COVID-19 might be slowing down the economy, but it’s not slowing down Arizona’s entrepreneurs. This September, Next Foundation is working to help aspiring entrepreneurs from across Arizona to do their part to rebuild the state’s economy from the devastating effects of COVID-19.
The Foundation and a team of passionate community organizers are bringing together global startup giants like Google, Techstars, and Founder Institute, as well as over 50 key Arizona startup leaders like Startup AZ Foundation, Startup Tucson, and Moonshot at NACET to launch a new online and statewide version of Techstars Startup Weekend Arizona.
Startup Weekend: From In-Person To Online
Startup Weekend, with its event tagline, “Learn, Network, Startup”, is a fun and high-energy business education experience designed to help aspiring entrepreneurs come together and build innovative businesses in a single weekend.
Nearly 3,000 in-person Startup Weekend events have brought together 150,000 entrepreneurs across 150 countries around the world. Famous alumni companies include high profile success stories like Rover.com and Zapier.
In April, as a response to COVID-19, Techstars reached out to a network of past event organizers with the challenge to develop a national, online version of Startup Weekend. Members of the Startup Weekend Arizona team were among the core team that launched the national event in less than 3 weeks. The event, the largest in US history, attracted 1,000 registered attendees and launched 100+ projects.
Partnering Across Arizona
That powerful and unifying experience helped inspire event co-organizers Justin Williams and Jennifer Wong to continue developing the new online event experience and bring it back home.
“Startup Weekend felt like the perfect fit for the moment we are in and for the people of our state,” said Wong. “We are Arizonans, and we are entrepreneurs. We learn to work with scarcity and how to adapt to difficult situations.”
This summer, the pair have been reaching out to key statewide leaders to form an organizing team and a network of regional outreach partners. Among them was Scott Hathcock, President & CEO of Moonshot at NACET headquartered in Flagstaff, AZ.
“Startup Weekend Arizona is a learning experience that can help anyone develop the entrepreneurial mindset and vision required to turn a crisis into an opportunity,” said Hathcock. “Moving this event experience online gives us a unique ability to break down geographic barriers, serve more rural areas, and bring this sort of powerful programming to people anywhere in our state.”
Aaron Eden, Chief Innovation Officer for Community Investment Corporation and frequent participant in past Startup Weekend events, saw the event as a way for him and his organization to help strengthen Arizona’s economy and workforce at a time jobs are hard to find for many people.
“Our state has been forced to adapt quickly to the COVID crisis. Change isn’t easy, and it’s more important than ever for Arizonans to strengthen their entrepreneurial spirit,” said Eden. “Our economy is shaped by how effectively our startup founders can identify painful problems to solve and by building solutions that their customers love.”
Getting Everyone Involved: Participants, Mentors, Partners, and Sponsors
Techstars Startup Weekend Arizona takes place September 25-27, 2020. If you know someone anywhere in Arizona with an idea or passion for starting an innovative new business, they can learn more at the event website: https://azstartupweekend.org.
Anyone interested in volunteering or providing support can contact Justin Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org In particular, organizers are seeking support for an event scholarship program, as well as support from experienced entrepreneurs, mentors, leaders of regional and community partner organizations or anyone interested in sponsorship opportunities.
STARTUP WEEKEND ARIZONA
Dates: September 25-27, 2020
Cost: $79 per person for 3-day pass
Registration Deadline: September 20th
Event Details & Registration: https://azstartupweekend.org
Startup Weekend is a program of Techstars, which was founded in 2006 in Boulder, Colorado, and has since developed a worldwide network.
Next Foundation is an Arizona-based 501c3 non-profit organization that develops and delivers education-based programming focused on growing resilient communities through innovation.