Ward 3 Newsletter

Please find the full newsletter here. https://www.tucsonaz.gov/ward-3/news/pauls-note-friday-october-9-2020

Startup Tucson

A couple of years ago, Martha Retallick, eyeing her camera gear, had an idea. She would document, through her photographs, the work she puts into her backyard garden.

Fast forward to this year of pandemic. Martha, a Ward 3 resident, looked at her photos and asked herself “now what do I do?” In a life-altering year, where life has been turned upside down, an idea sprouted in Martha’s imagination.

What if she turned her photos into a coffee table book where she could share her images, and her passion and her ideas about creating a sustainable natural space. So she turned to some people who could help her create her vision.

“I wanted to start out on the right foot,” she said.

Martha Retallick. Photo by Michael Campbell

Martha turned to Startup Tucson, a non-profit whose aim is to guide Tucsonans like Martha to transform a creative idea into a saleable product. Startup Tucson offers budding entrepreneurs a series of classes and workshops to help them explore their ideas, connect with mentors, evaluate the product’s potential to sell and to make the product available to others.

The women-led group housed in downtown Tucson educates entrepreneurs and stimulates economic development, said Liz Pocock, chief executive officer of Start Up Tucson. It offers free and low cost programs for new entrepreneurs, and connects them with some of our local entrepreneurs and small businesses to help them pivot during COVID.

Startup Tucson measures its success in a number of ways, including jobs created, startup companies, increase of revenue to existing companies, and the amount of funds that budding entrepreneurs acquire for their projects, she said. It also measures its success by the level that confidence that its clients take away.

Pocock, who took the helm at Startup Tucson in 2018, said that an increasing number of women, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, were enrolling in Startup Tucson. But with the pandemic, women entrepreneurs have been slowed down. Still they persist. Pocock said the dreams and desires of women entrepreneurs is inspiring. “They have that grit,” she said.

One of those successful businesses is owned by Erica Yngve. In fact Erica owns two businesses housed under the same roof in the Yaqui barrio of Old Pascua. Erica owns Bralessly, a women’s clothing line, and the Sonoran Stitch Factory, where workers cut and sew custom products. In addition, Erica provides services and storage for seven other businesses in a warehouse at the intersection of West Rillito Street and North 15th Avenue.

Erica started her clothing line first nearly two years ago but almost immediately she realized something critical. “I just needed a lot of help,” she said.

Photo courtesy of Sonoran Stitch Factory

Erica signed up for Startup Tucson's business-building series in early 2019. After completing the course, her batteries were charged and she came away filled with valuable information, mentors and contacts, and a nice chunk of money she won in a competition that would help her augment her financing.

“I couldn’t have gone this far without their services,” Erica said. Her sister has started down her entrepreneurship road through Startup Tucson. Erica said she’s looking to grow her business and intends to use Startup Tucson’s resources again.

Martha, whose consulting and writing business is called Western Sky Communications, said the workshops helped her each step of the way to create her book. And in the process, Martha, a booster of local businesses, has turned to a book designer, who lives in Ward 3, and plans to use a Tucson printing company to churn out her first run.

“The capacity exists in Tucson. We just need to use it,” Martha said.

Startup Tucson offers a number of entirely free courses and events, including the monthly Startup Coffee and Bytes series and Innovation Economics. Most courses are $10-$15 each or the Fundamentals as a package for $45 for the 5 Courses. Startup Tucson will begin its next round of its 5-week Startup Fundamentals series starts in mid-October.

It also offers longer advanced and technical workshops that range in cost depending on subject matter. There are options available for people who can not afford to enroll. Inquiries may be sent directly to us at info@startuptucson.com.

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