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First Success Emerges from Startup Tucson’s Thryve Accelerator

When Startup Tucson initially launched Thryve Next, the second stage company accelerator last year. The Thryve team headed by CEO Justin Williams expected to help the companies graduating from the program to achieve new funding or rapid growth in the next 2 to 3 years. Last week, RBar Energy, one of the first companies to successfully complete Thryve first cohort, achieved one of those goals within just 60 days from graduating from Thryve.

Rbar was awarded the Arizona Commerce Authority’s $250,000 Innovation Challenge Grant, and is the only Tucson company to have done so in the spring 2015 award cycle. Rbar, an energy bar maker headed by retired competitive cyclist Brian Cornelius, has shown rapid growth doubling revenues so far in 2015. He has recently inked deals with new major retailers and distributors to land the Tucson made energy bar in stores and airports across the United States.

The Arizona Innovation Challenge (AIC), powered by the Arizona Commerce Authority, is a business plan competition that awards qualified, innovative start-up and early stage companies capital to grow their business in Arizona. The ACA awards $3 million every year to the most innovative companies.

According to Cornelius, the Thryve program was a critical part of his company’s growth. “I talk about my company in a completely different way now,“ said Cornelius. “Thryve helped us focus on what made us different, what customers truly loved about our product, and how to validate that customer demand to the satisfaction of investors.”

According to Williams, this kind of growth and expansion is precisely what the Thryve venture development program was created to do.
“We have assembled a powerful team of experienced executives, instructors and mentors to help entrepreneurs take their business to the next level,’ Williams said, “By teaching financial modeling methods, customer focused business model refinement, marketing and specifically how to pitch to investors, Thryve gives business owners the skills they need to grow, and the confidence to stand in front of skeptical investors with the right answers to the right questions.”

ALL_30pctThe Thryve’s growth accelerator program is scheduled to help 100 companies over 5 years under a $1.44 million dollar contract from the US Small Business Administration’s ScaleUp America program.
Taking Applications for Fall 2015
Startup Tucson is taking applications through August 3rd for companies to apply to participate in Thryve Next Fall 2015 cohort. Williams and his team of experienced business executives seek a diverse and dynamic pool of applications. The intensive 8-week program will select 10 new, high-growth companies through a rigorous, highly competitive process. Selected companies will have been in business for at least 2 years and have proven revenues of at least $150,000 per year.

Startup Tucson’s mission is to transform Tucson’s economy through entrepreneurship and innovation, and the Thryve team is preparing to assemble another great cohort of high-growth companies. “Startup Tucson initiatives like Thryve are the economic development strategy Tucson needs,” said Williams, “ We’re teaching executives to launch more success stories like Rbar Energy. All those executives have to do is be willing, and apply to be a part of Thryve.”

To submit a company application for Thryve’s Fall 2015 cohort, visit http://www.startuptucson.org/thryve-apply/.

Thryve Next FAQ

THRYVE

FAQ

  • What is Thryve Next?

Thryve Next is first of-its-kind business accelerator presented by Startup Tucson and funded by the US Small Business Administration.

  • What are the qualifications to apply?

Companies accepted into the Thryve program have been in business for at least two years and have $150,000 in revenue. These companies are scalable, able to grow into much larger operations and will create job growth and economic growth in Southern Arizona.

  • What is an accelerator?

An accelerator is program of curriculum, workshop, education and support that supports the rapid growth of second stage companies.   An incubator is for people with an idea that want to launch a company.  An accelerator is for people with a company that want to take that company to the next level of growth.

  • How much does it cost?

This program is free for companies.  Often, accelerators require both a fee and  an equity position in the company for the accelerator program.  However, because of the US Small Business Administration funding this program is free to companies.

  • What is the time commitment?

CEO’s will be expected to commit to meetups and workshops 2-3 times per week. Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6:00pm-8:00pm and Saturdays 10:00-02:00pm for the first five weeks.  After the initial period the scheduled workshops  will be reduced to Tuesdays from 6:00-8:00pm Saturdays 10:00am-2:00pm with a more directed curriculum for the next seven weeks.

