Global business leaders and venture capitalists tout Arizona’s bustling tech hub

Global thought leaders, national business owners, athletes, investors, entertainers, and public officials discussed Arizona’s booming technology sector and the state’s economic outlook at the 6th annual invisionAZ Tech Summit at the Waste Management Phoenix Open. 

“Arizona has the potential to become a one-of-a-kind tech hub thanks to well-built, cooperative partnerships, relentless optimism, and an innovative, entrepreneurial spirit from our state’s forward thinking leaders,” said venture capitalist and Thiel Capital Managing Director Jack Selby in his opening remarks. 

The event provided attendees with a never-before-seen look at the state’s rapidly growing tech sector and the opportunity to network with the state’s leading innovators, business executives, and venture capitalists while discussing top-of-mind issues impacting our local, state, and national economies. 

Throughout the tech summit, it became clear that Arizona is becoming a premier destination for investors as groundbreaking innovations occur on the factory floor and in the lab. In fact, a few years ago, if you were to discuss venture capitalism with Valley-based investor Andy Lombard, the conversation wouldn’t have lasted more than 30 seconds. Today, however, Arizona’s venture capital market has grown exponentially.

Lombard announced that nonprofit venture capital firm Arizona Venture Development Corp. would be partnering with Arizona’s largest venture capital firm, AZ-VC, to make venture capital more inclusive and make Arizona a top-10 state for startups to fundraise. 

During the summit, AZ-VC partners Jason Pressman, Ben Brockwell, and Ashok Santhanam unveiled a new plan that will empower local Arizona entrepreneurs through personalized consultations and experiential learning methods to enable future business leaders to succeed in today’s global economy. 

“The Elevate Program helps companies with go-to-market strategies,” incoming AZ-VC Managing Director Jason Pressman said. “Over and over again, what we see is that great entrepreneurs are typically product-centric. This is a powerful tool that will help companies grow much quicker.”

AZ-VC’s Elevate will include access to several coaches with seasoned operations executives, content modules surrounding business collateral, and advanced software to analyze critical business functions and increase the velocity of sales, ultimately maximizing each individual company’s core competencies and differentiators amongst a competitive market. 

The summit then shifted its focus from venture capital to emerging technologies across all sectors. During each panel, it became evident that Arizona’s diverse tech ecosystem has affected all companies across the state. 

“Data infrastructure is driving innovation within sports,” said investor and Arizona Cardinals Offensive Lineman Kelvin Beachum during a panel on sports business technology. 

All the panelists concurred that learning as much about their customers as possible is critical to success in a very competitive market. 

For instance, Arizona Coyotes Chief Operations Officer Liz Montano cited the NHL team’s unique ability to adapt to extraneous circumstances through the use of customer data acquisition technology. 

When the Coyotes were told they needed to move out of Glendale, the organization only had only a few short months to find a new, state-of-the-art facility, ultimately ending up at Mullet Arena at Arizona State University. While the facility is widely considered to be one of the best hockey venues in the NHL, it only includes 4,600 seats and not a lot of assets to sell, making it difficult to reach basic revenue goals. 

Montano and the Coyotes’ team had to think creatively to develop new strategies aimed at providing consumers with the best fan experience possible and enable the team to sell unique products outside of the arena. 

For all the panelists, sports, like business, is personal – it directly and indirectly impacts communities, driving the state economy forward. 

When discussing medical technologies, CEOs Cindy Jordan of Pyx Health and Dave Dvorak of Deep Think Health intensely discussed whether healthcare could be turned over to Artificial Intelligence in the future. While technology quickly advances, both agree these augmentative technologies are decision-making tools to equip doctors, therapists, and physicians with the best information before making proper diagnoses. 

As the MedTech panel reached its close, attorney and moderator Dan Mahoney mentioned the discussion was meant to showcase how fast and how far Arizona technology companies have recently grown, and how prevalent they could become, especially in healthcare. 

At the end of the event, Gov. Katie Hobbs sat down for an interview with University of Arizona President Dr. Robert Robbins to discuss Arizona’s up and coming, bustling technology ecosystem and everything it has been doing for the state.

Throughout the discussion, the governor touted the state’s semiconductor manufacturing industry, as the nation becomes less dependent on foreign manufacturing markets for such crucial technology. This discussion comes just days after SEMICON, the nation’s leading semiconductor and global supply chain symposium, announced its relocation from San Francisco to Phoenix. 

Hobbs also commented on how inclusive Arizona’s business community has become. She emphasized how the state has encouraged more entrepreneurs to make a difference in their communities, citing how diverse leadership greatly impacts the local economy. 

“Arizona is a place that gives everyone an equal opportunity and chance,” added President Robbins. 

Selby consistently echoed this sentiment throughout the summit, stating, “No matter where you come from, your pedigree, your background – you can make it big in the Arizona business community.”

Michael Kittilson

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