Written by Tom Kelly
Wiley Larsen is Program Manager for Translational Biosciences and Entrepreneurship at the Flinn Foundation
in Phoenix. Wiley has been involved in entrepreneurship for over 15 years, and has co-founded two startups. He previously served as program manager for the Arizona State University Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation where he launched a tech transfer accelerator and helped faculty develop business models for commercialization. He has been an NSF I-Corps mentor and a Lean Startup instructor for the Department of State’s Global Innovation in Science and Technology (GIST) program. Wiley earned his Bachelors in Mathematics from Sterling College, and his Masters in Education Administration and Leadership from Kansas State University.
How did you hear about Venture Cafe Phoenix?
I was doing some consulting with an organization based in Philadelphia, and I went to their Venture Cafe. The organizer said, “Don’t you have one of these in Phoenix?”
Have you had any memorable connections at Venture Café Phoenix? If so, please tell us how you met them, who they are and how they have impacted you and your organization?
All the time! The first time I went, I heard about the opening at Flinn Foundation for the job I have now. Every time I go, either I make a connection that helps my startup, or I connect two people that I know that have a mutually beneficial connection.
What inspires you?
Hard work. Authenticity. Creativity. People who take risks.
Tell us a little more about your current role with your organization and how it has impacted the start-up ecosystem here in the greater Phoenix region.
I have a great job helping advance the biotech ecosystem in Arizona. By managing our different project teams and coordinating grant programs for researchers and entrepreneurs, I get to see amazing work being done at our universities and research institutions that will someday improve people’s lives and health. By either getting directly involved, or by pointing people to other helpful resources, we try to make that day come sooner.
Can you discuss your experience at Venture Café Phoenix and any impact the event has had on your organization?
I think, for starters, it’s the friendships. The first time I went, I ran into a bunch of people I knew from when I worked in entrepreneurship at ASU, and it was like a big reunion. And all the other people I’ve met over the last year, through Venture Cafe and Flinn, it’s an amazing place to catch up and share resources and experiences. For our organization, it’s been a place to meet up and connect, and get together with people we collaborate with, even if it’s just to check in. It’s a great place to do that.
Check out our upcoming programming and register here.