Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Spotlight: Salt Lake City, UT

Salt Lake City, UT

Salt lake City is the capital of Utah and it’s most populous city, and was announced as one of the best cities to found a startup.
(source- Datafox, December, 2015)

Salt lake City is the capital of Utah and it’s most populous city. The region is known for its outdoor recreational prowess as a ski location and host of the 2002 Winter Olympics.  Historically known as the “Crossroads of the West” due to its railroads, mining and heavy industry, it is now gaining acclaim as an entrepreneurial hot-spot.
Doubt us? Consider the following:

  • In December, 2015, Salt Lake City was announced as one of the best cities to found a startup according to Datafox.
  • Utah-based companies raised a record $1 billion in venture capital funding in 2015, according to Crunchbase.
  • The state of Utah was given the designation of Best State for Business by Forbes for the second year in a row and fifth time in the past six years.
  • The David Eccles School of Business and its Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute jumped to No. 17 for graduate and No. 24 for undergraduate entrepreneur programs in the new rankings announced by the Princeton Review, per BusinessWire on
  • In WalletHub’s listing of 2015’s Best Cities to Start a Business, salt Lake City ranked 8th in the country for its business environment.

Still not convinced?  OK, check out the resources in the Salt Lake City entrepreneurial ecosystem:

Entrepreneurial Meetups:

  1. BoomStartup
    Utah’s top accelerator program and hosts regular Meetups to mentor and educate the ecosystem on how to scale and move startups forward.
  2. DevPoint Labs
    Hosts a variety of meetups including open houses, instructional coding workshops, and networking socials.
  3. Entrepreneurial Exclusive
    A group of committed local entrepreneurs who share tips, problem solving techniques, advice and discuss business models.
  4. Founding Moms Exchange
    Provides entrepreneurial moms the opportunity to meet and network.
  5. Girl Develop It
    A meetup which enables women developers and programmers.
  6. HackersNest Salt lake City Tech Socials
    A grassroots nonprofit that operates “universally acclaimed hack-a-thons”.
  7. Mountain West Capital Network
    Utah’s first and largest business networking organization focused on entrepreneurial success.
  8. National Association of Women Business Owners – SLC
    The local chapter of NAWBO, which provides a strong voice and vision for women entrepreneurs.
  9. SLC Lean Startup Circle
    A meetup dedicated to learning and applying lean startup thinking and building lean startup leaders.
  10. SLCircle
    Utah’s largest, most inclusive and active networking group for entrepreneurs and business owners. They hold regular seminars, workshops and offer mentoring for entrepreneurs, early to mid-stage companies and professionals.
  11. SLC Tech Startups
    Supports the technology startup community of Salt Lake City and is a networking group for anyone that loves innovation, software, technology and startups.
  12. SL Crawl
    Monthly pub crawl where one can meet business professionals, business owners and entrepreneurs to connect and network.
  13. Startup Grind Utah
    A meetup providing events to educate, inspire and connect local entrepreneurs.
  14. Startup University Seminar Series
    A meetup which utilizes value-added workshops and seminars to help provide tools and skills to entrepreneurs.
  15. Vest Pocket
    An association of local business owners who want to protect the diversity of local neighborhoods.
  16. Women Tech Council
    Organized in 2007 to provide mentoring, visibility and networking for women in the Salt Lake City area.
  17. Entrepreneurial Launchpad
    Helps entrepreneurs start and develop their businesses. The group provides strong educational opportunities in business operations disciplines.Davis CountyKaysvilleSalt Lake Valley

Regular Entrepreneurial Events:

