Ed Borromeo is a partner and the COO at Tallwave, a business design and innovation agency that helps B2B technology companies transform great ideas into commercial successes. On any given day, Ed is providing guidance for his coworkers, ensuring value creation for Tallwave’s clients, and adjusting performance of the whole business so Tallwave is constantly improving.
What part of Arizona do you call home?
I live in Phoenix in the Arcadia area, but in the much smaller houses built in the 50s.
What was your very first entrepreneurial venture? What sparked an initial interest in entrepreneurship?
I joined a startup in the utilities and technology space in the mid-2000s. This came just after exiting my officership in the military. I knew nothing about business or starting new ventures. I joined because I recognized it was an interesting opportunity for learning and growth. Going through the early stages, experiencing hyper growth, creating a culture, feeling the pain of the downturn, innovating to stay alive, and then going through an IPO was a fascinating experience—the best MBA, so to speak. I went off on my own after eight years to do my own thing and chase my passion for tech and innovation.
How did you become involved with Tallwave?
I came on board at a critical time at Tallwave. The company was still pretty fresh, but had already created a great legacy for equity generation. I was part of the re-envisioning of who Tallwave could be, why, and how. So in my time here at Tallwave, I’ve participated in sharpening our vision, and have been accountable for steering the business in that direction alongside my partners. By the way, the idea for Tallwave is seated in the notion that great innovators exist everywhere––and if there were a way to make execution of such innovations less risky, the ratios of success would be far more favorable. That’s what Tallwave does: we reduce risks through people-centric designs of products and brands. We advise, teach, and also execute for our clients.
What was the biggest challenge in executing this idea?
We feel like our market is still emerging in many ways—and it certainly is here in the southwest and Arizona. There are inherent challenges that come with emergence. Also, not unlike many other businesses, there existed challenges around talent, know-how (IP/IC), capital, and fine-tuning/marketing our uniqueness. All these challenges have to and do play at once. That’s a big challenge.
What is your favorite part about running Tallwave?
I love the creation part––the building of the team and witnessing the value they create for our clients and partners. That’s been impactful for me, and convinces me we have something here that’s worth pursuing and growing a lasting brand around. I’m learning a ton, too.
How long have you lived or worked in Arizona?
I’ve lived and worked in Arizona for more than 10 years. It’s growing for sure; slowly, but surely, and more so in the last few years.
If you could only describe your city with one word, which word would it be?
What’s your favorite thing about living in Arizona?
Access. This is still a place where, if you really need to access something, someone, somewhere, you can actually do it relatively easily.
What’s your least favorite thing about living in Arizona?
Since I can’t answer with the obvious (the heat), I’d have to say I’m not terribly fond of the education system here. I say that as a parent of two.
In what area do you think Arizona still has a long way to go?
This may be an all-too-common cry, but we still have some progress to make in developing and placing talent. With the growing tech and innovation community here in Arizona, jobs are being created, but there’s a real challenge around filling those jobs. Additionally, I think there’s tons of improvement still needed in education.
The foodie scene is growing bigger and bigger by the day here in Arizona. What is your favorite place to get breakfast in your city?
A lot of places. I particularly like The Gladly for Sunday brunch, OHSO, and Jewel’s Bakery.
What’s your favorite place to grab lunch?
I don’t go there often anymore because I live on the other side of town, but Chino Bandido Mexican-Chinese Fusion—kind of strange, but great.
What’s your favorite dinner spot?
Virtually any place with good seafood in this land-locked state of ours: Buck and Rider, Eddie V’s, Wildfish.
What’s your favorite place to work in your city aside from your office?
My home office. I can crank when I’m there. I also like Cartel and Sip.
Best place for a meeting over drinks?
Depends who you’re meeting.
What is your favorite memory from Arizona?
My first day here. It was mid-July over 10 years ago. I flew here for an interview just for a day at a new venture, wearing a 3-piece suit. Needless to say it was hot. But that launched my career here.
What is something about living in Arizona that only a local would know of?
That there’s actually a vibrant live, work, and play environment here. As friends from out of town visit (not having been here before), they’re always so surprised of what we have to offer.
Any tips for new Arizona residents?
Get involved. There are so many events and groups throughout the Valley––you really can find people to collaborate and connect with no matter your muse.