  • What is the Lean Launchpad?

The lean launchpad is a business model canvas that puts business on the fast track to growth with market research, up to date business models and  a focus on validation business assumptions with real data.

Who are mentors?

There will be many mentors that offer a range of expertise throughout the course.

Justin Williams: As founder and President of Startup Tucson, Justin has worked to grow a vibrant startup community in Tucson, AZ by organizing entrepreneurs and technologists alike through events, education and mentorship. Experiential education events like Startup Drinks, Startup Tucson Hackathon, Co-Founder Speed Dating, Startup Weekend, Startup Job Crawl and Lean Launchpad help connect entrepreneurs to the skills, partners, investors and mentors that can help them take ideas and see how far they can go. He is also a doctoral student in MIS in the UA Eller College of Management where he is developing a course to help teach students in technology how find a successful business model for their new product/service idea or invention.

Tony Ford: Tony Ford has over 20 years experience in media and management. He directs social media, new media, and web media content creation and marketing for Sparc Interactive, ArtFire.com and is the founder of Maker House, the worlds first artisan driven maker space in Tucson, AZ. He has served as Adjunct Faculty at the University of Arizona teaching Media Theory, Media Management and Professional Practice courses and as Media and Arts Liaison for both the Arizona State Legislature and the U.S. State Department. As COO of ArtFire.com, Tony has directed the rapid growth of an artisan marketplace to a vibrant community of over 100,000 members and 15,000 sellers who will sell close to $15 million in goods this year. Tony directs software product development, marketing, content and social media/search engine optimization for ArtFire. He holds an MBA in International Business and a BA in Communication and Public Affairs. Tony’s consulting, project management and marketing strategies have, to date, resulted in more than $200 million in revenue gains and $60 million in cost savings for his business partners, clients and employers.

Greg Teesdale: Greg has been in the Tech and Startup industry for over 30 years at venture-backed emerging companies and as the COO and CFO of multiple companies including Strongwatch Corporation, Sunsonix, Andigilog and SiCOM. Greg earned his MBA in Operations Management from ASU. Today he is a member of the Desert Angels investing group and focuses his time on guidance to small, emerging companies in the development of their business strategies, detailed business plans, and business processes.

 

  • Can I skip the weeks where the curriculum is not something I need?

It is important that you attend each workshop and meetup in order to keep you and your peers on track. There may be weeks where you know more about the topic than others and we encourage you to share your knowledge. As the class grows, so will the curriculum, and mentors will be sure to customize the course based on the direction of the companies.

  • Does the number one person always have to go to the classes?

Yes, the class must be attended every week by a C-level executive and its important that the same person be committed to the course so that they can build upon past workshops.

  • Can I send someone else from my company?

Only executives in the company may attend because it is important that each week can build upon the previous and be implemented into your business.

  • What if I am not at $150,00 in revenue? Are there any exceptions?
  • What if I plan to be at $150,000 within the year?
  • What if I have $150,000 in investment, not revenue?
  • I have an idea for a company and I need help getting it off the ground, is there anything for me?

Thryve Next is probably not the program for you, but don’t worry there are still lots of ways for you to become part of the Startup community. We also run a Thryve program geared towards startups in the first stage, this incubation program is run in the summer.

  • What the difference between incubator and accelerator?

An accelerator is directed at mid level companies looking to create rapid growth while incubators take an idea and evolve a business model.

  • What is Demo Day?

Demo day is the conclusion of the Thryve Next course and gives each participant the opportunity to present their company.

  • What happens after the program is over?

Although the course is over you will be an Alumni forever, join the community of Alumni and enjoy the support of other companies and mentor support.

  • Where do I apply?

startuptucson.org/thryve-apply 

 

Email: info@startuptucson.com for questions and concerns

 

Startup Tucson Announces Scholarships for Startup STEM Camp 2015

Is Your Student Ready for Future?  Get Your Child involved in Technology and out of the House this Summer at Startup STEM Camp.

