Educate & Leadership

Investor Sharks Northwest
2020 Judges2020 Student Winners

Investor Sharks – The Beginning

Investor Sharks Northwest, a program jointly produced by the Kirkland Chamber of Commerce and the Kirkland Performance Center, provided local startup businesses with an opportunity to pitch to a panel of some of the most renowned Venture Capitalists and Angel Investors in the Pacific Northwest Region.
“Sharks” Student Winners 2019, Extentek,

Investor Sharks Northwest 2020!

In 2019 we had two winners, Extentek, our student winners, and Zeacon – a real-time search and connection platform that connects business to the right customers in your community.

Our student winners were so popular, the Kirkland Chamber of Commerce and the Kirkland Performance Center decided to focus from 2020 on future student entrepreneurs!

Judges from 2018

2020 Student Edition

This year the Kirkland Chamber of Commerce and the Kirkland Performance Center are providing  local students with an opportunity to pitch either their idea for a company, or a company currently in operation to a panel of judges from the business and investment community.

All finalist teams/companies will receive a prize for their presentation, but one team will walk away with the first place prize.


David DeBois Image
David DeBois | VP, Manager, Banner Bank

Dave has worked in the banking industry ever since he moved to Washington State from Vancouver, Canada.  Initially Dave had thought he would get a job in product development, but the economic conditions at the time were bleak due to the oil embargo.  As a banker, he has successfully assisted 100’s of business start, grow, merge and close.

During his time as a banker, Dave still sought opportunities to explore humanitarian entrepreneurial opportunities.  An example of this was his drive to assist in solving the economic downturn in 2008 caused by the loose mortgage lending practices. The program caught traction nationally and was in consideration as a possible solution to restore the economy by congress in Washington, DC.

Dave has started two nonprofits; one that saved the Wayne Golf Course from development and the other was a  thoughtful work-around rebuilding the mutual trust and respect between the police and the community they serve. 

He supports his community through volunteering and board commitments, and has advised the Kirkland Chamber and City of Kirkland with regard to the Covid-19 fundraising and distribution of funds to needy businesses in Kirkland.      

He graduated from Kwantlen Polytech University, Vancouver B.C.  He currently lives in West Seattle with his wife, son and their Bernadoodle Poly.  

Image of Ron Higgs
Ron Higgs | Fractional COO Consultant
Ron Higgs started his career in the United States Navy. He served as a Naval Flight Officer and Aerospace Engineering Program Manager until leaving active duty. He has over 20 years’ experience in Engineering Management, Operations, and Program Management. Since leaving the Navy, Ron has held leadership positions in startups, small companies, and large corporations.

Ron is now a Fractional COO, management and leadership consultant. He has worked with clients in several industries from startups to large corporations and is mentor, coach, consultant, and advisor to his clients in the areas of leadership, organizational development, strategic planning, operations, program management, and continuous improvement in the achievement of their business goals.

Ron is currently serving as the COO of a local startup where he is working to accelerate growth by building a solid foundation for rapid scaling. He is also involved in the local angel investor community, has performed due diligence on several local startup companies, and served as mentor to startup CEOs.

Ron holds a BS in Applied Mathematics from the US Naval Academy, a certificate in Engineering Flight Test from the US Naval Test Pilot School, and a MS in Systems Engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School.

Image of Claudia Smith
Claudia Smith | Murphy Business & Financial Corporation

Claudia Smith was recruited by Murphy Business & Financial Corporation in 2015 as a Business Broker. Since then she has become the owner of the Kirkland Redmond office and has been named Multi-Million Dollar Producer by the company – helping Buyers and Sellers in the small business space with Exit Planning, Business Valuations and Business Transitions.

She has a varied and diverse background which gives her exceptional bandwidth to draw from, in management consulting with small to mid-size businesses and NFP organizations, government contracting, management of a coaching company, healthcare practice management, as well  as commercial real estate brokerage, commercial and home interior sales, international student advising, high school teaching and serving her country in the United States Army Reserve.

She is adept at practical business solutions and negotiations, as well as an intuitive problem solver who gets the extra mile for her clients and customers who want to Sell or Buy a business.

Her sweet spot is learning about the dreams and goals of small business owners in the region and around the country, using humor and empathy to reach and develop relationships with the principals she serves.


Filmed on Thursday, November 5, 2020.

This Virtual Event will be made available online on Tuesday, November 10, 2020.


Virtual Event


Northwest University
Lake Washington School District (High Schools)

Get In Touch


    400 Urban Plaza, Suite 135
    Central Way, Kirkland, WA 98033
    +1 425 822 7066

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