PHX Startup Week 2022: 10 Reasons to Join Us April 25th – April 29th

PHX Startup Week 2022: 10 Reasons to Join Us April 25th – April 29th

With millions of Americans starting companies during the last two years, the need to support small businesses and entrepreneurs is at an all-time high which makes events like PHX Startup Week more vital than ever. As a committed member of the Valley’s entrepreneurship ecosystem with board service on Social Venture Partners Arizona, SEED Spot, and the Co+Hoots Foundation, I know firsthand the power that meaningful programming can have on venture success. As a previous speaker and supporter of PHX Startup Week, I decided to elevate my involvement in 2022 knowing that this year is a pivotal point for the Valley where it’s been an eye-opening, insightful, and often-times inspiring journey planning, curating, and promoting the impactful days coming in late April. Recently, Forbes identified the 5 Things Entrepreneurs Can Do To Be More Successful, and as you might imagine, these tips (and more) are all part of the Startup Week agenda. With that, I wanted to share 10 reasons why you should attend, support, and engage with PHX Startup Week 2022, including:

  1. Gatherings Are Back – People are social creatures and if the first few months of Phoenix events in 2022 are any indication of overall sentiment and appetite for being together in-person, the message is clear: many are craving to be back together. With hybrid programming we have something for everyone’s comfort level but if you want to engage shoulder to shoulder, then make sure you join us and gather in person.
  2. Location, Location, Location – This year, in partnership with the Edson Entrepreneurship + Innovation Institute at ASU, we are hosting Startup Week at 850 PBC located right in the heart of downtown Phoenix. With gorgeous architecture and innovative design, the building itself is a destination and the perfect venue to host like-minded entrepreneurship advocates. To get you excited, check it out here: 850 PBC. To accommodate those who can’t make it downtown, we have also partnered with Co+Hoots, AZ Cowork, Industrious, and Ignite at Better Business Bureau for watch parties – promoting camaraderie city-wide.
  3. Remarkable Speakers – From Valley venture veterans like Heidi Jannenga (WebPT), Rebecca Clyde (, and Chris Ronzio (Trainual) to newcomers like Doris Huang (evolvedMD), Jasmine Mobley (Beauty of the Nile), and Matt Johnson (GitKraken), the caliber of speakers this year is unmatched. Check out all of the amazing individuals involved: 2022 Speakers – PHX Startup Week 2022.
  4. Timely and Actionable Content – With input from entrepreneurs and founders, we have a curated curriculum and developed an agenda with content we believe will be both informative and inspiring. With boundless “how to” sessions on scaling, building an authentic brand, fundraising, and retaining talent – attendees will leave with an actionable toolkit to take back to their ventures. Check out all of the programming here: 2022 Agenda – PHX Startup Week 2022
  5. Diverse Voices – Our most diverse Startup Week yet, we are proud of how intentional and thoughtful we were in selecting and elevating voices from minoritized and underserved communities. Diverse in programming too, we are looking forward to sharing vulnerable stories on pitfalls and failures coupled with successes from SaaS startups to Main Street small businesses.
  6. Showcasing Why AZ is The Place to Be – PHX Startup Week applauds itself for being Arizona’s largest entrepreneurial event and a wonderful opportunity and outlet for Arizona pride. With Phoenix recently named one of the top startup cities in the nation, it’s exciting to both highlight homegrown ventures and welcome entrepreneurs from out of state who have embraced the Valley. Arizona Commerce Authority and StartupAZ will both host panels to give the audience a debrief on why Arizona is the best for business.
  7. Passionate Practitioners Nationwide – Attracting top talent from around the country is something Arizona is known for so it should be no surprise that we have some great speakers streaming in from both coasts and everywhere in between to lend a national perspective to our ever-important local work.
  8. Make Connections – Networking is a powerful way to build credibility, meet champions, and find peer support for new and seasoned entrepreneurs alike. PHX Startup Week is a wonderful avenue to network both in person or online and attendees will make meaningful connections that will undoubtedly drive clarity and community.
  9. Build Community – One of the most engaged entrepreneurial communities in the country, PHX Startup Week is excited to bring together founders, companies, media, and champions to further foster deep relationships to elevate the community at large. Designed to leverage content and connection to provide a world-class experience for everyone, we know that this week will make the ecosystem stronger and better positioned for success. Committed to elevating entrepreneurs and building community, check out this year’s sponsors and supporters: 2022 Sponsors – PHX Startup Week 2022
  10. True Impact on Entrepreneurs – To sum up what this could mean for you, one Valley founder told us: “PHX Startup Week helped guide us in making a crucial decision in our business.” Enough said.

