For Companies Outside Silicon Valley: AzDisruptors and Gangplank

by francine Hardaway on February 26, 2011

Phoenix now has another place besides Gangplank for new companies.

Thursday I was in Silicon Valley for Jason Calacanis’ magnificent Launch Conference. I saw the exhibits of fifty companies, and while I didn’t see all of them present, I know there were many good ones. Through efforts like Jason’s, and others like Under the Radar and TechCrunch Disrupt deserve — and get — the opportunity to present to investors and assembled press. The value of this is enormous for two co-founders working in a garage, because they must find money, markets, and talent if they are to grow. In Silicon Valley, that’s all over the place.

Friday I was back in Phoenix. I’ve long been an evangelist for Gangplank, Phoenix’s first, and still premiere, community collaboration space. But on Friday I saw the next big mover in the Phoenix startup scene: AzDisruptors. Modeled after YCombinator, AzDisruptors is adjacent to the offices of Axosoft in North Scottsdale. I’d say it’s about the distance from Palo Alto to San Francisco, but without some of the traffic.

Fortunately, Akira Hirai of Cayenne Consulting made a Flip video of the presentations, because the two companies I saw present at the opening lunch were every bit as good as the ones I had seen the day before.

When you add this new incubator to the companies I have seen at Gangplank (Event Day,, Forty, Authority Labs, Betwext, CSI, Big Red Ape, Dev-Fu, DrawBackwards, RynoWeb, CircleMedia, RoughEdge, HeatSyncLabs) and then toss in the 104 proposals I read for the Arizona Innovation Grants, you understand how vibrant the Phoenix startup community actually is.

Now we have to figure out a way to help those startups grow into the businesses we need to grow jobs in the state.  Right now, a shortage of both capital and management talent means early stage companies get picked off and moved to California as soon as they get noticed. Silicon Valley VCs think nothing of asking two founders to move to California for money.  But if the company had more traction, neither the founders nor the funders would want to move it.  So AzDisruptors can start some of these companies off, and places like Gangplank can create a community they want to stay in.

It’s just over the horizon, folks. The stars are aligned: The Arizona Commerce Authority, Gangplank, AzDisruptors, and many other promising initiatives.  Just don’t mess it up this time!

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Aaron Eden February 26, 2011 at 5:01 pm

I’m down in Tucson and would love to find ways to help. Who can I get in touch with to discuss ideas?

Greg Solovyev February 27, 2011 at 2:33 am

I am in Tucson as well. I’ll usually telecommute from coffee shops near the university during the week.

Chuck Reynolds March 18, 2011 at 7:33 am

Both Greg and Aaron – you need to email please – we’re looking for anchor companies for Gangplank Tucson. Talk to Katie. We’ll point you in the right direction from there

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