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Tech incubator Curious Office moves to Capitol Hill

If you want to attract the most creative and tech savvy developers, designers and entrepreneurs, you have to go to them. That was the basic calculus that brought Kelly Smith and his business incubator and venture capital company Curious Office to Capitol Hill. 

Last week the prolific tech startup launching pad moved the base of operations from its longtime Pioneer Square office to a new space overlooking Neumos at 10th and Pike. 

“Most of our team are designers and developers, and Capitol Hill is just a more vibrant community,” he said. “Finding  a place where creative people can go and feel comfortable is helpful.” 

Starting in 2005, Curious Office has made a name for itself by amassing a who’s who of Seattle web entrepreneurs to invest in small tech start-ups. Smith owns the company along with business partner Adrian Hanauer, manager and minority owner of the Seattle Sounders. The two have 15 companies in their portfolio – most are focused on front-end, user friendly software. Zapd and Inkd are two such companies, now also based out of the new office.

Currently Smith spends his 9-5 running Zapd – an iPhone app launched last year that allows users to create quick and easy websites on their phone. Smith said he hopes the app will change how people think about creating sites and mobile content. Inkd is an online marketplace for businesses to buy high-quality print designs and logos. 

A handful of Curious Office start-ups have seen substantial success, some getting bought-out by Amazon, Google, and others. 

In addition to making his team happy in their new bar-and-restaurant-rich surroundings, Smith said he is always looking for new investment opportunities and hopes the new Capitol Hill headquarters will help make those connections. 

“We’re just as interested in finding creative designers and developers and helping them start companies through capital investment and mentoring,” he said. “That’s every bit as important to our move to Capitol Hill.”

Smith said his move is not isolated, and that many companies interested in recruiting young, creative workers have moved or are planning to move into the neighborhood.

(Image: Zapd)

The 10th and Pike building home to Havana and Poquitos is part of the Hunters Capital assets in the Pike/Pine area that have also helped to bring tech stars to Capitol Hill. CHS reported in August on two companies moving to the Hill and joining the Hunters ranks.

Earlier this year, seven-person security start-up Mobilisafe moved to the Hunters Capital Ballou Wright building on 12th Ave from Bellevue. “I love the energy of the neighborhood, the mix of people, great restaurants and bars, and it’s pretty accessible given where our team lives,” CEO Giri Sreenivas tells CHS. “I think it’s becoming the next hot neighborhood for tech startups.”

During their first week in the new office, the Zapd/Inkd crew jumped right into Capitol Hill life with a weeklong bender of sandwiches at CHS advertiser Honey Hole. Smith said the office is still on the prowl for its favorite after work watering hole. In true engineering fashion, prospective bars are being vetted via an interoffice spreadsheet.

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