Starting a new business involves a variety of considerations. Much like researching target markets and identifying competitors, choosing a thriving entrepreneurial location is a key element. The 2011 Kaufman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity named Arizona the number-one start-up state, as .5% of Arizona adults started a business that year. But what makes our state different from the other 49?
Let’s take a look at how Tucson fosters start-up development. Organizations like Startup Tucson, which promotes entrepreneurship events and publishes start-up stories, play a vital role in Tucson’s entrepreneurial economy. One such entrepreneurship conference, IdeaFunding 2013, was held on October 24 and gave entrepreneurs, lawyers, investors, academics, and students a chance to share their unique start-up ideas. Local entrepreneur and mentor Emre Toker explained that the main goal of IdeaFunding is to “provide a platform for people [in Tucson] to connect with one another.”
IdeaFunding also gave twelve entrepreneurship teams an opportunity to present their ideas to judges from varying backgrounds, not to mention a ballroom full of colleagues. This Rocket Pitch competition was a great academic exercise to help entrepreneurs improve their concepts. The winning team, SpeakEsy from the University of Arizona’s McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship, is developing a virtual training software program to improve public speaking.
For more recent start-ups like Marcus Engineering, IdeaFunding is a great way to reach out to less-experienced entrepreneurs while also learning from start-up veterans. As an entrepreneurship student myself, I am glad that my teammates and I had the opportunity to connect with Marcus Engineering CEO Patrick Marcus, who has even continued advising us after IdeaFunding.
In the job market, we often hear that connection is key. Tucsonans take this advice to heart, integrating their start-up ventures into the community and ultimately helping both to grow.