  •  1 Million Cups Salt Lake City
    A weekly event that gives two startups the opportunity to give a 6-minute presentation and engage in 20 minutes of Q&A with a room full of StartFestLogopeers, mentors, service providers, and potential investors.
  • DevMountain
    12 week after-hours, intense, coding school where students are trained and mentored by industry experts. They focus on hands-on learning over old-school lectures. Anyone can code, everyone should. Starting a good tech entrepreneur company requires knowing code.
  • DevPointLabs
    “An 11 week coding and entrepreneur bootcamp.”
  • Hack Night SLC
    “A gathering of students, business people, software developers, designers, server admins, and others in tech related fields,” who have a dream they hope to develop.”
  • LaunchUp
    Provides introductory startup events for aspiring entrepreneurs, startup junkies and others in an attempt to inspire entrepreneurialism.
  • Salt Lake City Mini Maker Faire
    “A festival with maker exhibits, demos, installations, workshops, DYI and hands-on activities.”
  • Startup Conversation Series
    A monthly BeehiveStartups casual conversation type event enabling startup entrepreneurs to discuss their successes, failures, and the founding stories behind their companies.
  • Startfest SLC
    Utah’s largest grassroots startup festival.
  • Startup Weekend
    Salt Lake is a local chapter of the global Startup Weekend movement. Startup Weekend is a global grassroots movement of active and empowered entrepreneurs who are learning the basics of founding startups and launching successful ventures. It is an intense 54 hour event which focuses on building a web or mobile application which could form the basis of a credible business over the course of a weekend.
  • Utah Tech Week
    An annual event meant to connect, engage and learn about Utah technology. Our goal: Rally the tech community and help people start, build and grow businesses.
  • Women Tech Council
    Organized in 2007 to provide mentoring, visibility and networking for women.  It sponsors numerous local entrepreneurial and networking events.

 Startup Competitions:

  • The Grow Utah “Concept to Company”
    Competitions are ongoing innovation contests held in various regions across the state of Utah. Each competition focuses on the unique entrepreneurial strengths of that particular region. To date, over $580,000 in cash/services has been awarded and over 85 businesses launched!
  • Utah Entrepreneur Series
    An integrated competition process aimed at guiding students from the idea to implementation stages of a successful business. Submissions are judged by industry professionals for a chance to win $40,000.
  • Utah Student 25
    Awards program recognizes the top student-founded businesses in Utah, encouraging growth and interaction with Utah’s renowned entrepreneurial community. The program helps winners better publicize their achievement, while encouraging economic growth and job creation in the state.

Co-working Space:

  • Holodeck
    “provides a creative and educational coworking, office, and event space for inspired people to build great ideas and successful companies”
  • Impact Hub
    Offers you a unique ecosystem of resources, inspiration, and collaboration opportunities to grow the positive impact of your work. Joining our diverse community of members and collaborators will inspire, connect, and enable you to develop your best work every step of the way.
  • Office Evolution
    An office and co-working space for businesses and professionals in the heart of the SLC Central Business District.
  • Salt Mine
    A brand-new co-working space that offers the right balance of collaborative and private environments.
  • Sustainable Startups
    A co-working, educational community for early-stage entrepreneurs.
  • WorkHive
    A shared collaborative workspace for professionals of all kinds in downtown Salt Lake City.


  • 801 Labs
    Describes themselves as “a community hackerspace of information technology, electronic and information security enthusiasts.”
  • Meet Salt Lake
    Utah’s premier makerspace for creators interested in wood cutting, 3D printing, plastic forming and laser cutting.


  • Church & State
    A no-strings-attached business incubator for the community to use and build.
  • ThinkAtomic
    Provides an incubating opportunity to startup, early stage, and growth companies who are looking for the right environment to grow their company.

Incubators vs. Accelerators: Which will best fit your needs?


  • BoomStartupBoomStartup 
    Utah’s top accelerator program. BoomStartup helps companies identify their core purpose, develop and refine their minimum viable product, obtain traction critically needed to raise capital and perfect investor pitches. BoomStartup Companies raise an average of $548K.
  • Healthbox Accelerator
    Offers serious medical entrepreneurs the candid, unparalleled healthcare industry access and insight they need to succeed in a complex marketplace.
  • The Foundry @ Lassonde
    A business-accelerator educational program at the University of Utah.
  • Technology Commercialization and Innovation Program
    (TCIP) is administered by the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, provides competitive grants to small businesses and university teams to accelerate the commercialization of their innovative technologies. This program helps companies secure non-dilutive funding at critical points in their funding and commercialization lifecycles, resulting in long-term success and economic development in the state.