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Attention parents of curious, bright or energetic students attending middle or high school! How is your child getting prepared for the future outside of the classroom?   Are your students learning about technology, startups, and entrepreneurship?  Would your student like to launch their own tech company some day?

Well you are at the right place!

Startup Tucson has an awesome opportunity for your kids this summer. It’s called STEM Camp!

 

What is Startup STEM Camp?

This is a new kind of summer camp that will leave your kids hungry for further entrepreneurial and technology knowledge! STEM Camp offers a variety of high energy and intellectually challenging events and activities for middle school and high school students.

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In the span of just one week, your child will:

  • Interact with new and upcoming technologies like 3d printing and quadcopters.

  • Identify and pursue solutions for real world problems that they are passionate about

  • Test market demand for their own business idea through customer interviews

  • Develop a prototype concept, business or product

  • Learn valuable presentation skills and pitch their product to local business leaders

  • Start developing their own skills and relationships in the technology world

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Why is this so important?

Even at a young age, your child has the ability to solve real world problems. The goal of STEM Camp is to give your kids hands on experience with technology and allow them to develop critical thinking skills now that will help them in the jobs and economy of the future.

“Having an entrepreneurial mindset is becoming more relevant than ever,” according to CEO of Startup Tucson, Justin Williams, “Companies such as Enterprise and Intuit have a  high demand for employees who have an entrepreneurial mindset.”  Today’s students need to develop these skills for their future pursuits.

Thanks to the support of the Brown Foundation, Startup Tucson is able  to offer proactive students one of 20 partial scholarships for Startup STEM camp.  With these scholarships, the cost to attend this week-long experience is far below any other camp of its kind. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to ensure your student has hands on experience with the tools and thinking needed for the future.

What is the Brown Foundation?

The Brown foundation, founded by successful businessman Thomas R. Brown, supports local education and innovation opportunities through their grant programs. With this incredible foundation as a supporter, Startup Tucson is giving away 20 scholarships to students that have a serious drive for entrepreneurship.

 

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Startup STEM Camp Seats are Limited.

 

Don’t wait to sign up later.  We expect Startup STEM camp to sell out long before the deadline and this is the only STEM camp of it’s kind in Tucson this year.

 

Signup Now!

Startup Tucson Announces Partnership with Wasabi Ventures

Startup Tucson to Announce Partnership with Wasabi Ventures at June Startup Drinks; Partnership Includes ‘The Wasabi Prize’ of Seed Investment and Support for Team in Thryve Incubator

Tucson, AZ, June 1, 2015 – Things just got very exciting for Tucson’s startup scene and the twenty teams admitted in Startup Tucson’s Thryve Incubator program.  Wasabi Ventures, with offices in Silicon Valley, New England, Baltimore and now Arizona has partnered with Startup Tucson to expand the resources available to Tucson’s startup community by providing education, mentoring, and support for Tucson startups.

The new partnership includes ‘The Wasabi Prize’ to be awarded to one startup during Thryve’s Summer Demo Day.  The prize is a co-founder investment package including seed capital and a range of services, plus the strategic guidance and mentorship of Wasabi’s partners.  Additionally, the partnership incorporates modules of the Wasabi Ventures Academy program into the Startup Tucson’s Thryve Incubator program.

Startup Tucson’s Thryve Incubator puts startup teams through a 12-week intensive program that helps them prepare their business for launch, growth and seeking investment capital.  Incubator teams operate in two principal areas of focus: technology and social impact. Wasabi Ventures partners have funded companies as early as the idea stage and have even served as technical co-founders with entrepreneurs who have the idea and drive to launch but lack technical expertise.

Startup Drinks Welcomes Wasabi Ventures

The public is invited to join Startup Tucson and Wasabi Ventures as they celebrate their new partnership at a special Startup Drinks event on Wednesday June 3rd.  Attendees can register for free tickets online at www.startuptucson.com/events.  Startup Drinks is a free monthly networking event that connects the growing entrepreneur community in Tucson.   The event begins at 5:30 PM at Ermanos on 4th Ave with the announcement and remarks beginning at 6:00 PM followed by a round of “Startup Standup”, Tucson’s founders grab the mic to make their one minute elevator pitch.

