About AZ Disruptors

AZ Disruptors is a startup incubator for software companies.

For the latest Arizona Startups and Arizona Tech News, visit AZTechBeat.com.

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AZ Disruptors Pitch Day Judges Announced

The AZ Disruptors offices are now completely done and furnished. We are now getting ready for the big "Pitch Day" event that's coming up this Friday. There will be 15 startups pitching for up to 5 spots in the AZ Disruptors Software Incubator.

We are excited to have a fantastic mix of people, from angels and investors to entrepreneurs and software CEOs who will be attending this event. Additionally, we are extremely excited about the team of 5 judges that we have lined up:

Francine Hardaway, Ph.D. is a serial entrepreneur, angel investor and now a partner in Stealthmode Partners, an accelerator for growth companies in Arizona and the Bay Area. Her expertise is in bringing tech products to market. She is a founding member of Social Media Club and the founder of the Arizona Entrepreneurship Conferences. She is also a blogger, a beta tester for social media products, and a geek-to-human translator. She blogs for her http://blog.Stealthmode.com, writes The World of Startups Outside Silicon Valley for FastCompany.com and on Huffington Post.

Greg Head has a successful history in the software business with a track record of creating winning products, brands and businesses. He is currently Chief Marketing Officer for Infusionsoft. For over 15 years, Greg helped grow the ACT! contact management and SalesLogix CRM businesses from startups to global brands. He has a passion for helping emerging technology companies with their marketing and growth strategies. 

Jim Goulka is the Managing Director of ATIF—Arizona Technology Investor Forum—the active angel group in Phoenix focused on companies developing new technologies. He is currently CEO of an early stage software company that offers project management tools for large enterprises. In the past he has been CEO of an angel backed software company (sold to Apple), a venture backed software company, and a national technology transfer entity that markets technologies developed by NASA. Jim started his career in corporate finance at units of JPMorgan/Chase andCitibank. He holds two degrees from Yale.
Mike Wolf is a 26 year software veteran with EDS, Capex, Computer Associates, VIASOFT, and Vitrix. As a co-founder of VIASOFT, he helped drive the company from initial startup, to one of Arizona’s most successful software IPO’s. As General Partner of Lobodos Ventures, he has invested in numerous local startups, while mentoring and advising hundreds of young entrepreneurs. He has been a founding Board member for such organizations as the AZ Software Association, AZ Technology Council, AZ Angels, AZ Interactive Marketing Association (AZIMA), and the MIT Enterprise Forum. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Quantitative Systems from ASU, where he supports their Venture Catalyst Program.

Steve Zylstra is President & CEO of the Arizona Technology Council. Steve is a vocal spokesman for the value technology can provide in raising social and economic standards in Arizona and a leading advocate for improving science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. He has served in numerous technology leadership and advisory roles to the Governor and currently serves on several association, industry and community boards. He also served over 20 years in the aerospace & defense industry as an engineer and executive. Steve earned a bachelor’s degree in automotive engineering technology from Western Michigan University and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Science in Technology from the University of Advancing Technology.

While regretebly, we haven't been able to accomodate everyone who has wanted to attend this event, we will be live streaming the event Friday morning. Be sure to subscribe to the AZ Disruptors News and Blog to stay posted on where you can find the link to watch the event on your own computer:


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AZ Disruptors "Event" Room

Today, we setup the AZ Disruptors Event Room. This will be the room where the Pitch Day event will take place on May 20th. It's complete with a 10' wide projection screen, speakers, wireless mic and room for up to 80 people to participate in the event.

After a day of going through AZ Disruptors applications, I can already tell it's going to be a fantastic event.

We will be filling this room with entrepreneurs, investors, angels, VCs and software CEOs to watch some of the best software startups in the valley pitch for a chance to participate in the AZ Disruptors Software Incubator.


58 Companies Apply for AZ Disruptors Incubator

This weekend marked the application deadline for the AZ Disruptors incubator. We have received 58 applications for consideration in our first AZ Disruptors incubator. Surprisingly, lots of submitters waited until the last day. While we received applications on 27 different days since we started getting the word out back in January, a full 20 of the submissions (34%) happened on the day of the deadline.  Very interesting indeed.

Over the next 2 weeks, we will be contacting every applicant to let them know the next steps in our efforts to pick the top 18 candidates to pitch on the AZ Disruptors Pitch Day on May 20th.

If you'd like to receive an invite to the Pitch Day event, please submit this form to request an invitation. If your invitation is accepted, you will be notified to RSVP in a separate email. The event is free, but invitation is required.


NextSlide and AZ Disruptors Presentation

You've definitely heard of YouTube. You may have also heard about SlideShare. But you probably haven't heard about this fanstastic local startup called NextSlide. It's like having YouTube and SlideShare combined in the most perfect way.

