entrepreneurship

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:

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:

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:

Strategic Thinking – A Critical Skill for adapting to a rapidly changing world

The Big Oxmox advised her not to do so, because there were thousands of bad Commas, wild Question.

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