Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Spotlight: Phoenix, AZ


Phoenix may be the capital of Arizona, but it’s also the 5th largest in the nation. Surprisingly, it’s one of the most affordable large scale cities in the country! Here’s what makes up Phoenix’s startup ecosystem.

Phoenix, AZ is the state’s capital and most-populous city, and the fifth-biggest in the nation. Despite the city’s size, it’s somewhat cheap relative to other major cities – WalletHub’s 2017 list of the Best Large Cities to Start a Business ranked Phoenix 56th in the “Business Costs” category, well above similarly-large cities like New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago. In 2017, The Phoenix metropolitan area, the 12th-most populous in the nation, was ranked 15th in entrepreneurial growth and 8th in startup activity by the Kauffman Index.

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

Entrepreneurial Meetups:

A networking group that hosts weekly roundtables made up of entrepreneurs, business owners, investors, and other influential members of the entrepreneurial community.

Located in nearby Scottsdale, AZ, this is a group specifically designed to help entrepreneurs make connections and find potential collaborators.

A networking group for active and aspiring small business owners and entrepreneurs that hosts regular events and educational seminars.

Aims to support active and aspiring entrepreneurs by hosting networking events and educational workshops and lessons.

The Women’s Networking League has a singular goal of helping women succeed by providing support and opportunities for collaboration.

An entrepreneurial group aimed at supporting women by nurturing relationships and educating them so that they will be able to find success.

SEVEN is a group that aims to help entrepreneurs grow by bringing them together and encouraging them to collaborate and share knowledge and ideas.

SEVEN’s networking group hosts two separate regular groups, with networking meetings taking place either after work or at lunch.

Startup Grind is a global community that supports entrepreneurship in a number of cities across the world, including a branch in Phoenix.


Regular Entrepreneurial Events:

The Dentist Entrepreneur Organization hosts an annual conference celebrating entrepreneurship in the dental industry.

An annual five-day conference celebrating and supporting entrepreneurship in and around the Phoenix area.

Phoenix is home to one branch of several nationwide Small Business Expos, large annual networking events for small businesses and entrepreneurs.


Startup Competitions:

Organized by the Arizona Commerce Authority, the Arizona Innovation Challenge gives out $3 million to promising technology startups across two annual competitions.

ASU hosts a variety of startup and pitch competitions open to students interested in a wide variety of types of entrepreneurship.

A large startup competition that pitches 24-to-30 promising startups against one another in a bracket-style format.

Phoenix is home to one of several SVP Fast Pitch competitions around the United States, which trains and rewards promising social entrepreneurs and startups.


Co-working Spaces:

A community-supported co-working space that places an emphasis on collaboration and productivity that offers flexible membership plans and a free test day.

Located in what was originally the Korrick Department Store, the Department is furnished with custom-designed furniture and other amenities aimed at supporting entrepreneurship.

Mod is a modern co-working space that offers several styles of space, including a lounge area, a dedicated desk, offices, and event spaces.

With two locations around Phoenix, the Office Bowl is a boutique co-working space that aims to best meet the needs of its members.

Located in downtown Phoenix, Society Workspace offers a variety of membership plans and a creative workplace for members.

In addition to modern office space and conference rooms, Workuity offers members free coffee, wine, and beer as well as an onsite gym.


Maker spaces:

Arizona State University offers students, faculty, and staff at the university access to both a maker space as well as an audio and video studio.

CREATE is a 6,500-square foot workspace with a variety of tools and equipment that hosts regular events and workshops for the community.

Handcrafted is a maker space and workshop located at Heritage Square and Science Park that includes five “zones” – ink, junk, fiber, food, and wood.

Open on evenings from Monday through Thursday, HeatSync is a hackerspace and maker space run entirely by volunteers that offers space and equipment to members.



An organization that provides support to technology startups that have the potential to disrupt their industry.

The product of Arizona State University and the City of Phoenix, the RISN Incubator is for entrepreneurs with promising waste-to-product startups.

With locations in Washington, D.C., and Phoenix, SEED SPOT provides support to entrepreneurs making a social impact in their communities.

A business design company that helps its clients grow and find success by utilizing branding, technology, and other strategies.

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A 12-week accelerator program that provides mentorship and capital to growth-stage startups led by female entrepreneurs.

BioAccel is an accelerator program that provides support to biomedical technologies and startups through funding and mentorship.

With locations in Phoenix, Los Angeles, and Seattle, Coplex is a startup accelerator that helps those without coding knowledge or experience grow successful tech startups.

Sponsored in part by Arizona State University, the EdTech Accelerator works with technology startups that have the potential to significantly and measurably improve teaching.



Arizona State University offers a number of resources both in and outside of the classroom to students interested in entrepreneurship.

In addition to the New Business Development Center that provides support to students, GCU also offers several majors and programs related to entrepreneurship.

Phoenix College offers students the Small Business Start-Up program, which is designed to help them become entrepreneurs.


Angel Groups/VCs:

ATI provides early- and expansion-stage funding for technology companies in large markets around Arizona.

An angel group that invests in technology startups across a variety of sectors in which students at Grand Canyon University work with the investment team.

An investment firm that offers growth capital and equity to leaders in the business services, consumer, specialty retail, healthcare services, and specialty manufacturing industries.

Grayhawk is a venture capital firm that invests in promising early- and growth-stage companies in the Southwest United States across a number of sectors.

An angel group made up of members affiliated with ASU’s Thunderbird School of Global Management, TAN invests in early-stage companies with high potential.

With locations in Chicago and Phoenix, True North Venture Partners invests in early-stage companies with innovations in socially-important industries.


Entrepreneurial Newsletter Coverage:

#yesphx covers entrepreneurial resources, events, and other activity in the Greater Phoenix area and offers those interested the option to subscribe to a mailing list.

The Phoenix Business Journal offers a variety of newsletters to keep subscribers up-to-date on the business and entrepreneurial happenings in the Phoenix area.

TechAZ covers technology and entrepreneurial news around the state of Arizona and offers a newsletter to keep subscribers up-to-date.


Are you familiar with entrepreneurial ecosystem infrastructure in Phoenix 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?

Washington, D.C.Chattanooga, TennesseePortland, OR

Article by Quinn Pilkey

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.