Startup Tucson is Hiring – Senior Director of Operations

Startup Tucson is a 501c3 Educational non-profit with a mission to transform our region’s economy through entrepreneurship and innovation.  Since launching in 2011 as a grass-roots community organization, our team expanded and worked closely together to foster the new generation of community leaders driving the next generation of economic growth.  To continue our work to drive long-term impact and growth for our region, the board and CEO are looking for a mission-focused, seasoned, strategic, and process-minded leader with the necessary experience to help our organization scale up to meet this exciting challenge ahead.

Reporting to the Founder and CEO, the Senior Director of Operations will be responsible for both strategic oversight and day-to-day support for the Startup Tucson team and programs. The successful candidate will have the skills, personality, sensitivity, and confidence necessary to:

  • Develop a strong team culture of collaboration and high-quality performance
  • Work with a wide array of talented individuals including staff, volunteers, and community leaders
  • Tap into the power that each member of the team brings to this mission
  • Bring efficient and effective systems to our work while maintaining the creative spark and energy the drives a culture of innovation


  • Developing new and improving existing operational systems, processes and policies including management reporting, information flow, and organizational planning.
  • Assisting CEO with Board management, budget, organizations metrics, and strategic plan development
  • Managing support services including HR, IT and Finance
  • Fundraising strategy and support including both grant and contract research, writing, management and related reporting
  • Holding regular meetings with key staff members to enhance the organizational mission and efficiency of delivery of programs and services.
  • Coordinating and providing key internal training on new programs and procedures


Key Qualifications

As a prerequisite, the candidate must share Startup Tucson’s commitment to community growth through entrepreneurship and innovation.  The successful candidate will most likely have had relevant experience at successful non-profit organization and be seeking a new or increased challenge.  The candidate will also demonstrate the ability to consistently make good decisions through a combination of analysis, wisdom, experience, and judgment; the ability to balance the delivery of programs against the realities of a budget; and problem solving, project management, and creative resourcefulness.

Additional requirements are:

  • Self-directed professional, comfortable responding to and leading change in a dynamic, fast paced community and work environment
  • Enjoys working hard and looks for challenges; able to act and react as necessary, even if limited information is available; not afraid to take charge of a situation; can overcome resistance to leadership and take unpopular stands when necessary
  • Ability to think strategically, anticipate future consequences and trends, and incorporate them into the organizational plan
  • Ability to look at situations from several points of view, challenge and debate assumptions, and make decisions using details and facts.
  • Ability to effectively build organization and staff capacity, developing a top-notch workforce and the process best practices that ensure the organization runs smoothly
  • Ability to delegate responsibilities to staff and inspire volunteers to deliver major mission impact with quality and commitment.
  • Fundraising experience including grant and contract research, writing, management and reporting
  • A demonstrated commitment to high professional and ethical standards and to a diverse workplace
  • Bachelor’s Degree or higher, or equivalent industry experience including 2 years of project and budget management experience
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills, interpersonal skills and a collaborative management style
  • Demonstrated fluency with current and new office systems including both online and desktop software and technology.



This is an outstanding opportunity for a highly motivated professional to assume a pivotal role in the evolution of a fast-growing, highly respected organization. We are seeking an individual of outstanding quality with a respected track record and offer a competitive salary.


Application Information

Please email a resume and cover letter directly to Justin Williams, Founder and CEO ( with the subject line “Apply SDO”.

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!

Mexico is a land of investment opportunities

The Desert Angels, an Arizona-based non-profit organization of investors, kicked off their fifth annual Southwest Regional Angel Summit Sunday at the University of Arizona (UofA).

Bob Morrison, the organizer of the event and a member of the local Desert Angels investment group, said that this year’s summit differed from past ones because they extended it into two days, with the first exposing angel investors to Mexico’s market, entrepreneurship and innovation.

“(Angel investors) need to understand that (Mexico) is not the land of just tequila and margaritas, but a land of investment opportunities,” Morrison said.

Speaker Giancarlo Ciscomani Freaner led the discussion panel by sharing with the audience one such opportunity: Angel Ventures Mexico (AVM).

According to Freaner, AVM was founded in 2008 in Mexico City and is run by Hernan Fernandez. In general, the company focuses on “providing companies and angel investors with potential looking for capital.”

