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Tucson is truly a great place to build a startup, but most of the early-stage entrepreneurs we speak to are not aware of the local resources that are available to help them.

With applications for the Tucson Founder Institute soon coming to a close, we are excited to release the Tucson Startup Ecosystem Canvas! It was developed by the Tucson Founder Institute and local leaders Aaron Gopp, Anthony Ford, Ashley Mahieu, and Justin Williams

If you are looking to launch a company in Tucson, then apply to the Tucson Founder Institute today. 

We spent about 20 hours doing this research, but this is just the first draft. More input is needed, so please leave your comments on this collaborative Google document and it will be considered for the next update.


If you are looking to launch a company in Tucson, then apply to the Tucson Founder Institute today. 

In addition to the above infographic and the collaborative Google document, you can also see the full list of resources below:

Tucson Startup Ecosystem


There is no one right way to build a technology company, but for the sake of simplicity we have outlined a basic, common, sequential framework.


1. IDEA-STAGE

This is where new entrepreneurs get inspired, learn best practices, develop skills, validate ideas, and begin to build their team and product.

A. Inspire

  • Startup Media: Centralized local information, listings, and news. (i.e. startup blogs/ publications/ lists/ FB groups/ newsletters)
    1. Arizona Daily Star

    2. Connect Coworking newsletter/ calendar

    3. McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship newsletter

    4. Next Tucson newsletter

    5. Pima County Public Library - IdeaSpace

    6. Startup Coffee

    7. Startup Digest

    8. Startup Tucson newsletter

    9. xTucson

  • Inspirational Events: Open, inclusive, beginner startup events (i.e. Startup Weekend, idea fairs, and inspirational meetups)
    1. Entrepreneurial Roundtable

    2. IdeaFunding

    3. McGuire showcase

    4. Meetup groups

    5. Startup Coffee

    6. Startup Drinks

    7. Startup Weekend

    8. TENWEST

    9. Tucson Tech Talks

    10. Tucson Unsummit

B. Educate

  • Best Practices: Beginner knowledge-sharing events. (i.e. beginner events that serve to educate more than inspirate, like Startup Grind, Startup Founder 101, etc).
    1. NSF ICORPS
    2. Thryve Weekend
  • Training & Feedback: Skill & Idea development. (Ex. bootcamps and comprehensive training programs, like Founder Institute, code camps, etc)
    1. Arizona Center for Innovation

    2. Founder Institute Tucson

    3. InnovateUA

    4. Thryve Sprints

C. Validate

  • Team Formation: Resources for teaming up. (i.e. events or other resources that facilitate early-stage recruitment and cofounder matching)
    1. Startup Weekend
  • Build First Product: Hackathons & resources to build. (i.e. hackathons and other builder-focused events and resources)
    1. Go For Vertical

    2. Hack Arizona

    3. Women Techmakers Tucson Hackathon

    4. Xerocraft Hackerspace


2. LAUNCH-STAGE 

In this stage, entrepreneurs establish and formalize the company, develop the product, get feedback from customers, and prepare for the next step.

A. Start

  • Establish: Law firms & banks that specialize in helping startups
    1. Hayes Soloway

    2. Hecker, PLLC

    3. Mesch Clark and Rothschild

    4. University of Arizona School of Law

  • Workspace: Co-working and flexible workspaces (note: “official” office space goes in 3.1.a. Infrastructure)
    1. Community Foundation Social Impact Workspace

    2. Connect Coworking

    3. Popup Coworking

B. Develop

  • Formalize: Accounting, development and HR for early-stage startups.
    1. BeachFleishman
    2. Jo Ann Sabbagh
    3. Staff Matters
  • Prepare for Seed: Incubators and advanced mentorship. (i.e. advanced knowledge sharing, later stage events and resources for startup TEAMS)
    1. None yet?

C. Launch

  • Seed Accelerators: Seed funding mentor programs (Techstars-style programs that provide funding)
    1. None yet?
  • Pitch & Demo: Show local startups for investment (i.e. demo days for companies seeking seed investment)
    1. Desert Angel Screening Panel

    2. IdeaFunding Pitch Competition


3. GROWTH-STAGE

Here, a startup proves their utility, receives recognition, and scales up. This usually requires funding, angels, VCs, and ways to connect them to startups.

