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Pima County Public Library: Bring your business idea to life with Startup Tucson

This Community Spotlight is by Matthew L., Workforce and Economic Development Librarian at Joel D. Valdez Main Library.

Read the original article here

Recently, I spoke with Megan Finck, Program Manager for Startup Tucson, about the organization, what they offer, and her experience working on the team. Startup Tucson is a non-profit organization with educational, membership, and networking opportunities for people in Southern Arizona who are looking to launch a business or who are looking to grow and take their next steps in an established business. Startup Tucson was founded in 2012 and currently has over 300 members. They reach more than 3000 people each year with their many programs.

Startup Tucson offers a mix of in-person and online educational programs, including their monthly Startup 101 class, an all-day Fundamentals workshop, and various multi-week cohort workshops that lead participants through the launch of things like food businesses or creative businesses. The best way to get started with Startup Tucson is to take their Startup 101 class and become a free member.

In addition to their educational content, Startup Tucson provides mentorship and networking opportunities throughout the year, including at their annual TENWEST Festival, a celebration of innovation and entrepreneurship, which includes a pitch contest with a $25,000 grand prize. The next TENWEST Festival is scheduled for March 2025.

Over the years, Startup Tucson has helped food entrepreneurs, creatives, service providers, and retail and ecommerce businesses, among others, to launch and grow their businesses. “We work with people who are creating everything from earrings to empanadas,” Megan said, “and membership includes perks like discounts for Metro Chamber of Commerce membership and Amazon web services.” Their educational, mentorship, and networking opportunities offer low stress ways to learn, build, and grow a business.

“I have a background in educational program management,” Megan said, "and I’ve worked in various higher education and non-profit spaces, including at Mid-Continent Public Library in Missouri, but I really started on this path when my husband was starting his own small business. I’m never bored at this job; no day is the same here. I’m always encountering new and innovative business ideas at our community events and when I meet with our partners and local entrepreneurs.”

“Here at Startup Tucson, we try to model the test, experiment, and iterate strategies we teach in our classes,” Megan said. “Our Fundamentals workshop, for example, changes every time we offer it. We encourage people to start small and experiment with things before signing a lease or making a big purchase.”

An example of a successful business that Startup Tucson has helped is Cocktail Lab AZ, creator of Ray Ray’s Sonoran Spirit Tea. “Rachel came to us early on with an idea for a hard tea and over the past few years, she's done the hard work of bringing that idea to life," Megan said. “Now her hard tea is packed and distributed to bars and stores throughout Arizona. She has big plans to expand even further and we're excited to see her continue to grow.”

Pima County Public Library’s Ignite: Services for Businesses and Nonprofits can connect you with local organizations like Startup Tucson, as well as workshops and other community events to help your business or nonprofit grow. For a list of local business resources, check out Startup Tucson’s Entrepreneur Ecosystem Guide.

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