Putting together #PHXStartupWeek is a collaborative effort and is brought to you by a very committed committee of entrepreneurship enthusiasts including Kate Rogers Sieker, Chelsea Wolff, Jazmine Cole, Eddie Herdemian, Vincent Orleck, Nick Hammond, and Kalani Fo. When you see them that week – please offer your appreciation.

Hopefully you understand how much this week means for Arizona ventures, founders, and champions and will join us by purchasing a ticket for in-person or virtual at

See you there!

About Sentari Minor

Sentari Minor is most passionate about bringing the best out of individuals and entities. His love languages are strategy, storytelling, and social impact. As Head of Strategy for evolvedMD, Mr. Minor is at the forefront of healthcare innovation with a scope of work that includes strategy, corporate development, growth, branding, culture, and coaching. Prior to evolvedMD, he worked with some of the Nation’s most prominent and curious CEOs and entrepreneurs advising on philanthropy, policy, and everything social good as Regional Director of Alder (formerly Gen Next) [PHX + DAL + SFO] and strengthened social enterprises as Director at venture philanthropy firm, Social Venture Partners.

Phoenix’s largest entrepreneur event back for seventh year

Phoenix’s largest entrepreneur event back for seventh year

Weeklong event expanded full month with Flagstaff, Tucson, Local First Arizona and Arizona Commerce Authority joining.

PHOENIX, ARIZ – (March 16, 2021) – PHX Startup Week, a grassroots event that started in 2014, is expanding even further in 2021 as Arizona’s entrepreneurial ecosystem is uniting, growing and overcoming the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout the month of April, key organizations across the state are teaming up to shine a spotlight on Arizona’s resilient small businesses and entrepreneurial community through the Startup Together AZ partnership. Throughout the month of April, attendees will join thousands of diverse entrepreneurs, business leaders and investors at virtual events to learn, connect, and be inspired by the innovation and creativity of Arizona.

“A vibrant entrepreneurial and innovation ecosystem is a critical component in the overall success of Arizona’s economy,” said Sandra Watson, president & CEO of the Arizona Commerce Authority. “We’re very proud to partner with organizations statewide to present Startup Together AZ as a part of our efforts to support startups and small businesses. This month-long series of events will help participants learn new skills, build valuable connections through networking, and showcase the important resources available in our state.”

Examples of programming offerings include: 

  • Arizona Commerce Authority hosting a Mentor Mania and Small Business Boot Camp
  • Startup Tucson hosting IdeaFunding
  • Southern Arizona’s largest pitch competition
  • Moonshot at NACET in Flagstaff doing a Business of Bio Boot Camp, a biotech and life sciences boot camp for emerging and established entrepreneurs
  • Local First Arizona hosting a Good Business Summit to focus on small business perseverance, social justice and environmental action. 

Attendees can visit to view the full calendar of events. 

“We are excited to be teaming up with premiere entrepreneurial organizations across the state to focus on entrepreneurship and supporting small businesses for the full month of April,” said Dre Voelkel, executive vice president, Startup Tucson. “We have coordinated our events to be inclusive of both Main Street businesses and high-growth startups. Startup Tucson is excited for working with state partners to address the pressing concerns of our community in a timely way.”  

