylord

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