Startup Weekend

By:  Jeff Abbott (Thunderbird Alum & StartupWeekend Phoenix Co-Organizer)

A heart rate monitor that sends its output to an iPhone app. Turning unused sailboats in San Diego into vacation rentals. Commercializing acid-free coffee on the Internet. An email service designed for young children and their parents. A traffic and navigation app that reduces road congestion.  Building a network to connect customers with unused capacity on privately owned 3-D printers. An app that uses location awareness and social media integration to remind you when and where you first met someone.  These are just a few of the ideas that I have seen presented at the Startup Weekend events I have attended in Arizona in the past year.

The Startup Weekend organization will produce over 400 events in more than 100 countries in 2012. The upcoming Startup Weekend Phoenix event, to be hosted at Thunderbird, will be the fourth, and largest, such event this year held in Arizona. And when we’re done, we will be working with Thunderbird for Good and the 10,000 Women project to take the first-ever Startup Weekend to Haiti.

While the Startup Weekend headquarters organization likes to keep statistics about the number of new business ventures that have been generated, and the percentage of them that are still working together 3, 6 or 12 months later, as well as their market success, there are many more benefits to start up weekend.

I recently met Startup Weekend founder, Andrew Hyde, at Startup Weekend Northern Arizona, hosted by our friends and SWPHX sponsor NACET.  Hyde shared that, for him, Startup Weekend had always been about building community. After attending 3 SW events in Arizona, I could not agree more. In every case, I have left the events better for the experience. Better for the relationships I built. For the connections I made. And for the experience itself of thinking through business opportunities in a structured way, with a newly formed team, under time pressure

As a Thunderbird alumnus, my primastartupry goal, beyond producing a top quality event for all participants, is to benefit the Thunderbird community and increase its exposure to and integration into the entrepreneurial economy of Arizona. If you have not heard, Arizona was recently ranked #1 by the Kauffman Foundation in terms of the rate of new business formation. How are we going to do this?  By literally, transporting a microcosm of the entire entrepreneurial ecosystem in Arizona to our campus for the weekend.  That’s what Startup Weekend – Phoenix 2012 will be.

The Arizona Commerce Authority, ASU’s Venture Catalyst, ASU College of Technology and Innovation, NACET incubator in Flagstaff, CEI, Seedspot, CoHoots and Launchspot incubators in Phoenix, Tallwave venture accelerator in Scottsdale, Gangplank in Avondale, AZTechcelerator in Surprise, TiE Arizona, GrowAZ, the Desert Angels, the Thunderbird Angels, and Thunderbird itself, are all in support as we have drawn sponsors, mentors, judges, and real prizes for winning teams literally from all quarters of the state.  As a Thunderbird, whether student, faculty, or staff, if you want to meet and interact with representatives of these organizations, all you’ll need to do is walk to the TAC.

While Thunderbird has been recognized as having one of the most entrepreneurial alumni networks in the world, never before has entrepreneurship as a course of study and career track been a more viable option. We are blessed that the field has come so far and that the resources and support available to entrepreneurs has grown exponentially.  Startup Weekend is just one such example, and will help showcase many others.

How to register for Startup Weekend Phoenix (with the exclusive 40% Thunderbird discount):

Visit and use the discount code TBIRD to save 40% on the cost of admission, which includes 7 meals. And when you do, please give also thanks to the generous support of the Thunderbird administration, communications and conference services teams, without whom this event would not be happening.

Got an idea that will change the world? Of course you do, you’re Thunderbirds. Bring it to Startup Weekend Phoenix 2012, Oct 19-21 at Thunderbird. Lets put entrepreneurship at Thunderbird on the map.

For questions, contact or Thunderbirds Student representative Matt Gottesman (

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