ST. GEORGE — Don Willie, St. George Area Chamber of Commerce president and CEO was introduced to Startup Grind by Joshua Aikens two years ago, and called the event “life-changing.”
“It was in Redwood City, California,” Willie told St. George News. “They took over the downtown, offering breakout sessions in theaters. It was electric.” He committed to attend every year.
Thursday, Willie and team launched a Startup Grind X in Washington County. Startup Grind is the world’s largest startup community with over 600 chapters in 125 countries. chapters in small cities use the Startup Grind X brand, and they operate under guidelines better suited to their markets. Collectively, Startup Grind has 5 million community members worldwide, according to a press release shared with St. George News.
Willie said that Startup Grind’s benefits for local entrepreneurs are endless. But it’s hard to put a price on what Willie called the best of them all.
“We get to learn from other seasoned entrepreneurs,” Willie said.
To that end, Willie and team invited Kale Goodman to be the featured speaker at their launch event. Goodman is the owner of local accounting firm, Easier Accounting. He is also an investor and co-host of the popular podcast “Real Business Owners.”
Goodman shared his journey from getting fired from a $150,000-a-year job to becoming a successful business owner.
“My boss found out that I had started my own business,” Goodman said to the audience of about 50. “He fired me. But he said, ‘This is the best thing that could happen. Now, you’ll have to go all in.’ And that’s what I did.”
Goodman offered his take on how to avoid trouble with the IRS, the importance of living within your company’s means and the importance of growing your network.
“The best part about this,” Goodman said, “is that Don’s bringing all of these people together to connect and learn from one another. That’s what it’s about. Your network is everything in business.”
Earlier this year, WalletHub chose St George as the best small city in which to start a business. Competing with 1,300 small-sized cities nationwide, St. George was also ranked best for business environment. However, St. George ranked 395th in access to business resources.
“Our goal with Startup Grind X is to support entrepreneurs and to connect them to valuable resources within our community that will move them ahead in their journey,” said Aikens, chief of staff at Zonos, and chair of Silicon Slopes St. George Chapter. “It’s about building a community around our local startups and supporting them as they get their business off the ground.”
While the St. George Area Chamber of Commerce is the chapter host, Startup Grind X St. George is supported through a partnership with Silicon Slopes St. George, the Zions Bank Business Resource Center at Dixie State University and the Utah State University Extension Washington County.
“This new chapter in the St. George Area indicates a significant leap forward in establishing an enviable startup hub in Southern Utah,” Willie said. “This is all part of building an entrepreneurial ecosystem where innovators and startups can thrive.”
Startup Grind X St. George will meet the second Thursday of each month. The meeting location may change from month to month. Those interested can visit Startup Grind X St. George’s website.
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