The month will end with PHX Startup Week, five days of keynote speakers, workshops and tactical learning sessions. The week will culminate with partnership panels and Q&A’s hosted by Golden Seeds, an international women-led investment group, as well as Invest Southwest’s Venture Madness team who will lead a discussion of best practices on how to take advantage of the live-pitch competition planned for October.

“As one of the largest angel investor networks in the United States, Golden Seeds has nearly 300 members whose skills, networks and mentorships offer a unique opportunity to support early-stage entrepreneurs,” said Annie Brooks, managing director, Arizona chapter of Golden Seeds. “Our determination ensures women-led, gender-diverse companies receive the funding they need and have an opportunity to succeed. We invite you to our virtual fireside chat, ‘If you could ask an investor one question,’ an event programmed at PHX Startup Week on April 30, 2021. We are excited to hear from innovative businesses, and continue to support our Arizona entrepreneurs.” 

Kate Rogers Sieker, a veteran to PHX Startup Week, is spearheading the volunteer-led event for the third year. To participate in PHX Startup Week, visit

In a move to help unify and amplify the community, Sieker is also taking over as lead for #yesphx (, a hashtag that has served as a collaborative social media presence to connect the Phoenix entrepreneurial ecosystem for over seven years. This organic community effort is what eventually led to PHX Startup Week, instigated by community leaders such as Jonathan Cottrell, Matt Simpson, Vincent Orleck, and many others. The #yesphx digital connection platform will continue to align, amplify, and connect the entrepreneur community of Greater Phoenix. 

Sieker is also leading ThrivePHX (, an initiative dedicated to preserving, supporting and growing diversity and inclusion in the state through connection, continuity and community communication. 

“Creating unification and support with all these community programs is a natural next step for the momentum our community has generated,” Sieker said. “I am so excited to see what the future holds for our ecosystem.”

PHX Startup Week press contact:
Hayley Ringle
602-499-0352 – cell 
[email protected]

Thrive Together

Thrive Together

By Mike Jones and Kate Rogers

This year’s PHX Startup Week focus, empowering diversity through intentional inclusion, was reflected at the very beginning of event planning and is the cornerstone this event was built on. The startup community, entrepreneurship in general, and PHX as a community have a reputation for being very male, very white and not only lacking in diversity but unwelcome to anyone who doesn’t fit the stereotype.

We knew changing that reputation would take deliberate, intentional effort, and a community of determined people to execute.

It started with a clear vision and mission

Build PHX into a diverse, entrepreneurial hub where innovation and ideas thrive, by connecting PHX entrepreneurs to a community which cultivates and empowers the entrepreneurial spirit, by providing resources, education, and support; one person, conversation and event at a time.

Acknowledging this is year one- we aren’t expecting to do it perfectly- however, our intention is to do our best, listen to the community, and take the learnings from this year and use them moving forward, to continue to build PHX into a diverse and inclusive ecosystem for businesses.

Next, we established core values to shape the culture of SUW 2019, the core organizing team and the commitments from that team, to be in alignment with an inclusive event for our community.

  • Core Values
  • Diversity through intentional inclusion
  • Innovation through collaboration
  • Betterment of the whole community
  • Entrepreneurs empowering entrepreneurs

How would we know we’d been successful? We created event goals to work towards and reflect on as we made choices to guide the event planning process:

  1. Bring entrepreneurs from across the state together for education, connection and support.
  2. Represent AZ’s entire entrepreneurial ecosystem
  3. Engage people from every: Industry, Background, Identity,
    City, Stage of business
  4. Proactively bring diverse voices to the table through intentional inclusivity
  5. Build community, Drive innovation, Empower action

What began as a feeling, empowered diversity, became the theme, Thrive Together- representing the vision of a connected, united PHX Valley, where all entrepreneurs, businesses, industries and people of all types can Thrive. Knowing we’ll go further when we go together, and we wanted to facilitate that vision.

The Thrive Together vision has been woven through the entire event- from forming the core planning team and moving forward- the choices made were intentionally framed with the question, “how can we be more inclusive?” Each team took that vision and ran with it in their own way, which is how we have the conference we’ve been experiencing with you this week.

