How often does one see the mayor of a thriving city like Tucson, at an entrepreneurial meeting practicing Spiritual Gangster Yoga? In most cases, in most cities the answer would be – never! In Tucson, however, with the City heavily supporting the establishment of a technological hub, with entrepreneurs pitching ideas… and pitching those ideas with the Mayor of Tucson, Jonathan Rothschild in attendance, it was a wonderful launch of the Fourth Startup Shark Tank event!
In partnership with Connect Coworking, Startup Weekend was recently (September 14th, 2014) held at the Rialto Theatre, Downtown Tucson, where the Connect Coworking crowd and associated entrepreneurs took over the historic Rialto Theatre for the Fourth Startup Shark Tank. Many attendees expressed appreciation for Connect Coworking and Startup Tucson in partnering with and developing Shark-Tank, and many showed great interest in continuing the fifth coming Shark-Tanks.
Based on the concept of the most successful ABC TV show, SharkTank, and while TV cameras were missing, Startup Shark Tank teams formed during the weekend, and pitched their entrepreneural ideas, projects and final demos to an audience and a panel of judges for feedback, prizes and bragging rights.
Connect Coworking partnered with Startup Tucson to sponsor the final event of Startup Weekend, Shark Tank where Tucson’s best and brightest aspiring entrepreneurs with the talent, tools, training and support resources took innovative business ideas from concept to launch in 54 hours.
The blast-off event Friday night went into orbit with a rocket pitch contest where attendees made one-minute pitches of their ideas. These attendees voted for the best ideas, formed teams and then worked with potential customers, founders, investors and startup veterans to shape their product or service to meet the customer’s needs.
Said Justin Williams, CEO of Startup Tucson: “Entrepreneurs need to move quickly and can’t afford to waste time and money working on a bad idea. During Startup Weekend, Tucson we help entrepreneurs quickly explore the market potential for their idea and support them as they work to develop their idea into real businesses.”
The Startup Weekend Winners were for an Existing Company, Put It Down; the Thryve prize went to Hurb, a company merging technology and gardening. The Grand Prize went to Wildcat Safety Systems, who are merging drones, drone technology and security.
The panel of judges, who coached attendees, offering their expertise to the aspiring entrepreneurs were as follows: Curtis Gunn, Desert Angels Chairman; Dr. Michael Kasser, CEO and President of Holualoa Companies; Linsay Craten, UA McGuire Entrepreneurship Program Mentor. Also, Anita Bell, Director for Arizona Center for Innovation and Mark Dean, at Intuit.
The teams celebrated with the post show party at the R Bar! While some downed the appropriate to celebrate their successes, others said: “Cheers ! We’re ready for next-time!” And certainly judging from the energy and the sounds of the celebration, many entrepreneurs can not wait for the next Startup Shark Tank.
Local startup business leaders and members of Connect Coworking, Maher Pedersoli and David Hazan met through a previous Startup Weekend event. The duo is debuting a mobile app called Put It Down, Arizona. The app, that was created less than two months ago, encourages teen drivers to avoid using their cell-phones and to prevent potential accidents. Pedersoli said they are planning on unveiling a statewide initiative called “Put It Down, Arizona” with the help of local legislators.
Many entrepreneurs at Startup Shark Tank, remarked on the dynamic networking abilities when locating their ventures at Connect Coworking, and how business was developed just by being in the same building at 33 South 5th Avenue, the Connect Coworking location.
Judging from the success of the startup event, yet again, it seems as if the energy of Downtown Tucson is flowing, whether the mayor does yoga – or not!
Jack Bybee is a technical writer, editor, entrepreneur and 2-D artist. Contact information: firstname.lastname@example.org // LINKED IN: Jack Bybee – Technical Writer. His art may be reviewed at: www.redbubble.com/people/PurpleJacques/portfolio/