Giancarlo Ciscomani Freaner (right) interacts with an angel investor on the first day of the Fifth Annual Southwest Regional Angel Summit Sunday. Freaner introduced angel investors from both Mexico and the U.S. to the company, Angel Ventures Mexico. Photo by Melissa Guz

“Angel investing is a critical stage in our development,” Freaner said. “The challenge is getting access to them… the (U.S.) investors interested in spanning into Mexico. We need help opening up the market to Mexico.”

Freaner also said that their major plan is to replicate a model so that Mexicans living in foreign countries can invest in the Mexican/Hispanic innovation.

“Unfortunately, there are minor cultural problems,” he said. “One of these problems (that applies toward investments in general) is that investors don’t like to put money in things with high risk or that they’re uncertain about.”

And in this case, it appears that many investors are worried about the safety and trustworthiness of such companies based in Mexico.

This concern over establishing credibility toward Mexican-based companies ended-up being one of the central driving factors behind the start-up company, enBIDia. It was pitched by Luis R. Soto and Alexandra Garcia, who are two members of the management team, as well as international students attending the UofA’s McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship.

According to Soto, enBIDia is a penny-bidding website similar to the Canada’s However, its aim is to provide trust in both the Mexican market and government.

“There is no friendly penny auction in Mexico because a lot of people don’t trust them,” Soto said. He used the company, por1peso as an example. He said that this auction website has a great deal of discontent to its customers.

“Compared to others, we want to be transparent, friendly, have fast delivery, as well as provide a natural bidding Mexican-based website with an entertaining outlet,” Soto said.

In addition to establishing trust with their customers as the main business risk, Garcia noted that a major financial risk is just being able to raise the sufficient funds for the products they will be auctioning off.

“This is also the result of the lack of industry information in Mexico,” she said.

The panel then transitioned into a company called  CIMATIKA. According to its CEO, Franciska Karsay, CIMATIKA was founded in 2011 by scientists as a technology-transfer project between the UofA and Mexico’s National Board of Science and Technology, or CONACYT. In general, CIMATIKA was designed to highlight Mexico’s innovations by commercializing them to benefit the Mexican people.

And in this case, CIMATIKA highlighted products like their Automated Counting System, which allows the counting of a specific product’s order size and inventory in seconds. In general, it counts things like various stacked materials, such as lumber, metal or paper, Karsay said.

Marcos Garay listens to Freaner's presentation on Angel Ventures Mexico on the first day of the Fifth Annual Southwest Regional Angel Summit Sunday. Garay believes that it is important for angel investors from both the U.S. and Mexico to start understanding where each country comes from when dealing with investments, entrepreneurship and technological innovations. Photo by Melissa Guz

By the end, angel investors like Marcos Garay from New York City appeared to have shown a great interest in the education of Mexican investors about how U.S. investors think, and vise versa.

“There are a lot of good things down there, and a lot of misconceptions (like safety),” Garay said. “The time has come to increase business from one place to another… Our challenge is to bring forth the opportunity of entrepreneurship everywhere.”

Click here to see the agenda for the second day of the summit.

AzCI's Mentored Launch Program for Startup Tech Companies Gets Underway April 3, 2012

Arizona Center for Innovation’s Mentored Launch program is starting April 3, 2012 –

AzCI is a technology business incubator that helps entrepreneurs transform their innovative ideas into successful ventures through: business planning; customized training and workshops; events; individual mentoring and expertise; partnerships; plug-and-play office space; and access to high-quality equipment and laboratory facilities.

In the Mentored Launch program, participants have the opportunity to explore and apply current business ideas relevant to their new project through mentorled discussion groups and individual coaching.

This program is ideal for any entrepreneur or inventor thinking about starting a new venture or launching a new product, regardless of where they are in their efforts to commercialize.

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McGuire Entrepreneurship Students Undertake Special Assignment to Investigate Tech Commercialization at UA, within Southern AZ & Across the State

The McGuire Center's Matt Mars oversees honors students' work in the Dean's Open Innovation Challenge.

eller buzz

Eller College of Management

McGuire Entrepreneurship at Work

Honors Students Investigate Tech Transfer in Dean’s Open Innovation Challenge

By Liz Warren-Pederson – March 12, 2012

As part of their honors coursework, 28 undergraduates enrolled in the McGuire Entrepreneurship Program are investigating the technology commercialization environment at the University of Arizona, within southern Arizona, and across the state.