Core planning team: We built a core planning team of 49 people rather than the traditional team of 11, which meant we could represent more people, in more industries, with more experiences and backgrounds- just by building a large team full of talented people from all corners of PHX and representative of the talent available in PHX. Our core team was also representative of the genders, races and ages of our entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Marketing: Developed messaging and an action plan to ensure diverse audiences were included and welcomed to contribute to content and attend PHX SUW- as well as reaching out to organizations and groups to share the event- and cross-promoting events from other organizations in PHX.

The marketing team knew we could write all the pretty words we wanted, but if we weren’t making an effort to reach outside of the traditional communication channels then our words would be meaningless.

Operations: Our operations team was challenged with finding multiple locations in multiple cities so PHX SUW 2019 was accessible to as many people, in as many parts of the greater PHX Valley as possible. They intentionally sought out locations that were accessible to light rail and other public transportation to make the event even more accessible.

While there have been challenges with each location, we’re relieved those challenges are even diversified and change according to location. (That was a joke.) Really though, three locations in six days is a tall order and require more work from our team of volunteers, but it means more people can attend and connect to our community, it’s worth it.

Sponsorships: Sponsorships this year made a concerted effort to reach out to potential sponsors with the goal of the event — messaging inclusiveness was a win for sponsors as well.

Programming: Our programming team intentionally set out to recruit speakers who would represent the diverse entrepreneurial ecosystem in Arizona, not only diverse for gender and ethnicity, but also for industry.

The programming team viewed over 20 hours of video submissions and every video was viewed and graded by at least three members of the programming team. The result is 22 sessions each day, over six days for a total of 132 sessions. There are 150 speakers between keynotes, workshops, speakers and panelists.

While men still outnumber women 2-to-1 at conferences (according to Bloomberg in Nov 2018) PHX SUW 2019 is shattering that statistic – 46% of the speakers identify as female.

Volunteers: Charging for tickets this year was a very controversial move, after all, PHX SUW has always been a free event. How were we going to make an event more inclusive and more diverse while also charging admission? The answer was, “you can still get a free ticket.”

In addition to sponsoring tickets for ASU and other students, it takes a lot of people working together to pull off an event of this size and length of time. Anyone who volunteered a few hours could get tickets for the rest of the week- if you were unable to volunteer, there was a scholarship sponsorship available.

We are thrilled with what we have experienced so far this year at PHX SUW 2019 and hope to continue to work to bring PHX together, so we can all thrive. This is year one, and we are imperfect and certainly have more progress to make, we are open and ready for feedback about how we can improve and do better.

We are so glad for those that have made it this week, it just wouldn’t have been the same without you. — Mike and Kate

Empower your small business with streamlined software.

Empower your small business with streamlined software.

Whether you’re a one-person company selling unique products online or a 5,000+ employee SaaS company, every business is different. What all businesses have in common is the need to run as efficiently and productively as possible so that they can grow and meet business goals. One of the most important aspects to consider when it comes to efficiency is how software is helping your businesses to reach those goals.

While it’s important to implement solutions to manage your sales, marketing, finances, support, and so on, it’s also important to consider how those apps will work with one another to make business processes more efficient. You might have a great CRM and awesome marketing tools, but if they aren’t easily integrated, you’ll end up wasting valuable time just transferring information from one app to the other. Or maybe you have a robust finance suite, but you’re stuck exporting and re-importing invoices from your accounting software to your CRM.

Instead of wasting your time on these low-value activities, make your life easier and choose business software that’s built to work together. By using integrated applications, you can save time and automate processes for a more efficient work environment.

One platform to help you run your entire business online, with contextual integrations to empower your business is ZoHo. Whatever business process you have to handle — accounting, sales management, expenses, social media and project management, and beyond — Zoho One comes can help you manage it. Everything from sales and marketing, to support and collaboration, to finances and beyond is in one integrated platform, streamlining your business and increasing your effectiveness.

