AZEC08 sets a new standard for success

The money to run a new program this spring was raised last week in one fundraiser, in the middle of the financial meltdown, by a small, hands-on committed board and a larger group of supporters and volunteers. We are going to be in talks with the Casey Foundation, a licensee of foster children, to teach entrepreneurial skills to kids transitioning out of the foster care system.  This is a population dear to our hearts.

I cannot thank our board, chaired by Joan Koerber Walker, and consisting of Patrick Sullivan Jr., Dave Lee, Rhonda Lintner, Steven Groves, and Merlin Ward, enough. Nor the guys at Gangplank, a local accelerator for software startups. Nor our sponsors.

Wednesday’s fundraiser, the Third Annual Arizona Entrepreneurship Conference,  was one of the best days of my life. Not only did 250 people show up in the middle of a recession to see each other and help each other, but the feeling of hope and optimism among the entrepreneurs and funders in the room was palpable. Those who were not overtly hopeful were at least indifferent to the roiling world around them in the way only entrepreneurs can be. These are the skills the Foundation wants to share with out disadvantaged populations: the feeling of empowerment, the tolerance of risk, the acceptance of both failure and success as equally instructional, and  the business acumen to accomplish more than sticking to just a survival-wage job.

I stood looking out at the crowd of people who believe the power of thecommunity to manifest its own economy and I nearly wept. Comments from more objective attendees and some of the presentations from the speakers, are here.

And we raised more money than we have ever raised with these conferences in the past. This is largely because of Microsoft, whose BizSpark program for startups just happened to launch in Arizona at the conference. Microsoft selected us as a network partner for BizSpark, and then put what for us is a large amount of money into the conference. We also had a great law firm sponsor this year, Osborn Maledon , and a new sponsor, C-Scan Technologies, auditor of clean rooms, and another new sponsor, HSLFinancial
And our loyal sponsors Infusionsoft ,Wells Fargo , the City of Tempe ,and the Business Journal all stuck with us!

People who weren’t in a position to contribute treasure contributed time and talent, most specifically Gangplank the East Valley accelerator and Silent Dispatch, who gave us the geek equivalent of “loaned executives.” And without Rhonda Lintner from C-Scan, Steve Groves from Silent Dispatch, Merlin Ward from ResponsiblePartying.com and Brian Shaler from Bit Gravity, I would have been dead in the water. There’s more, but I will spare you.

There were several notable moments for me that I’d like to recap:

  • GaryVee pounding his shoe on the podium and telling people to know their customers
  • Matt Mullenweg  telling us he started Akismet because he didn’t want his mother to see the spam on blogs
  • Dan Willis of Microsoft announcing the BizSpark program in Phoenix, a stop on its launch roadshow that he added just for us
  • Allan Kaplan of Limelight Networks telling us that, indeed, you could raise large amounts of money in Arizona if you had a good enough plan and sharing with us how he had done it multiple times
  • Shahi Ghanem, CEO of EmpowHer.com announcing the launch of its new site on which women share their health experiences
  • Jonathan Smith, President of Earth911 ,telling us the company was going to start monitoring where recycled products go after they are responsibly disposed of by the last user after that horrifying 60 Minutes Video a couple of weeks ago about e-waste dumped in China.

The Foundation’s concept of providing information to entrepreneurs who will pay to receive it, and turning around to use the proceeds to teach future entrepreneurs who cannot, seems to be working. If you want to see the photos and the video, the links to aggregated feeds are here.

Chris Pirillo to Live Stream in to AZEC08

Chris Pirillo To Speak at the Third Annual Arizona Entrepreneurship Conference

Our annual fundraiser, the biggest gathering of entrepreneurs in Arizona, is coming up on November 19th. If you’d like to support us, register here: http://www.azentrepreneurship.com A stellar group of entrepreneurs will gather to hear some of the biggest names in recent startup history, and the proceeds will come to us!

Chris Pirillo, Geek, Entrepreneur, Early Adopter, and Media Personality, will live stream into the Third Annual Arizona Entrepreneurship Conference from Seattle.

The Women OTEF Helped Have Opened Their Business!

The National Advocacy & Training Network (NATN)/SEEDs program opened Cup O’ Karma: Community Café for a Cause, which offers great coffees, teas & beverages; on the job training for SEEDs residents while generating revenue to support the non-profit agency’s programs and services.

We are hosting two upcoming events at the cafe (details below) located at 1710 W. Southern Ave, suite B-7, Mesa, 85202 (formerly Into the Bean, between Longmore & Dobson, across from MCC). Invite your family, friends and colleagues. Proceeds to benefit the SEEDs program. Hope to see you there!!! Please RSVP.

