Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Startup Tucson: Part I

When we first considered our move to Tucson, AZ, I thought, "what could I do there?" Having visited since 1984, I thought maybe I could do a "Julie, the cruise director" type job at one of the many retirement communities.

I began researching the job market and, by chance, if there was any kind of startup scene like I'd been familiar with in New York.

It was with great surprise, and delight, to see that not only is there a startup scene, but it is growing and vibrant. I quickly found some of the key players and associations and began bookmarking their sites, signing up for the newsletters, and taking note of their names.

Justin Williams and StartUp Tucson are what seem to be the center of this movement, and after arriving in town, was eager to start attending some of the events. I called the office after missing one of their "1 Million Cups" morning events, hoping to get some information on a particularly interesting business (InCycle Water). You can imagine my surprise, and delight, to have reached Justin directly after having followed him electronically for the last 1 1/2 years. He was, of course, very friendly and welcomed me to any event. One week later I made my way to downtown Tucson, which like many downtowns across the USA is experiencing a revival.

It was great to step inside one of the few main co-working spaces in Tucson. And, while, I'd arrived a little late (still getting used to driving and where to park, having not done much of either in about 25 years), it was great to see the number of people gathered for this early morning event. I'd missed the main presentation but was able to hear several teams of students who'd participated in the Startup Tucson STEM Summer Camp. One team suggested a way to make Craigslist safe for kids who want to sell their electronics, bikes, etc. Another team wanted to develop an app that was connected to a tracking device in sneakers to help prevent kids getting lost (like in Disneyland, parks or stores), or help them get found.

After the event I introduced myself to Justin and we set a date for lunch. Meeting at a family-style restaurant on the far West side of town, I got to learn a little more about Justin and a lot more about the startup scene in Tucson. (More on this in the next article!)