Forget San Francisco and L.A. Phoenix is the next tech hot-spot

By Alexandra Zaslow

Forget Silicon Valley: Tech entrepreneurs are flocking to Phoenix to start their businesses.

In 2012, there were 67 tech companies in downtown Phoenix. Today there are more than 275.

Arizona State University has played a major role in the city’s tech boom. Shortly after building a campus in downtown Phoenix, it was ranked the No. 1 innovative university in the country, two years in a row.

“You bring these thought leaders and these ideas into downtown Phoenix, now you bring in tech companies and leading edge companies who want access to that workforce,” said Christine Mackay, director of the Phoenix Community and Economic Development Department.

J.T. Marino and Daehee Park are thriving after moving their mattress company, Tuft & Needle, to Phoenix from Silicon Valley. They began in 2012 with only $6,000 and now make over $100 million annually.

“The whole reason that we moved to Phoenix was we wanted to start our company in a really different way,” Marino said. “So why not move to the place that’s more economical from a rent standpoint, lifestyle; there’s so much talent to recruit from.”

They don’t feel the need to mimic Los Angeles, New York or San Francisco; they see Phoenix as a great place to test and build.

“I want Phoenix to be a leader in the startup world,” Mayor Greg Stanton said. “Phoenix has the secret sauce, and one of the things in that secret sauce is our diverse population. We’re soon going to be a majority Latino city. By far, the population of people that are creating the most new businesses are Latinas.”

One Latina changing the game is Maria Luna, who founded Bravo, a cashless tipping app.

“Phoenix benefits from having a culturally diverse community, because together with different perspectives we are better,” Luna said. “That is why I am working so hard — because I not only want to change it for myself, but I want to pay it forward.”

She strives to create more opportunities for women and hopes to empower them by example.

“That richness of diversity makes us a much, much stronger city and a more competitive city moving forward,” Mayor Stanton said.