WSU’s Center for Entrepreneurial Studies celebrated a milestone this fall when a former student’s company raised $2.7 million in venture capital funding.
Jonah Friedl (’16 Entre.) is the cofounder of Nomad Go Inc., a Kirkland startup that uses artificial intelligence to measure customer experiences at quick-serve restaurants, hotels and retail stores. Nomad Go recently received the funding from three big names in venture capital: Flying Fish Partners; Vulcan Capital, the late Paul Allen’s company; and Fitz Gate Ventures.
“To our knowledge, Jonah is the first undergraduate alumnus majoring in entrepreneurship whose company has raised a venture capital round,” said Marie Mayes, director of the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies.
The center is a resource hub for students of all majors who are interested in innovation and entrepreneurship. The annual WSU Business Plan Competition is part of the center’s cross-disciplinary programming, bringing together student teams who pitch their plans to a panel of judges.
“The competition forces you to create a plan and gives you a deadline for doing it,” said Friedl, who started a predecessor company to Nomad Go while he was at WSU. ”It makes you think through tough questions, like ‘How will I acquire customers?’ and ‘How much will I charge for this product?’”
In addition to helping him launch his first company, Friedl credits the Business Plan Competition for introducing him to industry mentors who later connected Nomad Go with the venture capital community.
One of those contacts was Heather Redman, cofounder and managing partner at Seattle-based Flying Fish Partners, and a member of the WSU Board of Regents.
As part of the venture capital round, Redman will join Nomad Go’s board of directors.
“We’re thrilled for Jonah and for Nomad Go,” Mayes said. “And we’re proud that Jonah’s participation in our programs and the WSU Business Plan Competition helped prepare him for success at this level.”
Nomad Go helps clients analyze metrics like how long customers waited in line or how long their meal took to arrive. The real-time data allows managers identify bottlenecks, make staffing decisions, and compare performance across stores.