The best way for me to describe what NextSlide does, is to show you. Here is the presentation I gave at last week's local .NET event:

NextSlide makes it super easy to put together a video and the slides of a presentation perfectly tuned and bookmarked. You can easily skip to a particular section or enjoy the entire presentation the way it was intended to be: with audio, video and slides all in synch. Great stuff! 



3 Days Left to Apply for AZ Disruptors

Just a quick reminder that the application deadline for applying to AZ Disruptors is coming up this Friday, April 29th.

Applying takes less than 5 minutes! No business plan needed. Just the raw details of your product, team and current status. We don't want projections either. It can't get much simpler.

If you have a software related idea, working prototype or product with real users, we'll consider it all. And if you are selected to participate in the AZ Disruptors incubator, here is what you get:

  • Free logistics for 4 months to build your product & company. The logistics include:
    • Office space
    • Furniture
    • Internet Connectivity
    • Snaks and Drinks
  • Free mentorship & guidance to help determine deliverables
  • An office environment with lots of techies from other software companies
  • $20,000 in Cash
  • At the end of the 4-month incubation phase, you will:
    • Have a kick ass deliverables which will include a usable product & a company foundation
    • Get the ability to demo your company & product in front of Angels and VCs
    • Help with getting your company to Phase II by raising additional funds

We are looking for software startups that are trying to create solutions for markets that are large and fragmented with lots of players. We want solutions that are disruptive to the marketplace in their ease of use, in their speed and in their cost.

Apply to the AZ Disruptors Incubator Now



Startup Weekend at Chandler's Gangplank

If you have been considering doing a startup, then you should definitely checkout the 3-day Startup Weekend event being held on June 24-26 at the Gangplank offices in Chandler, AZ.

"Startup Weekend Chandler/s goal is to discover the most promising entrepreneurs in the Valley of the Sun. With pre-events such Speed Team Networking and Startup 101, participants are prepared before heading into the weekend to maximize their 54-hours. After completion, teams that can successfully demonstrate the core functionality of their startup are invited to participate in a 60-day Roadmap to Launch program, culminating in Launch Weekend events that include a pitch to investors from across the U.S."

More information and registration at: http://chandler.startupweekend.org/


Microsoft Devs: An Event You Shouldn't Miss!

If you are a developer that uses the Microsoft stack, here is an event you shouldn't miss:

AZ Groups Scott Guthrie Event

The event, which is hosted at the Chandler Center for the Arts, is a full day of presentation goodness from Scott Guthrie, the head of Microsoft's developer divisions and Mark Russinovich, Technical Fellow at Microsoft's Platform and Services Division.

If you've ever seen Scott Guthrie present, you know that he's an amazing speaker and he writes code live in front of the audience. He also runs the CLR, ASP.NET, Silverlight, WPF, IIS 7.0 and Visual Studio teams at Microsoft. Basically, he owns the entirety of the Microsoft development platform, yet he finds time to code. 

This event, which is expected to be attended by 500-1,000 software developers in Arizona is 100% Free to the attendees. That's thanks to Scott Cate, the guy who runs the local .NET User Group. Each year, Scott Cate uses his close relationship with Microsoft's Scott Guthrie to bring the Arizona .NET community an exceptional developer event, complete with catered lunch and fantastic presenters. Typically, such events with not nearly the quality of presenters, cost $199 to $399 in the rest of the country. Scott insists on making this event Free. Huge kudos to him!

So go register for this event before they run out of space:

Register for Scott Guthrie Event for Free



AZ Disruptors Blog to Cover Local Tech News

As the AZ Disruptors incubator gets close to Phase II (where we actually pick software startups to help incubate), we thought it would make sense for this blog to start covering some of the other news of Arizona-based software companies. Specifically, we want to cover:

  • New Software Startups
  • New Product Launches
  • Major News That Affects Local Software Companies
  • Major Events Targeted Towards Local Software Companies

We need a TechCrunch that's focused on Arizona-based activities. That's what we hope the AZ Disruptors blog can become.

To facilitate the new direction, we've put together a Submit Your News page. This is not going to be a pass-through. Every submission will be reviewed and if deemed appropriate, an article will be written about the submission. We want to keep the quality as high as possible. If you're interested in writing for us on a regular basis, email me at hamids at axosoft.


Announcing the AZ Disruptors "Pitch Day"

As the April 29th deadline for submitting your software startup quickly aproaches, we have lots of great updates to inform you about.

Right this minute, the AZ Disruptors office furniture is being assembled. This is the space that Arizona's new disruptive software startups will utilize to create the next awesome software company. As with Axosoft's offices, the space is designed for "team rooms" of up to 6 people per room. Each team room will be home to anywhere from one to as many as three new startups.

