Recap: PHX Startup Week 2017

This year’s PHX Startup Week was without a doubt the most powerful one yet. With approximately 10,000 total registrants and over 80 different talks to attend, the five day event was a smashing success. This year, attendees were lucky to explore a different location within the local entrepreneurial and educational ecosystem each day, starting with Galvanize downtown and ending at ASU’s Tempe campus. The City of Phoenix even shut down part of Central Ave for a few hours to host Street Pitch, an exciting competition in which ten local startups pitched for a $50,000 investment. (Huge congratulations are in order for the winner, OYE! Business Intelligence, though every pitch was wonderfully executed.)

Throughout the week, TechAZ asked PHX Startup Week 2017 attendees a couple of crucial questions: “What’s so great about starting a business in Phoenix?” and “What’s your favorite thing about PHX Startup Week?” The responses we received were brilliant.

 

Vivek Kopparthi, co-founder and CEO of NeoLight.

Phoenix is a hot and happening ecosystem. This is where we have a lot of inclusivity and interconnectedness, and because we have a growing ecosystem, there’s not a lot of ego. We have a lot of people who help each other and hold our hands tight. It’s more collaboration versus competition.
 
My favorite part of Startup Week is the fact that it is very raw. It goes straight from entrepreneurs to entrepreneurs. It’s not something that comes from a VC firm or from an incubator preaching someone else’s strategies. It’s the real-life experience of Phoenix entrepreneurs who have been there, done that, and are spreading the message and embedding motivation as they go.

John Johnson, Operations Manager at Seed Spot.

Phoenix is a very young city still attempting to find its identity. So as a business out of Phoenix, you’re able to shape that identity and really start to make a mark on a whole metropolitan area, rather than being a part of a city or ecosystem that existed before.
 
My favorite thing about Startup Week is that there are so many people coming together that I already know, so it’s easy to catch up with people and touch base on where they’re at in their business, their career, or their life. . . . You can collaborate with them and see how you intersect after not seeing them for half a year or so. It’s like speed catch-up.

Mike Guggemos, CIO at Insight.

There are a number of benefits to starting a business in Phoenix. The single greatest one is actually the cost of doing business here in Arizona, and to get established in the network it’s very inexpensive in comparison to other areas.
 
Startup Week is all networking. It’s meeting with other people. No matter how established they are or how nascent they are in kicking off, everyone has a similar mindset—they want to create something.

Greg Head, marketing strategy consultant and former CMO at Infusionsoft.

Phoenix is the fifth largest city in the US. There’s tons of talent here. Unlike Silicon Valley, LA and others, where it can be hard to find talent, it’s easy to find people to help here in Phoenix.
 
At Startup Week, you get to see everyone you’ve seen all year long on social media face-to-face.

Brieanna Bonnstetter, Customer Experience Manager at Atmosphere Commercial Interiors.

Phoenix is amazing. In just the last two years, it’s grown tremendously. It’s crazy how much we’ve added in regard to restaurants, housing, and all the other stuff down here. This is definitely the place to be.
 
My favorite thing about Startup Week is just all of the ideas. You have a pile of people who are just generating ideas and pushing things forward in our world. It’s awesome to watch.

Rafael Testai, CEO of Eventkey.

I can tell you from my own experience that Phoenix holds a close-knit community that truly supports your idea. Eventkey is a prime example of that. I founded Eventkey, got a team of ASU alumni, and we took the idea to events and people are adopting it very well.
 
What I love most about Startup Week is that you get a chance to connect with some of heads of organizations who don’t usually have time to come to events. This is the one time out of the year that you finally get to connect with that one CEO, or the person who runs some of the media at TechAZ!

Kyle Thomas, founder and CEO of Adora.

One of the most amazing things about Phoenix is the cost of doing business, especially when you look at office space. Also, a lot of other places aren’t as hip with co-working as we are here, so that’s a huge advantage: we have places like DeskHub, CO+HOOTS, the Department, Galvanize. So it’s a great place to get started. The community itself is probably one of the most startup communities I’ve ever experienced,  and I’ve been around a little bit to Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Austin, Denver. . . . This community is uniquely generous.
 
There are a couple things I love about Startup Week. One, the content is fantastic. The other thing that’s really powerful is getting to know people in the ecosystem. We may be a generous community, but unless you go out and approach people and open yourself up, you’re not going to get the full effect of that amazing ecosystem.

Kamila Alberti, Client Success Manager at Schola Solutions.

I would say that startups have a lot of room to grow in Phoenix. And people are very encouraging here toward small businesses and entrepreneurship. We were part of Seed Spot, too—so we had a really great support system.
 
I just love the community here. . . everyone getting together and supporting each other.

Nicole Cottrell, founder of Love & Startups.

I think the community in Phoenix is very often underrated and undervalued. The community alone is worth starting a business here, and forget all the rest—it’s cheaper, it’s smarter, and you have a built-in infrastructure.
 
My favorite thing about Startup Week is probably the happy hours, only because I love getting to see the people I ran into during the day and actually getting to hear their highlights from the day. I always learn something new. Beyond that, the connections I’ve made with people during Startup Week have continued on and turned into people I’ve been able to work with or throw work toward. Those relationships just keep going.

Kanal Lorei, Membership Manager at Galvanize Phoenix.

I think the cost of operating is a huge benefit here. We’re also very diverse in the talent we have—we have some of the largest universities in the nation, so hiring talent is not an issue compared to other places. Not only that, but we have such great momentum coming up in rising areas like downtown Phoenix and Scottsdale. We’re creating density by bringing entrepreneurs and companies together under one roof to collaborate, communicate, and innovate together.
 
I got my start through Phoenix Startup Week. I was a lead organizer in 2015 and 2016, and I helped organize a little bit of 2017 early on. And it was because of Phoenix Startup Week that I got introduced to all the CEOs and founders, and just some really great people making a push for entrepreneurship. They’re creating a hub here in Arizona. I think with Galvanize and the push everyone’s making as a community, we’re really starting to see a lot of people coming out into the ecosystem and getting connected. But me and Phoenix Startup Week go way back.

Patrik Matheson, founder of beeing.

As a Phoenix business you have quite an advantage right now because the city’s still on the rise, and I’d say you’re early to the game if you’re in the startup community right now. You have a great opportunity to get in and build some connections that will last you quite a while and leave your footprint here before people move over from other cities.
 
My favorite thing about Startup Week is definitely getting to see all my friends and fellow business owners I’m on a daily grind with. Seeing everyone together and getting to know each other, or getting to make a connection, is one of the best things ever. I love seeing everyone’s excitement and enjoyment throughout the week. Hopefully that carries on over the year.

Adrianna Nine

Author: Adrianna Nine

Adrianna is a journalist, fiction writer, and criminal justice student at ASU in bustling downtown Phoenix. When she isn't tapping away at her keyboard or reading up on bad guys, Adrianna can be found soaking in the Arizona sun and testing out the coolest coffee shops in town.

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