by francine Hardaway on November 21, 2008

Wednesday's Third Annual Arizona Entrepreneurship Conference
<http://www.azentrepreneurship.com> was one of the best days of my
life. Not only did 250 people show up in the middle of a recession to
see each other and help each other, but the feeling of hope and optimism
among the entrepreneurs and funders in the room was palpable. Those who
were not overtly hopeful were at least indifferent to the roiling world
around them in the way only entrepreneurs can be.

I stood looking out at the crowd of people who believe the power of the
community to manifest its own economy and I nearly wept. Well, I did
weep. Ed caught it on video, and it –along with comments from the
attendees and some of the presentations from the speakers, is

And we raised more money than we have ever raised with these conferences
in the past. This is largely because of Microsoft, whose BizSpark
program for startups just happened to launch in Arizona at the conference. Microsoft selected us as a network partner for BizSpark, and then put what for us is a large amount
of money into the conference. We also had a great law firm sponsor this
year, Osborn Maledon , and a new sponsor, C-Scan Technologies, which audits clean rooms,
and another new sponsor, HSLFinancial .
And our loyal sponsors Infusionsoft  ,
Wells Fargo , the City of Tempe ,and the Business Journal all stuck with us!

People who weren't in a position to contribute treasure contributed time
and talent, most specifically Gangplank the East Valley accelerator
and Silent Dispatch, who gave us the geek equivalent of "loaned executives." And without Rhonda Lintner from C-Scan, Steve Groves from Silent Dispatch, Merlin Ward from
ResponsiblePartying.com and Brian Shaler from Bit Gravity,  I would have been dead in the water. There's more, but I will spare you.

There were several notable moments for me that I'd like to recap:

GaryVee <http://www.winelibrary.tv> pounding his shoe on the podium
and telling people to know their customers

Matt Mullenweg  telling us he started Akismet because he didn't want his mother to see the spam on blogs

Dan Willis of Microsoft announcing the BizSpark program in Phoenix, a
stop on its launch roadshow that he added just for us

Allan Kaplan of Limelight Networks  telling us that, indeed, you could raise large amounts of money in Arizona if you had a good enough plan and sharing with us how he had done it multiple times

Shahi Ghanem, CEO of EmpowHer.com  announcing
the launch of its new site on which women share their health experiences

Jonathan Smith, President of Earth911 ,telling us the company was going to start monitoring where recycled products go after they are responsibly disposed of by the last user after that horrifying 60 Minutes Video a couple of weeks ago about e-waste dumped in China.

I don't know what to say: I'm so da**ed lucky that entrepreneurship is
my passion. I know it will be "my people," the people I spend my days
with, who will continue to power the world while the government grinds
slowly through the motions of a transition from one President to the

Oh, and I'm told there was an incredible after-party at Gangplank, too.
I, of course, was home in bed with my golden retriever family.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Jason Baer November 21, 2008 at 4:21 pm

What makes AZ special isn’t the weather or the grand canyon or the politics. It’s the people. Nowhere is the true spirit of openness and collaboration more evident than here. It truly is the frontier, and that’s the way we like it.

AZEC was another day that I was very proud to be from AZ, thanks to you. I’m looking forward to being more involved next year.

We’re all richer for being associated with you and your passion. Sincere thanks for all that you do.


Russell Perry November 23, 2008 at 12:49 pm

Francine, I’ll be honest, no matter what my personal opinion is on AZEC, this is amazing for Arizona, your charity and congrats for getting things going better than ever.

Arizona Entrepreneurship Conference review – http://www.keanecreative.com/blog/detail.php?action=view&intPostID=107

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