About Wasabi Ventures

Wasabi Ventures is a venture capital, incubator, and consulting firm that specializes in building and advising early stage technology companies.  In the last 10 years, Wasabi Ventures has built, financed, and advised over 200 start-ups including some wildly successful ventures like Right Now Technologies, PBworks, Ustream, and Etherpad.  The firm’s business model excels at getting involved very early in the process, often at the idea stage, by participating as co-founders alongside founding team members who have the idea and drive to launch a startup but may lack technical or business expertise.

 

About Startup Tucson & Thryve

Founded in 2011, Startup Tucson is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit working to transforming Southern Arizona’s economy through innovation and entrepreneurship.  Startup Tucson delivers programs to support the launch of and growth of high-impact businesses.  Startup Tucson operates Thryve, a venture development program providing entrepreneurs with the resources to turn their ideas into scalable, job creating ventures.  Thryve Next is a growth acceleration program to support “Second Stage” companies through a 5-year, $1.44 million contract from the US Small Business Administration.  Champions for Startup Tucson’s work include the City of Tucson, the Diane and Bruce Halle Foundation, Holualoa Properties, the U.S. Small Business Administration and the Desert Angels. Visit www.startuptucson.org for more information.

 

Uniting a Community of Entrepreneurs

1mc2015 1MC Organizers Summit

I was fortunate enough to attend the 1 Million Cups Organizers Summit this past week in Kansas City. It was a remarkably energizing experience which left me wanting to run back to Tucson with all the ideas and inspiration gained during my three days there. WOW! What a fantastic conference … For those who don’t already know, 1MC is a weekly meetup that connects startups with the community. (You should totally check it out!)

Startup Tucson has joined with the Kauffman Foundation to put on this event every Wednesday morning at Colab in the Pioneer Building downtown. Tucson, along with more than 60 other cities connect over free coffee at 8am to learn about a new emerging startup and give them feedback during an open question and answer forum.

royals1MC was created by the Kauffman Foundation – a major driver in the entrepreneurial community – and run by entrepreneurs. This conference brought together the organizers from all regions of the United States to share best practices, organizational ideas and inspiring stories.

The best part of the trip was sharing our many Tucson startup community efforts with all of these other communities especially how Startup Tucson is developing an entrepreneurial culture and transforming Southern Arizona’s economy through entrepreneurship and innovation. Tucson is building a nationwide reputation as a startup hub and I met numerous people who had heard of Startup Tucson and knew about some of our programs and efforts.

I also had the opportunity to hear Nathan Gold speak on creating better presentations and becoming a presentation coach, which is what a 1MC organizer truly is. He talked about how to frame your story, explain your why, and pitch your WOW. I am excited to implement tactics he shared; you’ll have to attend a 1MC to discover what’s new. (The Kauffman Foundation has a lot of great videos, check them out here.)

Another great experience was meeting other organizers and sharing ideas and failures. This was is an amazing group of individuals who are passionate about their cities and the startup community they foster. We even got to go cheer on the American League Champion Royals and share in a frozen margarita or two!

Before this conference I was focused on event logistics. Now, my priority is to create an amazing experience for both presenters and audience. I want this community to be as excited as I am that this is happening in Tucson. I want everyone to be pumped up on Wednesday mornings!

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Desert Angels: An Interview with Curtis Gunn

Tucson’s Desert Angels, an early-stage investor group that provides funds for local startups in the tech sector, received important national recognition last week.  The group was ranked the 3rd most active angel group in the nation by the The Halo Report after having made 32 investments totaling $6.8 million in 2014.

 

The ranking put Tucson group ahead of others in recognized startup hubs like Austin, Seattle, and Boulder   According to the group’s chairman, Curtis Gunn, the Desert Angels have invested nearly $25 million during his five years with the organization.

 

I spoke with Gunn to discuss the future of the Desert Angels and what it takes to become to become a member of Desert Angels or obtain investment from the group.

