Startups Are Thriving in Phoenix

by Stephen Viramontes

If a startup is looking for a place to dig in its roots and flourish, that place is Greater Phoenix. There’s no other city in the nation full of more promise and potential of fostering a growing startup than the Valley of the Sun. And I saw it all begin in 2015 with the birth of what is now Techstars Startup Week PHX powered by Chase for Business.

At the time I was local, and in the middle of transitioning to the fast-paced startup community in Boston. But I heard about the startup community developing back home, and I was drawn to Phoenix by the appeal of a small grassroots movement of entrepreneurs and the desire to pursue my ideas and goals my way. What I found here was compelling, unexpected and entirely unique to Phoenix.

While other cities are startup hubs for a set of similar reasons to each other, there are three aspects of Phoenix that completely set it apart from the rest and make it the best place for startups to be right now.

Cowboy Up: Phoenix has the rough and rugged reputation it does for a reason. This city is full of scrappy individualists, who are eager to get their hands dirty and honor the Old West mentality of Arizona. If they don’t know how do something (e.g., securing capital, getting paid customers, or anything else that goes along with founding a startup), they have the ingenuity and grit to figure it out. But they also have a community of local experts who are responsive and willing to impart wisdom through mentorship and more. Where other cities’ startup cultures can be lonely, Phoenix’s is overflowing with collaboration.

In Arizona We Trust: The thing I was most surprised about when I dove head first into Phoenix’s startup world was the unwavering commitment to Arizona. As a transplant myself, I chose Phoenix because I did believe in it. And I am not alone. Startups in Phoenix want to see the community and the city itself grow. It’s obvious to see that each individual and business here understands and is willing to fight for the common goal of bettering Phoenix. If this city succeeds, so do we.

Embrace South of the Border: More and more, if a startup is going to find success, it has to be willing to jump into the global marketplace, and Phoenix is at the front line. Literally. Having gone down to Mexico, and participated in Startup Weeks there, I know the proximity Phoenix has with our neighbors to the south and how that is an invaluable advantage. Being a gateway for Central and South American businesses to enter the U.S. market is rapidly positioning Phoenix at the forefront of the global market. The most successful startups will be those that partner with businesses in Mexico and Latin America.

With such a fresh approach, provocative perspectives and talent, Phoenix is unsurprisingly at the top of experts’ lists when they consider emerging startup hotspots. And this is in no small part due to Startup Week Phoenix.

Back in 2015, before the startup community became what it is today, Startup Week Phoenix started as a free, week-long conference put on by entrepreneurs for other entrepreneurs. For the first several years, it was largely tech-focused and encouraged participants to foster good ideas, get those ideas to market, create a proof of concept and ultimately, sell the idea.

With more than 10,000 planned participants and a growing list of local experts and success stories leading the conversation, Startup Week Phoenix 2018 is all about entrepreneurs. This year, entrepreneurs will experience a five-day, immersive program, learning everything from the nitty gritty details of starting a business to seeing it through to success.

Stephen Viramontes is the volunteer chief organizer of Startup Week PHX and CEO of Assure Vote, a local GovTech software-as-a-service company.

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