Angel Groups / VCs:

  1. 42.Ventures
    Partners with entrepreneurs to grow software driven businesses.
  2. Aires Capital Advisors
    Provides “patient capital”, flexible deal structures, in-depth business capabilities and a wealth of experience to entrepreneurial partners.
  3. Alerion Capital Group, LLC
    Private equity and management advisory firm with experience in the technology and defense sectors.
  4. Banyan Ventures
    Invests in and grows early-stage companies into valuable and sustainable businesses.
  5. Campus Founders Fund
    A brand new venture capital fund backed by Kickstart Seed Fund that empowers students to find and fund the best entrepreneurs on campus.
  6. Crocker Ventures
    “is an independent, privately held life science and healthcare investment firm that funds promising seed- and early-stage life science companies in four primary areas: biotechnology/pharmaceuticals, medical devices, drug delivery and diagnostics.”
  7. Epic Ventures
    A SLC venture fund which invests in category defining technology companies.
  8. Kickstart Seed Fund
    Their mission is to kickstart companies in the Mountain West by aligning technology creators, industry, entrepreneurs and capital sources behind the funding and mentoring of seed investments.
  9. Mercato Partners
     A trusted growth capital investor for expansion stage companies seeking acceleration and scale.
  10. Park City Angel Network
    PCAN is Utah’s most active angel network investing over $55 million in early stage companies since 2008.
  11. Pelion Venture Partners
    “looks constantly to discover innovative opportunities with visionary entrepreneurs who have a strong desire to succeed and the discipline to execute, and we help them launch their great ideas and achieve exciting new journeys in the marketplace.”
  12. Peterson Private Equity (PPE)
    “is a middle market equity investor that is growth oriented, flexible, and has a long-term mindset.”
  13. PLUS||550
    A venture firm formed by five Utah super angels to jump start angel level investing in Utah.
  14. Renewable Tech Ventures
    Invests “in early stage and growth stage energy innovations in renewable energy, clean technology, energy conservation, green materials and other clean technologies.”
  15. Signal Peak Ventures
    “is a venture capital and growth equity firm with over $500 million of capital under management. We help passionate entrepreneurs build leading companies with enduring value.”
  16. SLC Angels
    An association of accredited investors based in Salt Lake City that share an interest in investing in early-stage high-tech companies with substantial growth potential. The SLC Angels provide mentoring and invest in promising entrepreneurial companies to help them grow and prosper.
  17. Sorenson Capital
    Its purpose and objective of helping companies grow and improve their businesses in order to achieve maximum value at exit.
  18. University Venture Fund
    Invests in compelling new technologies, high growth opportunities and stable cash flowing businesses across a broad range of industries and sectors.
  19. Utah Angels 2
    Focuses their investments on future harvest, creating jobs, and development of the Utah Economy and it’s diversity.

College / University Entrepreneurial Programs:

  • University of Utah
    Offers an undergraduate entrepreneurship major that prepares students to follow trends, identify emerging opportunities, and pursue those possibilities through the creation of new products and services and/or with the creation of one’s own company. The Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute is a nationally ranked hub for student entrepreneurship and innovation.
  • The Startup Center for Students
    (StaC) helps students execute on their business ideas by assisting with strategy, funding, implementation and mentoring. StaC’s expertise is building companies around ideas that are scalable and have an intellectual property component.
  • Campus Founders Fund
    A brand new venture capital fund backed by Kickstart Seed Fund that empowers students to find and fund the best entrepreneurs on campus.

Entrepreneurial Newsletter Coverage:

  • Beehive Startups
    The leading independent organization devoted to covering and building Utah’s startup and tech community
  • Silicon Slopes
    Provides resources for technology and life sciences companies, investors and job seekers, including detailed company profiles, industry news, community calendar, a blog and job postings. There is also a section that tracks investors and their activity including deal flow in Utah.
  • Utah Pulse
    Zions Bank sponsored venture aimed at creating the premiere business web site in the Rocky Mountain region. Utah Pulse is being built around a robust website featuring premium business content in text, audio and video formats. This content includes a daily subscription based newsletter; a variety of business lists, data and tools; educational resources and user generated content from entrepreneurs, CEOs, and business policy makers. 
  • Utah Business
    Utah Business is Utah’s only statewide source for business news and information.

Are you familiar with entrepreneurial ecosystem infrastructure in Salt Lake City 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?

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Alexa Cleek