The deep contextual integrations throughout the platform help you eliminate busy work and automate your processes so you aren’t wasting time switching between apps, copying and pasting data to get the insight you need.

How would you use extra time saved?

Would you focus on big-picture projects? Could you accomplish business goals faster? With enhanced productivity how many other projects could you launch? The possibilities are endless.

How would centralized information transform your business?

Centralized and integrated client information, across all your business software, means you can sell and support your users better and faster and you can view data across your whole organization, showing you where processes are working well, and where you can improve things.

The truth is, we know it’s not easy running a small business where you have to work on so many different things at once. ZoHo is a 20-year-old startup and they know what it’s like. That’s why they strive to help educate solopreneurs, startups, small, and medium business owners so that they can empower their organization with apps that make their lives easier, and eliminate unnecessary cost, rather than the other way around.

Zoho’s holding a free educational seminar going over business basics and best practices and how Zoho can help on March 7th in Phoenix and would love to have you join! They’ll discuss how you can increase productivity and show you how to efficiently run your entire business with one platform for everything. As a bonus, they’re providing free breakfast, lunch, and plenty of coffee to get you through a full day of learning.

Register now.

Hope to see you there!

Quantifying Generosity- the 1% solution

Quantifying Generosity- the 1% solution

The world’s most generous community for entrepreneurs

We’ve all heard it, read it and even say it. But what does “most generous” mean? More generous than who? How do you measure generosity? After all, what’s generous to one person isn’t necessarily generous to the next. Is generosity measured in dollars? In equity? In hours? Or is generosity found in conversations, encouragement, information and connections?

Or is generosity all of the above?

If that is the case, how is that generosity quantified? When measuring, what amount of generosity can be expected from solopreneurs or a startup with three employees and little to no profit, versus an enterprise level business with hundreds of employees?

If we are going to continue to build PHX into a diverse entrepreneurial hub, where innovation and ideas thrive — generosity is a key ingredient. We also know PHX entrepreneurs are incredibly generous already. But are we “the most” generous? How do you quantify “most?”

All of the members of the core planning team have experienced the generosity that connects us as individuals and businesses across the Valley. That generosity is one of the reasons we’ve spent the last six months volunteering to build PHX SUW 2019, to give back to a community we’ve been benefited from, believe in and want to help make it a little better.

Any person who attends SUW 2019 is a beneficiary of the hours and hours of planning, organizing, creative and strategic time donated to build this event, given by lots of people and organizations all doing a little bit. Sponsors have donated money or other resources. Mentors and speakers have donated knowledge and are investing in attendees.

You, as an attendee, are giving back by showing up, talking to other entrepreneurs as you build relationships and connections during the week, as well as lending your support to speakers as they present. All that generosity adds up to great big things, for individuals, companies, and PHX at large. It’s how we can Thrive Together.

We know we have something different here in PHX. Something that isn’t the same in other cities and in other ecosystems. We don’t need to establish ourselves as the next <insert another tech city> or call ourselves the “Silicon Desert.” We are PHX.

What is the difference? Generosity.

What does generosity look like? We think it looks a lot like PHX Startup week. But it also looks like conversations in coffee shops and introductions to people in your network, it’s meetups and conferences put on to benefit the community across the Valley. It looks like funding. It looks like encouragement.

But what does it feel like?

It feels like PHX.

If you’ve been here you know the feeling. But this brings us back to our original question — how do you measure a feeling? Our recommendation?

One percent at a time.

What if every company represented at SUW pledged to give 1% back to the PHX community?

Could 1% help PHX Thrive? Could 1% transform your company culture?

Tech leaders like Salesforce, Atlassian and Yelp, along with 8,500 companies in 100+ countries are showing 1% can make a big difference by pledging 1%.

Pledge 1% is a global movement, creating a new normal for companies to give. The simple, flexible and scalable model helps founders integrate giving back into their company cultures and values early by committing to give 1% of equity, time, product, and/or profit to any cause of their choosing.

