According to the Census Bureau, individuals created more than 4.4 million new businesses in the U.S. during 2020 — the highest total on record. 
In Arizona, the state saw 39,805 new businesses form over the first six months of 2020, the second-highest number of establishments over the same period since 2005 despite the pandemic. While 2021 numbers are still out, experts expect to see the trend continue. 
Those aspiring business owners are fortunate to live in a state where organizations like the State Forty Eight Foundation exist. It recently wrapped up its first-ever Entrepreneur Speaker Series on October 13th, leaving hundreds of aspiring entrepreneurs encouraged and equipped to follow their business dreams. 
This free series of online Arizona Entrepreneur classes provided instruction, inspiration, and actionable guidance for aspiring or current Arizonian entrepreneurs to help them bring their ideas to fruition or move to the next level of success.
From creating a business plan to understanding marketing strategies, financing, collaboration, and legal challenges, the experts and business owners from across Arizona shared their personal stories and gave practical advice for launching or maintaining a new venture.

Which Arizona business owners and topics have been featured during the series?

  • State Forty Eight Co-Founders Mike Spangenberg and Nicholas Polando shared the State Forty Eight origin story.
  • David Freedman shared how he gets clear on an idea and why defining your "why" as a business owner is so important.
  • Carly Figman of the Center for Entrepreneurial Innovation (CEI) walked participants through the importance of market research and validation.
  • Author, speaker, and mental edge coach for professional athletes and CEOs, Darleen Santore (AKA "Coach Dar"), discussed how to build resiliency and consistency around goal setting and how "why power" is better than willpower.
  • Julia Peixoto Peters shared her story as Founder and Co-owner of Peixoto Coffee and what she learned about running and scaling a brick-and-mortar business.
  • Talia Offord, attorney for a Fortune 500 company, walked attendees through the seven levels of legal steps for their business. 
  • Dominic Orozco, CMO of Gila River Hotels & Casinos and branding expert, provided listeners with the fundamentals to branding and marketing their business.
  • CEO and Co-Founder of Majka, Lorena Garcia, showed her approach to marketing an e-commerce brand
  • Sr. Vice President of Venture Development at Skysong Innovations, Charlie Lewis, highlighted the different ways Arizona entrepreneurs could start raising capital immediately.
  • Sarah Benken, the accomplished CEO of The KNOW Women, taught how to create and strategically grow and scale your business by leveraging your network.

arizona entrepreneur classes


Maintaining the Entrepreneur Mindset & Learning From Your Mistakes, the final session of the series, featured Templeton Walker, entrepreneur and investor, who spoke about maintaining mindset and why it's crucial for running a business. 
A business thought leader and Founder of TribalEM, NextCare, and MeMD, John Shufeldt, closed out the series by sharing some of the lessons he wished he had learned as a young entrepreneur. 
The inaugural Speaker Series was part of the organization's initiative to foster local entrepreneurship and innovation and offered aspiring entrepreneurs and current business owners the opportunity to learn directly from Arizona industry experts and business leaders.

Where are these Arizona Entrepreneur Classes Held?

Held at the Center for Entrepreneurial Innovation (CEI) located at the Phoenix Biomedical Campus in Downtown Phoenix, the "CEI offers award-winning business incubation, startup resources, and workforce development training to innovators at every stage of growth. "
The State Forty Eight Foundation is well-known for its commitment to entrepreneurship programming and supporting Arizona's startup community. Its core mission is to "enrich and strengthen Arizona through thoughtful partnerships, inspired community action, and investment in the changemakers of tomorrow."
The Foundation has partnered with over 45 charitable organizations since 2013 and distributed more than $43,000 to charities. However, their support isn't just limited to nonprofits. Participants who attended five or more Livestream sessions of the speaker series were eligible to apply for grants of $500 or more to be used toward capital expenses of forming or growing a new business. 
The Foundation also offered opportunities to win one-on-one mentorship sessions with speakers and free business tools and resources during each session.


Why Launch the Arizona Speaker Series?

According to the Arizona Commerce Authority, Arizona has more than 550,000 small businesses. The success of Arizona's small and medium-sized businesses is critical to the economic vitality of those families, their communities, and the state.
Events like the Entrepreneur Speaker Series and the Foundation's generous small business grant fund empower aspiring Arizona entrepreneurs to connect with and learn from seasoned business owners who can offer guidance, mentorship, and support along the way. 


How can you be involved in the State Forty Eight Foundation?

While only in its second full year, the State Forty Eight Foundation has already made a significant impact on the people of Arizona.
In 2019, it launched a new initiative called State Forty Eight Community Impact "to inspire actionable giving that will contribute to the wellbeing of our community and create a platform for local organizations to be seen, heard, and supported."
There are four pillars through which they accomplish that mission:
  • Fostering the Entrepreneurial Spirit 
  • Supporting and Empowering Our Youth
  • Activating Our Community
  • Creating Meaningful Partnerships
After drawing more than 250 volunteers and donating more than $21,000 to charities and other nonprofit organizations that year, the State Forty Eight Foundation launched in 2020 and focuses on Arizona's prosperity and its community members.
Led by Executive Director Alyssa More, who has experience running an environmental nonprofit in Australia and supported by a group of diverse board members, the Foundation shows no sign of slowing down. 
Its planned November fundraiser will feature an appearance from Yasmeen. This rising singer-songwriter has been featured prominently on multiple Spotify Curated playlists and whose single Half of Me is fast approaching 2 million streams on Spotify.
The fundraiser will celebrate the Foundation's first year as a charity and rally the community to help fund future programs as they build up local entrepreneurs and make a collective impact in collaboration with other Arizona nonprofits and organizations.
If you are interested in learning more or you are starting a business in Arizona or want to start a business in Arizona, be sure to visit the rest of the website now!