A Latino Is Called To Help The Tech-Sun Rise In Arizona

Via forbes.com

He did it in Boulder, Colorado. He did it in Silicon Valley, California. Now he’s been tapped — called — to help accelerate the startup scene in Tucson, Arizona.

Remy Arteaga was the subject of several stories I wrote here about the Stanford Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative — an innovative branch of one the the nation’s most ambitious NGO’s devoted to supporting Latino business owners — after serving as director of the Deming Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Colorado-Boulder. In February this year, he was named director of the McGuire Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Arizona in Tucson. When I first learned about it — over the Winter holiday break — I saw there were at least three things about Remy’s new gig that are noteworthy.

First, it shines a light on a region that many people in my world (Silicon Valley) know little about. The McGuire Center, since its own beginnings more than 30 years ago, has sent off more than 2,000 graduates to launch hundreds of ventures in Arizona and throughout the nation. A few examples: Notehall, which appeared on Shark Tank and later acquired by Chegg; June (whose CEO also co-founded Zimride, now known as Lyft); SmartThings (acquired by Samsung); Pro.com (founded by a team of former Amazon execs); MistoBox (which also appeared on Shark Tank).  As a writer and a consultant, I’ve been closely following the emergence of regional entrepreneur hubs, and Tucson is on several best-city lists. Still, what Tucson actually has done to make the entrepreneur scene happen has been obscure. The McGuire Center appears to be one of the invisible hands in the emergent local economy.

Second, like the Stanford initiative that Remy helped to launch, the McGuire Center takes a broad view on entrepreneurship, not limiting its support to tech ventures. The competitive-entry program is open to UA students from all fields of study. I like this. Broadening the curriculum and the cohorts is a smart approach for getting the right mix of people to find one another and work quickly to develop testable ideas for business.

Finally, what’s perhaps most noteworthy is that Remy’s brand is that of a fire-starter in the mainstream startup world — he’s launched and exited a few companies on his own — who just so happens to be Latino. From my perspective, as a brand marketer, this is an opportunity for a major academic institution for the state of Arizona to reimagine its brand on the national stage. Let’s face it: Arizona, the state, could use some of that. Among Remy’s many gifts is a remarkable ability to see and bridge cultural divides, and find new ways to close gaps (I traveled with Remy to Israel, where we discussed a number of ways that Latino and Israeli startups can learn from one another). In other words, he has his eyes on the prize, Latino-wise, and for other underrepresented groups in the burgeoning Arizona startup world. In a recent email he noted:

 

“Since 2012, our economic development program has 1,046 people from underserved markets (primarily Latino) attend our business workshops. An additional 974 (primarily Latino) completed our six week business course and received our certificate. In addition, we had 250 business students consult 70 businesses. We also have a summer academy course for the last three summers, where we take 25 high school students from underserved regions and put them through a one week bootcamp.”

Knowing Remy, what the McGuire Center has done already is just a prelude of what’s to come. It’s about who he is: world-traveler, time-traveler, forever knocking down walls and building bridges. I’ll be watching what he does in Arizona from my perch in the Valley, and reporting back soon.

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