Here in PHX, over 40 CEOs and founders have already committed to giving back 1% of equity, time, product and/or profit to a local cause of their choosing. You’ll be hearing more about Pledge 1% during SUW — including hearing from these local companies who have incorporated giving back into their business models, sharing how conscious giving changed their company cultures — for the good.

The best part about pledging 1%? It’s a measurable commitment to continuing to build a generous PHX. Founders, entrepreneurs of companies of all sizes can participate. You don’t have to be funded, have dozens or hundreds of employees, you don’t have to make millions… you just pledge to give back and help PHX thrive, 1% at a time.

It’s simple and easy to sign up. By joining, you will receive access to free tools, support, and a growing community of like-minded leaders who are committed to leveraging their companies to do good.

If you are a founder, CEO, or entrepreneur and are interested in learning how you can have a positive social impact through your business, take the pledge at

Is giving back already part of your company culture? Great! Take the pledge and help us quantify the generosity that already exists in PHX.

Our goal is double the number of PHX companies who pledge 1% during the month of March, starting with SUW. Will you join us?

Building an Inclusive Speaker Lineup

Building an Inclusive Speaker Lineup

PHX Startup Week 2019 planning began with a very specific intention — build an event representative of the diversity of the PHX Entrepreneurship Ecosystem, inclusive of all people, industries, and stage of business.

This charge was given to every single one of the teams who came together to build the event, but as the programming team, we knew an event that claimed diversity and inclusion would fall flat if our speaker line-up didn’t reflect that goal.

As a programming team we are proud to say, mission accomplished!

We set out to have an inclusive event with speakers that are age diverse (both at heart as well as in age), ethnicity diverse, and gender diverse. Most notably, while the national average for speakers at conferences is a ratio of 2-to-1 male to female, PHX SUW 2019 has 46%, female-identifying speakers and panelists.

Our daily track has representation from tech startups as well as non-tech startups. We dove into functional areas of marketing, branding, design, development, operations, founder, growth, sales and legal. Did we succeed? Oh hell yes we did!

But it certainly wasn’t an accident.

So how do you start tackling a community event that’s focused on diversity?

We started by developing Core Principles to integrate throughout the event. Huge props to Abby Rudd and Tari Thomas for all their hard work fleshing out the Core Principles and clearly defining them for the programming team.

Core Principles:

  • Diversity
  • Transformational Leadership
  • Collaborative Problem-Solving
  • Grit — Failing Forward
  • Customer Obsession
  • Future is Now
  • Navigating Technological Change
  • Culture Embedded in Business

After identifying the functional areas we outlined industries for speakers:

  • Tech
  • Non-tech
  • Social Entrepreneurship
  • International

Over time, expectations from prior years of Startup Week, sponsor desires and commonality of speakers, we started grouping people into various “vertical” tracks.

While there is benefit from learning high-level concepts at a conference, the struggle for many entrepreneurs is finding the time to distill that information down into action items that they can take and move their business forward. I wanted to incorporate an idea I’d seen Nikki Nixon incorporate into the Flip My Funnel conference, to deliver actionable takeaways from every session. That central goal became a question to ask ourselves, “does each and every session of 2019 Phx Startup Week deliver actionable takeaways that entrepreneurs can take steps TODAY to move their business forward?”

We certainly hope so!

We were going to start small and “test” an idea to have workshop-style sessions this year and only have one workshop a day. Then the submissions came rolling in, and content around branding, fundraising, sales, gaining PR exposure, leadership, metrics and so on and soon we had two workshops scheduled for each day.

We planned to cut down on the total number of sessions each day, focusing on quality over quantity of speakers. Then, as the deadline for speaker applications came and went, it became apparent that we had too many quality speakers, passionate about sharing their experience with fellow entrepreneurs, we decided to add more sessions to the lineup to accommodate, and still had difficult choices to make.

We started with 14 sessions a day, 4 for a technical track, 4 for a non-technical track, 4 for functional content and then a keynote and panel, resulting in 70 sessions for a 5-day conference. The ~200 submissions we received from amazing people throughout the Valley made it apparent that we needed to adjust (heck, isn’t that what entrepreneurs do all the time anyway?)