 

Q: What are the Desert Angel’s plans for 2015? 2014 was by far the busiest year for the Desert Angels. Will this year be even busier?

 

A: There already are 13 investments in the first quarter of the year. Last year the Desert Angel’s had 32 investments, which is such a big number for a group in Tucson. I honestly do not believe that we will rise higher than third on the Halo Report, but it is amazing for an angel group in Tucson to be above relative peers such as Boston, Silicon Valley and New York.

 

Q: The Desert Angels are primarily focused on funding technology companies; do you see expanding to other areas? And what advice would you give to local entrepreneurs who want to become associated with the Desert Angel investors?

 

A: Over the last 5 years 94% of the money has stayed in Arizona with a strong preference towards local companies within Tucson. There is a misconception that the Desert Angels are only technology related. We would review any opportunity as long as it is scalable in a capital efficient manner. Desert Angels are open to all investments but there are requirements before our members will invest. The most important aspect for us is the startup team; we require that the team is professional, courageous and ready for helpful change. It is also a plus for the startup to already gain numbers on the size of the market interested in their product as well as additional social testing to determine market valuation. I would advise that a startup have done these two tasks before contacting the Desert Angels. Also having sales before the process is another additional benefit and if there is not already a prototype you will not make it through. You cannot simply come in with an idea, there has to be a usable product that is already completed. So please establish yourself and your product professionally beforehand.

 

Q: What advice would you give to upcoming investors who are interested in joining the Desert Angels? What are the requirements? What are the benefits of becoming one?

 

A: You must be an accredited investor with a net worth of over a million dollars, not including properties, or an income of over $200,000 a year. Yearly investment is required so please come with the expectation of investing your money. Everyone invests as individuals and we made 32 total investments in 2014. The benefit of an angel group is that you are in a room of investors from a really broad range of corporate experiences; any company that comes to present will have domain expertise from a member who knows that specific market. We can introduce future investors to many people who will help them in the long run from knowledge and past experience.

 

Q: Obviously there is risk when one wants to invest. How do the Desert Angels ensure that investors’ money is used strategically and appropriately? There is a rigorous process of gaining investors from Desert Angels, could you briefly explain the beginning of process?

 

A: The risk will always be there, there is a 50% chance that the company you invest in will fail. But to combat these chances, we have created a way to help investors make decisions within the startup being invested in. Often, investors will take a board position for the startup, which gives them a level of insight into the company and its management. The board is what will review the company’s strategies as well as hiring and spending.

 

A note from the author, Andrew Sorensen:

The Desert Angels process has recently transitioned into a new platform called ProSeeder, which serves as the deal from management platform. The first step is to create your application on ProSeeder, which will then be reviewed by the Desert Angel’s board members. Last year, 2014, the funnel was about 200 applications where 55 were screened and only 17 presented, only 8.5%. So obviously the entry process is very competitive. Like said in the previous question, your best shot at getting investments is by doing your homework and coming in prepared with resources and experience at hand.

 

To submit your business plan to the Desert Angels click here

To apply to become a member of the Desert Angels click here.

To review the Desert Angels portfolio of funded companies click here.

 

 

 

 

The 2015 Job Crawl Generates Buzz About Tucson Career Opportunities

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Lets keep the graduates in our city!

If one were to walk around the Startup Tucson Job Crawl [startuptucson.org/event/tucsonjobcrawl/] held at Gentle Ben’s, they would see an empowering atmosphere accompanied by young entrepreneurs enjoying drinks. The setting was full of private conversations where future-graduating candidates learned about career opportunities emerging in Tucson and also programs (startuptucson.org/go/growth-hacker-internship-2015/) to help them with their professional future.

One of the biggest issues with Tucson’s technical growth is that many of the University of Arizona’s graduates leave town after graduation and do not preserve their skills in the Old Pueblo. A primary issue is that many of the graduates are out-of-state students that come from northern California and all the way from New York. The Startup Tucson Job Crawl has been created to help retain these graduates and keep the innovation in Tucson. Thankfully Tucson is growing as a city and providing attractive reasons for future professionals to remain.

