When I was asked to help launch an all-volunteer week-long celebration of entrepreneurship in Arizona, I thought: Sure. I’ll attend a few meetings, but there’s no way we’ll actually pull this off.

I was dead wrong.

In February 2015, the first PHX Startup Week drew more than 2,000 startup founders and employees, small business owners and solopreneurs from across Arizona. Attendance doubled to more than 4,400 at our second annual event.

In 2015, we delivered our minimally viable product. In 2016, we exited beta.

In 2017, we will scale. Running February 20-25 at venues across the Valley, the third annual PHX Startup Week powered by Chase for Business is poised for its biggest year yet with attendance expected to exceed 10,000.

Get ready for five days of new business connections and inspiring presentations, including keynotes from Insight cofounder Tim Crown, venture capital investor Tim Draper, restaurateurs Craig DeMarco, Lauren Bailey, Joe Johnston, and David Birzon, and much much more.

Oh, and did I mention that it’s 100 percent FREE to attend? Register now.

Putting the PHX in Startup Week

The Startup Week concept had already proven itself in Denver when Arizona was selected by UP Global (now Techstars) as one of a handful of cities for expansion in fall 2014. From the beginning, we sought to put our unique spin on the Startup Week concept. For example:

1. We’re the only Startup Week that moves. We recognized early on that Arizona’s startup scene isn’t tied to one region. So, our central location (aka Chase Basecamp) migrates from one venue to another each day of the week. It’s a lot of work for our army of volunteers, but it pays off as new folks walk through the door each morning.

New in 2017: We’re heading further west than ever thanks to the generosity of Grand Canyon University. Don’t miss Carvana CEO Ernie Garcia delivering the keynote on February 21 at GCU.

2. We have a unique entrepreneurial community. Every startup ecosystem is different. In the past, we’ve honored Arizona’s unique flavor with focus tracks for Hispanic entrepreneurs and for startups in medical devices, education technology and more.

New in 2017: Arizona has more than 270 software companies employing more than 20,000 people. SaaS Day will deliver special content for folks in Arizona’s growing software sector February 22 at the UofA College of Medicine in downtown Phoenix.

3. We’ve got the best weather of any Startup Week. And you better believe we take advantage – from sunny lunches à la food truck to beautiful rooftop happy hours to last year’s closing party featuring a bar crawl and outdoor concert.

New in 2017: Ten startups will compete to win a $50,000 investment prize in our inaugural Street Pitch under the stars downtown. The pitches begin at 6:30 p.m. February 22 at Cityscape in downtown Phoenix.

Unifying the Arizona Startup Community

PHX Startup Week’s evolution has coincided with the growth of the #yesphx effort to unify Arizona’s startup community. Our signature event draws us together to celebrate each February.

During the other 51 weeks per year, we rally around the #yesphx banner. We keep up-to-date via social and email feeds with 20,000 subscribers, connect with one another online in a Facebook group and Slack channel, and meet face-to-face at semiannual socials that draw hundreds of attendees.

But PHX Startup Week is the main event. Come February 20-25 to celebrate. Stay the rest of the year to collaborate, innovate, and just plain get stuff done as we build Arizona’s startup ecosystem together.

PHX Startup Week powered by Chase for Business returns for a third year February 20-25 at venues across the Valley. Register for this FREE five-day celebration of entrepreneurship at www.phxstartupweek.com.