We now have 22 sessions each day, for a total of 132 total sessions (that’s after we expanded to add on Saturday as well). Every day there is a technical track, a non-technical track, two functional content tracks, two introductory 101 style sessions, two workshops, and two keynote/panel sessions. Adding all the people that are co-presenting, on panels, and sponsored content, we’ve got over 150 amazing people donating their time to help you learn and grow yourself and your business.

Speaker Selection

A common question, especially for anyone that didn’t get selected to speak, is how did we choose speakers? I’ll tell you how we did it, though we already have learned and heard from other people’s ideas that might make this better next time around.

If you haven’t seen it mentioned before, the entire group of people that put together PhxStartupWeek is completely volunteer-based. This shows that there are a bunch of people interested in and invested in the success of the entrepreneurial ecosystem here in Phoenix. One of the challenges is that the group may not have in-depth knowledge of each industry or have deep connections into well established, large businesses. We have to rely on people stepping forward to say that they want to speak, whatever connections and knowledge our group already has, as well as what information we can gather from individuals to select a bunch of people to speak.

Our programming team started with quite a few hard-working ASU students. They are a great group of people, though as most of us who are young in our careers, don’t necessarily have a wide, diverse network. Additionally, while a few of us had seen a large variety of Phoenix-based people speak previously, the majority of our team hadn’t experienced presentations by some of the larger than life personalities here in the valley.

We decided to borrow the format used last year and have speaker applicants submit a video. Some people who wanted to speak HATED this idea, believe me, we’ve got the emails to prove it. We understand that speaking straight into a camera on your own is very different than getting up in front of an audience and delivering great content with presence. At the time, we thought this method would be most fair as well as get the highest quality speakers that we could. While we have some suggestions for next year’s team, if you have ideas, we’re open to hearing them!

As the submissions came in and we started sorting them, each person on the team chose a primary topic or two they were passionate about helping lead. We then had two other people join into reviewing submissions from that topical area. Using a rubric to grade each submission by the speaker’s presence, the uniqueness of topic, subject knowledge, credibility, and their alignment to the theme. Each area would get scored from 1–5 by three different people with that score totaled.

We averaged all three scores and then reviewed the content to ensure we didn’t have four different speakers from one particular track all talking about the same thing. Additionally, we dove into each area and identified hot topics in the industry that we were hoping would have coverage to give the most current value to attendees. Based on all these factors, we picked out those with the highest average score to be this year’s speakers!

One last item on diversity here. We were very conscious about making sure we had representation from speakers of all backgrounds. Once we got to this list of the submissions from each category that had the highest scores, I did go through and take a high-level view of each topical area to see if we had diverse representation. I was hoping to not “force” diversity into the program and that it would happen naturally.

While there were one or two areas that we pulled up an additional speaker to ensure we didn’t have “a bunch of white guys” for an entire track speaking all day, I’m excited to say that we achieved this diverse line-up that included the 46% representation of women — naturally! Averaging scores from a rubric of items, considering hot topics in the industry and trying not to double up on speaking topics, we found that expertise in our ecosystem is found in a variety of ethnic and cultural backgrounds and excited to showcase that next week!

For all of you who like data… 200 submission videos, each approximately two minutes long, each reviewed by three people (sometimes more than once, but let’s say one time through for now), means the team reviewed over 20 hours of submission videos to identify speakers for this year’s event.

We really hope you enjoy the event and get a TON of value out of it! We hope each presenter delivers takeaways that help you move forward personally and professionally immediately. We put a lot of time and care into building an event that would allow you time to network with others (since we know and have survey data showing that people really enjoy that aspect of the event) while diving into a plethora of topics and ideas that help you learn new things and perhaps think of things differently.

Whether you love it or hate it, I’ll be at the event all week long, feel free to come by and share how you think things could work better next year. I know there are things we could’ve done better and happy to look for opportunities to incorporate insights from others.

Thank you and I hope to see you at Startup Week!