A. Recognition

  • Investor Networking:  Connect professional investors with founders. (i.e. events or groups that facilitate connections with professional investors vs. angels)
  1. AngelList
  2. Desert Angels Screening Panel and Monthly Dinner
  3. IdeaFunding
  • Major Media: Mainstream local business press. (i.e. major local or regional publications that frequently champion local businesses)
  1. Arizona Daily Star
  2. BizTucson Magazine
  3. Inside Tucson Business

B. Funding

  • Angels / Micro-VCs: Seed-stage investors
      1. Desert Angels

      2. Diamond Ventures

  • Venture Capitalists: Series A and beyond
    1. Bluestone Venture Partners

    2. UA Venture Capital

C. Growth

  • Infrastructure: Office space, HR, local business insurance. (i.e. office space/ HR/ insurance providers for capital-rich companies to grow and scale)
    1. Crest Insurance
    2. Holualoa
    3. Peach Properties


  • Expansion: Growth accelerators/consultants. (i.e. programs and business consultants for capital-rich companies to grow and scale)
    1. Aztera

    2. Marcus Engineering


4. SUCCESS STORIES 

Successful homegrown companies that have raised significant institutional funding, employ a large workforce, or have achieved liquidity.

  1. 42Six

  2. Accelerate Diagnostics

  3. Burr Brown / Texas Instruments

  4. Calimmune

  5. Cancer Prevention Pharmaceuticals

  6. CropTrak

  7. General Plasma

  8. Global Solar

  9. Growers House

  10. Guardvandt

  11. Hexagon Mining

  12. HTG Molecular

  13. Hughes Aerospace / Raytheon

  14. Icagen / Sanofi

  15. Knowledge Computing Corporation / i2 / IBM

  16. Medical Referral Source

  17. MISOM

  18. Modular Mining

  19. nMode

  20. Providence Service Corporation

  21. RightFax

  22. ScriptSave

  23. Simpleview

  24. Sinfonia

  25. SmartThings

  26. Sunquest

  27. Syncardia

  28. Tempronics

  29. Tucson Embedded Systems

  30. Vector Launch

  31. Ventana Medical Systems / Roche

  32. World View Enterprises


Supporters


To facilitate the steps, every ecosystem needs strong supporters.

1. EVANGELISTS 

Successful local founders who lead the ecosystem & frequently mentor newbies.  (i.e. Local leaders who have taken a leadership position, speak at a lot of startup events, mentor all the programs, etc.)

  1. Aaron Eden

  2. Aaron Gopp

  3. Anita Bell

  4. Ashley Tsosie-Mahieu

  5. Base Horner

  6. Brian Ellerman

  7. Curtis Gunn

  8. Dan Janes

  9. Edward Cruz

  10. Eric Smith

  11. Fletcher McCusker

  12. Joann MacMaster

  13. Justin Williams

  14. Katina Koller

  15. Liz Pocock

  16. Peter Mantas

  17. Rick Yngve

  18. Robert Robbins

  19. Shane Reiser

  20. Stephanie Bermudez

  21. Tony Ford

  22. Zach Yentzer


2. GOVERNMENT 

Public organizations that facilitate local economic development

  1. Arizona Commerce Authority

  2. Arizona Technology Council

  3. City of Tucson Office of Economic Development

  4. Small Business Development Center (SBA)

  5. Southern Arizona Leadership Council

  6. Sun Corridor


3. TALENT 

Major local business or tech universities and employers that attract and retain local talent.

  • Local Universities (universities with prominent technical or business programs)
  1. Pima Community College

  2. University of Arizona - Eller College of Business/ McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship

  3. University of Arizona - InnovateUA


  • Local Employers (Major technical employers with large local offices)
  1. Accelerate Diagnostics
  2. Ephibian
  3. Geico
  4. Guardvant, Inc
  5. HeathTrio
  6. Hexagon Mining
  7. Honeywell
  8. IBM
  9. Intuit
  10. Jacobs
  11. Lasertel
  12. Banner Health
  13. Learning A-Z
  14. Leidos
  15. Modular Mining
  16. Mural
  17. Rain Bird
  18. Raytheon
  19. Rincon Research Corporation
  20. Roche
  21. Sargent Controls & Aerospace
  22. Securaplane Technologies
  23. BE Aerospace
  24. Simpleview
  25. SmartThings
  26. Sunquest
  27. Texas Instruments
  28. Tucson Electric Power
  29. Tucson Embedded Systems
  30. TuSimple
  31. Universal Avionics
  32. University of Arizona
  33. Caterpillar
  34. Citi
  35. Comcast
  36. Cox
  37. Cyracom
  38. Edmund Optics



The Startup Ecosystem Canvas project seeks to provide local entrepreneurs with a clear list of resources for every stage of their startup journey, and outline a basic framework for communities to map their ecosystem. 

If you have any comments on this canvas, pleave contribute to this collaborative Google document. While we spent about 20 hours on this research, it is definitely a work in progress so we want your feedback! 

If you are looking to launch a company in Tucson, then apply to the Tucson Founder Institute today.

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