Filtering Tag: Season 1

Driving Diversity and Inclusion in Entrepreneurship w/Joann MacMaster CEO of Desert Angels

Joann MacMaster

We have an extremely exciting show today with CEO of the Desert Angels, Joann MacMaster. Joann has served as a startup founder, mentor, investor, and educator. She’s passionate about regional ecosystem development and recently received the Larry Hecker and Sherry Hoskinson Lasting Community Builder Award and this year the 2020 Women of Influence Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

The key lessons for entrepreneurs here are:

  1. Diversity in entrepreneurship is critical because the people and cultures of customer-bases are very different, so the problem-solvers must also be very different in order to understand the challenges people face around the world.
  2. Diversity goes far beyond gender and skin color. There is diversity of backgrounds, skillsets, thought, age, geographic location, experiences, etc. So don’t just think that diversity and inclusion means women and people of color. It’s much deeper than that.
  3. It is unfair to bucket all minority groups into the same category. Women in tech have unique needs and interests different from women of color. Is there overlap? Sure. But to bucket all women into the same category for programs and resources misses the mark. The same goes for all other under-represented groups. Get specific about who is under-represented and develop a strategy to engage them.
  4. As a founder, be sure not to think about Desert Angels as a single entity – many different individual investors and affiliates. Go engage, and learn about the members individually to move your startup forward more rapidly.

Good luck and see you next week!

Connect with Joann MacMaster here:

Shoutouts and Mentions:

Nail it, then scale it with Eric Bockman

Eric Bockman

This Mentor Me Live episode features Eric Bockman, founder of Auction Roo.  He has an early-stage idea to transform how auction houses distribute merchandise to customers.  Auction Roo does not currently have any paying customers, and Eric is looking for support in finding a business-minded co-founder and narrowing focus to get his first paying customer.

The key lessons for entrepreneurs here are:

  •  Self-awareness — Eric has a very strong awareness of his own strengths and weaknesses.  As a result, is will shorten the amount of time it takes him to find a suitable co-founder.  After you clearly understand yourself, the next step is to move toward ensuring you have a strong founding team. Entrepreneurship is a team-sport, please don’t try to ride this ride alone.
  • Don’t worry about scalability of your idea until you have satisfied customers. In Auction Roo’s case, they don’t yet have any satisfied customers.  As a result, their next milestone is to acquire one satisfied customer.  It likely looks like one auction buyer that has successfully had a small number of deliveries using Auction Roo; a returning customer is likely to be satisfied.   At this early stage, it’s too risky to send an email blast out to 14k auction buyers.  This is risky to both Auction Roo and the auction house.  Shrinking the size of the initial experiments down to 10-20 customers is probably more appropriate and will help the team move more rapidly.

I look forward to seeing you next week!

Connect with Eric Bockman here:

Mentor Me Live with Mica Kinder

Mica Kinder

Today on Mentor Me Live, we are going to tackle fear. As entrepreneurs, we are constantly facing our fears. The fear of running out of money, fear of hiring the wrong person, fear of customers rejecting us, the fear of our skills not being enough to accomplish our gigantic visions.

A recent HBR research study of 65 entrepreneurs noted that for entrepreneurs, courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is the ability to persist in spite of it.

Here are a few tips on how to be a courageous entrepreneur:

  1. Identify the sources of your fear – If you don’t know where your fears are coming from, how can you address them? We must strengthen our self-awareness and dig deep to resolve root cause personal issues holding us back.
  2. Next, we need to break our vision into small and achievable milestones. This allows us to take action, feel a sense of accomplishment, and reduce procrastination.
  3. Utilize Ulysses contracts and time commitments to force forward motion. If you haven’t yet ready Annie Duke’s “Thinking in Bets” go grab a copy. It will change how you make decisions.
Each of us brings our own fears to the table when we found a startup, but as Winston Churchill once said:  

 “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

The power of individuals, of entrepreneurs, and of startups lies in their ability to change, to adapt, and to transform themselves to ultimately accomplish their life-saving vision.

Put your fears aside and get back to work changing the world.

