In the place of TENWEST Impact Festival this year, Startup Tucson is has reimagined IdeaFunding— Southern Arizona’s largest entrepreneurial conference—as a day-long event to celebrate the resiliency of small businesses and new business starts by giving away over $65,000 in cash and prizes on April 15th. In addition to startups, they will be adding new categories for main street small businesses, and artisans, crafts, and makers. IdeaFunding will include Southern Arizona’s largest Pitch Competition, which received applications from 80 startups this year. The grand prize is $10,000 cash presented by UA Venture Capital and a free year of incubation at University of Arizona Center for Innovation (a $10,00 value). New this year are the “Community Resiliency Prizes,” which will be recognizing “exceptional innovation, grit, creativity, and impact in the face of extraordinary challenges” that have been displayed by Tucson’s small businesses. Specific prizes will honor Visionary Leaders, Behind the Scenes Heroes, and Innovation Engines for both brick-and-mortar as well as creative makers and artisans. The community will be invited to nominate the small businesses and small business leaders that are crucial to Tucson.
Finally, Startup Tucson will also be awarding $500 cash prizes to creatives such as musicians, comedians, poets, and mixologists as part of a series of battles, celebrating the talented creative that are essential to Tucson’s distinctive culture, and who have been especially hard hit by COVID-19. The Arizona Commerce Authority has committed to serving as the event’s title sponsor, demonstrating a significant investment in Southern Arizona’s business community. Other key sponsors and supporters include the McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship and Pima Community College.
While we were sad to have to reschedule TENWEST Impact Festival once again, we could see no greater impact than we can have on our community right now than helping and celebrating the small businesses who have been going above and beyond to keep our community safe, employed, and vibrant. This event is already generating a ton of buzz and support from partners because it is laser-focused on telling positive stories emerging from this difficult experience. Businesses need that dose of encouragement right now more than ever and entrepreneurs seeking to start new ideas in a time of change should be celebrated.. Tickets are free to the community but you must register at startuptucson.com/ideafunding. IdeaFunding is part of a statewide initiative called Startup Together AZ to support Arizona entrepreneurship throughout the whole month of April.
Dre Thompson is the Executive VP at Startup Tucson and the Festival Director of TENWEST Impact Festival. She is delighted everyday that she has landed her dream job which brings together her diverse background in community development, research and education, startup businesses, and also creative entrepreneurship. She can be reached email@example.com.