ASU hosts local entrepreneurs for PHX Startup Week

Those in attendance at Friday's event included ASU alumni and hundreds of entrepreneurs from across Phoenix

Entrepreneurs and those interested in starting their own companies flocked to the ASU Tempe campus Friday for the third annual PHX Startup Week, an event for people entrepreneurship to learn about the Phoenix start-up culture.

PHX Startup Week, which took place at various locations throughout the Valley, featured five days of free keynote speakers, mentorship workshops and street pitch contests. Most of the companies in attendance were people who either owned a technology start up or were interested in beginning one of their own.

Peter Harris, founder and CEO of Syncrement, an advertising technology company based in Scottsdale, was among the large crowd.

“I think it is a great event, really great speakers and it's cool to see a lot of the speakers," Harris said. "A lot of the companies are from Phoenix themselves. There are a lot of great opportunities and good things to learn here."

Harris recently started Syncrement, and came to PHX Startup Week to get a sense of the Phoenix startup culture and meet like-minded people. He said more ASU students should attend the event in the future and look into beginning their own startup companies.

The event focused on teaching startup rookies what to value in their company and how to use their resources. Many of the speakers and organizers at PHX Startup Week were ASU alumni. 

Volunteer Chief Organizer and ASU alumnus Stephen Viramontes said the event is a “100 percent volunteer effort by the community for the community.” 

Viramontes is the cofounder and CEO of Assure Vote, a voting technology company that creates tools to make the voting process more secure. He said this was his second time being a part of the team organizing PHX Startup Week.

“Our goals for this event would be to inspire and encourage any and all startups in Phoenix and in Arizona to take whatever idea they may have and make good on their dreams and passions and to go create and build," Viramontes said. "And to make good on those entrepreneurial dreams that they want to see fulfilled.” 

Viramontes said when he was a student at ASU he worked for the InnovationSpace Program which gave him hands on experience in starting a business he needed to found Assure Vote. The InnovationSpace program is a yearlong product design program which teaches students how to use a variety of resources to tackle issues that may occur when designing a product for the marketplace.

Viramontes said that his time with the program gave him a great foundation to become a entrepreneur.

“What the InnovationSpace helped me do was identify a problem, and develop a solution, and then build a functioning prototype for users to test and allow the market to decide whether or not our idea and product would be adopted and used in the marketplace."

Emily Gaxiola, the head of recruiting at Tuft & Needle, a Phoenix-based mattress company, said company culture is a buzzword right now has become an important focus for many businesses. Gaxiola stat on a panel of business leaders who spoke primarily about the issues companies face when defining their culture.

Because company culture is often difficult for startups to manage, Gaxiola offered advice to young entrepreneurs.

"Once you define what your culture is and the values you hold most close to your heart, open yourself up to feedback from employees to see 'How are we doing with this?'" Gaxiola told The State Press. "And really take it and be willing to make some hard decisions and changes if you need to."


Reach the reporter at gabbyt98@gmail.com or follow @GabbyTortorich on Twitter.

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