Here's a helpful step-by-step guide to getting connected with the community. Welcome to Phoenix.
For starters, the easiest way to getting connected in the Greater Phoenix startup ecosystem is by following what people are posting on social media using the #yesphx hashtag. Our Twitter feed enjoys the most activity, but follow whatever social channels you use most. Once you have a feel for what content is trending, start using the #yesphx hashtag in your own posts, helping collectively amplify what's happening around Arizona. Here are some content ideas if you're not sure what to post.
Community can't happen without face-to-face connections. Start reaching out to other active members in the community, schedule some time to grab a coffee or beer to get to know them, and ask what you can do to genuinely help them while you're at it. Nothing beats real connection, and if you want a jumpstart in the process, some of the usual suspects may eliminate your degrees of separation to other startup folks pretty quickly.
Depending on your interests and goals, there are any number of events that might offer a good way to get connected. Whether attending weekly staples like 1 Million Cups, monthly programs like Startup Grind Phoenix and House of Genius, or huge annual celebrations like PHX Startup Week, watch the Phoenix Startup Digest calendar to keep a pulse on what's upcoming. Plus, local events are a great way to accomplish meeting others face-to-face while you're at it. Mark your calendars.
Startups aren't very territorial when it comes to their work environments, which is good for newcomers. There are a growing number of fabulous shared work spaces all around Greater Phoenix which are great to visit, work from, and, once again, meet others like you. Choosing a new work environment like BRIC, Co+Hoots, The Department, DeskHub, Galvanize, Gangplank, Mac6, Workuity, or elsewhere is one of the fastest ways to find community. Proximity matters.
First of all, we try to be gracious. But we ask that you extend that same grace to others. Not everyone has the same social etiquette, which means we need to help others along the way. If you're new to such a large and diverse community of people, try to observe before you contribute, be generous without the expectation of reciprocity, and, quite simply, treat others how you want to be treated. We've even put together some community guidelines that speak to our liberal expectations of one another. Thanks for respecting.
While everyone's experience will be different, the best advice we can give is to be patient. Becoming an active, contributing, respected member of a community doesn't happen overnight. But if you're looking to truly help participate in and contribute toward building the world's most generous community for entrepreneurs, whatever that may mean to you, you've found a home. Welcome to Phoenix. It wouldn't be the same without you.
Arm yourself with these resources created by and for our generous startup community.
No problem, because we have answers to the questions people ask most often.
#yesphx started as nothing more than a hashtag for Arizona startup activity. But it quickly and organically become the way that many people within the ecosystem refer to our community. #yesphx is not a non-profit, or a startup, or a movement and, to be honest, it isn't even the point. Building the Greater Phoenix startup community and economy is the point. Making Phoenix a better place to live for our children and our children's children is the point. Taking pride in our city is the point. #yesphx is just one of many vehicles to help focus us on the points actually matter.
We started with a threefold mission — amplify, unify, and clarify.
The first part of the mission was accomplished very quickly through using the hashtag to amplify what was happening in the Greater Phoenix startup community. The next part of our mission was accomplished over time by bringing the community together more often and working toward common goals, unifying the ecosystem more effectively than in the past. Last but not least, the community agreed to clarify our collective vision as this: to become the most generous community for entrepreneurs.
With a long-term and bullish view, we believe in PHX and what it will become as we continue to amplify, unify, and clarify what's happening in Greater Phoenix. Join us.
The folks who started #yesphx like to think that they gave a name to what was already happening in the valley more so than they started something new. But if you must know, a “common hashtag” was casually discussed by Jonathan Cottrell, Mario Martinez II, Dirk Karsten Beth, and Stephen Grutzius over some late night stogies on April 23, 2014. Freshly inspired to do something about it, Jonathan registered a domain that weekend, wrote some copy, and worked with User10 to design the identity and website that launched the effort. As they say, the rest is history.
To learn more about how #yesphx was started, read the story in Inc.
