When people think of “startups,” many minds travel straight to Silicon Valley—either the city itself, or the equally amazing TV show. But as access to tech education and capital spreads, the barrier to entry for startups across the country has been lowered, and as a result, there’s been explosive growth in areas that aren’t San Francisco, CA.
One such area? Arizona, a state whose commitment to entrepreneurship and innovation has attracted tons of new startups, inspiring locals to start calling the state, the “Silicon Desert”—cute!
That’s why our next road trip, fueled by Arizona State University, will be a journey around Arizona to explore all the crazy-original ways its residents are pushing innovation to its limits. And of course, we have three awesome road-trippers leading the charge—a group of Arizona-based college students who can’t wait to hit the road and see what the state has to offer them after graduation. Let’s meet this rad crew!
From Phoenix, AZ
For Anna, innovation is all about figuring out how to get somewhere by a different path. As a kid, traveling with her dad to Arizona’s forgotten towns, she’d step into a whole different world shaped by the stories of the people who lived there. Those adventures helped reveal her love of history. But it’s not just observing that Anna is interested in, it’s listening—people want to be heard, she says. She wants to create space for that human connection to history, whether as a documentarian, or something else. But taking a different path also means taking a risk. That’s why she’s seeking advice from trailblazers who pushed their fear of failure aside, so she can gain the confidence to do the same.
From Nashville, TN
Jonathan didn’t grow up here, but when it came time to choose a college, Arizona just felt right. Coming here didn’t change me, he says, it helped me realize the person I was destined to become. The freedom of a new, wide-open place helped him focus on what makes him happy. A self-described nerd, he’s always on the hunt for new ideas. He’s studying chemical engineering, but plans to take those problem-solving skills into web development, music, and more. The only thing holding him back is wanting to do too much. He’s inspired by the way people here make things happen. He wants to be like that—not over-thinking details or getting paralyzed by possibilities—just boldly putting your ideas out there.
From Mesa, AZ
Shandiin is looking to the future. She wants to find what it holds for journalism, and for the Navajo Nation, where she grew up. Her future, ideally, will combine both. As a Native American youth advocate, coming together with other young people to take on issues faced by her community, she’s found support and inspiration. It’s opened her eyes to those who have overcome challenges like the ones she faces, and those stories push her to keep going. Coming from a single parent home, she’s shouldered a lot of responsibility—working two jobs while in school (and still making honors!). But she’s on this trip to find what you don’t get in school; the things you only realize by experiencing them.