What’s the Single Most Important Driver of the Phoenix Startup Scene?

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Phoenix-desert-e1448378696811Greater Phoenix—and all of Arizona—has more happening in its startup scene now more than ever. Ask anyone in the community and they’ll demonstrate their excitement and general bullishness for our ecosystem’s continued growth.

I am often asked what has been “the biggest change” that occurred to improve our startup community over the last few years.

There are so many things that you could name. Some might point to the growing number of events: PHX Startup Week, Venture Madness, Startup Weekends around the state, or even monthly events like Startup Grind and #yesphx happy hours. Others might point to our growing number of accelerators, incubators, spaces, and what I like to call “entrepreneurial hubs,” which demonstrate the importance of density that we lacked historically and continue to improve. And of course, nearly everyone would point to the quality number of startups that continue to get started, raise funding, and scale right here in beautiful, sunny Arizona.

But I don’t think it’s any of those things.

Personally, I think the most indicative sign of our community’s progress the last few years is the seemingly loose, but organic organization of our ecosystem’s biggest asset: our people.

In Brad Feld’s book, Startup Communities, he speaks to this. “There is no ‘leader of the leaders.’ The best startup communities are loosely organized and consist of broad, evolving networks of people. By having inclusive philosophies, it’s easy for new leaders to emerge organically.”

Arizona has represented this philosophy excellently. It’s not to say that we don’t have continued progress to make–we do. But we’ve come a long way. And it’s exactly this inclusive collaboration and support that has made our progress possible.

I look forward to seeing the momentum continue. To do this, we must remain connected to one another, supporting all that’s happening and including anyone and everyone who desires to see Arizona press forward as the most generous community for entrepreneurs. We’re well on our way.

—Jonathan Cottrell, PHX Startup Week