#yesphx is 100% community-owned and self-organized, meaning, no one person or organization runs it — everyone does. When we say self-organized, we mean it. There is no budget. There is no board. This is the beautiful, collaborative effort of so very many people. Just a select few of those amazing allies include:
Of course, #yesphx has many other champions, but these are just some of the individuals who have made stuff happen for us throughout the process. As you can see, we couldn't do it without everyone's generosity and support.
We love and appreciate when people promote #yesphx. Feel free to download our media kit. All we ask is that you:
As a rule, we encourage that people say "yes-p-h-x" (“yes-pee-aitch-eks” to be exact), instead of "yes Phoenix" for two main reasons.
First, and most importantly, #yesphx reaches far beyond the city limits of Phoenix — often referred to as Greater Phoenix, Phoenix Metro, or, yes, PHX. Unfortunately, some people feel excluded when referring to certain cities. For example, we have heard it said, "Oh, #yesphx must not apply to me, because I live and work in Tempe." Though we are for squashing that line of thinking entirely, we have come to find that "PHX" is a more inclusive and accepting term than simply saying "Phoenix." We're all for radical inclusivity.
Secondly, and as an added bonus, people will know how to spell and find #yesphx if you pronounce it "yes-p-h-x", even if they haven't seen it in written or logo form yet.
What happens in Greater Phoenix benefits all of Arizona, end of story. While some people may get territorial about their cities outside of the Phoenix metropolitan area — places like Tucson, Flagstaff, and elsewhere — the fact is that we're all in this together. What's good for Phoenix is good for every city in the Grand Canyon state. Likewise, what's good for less populated Arizona cities is also good for our state's capital. For the record, the economic development teams and elected officials of cities like Scottsdale, Tempe, and Chandler have recognized this fact and been quite supportive of #yesphx since its inception.
All that being said, people think in terms of metropolitan areas and regions. When people reference San Francisco, they bundle places like Oakland, Palo Alto, San Jose, and the surrounding parts in their minds. So, let's stop drawing territorial lines and start thinking like a unified metropolis. Regardless of whether our addresses list Scottsdale, Tempe, Mesa, Chandler, Gilbert, Peoria, et al., we are Phoenix. Let's act like it.
Neither. We prefer to think of ourselves as an organized we-all-profit, more evolving organism than enterprising organization. We've been asked many times to turn #yesphx into a non-profit or official organization of some sort, but the beauty of this entire whatever-you-want-to-call-it is that nobody owns it, making it a unifying banner that every founder, startup, and organization can rally behind without concern for the agenda or bottom-line they're supporting. By supporting #yesphx, you support Greater Phoenix.
Rather than waste your money on the operational costs an organization would require, we encourage that you instead engage community members and companies at their fair market value for services you or your venture need. Given the fact we don't have a bank account or budget, we also rely upon the pro bono support and giving of our community members to help us manage #yesphx and accomplish various initiatives. We couldn't do this without the support of every single community member, and that includes you.
If you're new to Phoenix or sharing stuff online with a diverse population of people, here are some ideas to help you share the most helpful, productive content with our community:
Short answer: yes.
Longer answer: while we would love for this to become a free-for-all and just let everyone do their thing, it's nice when there are some best practices we can agree on collectively. The following community guidelines are here to help you understand what it means to be a respected member of Arizona's startup community.
What to do:
What not to do:
A few last things to keep in mind:
As a final note, it's important we tell you that this content was directly inspired by Flickr's community guidelines. (Well done, Flickreenos.)
Yes. Do it. Be the change in your city. Just be sure to find inspiration in our efforts, yet clearly make it represent your own community, unique unto itself. A brief story to further the point:
Years ago, a few vocal folks tried to brand Arizona as the Silicon Desert. Fortunately for us, it didn't stick. Silicon Valley got its name because of the high concentration of companies in northern California making semiconductors, which are often made of silicon. For the Bay Area, this title made sense. For Greater Phoenix, not so much.
