StartUp Connect AZ Summary, Part 1

headerimage_101413Yesterday’s first StartupConnect AZ conference brought together Arizona experts and entrepreneurs alike to talk about our city and state ecosystem with respect to STEM; provide insight from experts in investing and VC, education, incubation and co-working; and address topics such as Women in Entrepreneurship and models of success like London’s Tech City.

Instead of a long summary, here are a few quotes from the event:

Mayor Stanton:

  • “There’s not an old boy network here to keep you down.”
  • “This is a wide-open town.”

Arizona Commerce Authority (Brian Sherman, I believe):

  • “Entrepreneurs have to understand their value proposition.” (I couldn’t agree more!)
  • On Collaboration:  “Be more inclusive; get outside the usual suspects.”
  • “Businesses don’t know how to get connected.”

Jerry Colangelo:

  • “We need more cooperation from our state legislature.”

Maria Speth:

  • “If it’s not your genius, it’s not your job.”

An interesting topic and takeaway was related to “Identity.”

The city and state’s identity (or lack thereof) was another theme.  It’s a difficult concept to explain but essentially our “story” of who we are as a place is fragmented and oftentimes empty. We hang our hat on weather, but that isn’t enough to attract big business and create civic pride.  We have to create a connection to place and a real culture here.  Kimber Lanning, of Local First Arizona fame, is a leader in delivering this message and I wish there were more of her thoughts on this topic out there but all I could find was this; she was incredibly articulate and passionate so go hear her speak whenever you can.  For my part, I tweeted:

What I meant was, before the “story” comes the “value.”  We have to find and develop our community’s strengths and improve on key areas that would really drive value in the minds of prospective businesses and talent.  (This is the same process I go through with clients in developing marketing strategy, by the way!) The expert panel of Public Policy & STEM championed education as the #1 priority for improvement.  When we have critical mass (and enthusiasm) around who we are, we can tell a true and meaningful story.  (Thanks to Wilderness Dave for prompting me to expand on this.)

In Part 2, I’ll cover other themes and key takeaways from the Startup Connect AZ conference.  In the meantime . . .

  • What do you think about what the speakers said?
  • What do you think about the Arizona identity issue?

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