New startups will also be able to use the rest of the office facilities, including a comfortable kitchen with seating for 40, a lounge area with XBox Kinect and the Wii, a gym that's designed to kick your butt into shape and five different conference rooms that can accomodate 2 to 70 people for various types of meetings. The facilities are nice, but the real value of the space is having access to the people who have built two successful and profitable software companies, Axosoft and TransferBigFiles.com (and countless failures too).

The AZ Disruptors "Pitch Day"

The AZ Disruptors "Pitch Day" will be the day that new software startups will compete for 1 of 5 spots in the AZ Disruptors incubator. Each potential software startup will fine tune their pitch to a 10-minute presentation covering:

  • Product - What you're going to build. Demo the product or prototype if possible.
  • Target Market - Who you're going to sell it to.
  • Current Size of Market - Value of competing products being sold to your target today.
  • The Team - The people who are going to build this product and company.

Notice there is nothing in there about a 5-year projection of sales or your exit strategy. Be sure to keep that out of your presentation. We will assume that you will magically hit your projected $28 Million of sales in Year 4 and generate $10 Million in profits before getting bought out by Microsoft, Google or Apple. Save us the burden of sitting through the slides.

Pitch Day Will be Friday, May 20th


8:00AM Arrive and Breakfast
8:45AM Event Start & Introductory comments
9:00AM First Set of 6 Pitches
10:30AM Short Break
10:45AM Second Set of 6 Pitches
12:15PM Quick Lunch
1:00PM Third Set of 6 Pitches
2:30PM Short Break
2:45PM Top 5 Pitch Winners Announced
3:00PM Wrap up


How's it all going to work?

The Pitch Day event will be a room full of people watching the presentations. The pitches will also be judged by a panel of 5 judges (to be announced) who are involved with the local tech community. The judging of the event will help identify the top 5 pitches.

Each of the top 5 presentors will win an Apple TV.

Being picked as a top 5 pitch does not guarantee a spot in the AZ Disruptors incubator, but it helps! Based on the presentations on pitch day, the AZ Disruptors team will select the companies with whom they intend to have further interviews to determine which companies will be selected. Selection of the companies that will participate in the AZ Disruptors incubator is expected to be completed within 1-2 weeks after Pitch Day.

Request an Invite for AZ Disruptors Pitch Day

The AZ Disruptors pitch day will take place at the event room of AZ Disruptor's newly constructed office space. We will be able to accomodate a maximum of 60 people for the event. Therefore, RSVP will be by invitation only. If you'd like to request an invitation to the Pitch Day, please use the following form:

Request an Invitation to AZ Disruptors Pitch Day (It's Free!)

Please request your invite as early as possible because we fully anticipate reaching maximum capacity.

Stay tuned to more information about the AZ Disruptors pitch day in the coming days by subscribing via email:


You will get a confirmation email.



Does Your Pitch Suck? Yeh, Probably!

Let me start by saying that I rank among the worst presenters in the world. I can't bare to watch myself present. I repeat words obsessively during a presentation. Words like "so" and "actually." I don't know how to fix my presentation style. I've given up. So I figure the audience will actually have to bare the punishment of watching me say "so" and "actually" a few too many times!

But there is one major mistake that I corrected about 8 years ago after I watched one of Steve Jobs' brilliant presentations. It's a mistake that I see repeated in more than 95% of presentations I watch. In fact, I was at the local Tie Rapid Fire Pitch Event last night and I think all but two or three of the presenters (out of about 20)  made this enormous mistake.

So what is the mistake? Lets see if you can spot it here:

Do you see the mistake? Too many words on a single slide!

There were a group of us watching presentations in the back of the room and every time we saw a slide like the one above, which was way too often, there were a few chuckles. It's really hard to take a presenter seriously when they thought it was acceptable to put so many words on a single PowerPoint slide during a 2-minute rapid-fire presentation.

What is the purpose of the slide? Should I listen to the presenter or read the slide? I can't do both and I most certainly am not interested in reading a slide with so many words on it. If I was going to read, I'd listen to audible. If I only listen to the presenter, then I feel like I've missed out on an important piece of information that only the slide provided. What to do? I'll just tune out instead! That's a lot easier to do when the presenter expects me to do so much work.

So what should the slides of a presenter contain? Learn from the master of presentations, Steve Jobs. Here is a video of him introducing the iPad:


Watch the Video of Steve Jobs Introducing the iPad

The key to having great slides is to have very few words on the slide itself. Pictures are great, but if you're going to put words on a slide, make sure the viewer can read all the words at a glance. You could also build the words little-by-little as you speak. Create slides that introduce two or three words at a time at precisely the moment those words are important to your presentation.

Of course, every rule has some exceptions. For example, when quoting someone, it's a great idea to provide the full quote in the slide, regardless of how many words:

In summary, keep the slides simple and focused. Make sure your audience can follow along without a lot of reading.

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