Everyone is so ready to copycat other successful people and places, wrongly believing that if you speak it enough, it'll come true. In Phoenix, it took time to identify what it was that made us unique. Generosity wasn't a word we just picked because it sounded nice, but because it was true of who we already were (our identity), while also being a value we aspire to (our vision). In fact, this came almost a year after we started the grand experiment that is #yesphx, thanks largely to Tom Curzon attaching a word to it.
Brad Feld says that startup communities need a 20-year time horizon, so with that timeline in mind, Phoenix still has a long way to go. But we're on our path, and we wish you and every other city well along yours. Give it the uniqueness, time, and effort it deserves.
We've prepared a ready-to-go presentation about the Phoenix startup community on SlideShare, which you can download and present to others as-needed. Or, feel free to use the presentation template provided in our media kit to create your own information about the community. And of course, you can link people here as much as you need. We all share a part in spreading the word about #yesphx.
Be generous. Seriously, that's the number one way you can support Phoenix. One of the many ways you can do that is by taking the 1% Pledge with the Startup AZ Foundation, a critical organization to helping us build the world's most generous community for entrepreneurs. Or join us in community efforts to give back, like we do by building houses in Mexico.
There are a number of other ways to get involved with #yesphx, but we don't have an exhaustive list of ideas or suggestions. Be creative. If you have some ways you would like to help the cause, just go for it and let us know what you end up doing. We're in this together.
To begin with, you should most definitely follow @yesphx on Twitter, like our Facebook page, join the Facebook group, and sign up for the #yesphx Slack channel. Beyond that, there are a variety of other lists and accounts you should join, including but not limited to:
Be sure to check back as we continue adding to the list with the best startup resources from around the valley.
Greg Head has created the most definitive list of Arizona SaaS companies for everyone to reference and point to, including an interactive map with their locations. AngelList offers another option if you're looking for a broader, less strict definition of Phoenix startups. The homegrown TechAZ is building their own Arizona tech directory, as well.
Greg Head answered this question with a thoughtful review of startups' most populated areas based on his interactive map of their locations. If you're on the hunt for startup office space, it's worth checking out growing hubs like the Phoenix Warehouse District and various coworking spaces around town, as well.
Our city boasts some of the most helpful incentives, programs, and people in the nation for those looking to start in, relocate to, or expand in Phoenix. As early as you begin considering the move, we encourage everyone reach out to the Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA) and the Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC) to review their complimentary services and talk with somebody. One thing's for sure: you'll receive a very warm welcome from the community.
We would encourage you reach out directly to prior participants in local incubators and accelerators for their own opinions about their respective strengths before you choose which to join. The most notable incubators and accelerators to be aware of include SEED SPOT, Center for Entrepreneurial Innovation (CEI), Wasabi Ventures, and Tallwave High Tide. There are several other options if you're a student or faculty member at ASU or GCU, as well.
It's hard to keep a pulse on every startup job around town, but here are some tips as you search.
Start by perusing Greg Head's directory of Arizona SaaS companies, identifying the companies you would most like to work for, and browsing their sites for available opportunities. For those that look like a fit, request an introduction from a member in the community or make a valiant, thoughtful attempt at applying, indicating why you should be their top pick.
Secondarily, you might also identify some listed and unlisted career opportunities by searching the #jobs channel in our Slack community. If you're not already a member on Slack, request an invite. The more value you add in the community before making an ask, the more likely people are to respond to you, so don't just login and start spamming everyone.
Whatever you do, most of all, prove your hustle.
Puh-leeze, don't use that name for us any longer. This opinion piece best reflects our sentiments about being called the Silicon Desert. (Spoiler: we don't like it.)
We know that this doesn't answer everybody's questions, but we will continue adding to these FAQs as we go forward. As a result, be sure to send us any questions that aren't answered here so that we can continue building #yesphx as the go-to resource for Phoenix founders and startups. And of course, be sure to crowdsource the community for answers via Twitter, our Facebook group, and Slack channel. That's one of the things that makes Phoenix so great, after all — people are listening and ready to help. Or, to say it again, we're generous.
Follow and share what's happening in the startup ecosystem using the #yesphx hashtag.