Phoenix Rising: A Rise of the Rest Recap

    Rise of the Rest road trip

    Before we dive into our Rise of the Rest recap, congratulations to NeoLight, winner of Steve Case’s $100,000 award!

    Vivek Kopparthi delivered a passionate pitch and handled the follow-up questions with ease.

    It was a great evening highlighting some amazing players from the #yesphx community.

    Michael Hool from Hool Coury Law, one of our largest ecosystem supporters, summarized the Rise of the Rest Phoenix stop wonderfully:

    “The Rise of the Rest Tour was a big win for the Arizona entrepreneurial ecosystem. The national branded audiences of Steve Case and Revolution, along with President Crow and ASU, gave us all a chance to demonstrate some of the many cool startups we have on the rise here in Arizona—and congratulations to NeoLight for winning! My investor friends in Silicon Valley and elsewhere certainly took notice; I’ve already had inquiries from investors outside of Arizona for introductions. If we continue blending the unique startup culture of Arizona with national and international brands on similar missions, we’d better be prepared for the avalanche of money and talent headed our way over the next few years!”

    It’s obvious now . . . Phoenix is rising!

    One of the most amazing thing I’ve ever had the opportunity to witness is the very clear shift that has taken place here in the greater Phoenix area. I first moved here from Denver in late 2012, and the entrepreneurial community was found in pockets, but cohesion was absent. Then in mid-2014, the shift started to take place. We had our first startup week in spring 2015 and then the #yesphx movement took off.

    Fast forward to fall 2016. We’ve seen another startup week go off with a bang (make sure you save the date for next year!). We doubled our attendance from year one to year two. Venture Madness was amazing, with our much-loved Mario Martinez bringing in Gary V. for a keynote and again increasing our visibility on the map. We’ve had articles touting us as the new up-and-hot (pun totally intended) place to be. And now, this past weekend, the Rise of the Rest saved the best for last with their stop in Phoenix.

    But we may be able to do even better.

    “[Rise of the Rest] was a successful and inspiring day. We have made so much progress in Phoenix in the recent years, but the opportunity ahead is what excites me the most,” said Mario Martinez II after the event. And as a startup founder who’s experienced the entrepreneurial journey in other communities, I agree that there is plenty more we can do.

    One of those focuses was addressed in the fireside chat with Steve Case and Michael Crow.

    Case pointed out that “Money follows talent . . . We need to create a magnet for talent here in Phoenix.”

    President Crow was focused on local talent under the age of 25. “That’s not happening [here in Phoenix]. In terms of attracting them, we are keeping them, but we’re not attracting them . . . These other communities focus on things like that, and for whatever reason, we don’t yet focus on those types of things.”

    Steve’s quick follow up: “Some cities like Denver and SLC start this process earlier, and they are ahead of Phoenix.”

    We’re already growing and developing as a community, but we could do better. So one purpose of this article is to make a plea to all of #yesphx . . . .

    Let’s come together even more as a community. If we are going to make Phoenix and the surrounding metro area an attractive place for people to live and work, we should keep building momentum.

    Luckily we do have some huge advocates working for us; one of those is our very own Christie Kerner. She was a major part of Rise of the Rest, and she shared the perfect takeaway:

    “As a part of the Rise of the Rest experience, it was terrific to see our community leaders working to explore our unique opportunities. We have some amazing gifts here in Phoenix, and we clearly have a focus on building the current and next generation of entrepreneurs.”

    We need to support each other to an even greater extent. We need to show more gratitude, more love (yep, Jonathan Cottrell, I said it!) and more willingness to serve. As a result, I implore you to do three things:

    1 – Share Rise of the Rest’s tweet below to show the world how strong we are as a community:
    You won’t receive any spam. The list is only used to let you know about opportunities to help our community.

    2 – If you are willing to volunteer, speak, mentor, be part of a community council, or otherwise get involved in our #yesphx ecosystem then please sign up for this list:

    3 – Share this article to build on the momentum we have going here with #yesphx!
    (Oh and one last thing—go show our Rise of the Rest participants a little more love.)


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