Time: 8am–9pm | Location: TCC

IdeaFunding is your best opportunity to connect with startup leaders, learn key skills to launch your company and take the next steps to raising funds, and launching your company. For almost 20 years, IdeaFunding has brought together the best of the southwestern startup ecosystem to accelerate entrepreneurship. This TENWEST Festival event is brought to you by Startup Tucson.

Partner: Startup Tucson


Pitch Competition


This year, we are welcoming 25 startups from every sate of development — Idea Stage, Prototype Stage, Launch Stage, and Growth Stage. teams will be judged by a panel of industry experts. The 6 best pitching teams move on to the main stage in the evening.

VC Unplugged Luncheon


VC’s Unplugged is designed for entrepreneurs, service providers, angel investors and VC investors to have an opportunity to meet out-of-state venture capitalists and engage in informal conversations about funding opportunities within our region. (VC unplugged is a $50 add-on experience.

Education Tracks


Through a rigorous application process, the IdeaFunding committee has selected some of the greatest thought leaders in our community.

Track A: Pre-Seed Concept

  • What’s my idea worth? Adam Tank, Founder and Technology Executive at Industrial Optic
  • How to get started on a shoestring Brian Ong
  • It takes a village to build a company Emil Tremblay & Tommy Rompel
  • The market knows best Amanda Holbert

Track B: Prototype Validating

  • Have the mouse pay for the mousetrap TBD
  • Safe businesses Raj Gangadean
  • Bringing your idea into the sandbox Ana Greif
  • Oops! Woulda, coulda, shoulda Dave Cornelius

Track C: Seed Launching

  • Are you ready for angel/seed money? Stephanie Sims
  • Leaving the launch pad Anita Bell
  • There is no “I” in team Zach Yentzer
  • Time to tell the world Rosally Sapla

Track D: Cash Flow Growing

  • What I wish I had known when I raised money Shiva Planjery
  • It’s all about the cash Corey Smith, Steve Bernat, Mary Darling
  • Why share the pie? TBD
  • Elvis has left the building! Brad Jackson


Showcase | 5–9pm

  • Networking and Mixer
  • Keynote Speaker: Cristie Street: Co-founder of Nextrio fifteen years ago and serves as the managing partner of this Tucson-based IT consulting firm of more than 40 IT professionals. With Street at the helm, Nextrio has been recognized by Inc.
  • 5000 as one of the fastest growing businesses in the US and recently was one of two Arizona-based companies to rank in the top 500 of IT service providers worldwide.
  • Mainstage Pitch Competition: The Mainstage Pitch Competition is part of IdeaFunding’s Showcase: a celebratory event with networking, a Keynote Speaker, and awards. Six startups selected from the Morning Competition will compete for the Mainstage Competition prizes, including a grand prize of $25,000.
  • Community Awards and Recognitions:
    • The Thomas R. Brown Award was created in honor of Tom Brown, the founder of Burr-Brown Corporation. One of Tucson’s first major high-tech companies, Burr-Brown was acquired by Texas Instruments in 2000 for $7 Billion. The Entrepreneurship Award is given in recognition of the recipient’s commitment and contribution to entrepreneurial growth and excellence.
    • Larry Hecker and Sherry Hoskinson Community Builder Award: To be awarded each year to an individual or organization that is committed to building bright futures in the Tucson community.
    • Tom Brown Jr. Award / Rising Entrepreneur Award: In special recognition of a individual exemplifying innovation in our region.
  • Grand Prize Award Announcement: The grand prize of $25,000 will be announced and awarded to the entrepreneurs(s) with the winning pitch