Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Spotlight: Mesa, AZ

Mesa, Arizona

Mesa, AZ is growing as a space for Hispanic entrepreneurs while also becoming nationally recognized as a great region for early-stage startups.

Mesa, AZ, located just 20 miles east of Phoenix, is the state’s third-largest city and the most-populous suburban city in the country. Though it pales in comparison to the entrepreneurial powerhouse of nearby Phoenix, Mesa has plenty of resources those interested in launching startups and small businesses.

The city ranked 76th overall on WalletHub’s 2018 rankings of the best cities to start a business, with a rank of 44th in the “Business Costs” category. The same site ranked Mesa 52nd on their list of the best cities for Hispanic entrepreneurs in 2018, while Fit Small Business ranked the Phoenix-Mesa-Glendale area of Arizona 11th in their list of the Top 15 Most Entrepreneurial Cities for 2018. As a whole, the state of Arizona was ranked in the top 10 in The Kauffman Foundation’s Early-Stage Entrepreneurship Index.

Based on these rankings, FundingSage has reviewed the resources that make up Mesa’s entrepreneurial ecosystem:

Entrepreneurial Meetups:

Entrepreneurs in Scottsdale and the surrounding area, including Phoenix and Mesa, can attend networking meetings organized and scheduled by the Entrepreneurs of Phoenix group.

Based in nearby Chandler, AZ, The Female Edge is a networking group for women involved in business, entrepreneurship and sales.

Held regularly in Phoenix and the surrounding area, HackerNest Phoenix Tech Socials are opportunities for technology entrepreneurs to meet one another and network.

Located in Phoenix, PEN is a community for small business owners that holds regular professional seminars to help support area entrepreneurs.

Despite the name, Phoenix Entrepreneurs Rise Up is a Mesa-based networking group with the intention of creating more entrepreneurs and supporting the startups they create.


Regular Entrepreneurial Events:

The Arizona Small Business Association hosts regular events like tech expos, awards ceremonies, networking events and more around Phoenix, Mesa and the surrounding areas.

Several campuses of Arizona State University across the Phoenix metropolitan area play host to events organized by the school’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation program.

The Mesa Chamber of Commerce hosts a wide variety of regular events focused on small business and entrepreneurship.

Held annually in Phoenix, PHX Startup Week is a weeklong conference celebrating and supporting entrepreneurship in and around the Phoenix-Mesa metropolitan area.


Startup Competitions:

Technology companies from around the state of Arizona – or those willing to relocate there – can compete to win up to $150,000 from the Arizona Innovation Challenge.

Arizona State University hosts the Innovation Open, an annual competition that is open to all college students with a $100,000 grand prize.

Organized by Mesa Community College’s East Valley Entrepreneurial Center and the Mesa Chamber of Commerce, Swim With the Sharks is an annual pitch competition.

On-campus students at Arizona State University can participate in pitch workshops and compete in a small pitch competition held by the Thunderbird School of Global Management.


Co-working Spaces:

CO+HOOTS is a Phoenix co-working location that offers over 14,000 square feet of office space with a new Mesa location to be opened in 2019.

Located just outside of Mesa in Gilbert, AZ, EZ Spaces is a co-working space that offers several levels of membership plans to its members.

With three locations around the state of Arizona, Gangplank is a co-working space that places an emphasis on collaboration and doesn’t charge a monetary membership fee.

Regus has a number of traditional office space as well as co-working space available in and around the Mesa area.



Founded in 2009, HeatSync Labs is a hackerspace that schedules and hosts regular workshops, classes and other events for its members.

Students, faculty and staff at Arizona State University have access the school’s mkrservices, a makerspace and media production studio.

Two locations of the Mesa Public Library include THINKspots, small makerspaces that provide access to studio space and equipment, including a 3D printer.



The Fashion and Business Resource Innovation Center (FABRIC) is a Tempe-based incubator program for fashion-based startups.

Organized by Arizona State University, the RISN Incubator is a program that works to support startups with waste-to-product innovations.

Based in Phoenix, SC Kitchen is a commercial kitchen space and business incubator that works to help launch food-based startups.

Arizona as a whole and the Phoenix metropolitan area specifically are home to several Small Business Development Centers, which collect resources and host events to support business.



Arizona State University runs ScaleU, an accelerator program that works with startups aiming to advance and improve educational technology.

Ranked as one of the nation’s best in 2017, Coplex is a technology startup accelerator with locations in Phoenix, Los Angeles and Seattle.

LaunchPoint is an accelerator program based in Mesa that works to turn promising technology startups into viable businesses.



Ranked #1 in Innovation for 2019 by the US News & World Report, Arizona State University makes a wide variety of resources available to entrepreneurial students.

Just down the road from Mesa, Chandler-Gilbert Community College runs the Small Business Start-Up program to help its students become successful entrepreneurs.

The East Valley Entrepreneurial Center at Mesa Community College organizes a number of entrepreneurship resources and offers a degree and certificate program in small business.


Angel Groups/VCs:

Arizona Tech Investors is a venture capital firm that focuses on information technology and life science startups around the state of Arizona and beyond.

Based in Scottsdale, Grayhawk Capital invests in information technology startups, primarily those based in and around the Southwest.

Made up of investors with ties to Arizona State University, the Thunderbird Angel Network looks to invest in promising early-stage startups.

Match with an Angel Investor in Arizona on LaunchXL!


Entrepreneurial Newsletter Coverage:

Arizona Business Daily offers an email newsletter covering the biggest headlines in business news from around the state.

Among the many newsletters offered by The Arizona Republic are the Business Noon News, delivered weekday afternoons, and Business Morning News, delivered weekday mornings.

The Phoenix Business Journal offers several newsletters focused on business news in Phoenix and the surrounding areas, including Mesa.


Are you familiar with entrepreneurial ecosystem infrastructure in Mesa not included in the article above?  If so, let us know via a comment below, and we will add it to the article. 

Interested in Ecosystem Spotlights of other cities in the USA?

Phoenix, AZ, Tucson, AZ, Flagstaff, AZ

Quinn Pilkey

Quinn is a journalism major at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He also serves as a freelance author for Hashtag Basketball where he writes about the NBA's Charlotte Hornets and at FundingSage where he researches and writes about entrepreneurial ecosystems.