Connect with Mica Kinder here:

Shoutouts and Mentions:

Janelle Briggs: Revolutionizing Real Estate, Tucson Startup Ecosystem, Raising $5 Million

Listen to Janelle talk about revolutionary new real estate innovation, how to start a company in Tucson, and fundraising in Tucson.

Make your own new normal, don’t wait for others to make it for you

In March and April of 2020, I heard directly from numerous small business owners and understand that the challenges created by COVID-19 are overwhelming. Many described feeling paralyzed and overwhelmed, which has led to inaction and an inability to pivot or make thoughtful plans or decisions. This is such a normal place to be during this unprecedented time and we wanted to help, by offering support to let you know that you are not alone, your feelings are normal and there is a way to start down the path toward action.


On Wednesday, April 22, I led two interactive sessions with local business leaders and experts to discuss ways to begin to re-imagine your business during this unprecedented time.

Unfortunately, as a small business owner, there is a crisis to lead through every few years. While this COVID-19 crisis is different from anything any of us has led through previously, there are core principles that are consistent to be able to make your own new normal, instead of waiting for others to make it for you:

Get tough: to get through tough times, business owners need to get tough as well. Set aside your guilt to be able to focus on yourself and your business.

Disconnect: Take the time to figure out what’s best for you and focus on that. Turn off the phone, turn off the computer, pause.

Create a plan: Even though these are uncertain times, business leaders must establish some level of certainty for our employees and customers. It’s critical for them to see that you’ve got a plan, even if it ends up being wrong.

Greg Teesdale
Greg Teesdale

About Greg Teesdale

Guidance to small, emerging companies in the development of their business strategies, detailed business plans, and business processes.

Specialties: 30+ years at venture-backed emerging growth companies with 20+ years at the C-level.

Lea Marquez-Peterson
Lea Marquez-Peterson

Commissioner Márquez Peterson has been an entrepreneur in our community for many years and served as the President/ CEO of the Tucson Hispanic Chamber from 2009 until November of 2018. The Tucson Hispanic Chamber serves the business community in the bilingual, bi-cultural region of the Arizona-Sonora border and was recognized as the Hispanic Chamber of the Year in 2013 by the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. The chamber represents over 1800-member businesses and in partnership with the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry is one of the largest chambers in the State of Arizona.

Lea ran for Congress in Arizona Congressional District 2 in 2018 and won a competitive primary race. During her campaign she was endorsed by Governor Ducey, Senator Kyl, Lea enjoyed meeting thousands of people in the region and tackling many key issues impacting Arizona.

She previously served as the Executive Director for Greater Tucson Leadership (GTL) from 2005 to 2009 and owned and operated a Business Brokerage Firm from 2005 to 2009 and a chain of six gasoline stations/convenience stores with 50 employees from 1998 to 2005 in the Tucson region.

Connect with Greg Teesdale here:

Connect with Lea Marquez-Peterson here:

Recommended Resources:

Zach Yentzer: Tucson Young Professionals, Tipping Point, Community Building

Listen to Zach talk about Tucson Young Professionals, Tipping Point and Community Building.

Investor Corner: Diamond in the Desert with Mara Aspinall, Bluestone Ventures Managing Director

Did you know that there is more than $100 million worth of capital available to Arizona entrepreneurs right now? Were you aware that Tucson ranks as one of the Top 5 Cities for entrepreneurs, according to Entrepreneur magazine, but it has been a long, hard road. I find it incredible that within the last few years, Tucson has gone from only one or two venture capital firms to over five.

One of those firms is BlueStone Venture Partners where managing partner Mara Aspinall and team are utilizing their “Noses in, fingers out” approach to invest in regional digital health, medical devices and medical diagnostics startups. Their Fund primarily focuses on companies that reside within five key verticals including: Medical Devices, Advanced Materials, Healthcare IT, Diagnostics, and Biopharma Platforms.

As an entrepreneur, I really appreciate Mara’s hyper-focus on startup teams over technology. To create an A-Team you must:

Know your strengths and most importantly your weaknesses. If you can’t articulate these, how will you be able to build a team that has strengths to counter-balance your weaknesses?

