Arizona startup growth – hotter than the desert

July 3, 2013 admin

Phoenix,_ArizonaIn Arizona, the only thing hotter than the desert… is their tech startup scene.

The 2011 Kauffman Entrepreneurial Activity Report ranked Arizona as the state with the highest rate of entrepreneurial activity in the U.S. (with 520 per 100,000 adults starting new businesses each month). In a CNN Money article about the report, Arizona is identified as being the most entrepreneurial state in the U.S. – two spots ahead of California, which falls into third place (with 440 per 100,000 adults starting new businesses each month). 

“Arizona has benefited from a steady stream of entrepreneurs migrating from less business-friendly states like California. The lure? Business and property taxes are low, as are workers’ compensation costs,” says the article, citing the
Arizona Commerce Authority.

Always big in chips and communications, Arizona is the proud birthplace of companies including MicroAge, Insight Computer, MicroChip Technologies, SalesLogix, and Limelight Networks. The state is also home to these startup darlings that should be at the top of your watch list:

- Infusionsoft builds all-in-one sales and marketing software for small businesses. They received $54M in series C investment in January.

- Unicorn Media is the “leading provider of Internet video solutions that enable companies to maximize IP video profitability”. The company was featured in TechCrunch last October for its innovative “television-like” ad experience.

- Parchment (founded by the co-founder of Blackboard) enables learners and institutions to “collect, promote and share their education credentials in simple and secure ways”. They recently received $23.5M in Series D funding.

- EmpowHer is a women’s health site that provides access to “one of the largest women’s health and wellness content libraries on the web” and is a growing online community for women’s health discussion.

We did a little digging to find out what factors are at play behind the flourishing Arizona tech scene, and what stands out most is the level of involvement and enthusiasm from the “connectors” across the state. 


We reached out to some local influencers to bring a crew of “Zonies” to GROW, and they immediately began rallying the troops. Here are just a few of the individuals and organizations committed to building the Arizona tech ecosystem:

- Tishin Donkersley, @TishinD, Editor in Chief of AZ Tech Beat – Arizona’s online news source for the technology industry. Additionally, in the near future, AZ Tech Beat will be offering educational programs to support the startup community. Want to learn more? @AZTechBeat


- Brenda Christensen, @brendachrist, Director of Communications at Contatta and recent transplant from California who hit the ground running to help nurture the Arizona tech community.


- Esther Schindler, @estherschindler, seasoned technology journalist with credits including Ziff Davis DevSource, Digital Media Online, InformationWeek, and more.

- Steven Zylstra, @szylstra, President and CEO of AZ Tech Council – With over 600 member companies, the Council is Arizona’s largest science and tech organization. Interested in becoming a member? @aztechcouncil

- Sandra Watson@azcommerce, President and CEO of Arizona Commerce Authority, the state’s leading economic development organization focused on recruitment, growth, and creation of jobs, business, and out-state-connections for Arizona.

- Jenny Poon, @poondingo, Creator of Co-Hoots (co-working) – promotes professional collaboration and inspiration for entrepreneurs in its shared downtown Phoenix location. Need a cool place to hang out while you work? @cohootsphx

- SeedSpot (incubator) – provides support, mentorship, guidance, and resources for early stage social entrepreneurs. Starting up in Phoenix? @seedspot

- Grayhawk Capital (VC) – provides venture capital to outstanding early and growth stage companies located in the southwest. Start a conversation @GrayhawkCapital


- Gangplank, @gangplank, (co-working/accelerator) – pairs collaborative, open workspaces with a startup accelerator and member-led educational workshops. Current locations include Avondale, Chandler and Tucson.


Arizona Science & Technology Enterprises (AzTE), Arizona State University’s exclusive intellectual property management and technology transfer organization, works to transform use-inspired research into societal impact.

As key contributors to Arizona’s fast-paced technological and entrepreneurial growth, these are the folks to talk to if you’re looking to do business in the Grand Canyon State.

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