AZ Techcelerator injects tips to business startups - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Money

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AZ Techcelerator injects tips to business startups

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Posted: Tuesday, May 29, 2012 4:15 pm

Small business owners looking for new ideas to generate buzz and grow their brand have a local incubator at their disposal.

After all, for many, the opportunity for startup business owners to be surrounded by other like-minded individuals who have the same entrepreneurial spirit is rare around these parts.

Generating new ideas today, with the hope they can be beneficial for the future, can be key toward long-term success.

The AZ Techcelerator, which has operated for the past three years out of the former City Hall building near Bell and El Mirage roads, allows new small-business owners to rent space in a furnished-office setting in an attempt to grow their businesses.

The AZ Techcelerator is an “incubator,” whose purpose is to offer businesses the necessary resources to succeed in the marketplace once they “graduate” from being a member business, said Julie Neal, who oversees the center.

Typically, Neal said, businesses stay for three years.

“Once they graduate the program, we obviously hope and expect them to take up some of the commercial space in the community and make Surprise their home,” she said.

Managed by Surprise’s Economic Development Department, the AZ TechCelerator is aimed at new product commercialization, job creation and improvement of the economy and quality of life in the community.

While at the incubator space, business owners receive inexpensive, flexible leases and can reach out to other owners to generate new ideas and test business practices without having to worry about the pressures that come along with owning a business.

The AZ Techcelerator houses 13 tenants representing a wide range of startup businesses. The companies offer services related to solar energy, wireless communications, telemedicine, social media and transportation, among others.

“The companies must be technology-focused or have a new innovation, so that the AZ Techcelerator doesn’t compete with the local market,” Neal said. “We have a wide range of businesses.”

In addition, the AZ Techcelerator offers a mentorship program, where business owners can receive a slew of services to help them succeed in the marketplace. Some of the services include:

• Business accounting. and finance/organizational development.

• Business strategy and management.

• Intellectual property attorneys.

• Service Corps of Retired Executives. SCORE is available every Thursday from 9 a.m. to noon. SCORE counselors will also be on site by appointment. Call SCORE at 602-745-7250 and mention scheduling an appointment in Surprise.

Since coming on board in 2009, Neal said the AZ Techcelerator is still in its infancy and hasn’t had any graduates exit its doors. Still, Neal and other city officials believe they’re providing an invaluable resource to participating businesses.

“We want to make it as easy as possible for (the businesses) to focus on their product or service,” she said. “They really get a whole team when they move in.”

Neal said most businesses are pleased with the opportunity and have experienced growth as a small business and are hoping to increase their brand in the crowded marketplace. Still, where some have succeeded, others have failed.

“We have had some (businesses) in the past that have dropped out or that we’ve had to let go,” she said. “So, not everybody’s going to make it, but we want them to try.”

To apply for a business space, prospective tenants must be qualified via a rolling application and interview process. All applicants must have a business plan. For information or to apply, call Julie Neal at 623-222-3300 or email julie.neal@surpriseaz.gov.

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