Find the right team: these should be people you trust, and that can consistently be intellectually honest with you. These team members should also be highly adept at navigating ambiguity as it’s likely to be all your startup will be facing for the first few years.

After building your A-Team, go “do your homework”. Your goal should be to understand your situation and potential future scenarios enough to anticipate what’s coming. This will help you and the team mitigate the foreseeable errors, and hopefully not worry about the ones you could not have known. Most importantly, get moving and keep moving.

About Mara

Aspinall is a healthcare industry leader and pioneer committed to active civic involvement. She is Managing Director and Co-Founder of BlueStone Venture Partners, a venture fund investing in life sciences technology companies in the US Southwest. She is also Managing Director of the Health Catalysts Group, a consulting firm dedicated to the growth of health information technology and diagnostics firms, publishing the popular Health Catalysts Diagnostics Year in Review. She is a member of the Board of Directors of Abcam plc (ABC), Allscripts (MDRX), Castle Biosciences (CSTL), Orasure (OSUR), and Blue Cross Blue Shield Arizona. Most recently, Aspinall was certified in Cybersecurity Oversight from Carnegie Mellon University.

As President and CEO of Ventana Medical Systems, a billion-dollar division of The Roche Group, (now Roche Tissue Diagnostics) Aspinall led her world-class team to new financial success, more than two dozen major instrument and assay launches as well as global leadership in companion diagnostics.

Previously, Aspinall spent 13 years at Genzyme Corporation where she served as President of Genzyme Genetics and Genzyme Pharmaceuticals. Genzyme Genetics was a leading provider of diagnostic testing and genetic counseling in the oncology and reproductive markets. Aspinall transformed the business from a small specialized player to one of the top five laboratories in the country while setting the industry standard for quality testing. The business was sold to LabCorp for nearly $1billion. Previously, she led Genzyme Pharmaceuticals and its transformation to an international leader in specialized pharmaceutical ingredient manufacturing.

Connect with Mara Aspinall here:

Devon Underwood: Recruitment, Talent Strategy, and Workforce Development

Listen to Devon talk about recruitment, talent strategy, and workforce development.

Mentor Me Live – Working Through a Pivot with Aaron Gopp, CEO @ Patter

Aaron Gopp

So you’ve interviewed customers, run some experiments, and built an MVP.   You launch the Minimum Viable Product to customers, and all you hear is the chirp of crickets.   What do you do next?  How do you decide whether to pivot or persevere?  

About This Episode  

In this episode, you’re going to hear a mentoring session between myself and Aaron Gopp, co-Founder and CEO of Patter.  We will tackle pivoting as well as the development of a customer advisory board for your startup.   

Patter is a software application that allows early-stage startups to build a brand that people love by focusing on culture and guiding them through the brand development, implementation, and management process.

This episode is filled with many actionable nuggets, and most prevalent are the principles of working through a pivot or persevere decision:

Focus on what’s working – When things are not going as you hope, it’s important to focus on what IS working.  In this case, Aaron had four out of forty customers that did engage with the Patter platform.  These four customers are likely to teach Aaron and the team something valuable that will help propel them forward.

Get more specific and narrow – Each time you are faced with a pivot / persevere decision you have an opportunity to get more specific.  In this case, Patter doesn’t yet have any paying customers; which makes their next milestone to satisfy ONE customer.  

Patter did a great job of getting more specific and narrowing in ono more mature startups.

Re-evaluate all activities – When you change the customer segment you’re focused on, everything else in your business model is impacted.   As a result, you must re-evaluate all products, people and processes to ensure your startup is laser-focused on the newly hypothesized segment.

With these key principles, you can survive the startup “drunken walk” and find a scalable business model.

I’d love to hear from you — What pivot or persevere decisions have you had to navigate in your startup?

Connect with Aaron Gopp here:

Isaac Figueroa: Commercial Real Estate, Secret to Sales Success, and How To Build a Network

Listen to how Isaac shapes Tucson’s economy by how he Lives, Works and Plays.

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