The Dean’s Open Innovation Challenge tasks eight teams of honors students with gathering and analyzing data that may contribute to the success of the new Tech Launch Arizona initiative UA announced in 2011.

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UA Eller College of Management Initiates New Program to Help South Tucson Entrepreneurs

eller buzz

Eller College of Management

Eller College Launches South Tucson Economic Development Program

By Liz Warren-Pederson

March 12, 2012

With the support of a $100,000 seed gift from JPMorgan Chase, the Eller College of Management has launched a new economic development program aimed at helping South Tucson entrepreneurs grow their businesses.

The Eller Economic Development program will partner with nonprofit agencies such as the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to identify individuals who can offer input on the specific needs of area small business owners as well as those who may benefit from the program directly.

“The program is based a similar program offered by the University of Washington in Seattle,” said Leslie Eldenburg, McClelland Professor of Accounting, who initiated the program. According to the Small Business Administration, start-up and small businesses have generated 65 percent of the net new jobs in the U.S. over the past 17 years. However, the small business landscape has also gotten more competitive as such companies are using cutting-edge technologies to help them succeed.

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Students Present Potential New Startup Companies at Recent UA Innovation Showcase

Students unveil entrepreneurial creations at UA’s Innovation Day

Posted: Friday, March 9, 2012 12:00 pm | Updated: 7:37 pm, Sat Mar 10, 2012.

By Patrick McNamara – Inside Tucson Business

The University of Arizona’s best and brightest student entrepreneurs filled the ballroom at the Student Union Memorial Center on Tuesday (March 6). The venue was apropos for the event, Innovation Day, which had the feel of a debutante ball for students eager to give their ideas a first public showing.

Student teams from the UA McGuire Entrepreneurship Program presented business concepts that they had worked on throughout the school term at the Innovation Showcase.

Some students are hopeful that their concepts will get noticed, create interest and attract investors. Others have already have begun to market their creations.

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Startups Now Getting More Financial & Other Kinds of Help in Arizona


More Arizona startups taking root

by Betty Beard – Mar. 10, 2012 05:19 PM
The Republic |

Starting a business and building it to profitability is never easy, especially in Arizona, where venture capital is often in short supply.

But in recent years, startups have begun to get more help as recognition grows that they provide jobs as well as tax revenues. A more homegrown economy can have greater stability than one overly reliant on jobs created by out-of-state companies.

The seeds of growth include more investments in local companies, a $3 million pool of state-sponsored grants and the growth of business incubators and accelerators across metro Phoenix.

Last year saw an increase in venture capital — the major source of capital sought by startups — awarded to Arizona-based companies.

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Tucson-based Startup Company Post.Bid.Ship is Now Up & Going



Idea Becomes Business Reality for UA Grads

Story By Nathan Mitchell

March 5, 2012

“Post. Bid. Ship.”, a technology company that got its start when two graduate students at the University of Arizona’s Eller College of Business Management joined forces to enter a business idea to the McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship.

Founders Micky Thompson and Jarret Hamstreet won awards and attention for their idea, and it placed first in the entrepreneurship program. Thompson and Hamstreet’s other two ideas placed second and third.

Despite their success, the two were readying to take job offers upon graduation. But with some nudging from professors and local investors, they decided to stick around and start the company.

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Tucson-based Start-up Company Kihon Games Receives $1.5 Million Venture Capital Investment


Playdom co-founder Rick Thompson pumps $1.5 million into indie outfit Kihon Games

Joins board of directors

Product: Kihon Games news

Manufacturer: Kihon Games

by Keith Andrew

Arizona-based indie studio Kihon Games has announced Playdom co-founder Rick Thompson has invested a total of $1.5 million in the firm.

Delivered via venture capital firm Signia Ventures, both Thompson and Signia’s entrepreneur-in-residence Dan Fiden will join Kihon’s board of directors as a result of the deal, with the studio set to use the money to fund the release of its second game, Dojo Danger.

Monkey business

“Since co-founding Playdom, I’ve been dedicated to working with the best mobile and social gaming companies to improve the quality of these games,” said Thompson, who has previously invested in Funzio, Idle Games and Wild Needle.

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