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Who says you have to be in Silicon Valley to find a startup?


Author Jason Calacanis wrote in his book, Angel, that if you want to be an effective angel investor, you’d better be in the Bay Area to find your opportunity. Utah business and government leaders are challenging that idea.

Five years ago, several Utah business people put their logos aside to form a non-profit organization to empower Utah’s startup and tech community, in an effort to make entrepreneurship and opportunity open and accessible to all.  While one of those leaders was Josh James, founder of Omniture which was acquired by Adobe for $1.8 billion, James only got the ball rolling to pull leaders together to help others become successful.

Silicon Slopes geographically serves the entire Utah area, but most businesses are localized to the I-15 corridor from St. George to Logan, with the majority of businesses clustered in Utah and Salt Lake Counties.

This week I got the chance to hear from these leaders talk about everything from success stories, to challenges of transitioning from startup funding to IPO, to stories from those funding businesses here.

Silicon Slopes Summit is an annual event that took a Covid 19 pause last year, but this year, even though Utah is struggling with a surge of the delta variant of Covid 19,, this year’s event still took off like a rocket (same day as William Shatner launched his own real life space career) with speakers like Dwayne Wade – new co-owner of the Utah Jazz, Ryan Smith, CEO of Qualtrics, which was acquired by SAP for $8 Billion in 2018, only to become its own IPO in January 2021, Microsoft’s former CEO Steve Ballmer, and Tim Cook, CEO of Apple.

Access

The entry fee to attend the conference was less than $300. While Covid restrictions cut the numbers of attendees, if you were vaccinated or had been tested the day before the event and cleared to attend, you could still get in.

Breakout Sessions

There were so many choices for breakout sessions, it was hard to choose! It was an angel investor’s dream to find so many entrepreneurs in the seats beside them taking notes as venture capitalists talked to their own investing rules or connected to established investors who might be in the know on interesting opportunities they themselves are looking to roll up their sleeves with and help grow.

Over the coming weeks, I’ll be bringing you insights from the conference – like what are the attributes investors are looking for in an entrepreneur and their ideas, or what are the difficulties business owners face AFTER they go public that they hadn’t expected.

Most of all, I’m excited to find so many opportunities in my own backyard! It’s a whole lot easier to roll up your sleeves and get busy when you better understand the business community locally!

Stay tuned!