“I’m from San Diego but I’ve fallen in love with Tucson. It has what any young person needs, the nightlife, the University atmosphere, great local food, great local bars and Mt. Lemmon!”

“I want to stay in Tucson to help the innovation of our city grow. I hope to find a company that will hire me so I can remain in Tucson after graduation. I am willing to leave San Diego behind for a professional opportunity in Tucson.”

Matt Hart (Mechanical Engineer, Senior; University of Arizona)

Matt Hart was one of the many future graduates who attended the Startup Tucson Job Crawl. Matt was able to speak to numerous companies that applied to his Mechanical Engineering degree and networked with many fellow graduating students who all share the same intention on starting a career in Tucson.

The greatest part about Startup Job Crawl is that you can skip the mundane process of only being able to apply by only handing in a boring application. Here at the Job Crawl you are allowed to meet the CEO and business owners face to face (even with a beer in hand) to discuss business opportunities and career possibilities. Not only do you get to discover future career opportunities but also you can get a glimpse of what the social atmosphere of the company holds.

32 Companies (startuptucson.org/tucsonjobcrawl) took advantage of meeting Tucson’s future professionals and are helping locally taught innovation stay in Tucson. The companies looked for leaders with aspirations and who are enthusiastic about their future professions. Businesses and students alike should plan for our next Job Crawl and help keep the talent in Tucson.

 

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Filling the Capital Gap in the Southwest is a Good Investment

I recently discussed Arizona’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, and I highlighted some of the great work being done across the community and specifically applied 5 factors that were highlighted by UPGlobal a keys to growing a sustainable entrepreneurial ecosystem. Arizona is showing great strength along 4 of the 5 areas, the gap: Capital. The biggest gap for the region is not talent, culture, support systems, or even the regulatory environment, it was a lack of capital. Business opportunity is built around finding gaps in markets. In this case, this particular gap coincides with my passion of helping to build the future in the southwest.

The Capital Gap

There are currently 3 active Venture Capital sources in Arizona and 2 core angel investment groups. The venture capital firms are Solstice Capital, Grayhawk Capital, and Tallwave Capital while the angel groups are Desert Angels and Arizona Tech Investors.

Over the several years, Solstice Capital has emerged as a major venture investor in the Tucson market and a significant presence in other areas of Arizona. While in Tucson, a significant amount of their fund was deployed to companies in the Northeast. Solstice Capital is also not investing in any new deals and will not be raising another fund. Other venture capital firms in the Phoenix metro area includeTallwave Capital who just closed their $13M fund and Grayhawk Capital who has managed 8 venture funds and invested in over 72 total investments within the technology space with a fund size of $70M. Grayhawk closed this round of funding in 2013 and expected to invest in about 15 companies. It appears they currently have investments in 11 companies already. Tallwave is making its first investments beginning this year out of their fund and a new venture firm, Wasabi Ventures is moving to Phoenix and expects to invest in 20 companies over the next two years. I would expect Grayhawk Capital to raise another fund in the next 3-5 years and it is unknown the size of investments that Wasabi Ventures is going to make.

While those are unknowns, what is known is the Southwest makes up over 12% of the nation’s GDP yet has attracted only 0.15% of the venture capital currently under management. At the end of 2013, that is over 98% of the $48.3B of venture capital not being invested in Arizona’s startup economy. I have seen and worked with the individuals who are the entrepreneurs building successful businesses. I also have seen the angel investment community step up and become one of the most active in the nation according to the HALO report.

There are companies being funded that are going to need additional funding and the angel investment community looks to also be supplementing follow-on rounds due to a lack of venture capital. This model introduces risk to the ecosystem by not continuing to grow the newest businesses at their earliest stages where angels tend to invest because they are not able to diversify their investment portfolios because they are overweight in follow-on rounds of existing investments. Rounds built and ready for a venture capital firm to invest.

Arizona presents a Great Market Opportunity

Among the 50 states, Arizona was ranked No. 19 for the amount of venture capital it attracted last year, moving up two spots, according to the report. We are also seeing that venture capital is seeing opportunity in Arizona.

Admittedly, it has been challenging to have VCs show us the money over the years. But last year, tech companies reported a nearly 127 percent increase in venture capital. That meant $257 million in investments compared to the $113.3 million in the previous year. It also reveals the outside world is as excited about Arizona as we are. – Steve Zylstra, AZ Tech Council

This still amounts to just a tiny fraction of the total investment in the $43B venture capital market. We are seeing greater concentration of wealth and investments fromventure capital firms occurring in Silicon Valley, Boston,and New York. Thesecapital-infused locations already are extremely expensive and the cost of living continues to grow, creating an environment that makes building capital efficient companies even more challenging. These locations are also not the only place for ideas and companies to be built as we have seen the recent growth of investment going into Chicago, DC, Austin and other locations.

Ideas and innovation are not location-dependent and what is concerning from a regional perspective is the human capital moving to Silicon Valley is disproportionately coming from the Southwest. Arizona is the 3rd largest source of human capital moving to Silicon Valley with Texas coming in 2nd, Nevada 14th, and Colorado 25th of global talent, not just from the United States.

Just to recap, Silicon Valley holds the capital and attracts talent to areas that have a significantly higher cost of living, they invest the capital where the cost of doing business is higher both in taxes and operating costs, and they invest at valuations far higher than what is occurring in the rest of the country. If companies were operating to maximize profitability, they would find more effective cost saving methods and that means building companies in more optimal locations. Instead, companies are built where there is capital and the capital being spent is greater in these expensive regions than it is in other areas of the country like Arizona.

Venture capital firm have an organized source of seed capital that is among the best in the nation. Angel investors in the southwest have been a robust source of seed stage capital for years and are among the most active in the country. More recently, we have experienced significant growth in the number of funded seed stage deals, due to the emergence of accelerators, super angels and new seed stage funds along with the other core elements needed in an entrepreneurial ecosystemidentified previously. We now need to see greater follow-on capital in the range of $1.5 to $7 million for companies, funding which is the sweet spot for venture capital.

Importance of Venture Capital to the Region

Some may ask, why is venture capital a big deal and why should it matter to anyone other than those guys building something in their garage? The reason is venture capital is rare among asset classes in that it is truly shared. Entrepreneurs and employees both benefit from appreciated stock and stock options and it creates new wealth not wealth transfer like many government programs. Further, Venture Capital amounts to 0.2% of the US GDP, yet venture-backed companies amount to 21% of GDP and 11% of Private Sector jobs. Further, for every employee in a venture-backed company, it creates 2.2 jobs outside of that company according to a recentstudy.

If we want to grow a new economy for Arizona, we must be committed to investing in the startup community and growing new ventures. This includes not just supporting and celebrating our local entrepreneurs, it means building an environment and recruiting venture capital firms to invest in what would otherwise be a thriving entrepreneurial economy in Arizona.

Venture capital’s role in driving U.S. innovation tells us more. No other investors assume more risk, employ more patience or partner more closely with entrepreneurs to bring breakthrough ideas and technologies to the marketplace. Over the last four decades, these products have changed the way we live and work in profound and countless ways. Moreover, such innovations drive the U.S. economy’s evolution by spawning new high-growth companies and, in many cases, entire new industries.

Venture capital plays a lead role by persistently identifying and funding only those ideas with this transformative potential — in good economic times and bad. Venture has proven itself to be the most effective mechanism for rapidly deploying capital to the most promising emerging technologies and industries — moving nimbly to where the future opportunities lie. The result has been millions of jobs, trillions of dollars in revenue, and immeasurable economic value that otherwise might never have come into being had these bright ideas not been initially funded and nurtured to sustainability. Arizona needs to make a concerted effort to recruit this type of capital through changes in both legislation and actively trying to recruit and build these firms as a core part of its economic development strategy.

 

Entrepreneur | Executive | Mentor | Investor