top of page
Southern Arizona's leading entrepreneurial event for over 25 years
Asset 6.png

a part of


since 2015

Asset 3.png
Introducing IdeaFunding

IdeaFunding is one of Arizona's largest entrepreneurial conferences and pitch competitions and the longest continually running startup event in all of Arizona. Every year hundreds of entrepreneurs, mentors, investors and business leaders come together to connect with each other, learn and be inspired by the best new ideas Arizona has to offer. The event provides entrepreneurs in southern Arizona with the opportunity to learn about the latest and greatest best practices in today’s startup environment, and to present their own business ideas to experienced startup investors.

IdeaFunding and TENWEST are presented by:

25 Years of History

For over 25 years IdeaFunding has brought together the Tucson entrepreneurial community -- including startup founders, managers, mentors, advisors and investors -- to promote the growth of innovative companies, and the skilled jobs and economic development these companies bring to our city, state and region. Founded by Larry Hecker and Sherry Hoskinson, the event was originally presented in community partnership by members of the region’s business and academic communities and has been housed within a number of Southern Arizona's organizations during it's longstanding history including the University of Arizona McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship and University of Arizona Center for Innovation. Committee members have included members of the business and startup communities at large as well as representatives from Desert Angels, Tech Launch Arizona and many others. IdeaFunding has been a part of TENWEST Impact Festival under the leadership of Startup Tucson since 2015 and still uses a community impact model in it's annual organization.  

Flyer, IdeaFunding 2014.png
2013 08-21 IdeaFunding - save the date-draftv2.png
IdeaFunding_Bracket Challenge.jpg
Get Started + IdeaFunding.png

One of the core components of IdeaFunding is the educational sessions for entrepreneurs and investors during the TENWEST Conference. Each year, these sessions include tactical and inspirational workshops, sessions and panels with experts from throughout our region. National keynote speakers also help make the event THE go to place to learn how to take your business to the next level every November. IdeaFunding’s education sessions are designed for companies at different growth stages, from early startups to mature companies looking for successful exits. The Capital Summit portion of the conference all focuses on funding sources, both traditional and non-traditional. 

Past Keynotes & Signature Events have included:

  • 2023: "Building for People: How Car-Less Cities Will Shape Our Future" Ryan Johnson

  • 2023: "Arizona Startup Superstars: From Challenge Champs to Entrepreneurial Triumphs" Bryan Sherman, Lauren Fitzpatrick Shanks, Ayushi Patel, Jo Halsey

  • 2023: "The Journey to Ten Figures" Justin Bayless, Mark Moeremans

  • 2023: "Founding, Disrupting, and Thriving: Building Your Business and Community with Dr. Key" Dr. Lakeysha Hallmon, Keneshia Raymond

  • 2022: "Founders & Funders: Alternative Finance" featuring Common Future, Community Credit Lab, TMV and more

  • 2022: "Seeking Finance in Southern Arizona" featuring UAVC, Desert Angels, CIC and AVC

  • 2019: Tech Launch Arizona Bridge Builders Innovation Ecosystem UnConference

  • 2019: Ideas to Doors Venture Lab

  • 2019: "Investment Deserts" - Allie Burns, CEO at Village Capital

  • 2019: "Building a Startup Ecosystem" - Chris Heivly, VP of Innovation at TechStars

  • 2019: VC's Unplugged luncheon with Rocky Mountain Venture Capital

Pitch Competition
Pitch Competition

IdeaFunding's annual pitch competition provides an opportunity for Arizona companies to share their stories with our community for a chance to win over $70,000 in cash and prizes. New company founders are invited to deliver pitches to a panel of judges, seasoned, qualified investors for cash prizes and valuable feedback on what they can do to improve their chances for investment and startup success. For active investors, IdeaFunding is a chance to listen to the pitches of select entrepreneurs, identify new, creative startup ideas, and pinpoint future investment opportunities.

IdeaFunding Pitch Competition is hosted in partnership between:

Startup Logos 2020-Large Navy.png
UACI Logo.png

Past Winners Include:


and many more....

Community Awards
Community Awards

Acknowledging and celebrating those who have created lasting legacies and forging new paths is critical to any innovation ecosystem. During the Community Awards Ceremony at IdeaFunding we honor major contributors to Southern Arizona. IdeaFunding celebrates both Outstanding Entrepreneurs and Community Builders through four total awards. Nominations are collected from the ecosystem and reviewed by committee.

  • Thomas R. Brown Outstanding Entrepreneur Award

  • Thomas R. Brown Rising Star Entrepreneur Award

  • Larry Hecker & Sherry Hoskinson Lasting Community Builder Award

  • Larry Hecker & Sherry Hoskinson Bright Futures Community Builder Award

To nominate yourself or someone else, please ensure you have read the full award descriptions and criteria. Please note, incomplete nominations will not be accepted and awards may not be given every year if committee determines nominees do not adequately meet all qualifications.

Thomas R. Brown Entrepreneur Awards
Thomas R. Brown Outstanding
Entrepreneur Award

Established in 2001

Thomas R. Brown Rising Star
entrepreneur Award

Established in 2018

Nominations for 2023 are now closed.
Larry Hecker & Sherry Hoskinson Community Builder Awards
Larry Hecker and Sherry Hoskinson
Lasting Community Builder Award

Established in 2013

Larry Hecker and Sherry Hoskinson
Bright Futures community builder Award

Established in 2018

Nominations for 2023 are now closed.
Entrepreneur Awards
Community Builder Award
Asset 3.png
Asset 2_edited.png

We are able to provide high caliber experience at a low cost to entrepreneurs through the generosity of our partners and sponsors. Consider joining us and building your brand by sponsoring a track, a pitch competition, or a prize. We can work creatively for your budget and messaging goals.


Contact for more information. 


2019 UACI Logo.png
Hecker Pew Logo.jpg
Screen Shot 2021-02-05 at 7.02.23 PM.png