Jewels by Parklane:

Gods Garden Treasures

Event Date: Thursday, August 21st at 6:00 pm

Event Features:

– Free flower tea for attendees.

– Jewels by Park Lane showing and purchasing options

– Brief presentation from NATN/SEEDs

The Bravery Project

Reception Date: Thursday, September 4, 2008 from 7:00 – 9:00 pm

Showing Dates: September 1 – September 30, 2008

Reception Features: Live music, free food and one (1) free beverage. The evening will include a brief presentation from The Bravery Project, Support, Education, Empowerment and DirectionS (SEEDs) and a SEEDs woman who participated in the Project.

Update on the Foundation’s Programs

by Francine Hardaway

I am so thrilled to report that, at long last, the business plan we helped the women from SEEDs write last year is about to be executed. They closed today on a coffee shop in Mesa, which was sold to them for $1.00 by someone who was tired of running it. The women will take it over, change the name (Cup o Karma) and begin to run it.

The Workforce Investment Act will provide funds to employ the women as they learn job skills. I believe this is a wonderful use of WIA funds, because the women will be working in their own business, and they will be very motivated.

I think Mona Lou Collery, the the Executive Director of SEEDs, is a true entrepreneur herself, because not only did she start the non-profit safe house, but she also started the business for the women.

I’m practically in tears over this. I can’t wait to help them make it a success, and Ed and Phil feel the same way. When I started this foundation, I wanted to do exactly this!!!!!

In other news, the Conference ( our major fundraiser) looks like it will be a big blow-out this year. We have more and better presenters than ever, and a wonderful committee of volunteers helping me organize, including most of our Board members.

Tumbleweed and the promise of youth

We Begin the Tumbleweed Program!


drop in gallery Originally uploaded by a_hoss
What a fabulous morning! We met with twelve Tumbleweedprogram managers in our first FastTrac(R) New Venture session. We are going to help them expand the Drop In Gallery and the accompanying t-shirt printing businesses safely (without risk to Tumbleweed) and train the managers to train Tumbleweed youth to intern at the DIG and start their own ventures.

One of the most exciting facets of this business is that Tumbleweed has a program for refugee youth. Many of them will not be able to stay in the United States, so the goal is to send them back to their own countries (mostly Central America) with skills to start their own businesses or create crafts that can be imported by Tumbleweed and sold at the DIG.

As usual, I feel blessed to provide some help to Tumbleweed, which helps so many others. And I’m doubly blessed because, as usual, I have the strong support of Phillip Blackerby and Ed Nusbaum, two fantastic facilitators and business counselors.

Drop-In Gallery front view

Here’s the Drop In Gallery

This is where, after the transient youth create the art, it is sold and 70% of the proceeds returned to the artists.

Cameron places the screen on the blank shirt

Here are the Tumbleweed kids in their nascent t-shirt business. This is the program OTEF is helping to launch. They have many orders coming in already.


Announcing a new program with Tumbleweed

by Francine Hardaway

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This morning I made my first visit to The Drop-In Gallery (DIG) at 917 N. 5th Street in Phoenix. The Gallery is operated by Tumbleweed Youth Development Center, a drop-in shelter for runaway youth. The shelter has started a program through which young people who stay at the center can create art, which is then framed and sold at the First Friday Art Walks in downtown Phoenix. The kids get 70% of the proceeds of their art; the remainder goes to the Center to pay for the art supplies.

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Steve Serrano, who runs the drop in shelter down the street from the Gallery would like to learn how to expand the business beyond selling art to selling custom designed and printed t-shirts created by the kids.nmThat is where OTEF comes in. We are going to offer our entrepreneurial education program to the artists this spring, at the gallery itself.

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This won’t be an academic exercise; the business is already up and running. Our goal is to expand it. I was so excited that I can’t wait to start!
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This is a perfect example of what can happen to the lives of ordinary people through entrepreneurship and creativity. We are so happy to be working with Tumbleweed.
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If you live in Phoenix, drop in at the Gallery. If you don’t, find the Tumbleweed Drop In Gallery on MySpace and friend it.
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Second Annual Arizona Entrepreneurship Puts OTEF in the Spotlight

by Francine Hardaway

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This is Michael Gerber, author of “The E-Myth” wrapping up the Second Annual Arizona Entrepreneurship Conference by telling the audience that entrepreneurship isn’t about money, it’s about meaning. He urges entrepreneurs to find out what they are passionate about, and to “dream big, think small, act even smaller” in creating a small prototype of what they hope to achieve one day.

Michael is all about transformation, and about the transformative power of entrepreneurship. The conference was outstanding, and two of the SEEDs women got to attend, thanks to Wells Fargo, who donated their seats.

More on the Stealthmode blog and on Flickr.