ASU’s Chandler incubator program hosts first of many forums
Last week, Arizona State University's J. Orin Edson Entrepreneurship + Innovation (E+I) Institute held the first of many monthly forums to come for members of the Chandler Endeavor Venture Innovation Incubator program at the ASU Chandler Innovation Center (ACIC) in downtown Chandler, following the reopening of ACIC the week prior.
The forum, led by E+I Director of Community Entrepreneurship Kristin Slice, focused on proposition sharing and peer-guided feedback, and included a fireside chat with local entrepreneur Jack Liu, founder and CEO of ProCARE Portal.
Chandler Endeavor is, in Slice’s words, an intentionally dynamic program that is unique across the country. The goal is to make founders feel empowered and comfortable with given resources “to advance your venture on your entrepreneur journey.”
“We have to build a different bridge than has ever been built in the past,” said Slice, adding that the ground and resources to build that "bridge" will always look different. “Because in today’s environment, the ground is constantly shifting.”
Slice also described how ASU and the city of Chandler are flipping the standard incubator model to be more inclusive and reflective of the ASU Charter.
By putting resources and tools into the hands of the public, Slice said, “everyone can come in; they can self-navigate through their resources and decide how they want to solve problems.”
One of the resources that Chandler Endeavor offers is six-month cohorts, and the inaugural forum got that resource up and running, with participants dividing into groups to discuss their propositions and give feedback.
“Feedback is the fire that fuels innovation,” Slice said.
Other resources include online modules that community members can access at no cost, a prototyping studio, project funding and perks — from discounts to swag and clothing — as well as five different innovation spaces for use across the Phoenix metro area.
The end goal of Chandler Endeavor is finalizing business pitches after discussing decision-making and customer discovery, go-to-market (GTM) strategies, finance management and environmental awareness.
Around 30 people were present at the first forum, and many had value propositions to share.
Terrance Hunter, chief creative officer of Chandler-based digital signage company Cazador Interactive, said what drew him to ACIC and Chandler Endeavor was “staying part of the start-up ecosystem."
“It can be lonely (as an entrepreneur),” Hunter said. “You need to hit up people in different stages of the journey.”
“I wanted to be part of a community pushing boundaries,” he added. His goal for Cazador is to provide cutting-edge digital solutions for schools, hospitals, retail locations, gyms and relevant businesses, revolutionizing the way venues engage with their audiences.
Adam Rayl, a two-time American Ninja Warrior world champion, is turning his expertise into a venture with American Ninja Warrior-themed summer camps, styled shoes, and fitness products and apps.
Rayl said what drew him to Chandler Endeavor was “the promise of mentorship, resources and a support system to help me decipher my path regardless of my skill level.” He was invited by a former ASU graduate who started a business at ACIC’s former partner, TechShop.
New attendees are welcome to attend a forum “whenever they are ready to start innovating,” Slice said. Orientations for new members take place at 4:30 p.m. before each forum, which are held at 5 p.m. on the first Wednesday of every month.
Interested individuals can visit the Chandler Endeavor community page on WorldLabs to sign up for future forums and events, access resources and interact with other E+I members.
“Every monthly forum focuses on an element of innovation,” Slice said. “What you’re going to do in these forums is actually apply that element to your venture.
“Even if you have no intention of starting a business, congratulations. You are now part of the entrepreneurial community. You get to be here to support, see and celebrate.
“No matter what your role is, no matter what you do, you’re in the right place."
Written by Pedro Rojo, student, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication