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This guest blog post was authored by Ashley Tsosie-Mahieu, a Local Leader of the Tuscon Founder Institute.

Last week, we hosted our first Founder Institute Tucson event "How to Launch a Startup in Tucson Without Quitting Your Day Job." About 45 attendees packed a conference room at the University of Arizona’s Marshall Building to learn about starting a startup in Tucson.

Tony Ford, one of our FI Tucson Directors, kicked off the evening with a presentation on Founder Institute, its benefits to burgeoning startups, and information on how to apply to the very first Tucson cohort.

The Academic Entrepreneur

Our first speaker, Dr. Sean Dessureault, Founder and CEO of MISOM Technologies, opened with his beginnings in academia and Canadian origins. After completing his Ph.D. at the University of British Columbia with a focus on advanced mine technology and management, Dessureault was presented an offer he couldn’t refuse at UA.

While an Associate Professor in the UA Mining and Geological Engineering Department, Dessureault worked that side hustle and began a consulting firm Mining Information Systems and Operations Management (MISOM Technologies). With very strong domain expertise, Dessureault identified gaps and areas for improvement in the mining industry. Capitalizing on this, Dessureault used research projects to discover how to better use and incorporate data into mining operations.

The Lawtrepreneur

Dan Jaffe, Founder and CEO of LawLytics, is also a domain expert who identified problems in his field. Jaffe founded several successful law practices over the last couple of decades. But it was when he got swindled by a law firm marketing company that he decided to take matters into his own hands.

Jaffe learned how the Internet, search engines, and marketing really work to effectively market for himself instead of relying on others. While practicing law, Jaffe simultaneously built an online legal directory. It grew rapidly, so he decided to take the leap and make legal marketing technology his full time job.

Dropping Startup Knowledge Like It’s Hot

After both CEOs spoke about their companies, it was pretty clear that both had the hustle and determination to be successful and often had to make personal and professional sacrifices to start their businesses. Both CEOs were domain experts in different fields who identified problems and sought out innovative solutions. They didn’t wait for someone else to do it despite having to essentially work two full time jobs at once.

While they both had grit and worked very hard to achieve success in their own endeavors, they did not negate that luck or being in the right place at the right time plays a role. However, you need to be the one making moves. Networking and referrals lead to meeting the right people. It’s up to you to be able to talk to those people effectively.

Drinking Solutions

A good friend of mine once told me, “There are no drinking problems, there are drinking solutions.” That statement can be debated; however, Dessureault jested at the notion of creative ideas and solutions being discussed over beers with colleagues.

Sometimes you gotta drink about it… So our post-event crew ended up down the block at Gentle Ben’s for further discussion on startups, individual projects, and how to get accepted into the Founder Institute.

Don’t Miss Out

Leading up to our first cohort beginning in 2019, we are hosting free information and training sessions for anyone who has an idea for a business, wants to launch their own company, or is interested in learning more about what it takes to launch a company in Tucson.  

Our next one is “Startup Co-Founder 101: How to Find the Right Partner on Tuesday, December 4th from 6PM to 8PM at the University of Arizona Library. Do you need a cofounder? Of course you do! Don’t miss out. Register here.


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Graduates of the Founder Institute are creating some of the world's fastest growing startups, having raised over $800M in funding, and building products people love across over 180 cities worldwide.

See the most recent news from our Grads at FI.co/news, or learn more about their stories at FI.co/journey

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