5 1/2 Questions for Mark Moeremans

SVP Entrepreneurship & Venture Development, Arizona Commerce Authority

Mark Moeremans serves as the Senior Vice President of Entrepreneurship and Venture Development at the Arizona Commerce Authority. An alum of Stanford’s Graduate School of Business Mark has brought his experience as a private equity operating executive to the public sector. An innovator and economic development leader, Mark oversees the largest state-sponsored business plan competition in the country — the Arizona Innovation Challenge which awards $1.5M in grants to start-ups every year. Mark has also been integral in launching and leading several venture accelerators and small business assistance programs helping thousands of Arizona’s small businesses succeed and thrive.

As the Arizona startup and tech ecosystem experiences unprecedented growth, Mark is finding new ways to serve, and has embarked on an entrepreneurial endeavor of his own; a campaign for Phoenix City Council. With the state’s success spurring tech growth, Phoenix embarks on the next chapter in its history and with it the ‘growing pains’ associated with success. Housing costs are skyrocketing, infrastructure is getting stretched, and as the effects of climate change become more evident, water and heat are top of mind. Learn more about Mark’s campaign for Phoenix City Council.

1 — What is the biggest impact you ultimately hope to have in your current role?

Ultimately, I want the rest of the country to see Phoenix and Arizona how I see it, as the best place in the country to live, work, and be an entrepreneur. When we start getting the same recognition as Austin, and Miami and when we begin to own our leadership around tech, startups, entrepreneurship and urban living I’ll know that I played my part in helping elevate our community.

2 — Name something from your experience, background or path, that you consider the lynchpin for your success.

I’m always glad that I studied Philosophy as an undergrad…I think the subject trains you to think about the big picture and ask the big questions like what matters and why? People so often get tunnel vision about whatever it is they are doing, and the ability to take a step back and put things into context and reflect on how choices impact our long term goals is a great life skill.

I also have to mention travel. I’ve traveled across 6 continents visiting over 30 countries. I’ve slept in mud huts and lived in villages without access to running (let alone hot) water. Traveling abroad gives you perspective, exposes you to different ways of life, teaches flexibility and resilience and helps you better understand your place in history and the world.

I like to find people that are ‘multilingual’ because I think the most interesting skill sets and backgrounds lie at the intersection of seemingly unrelated experiences. Doctor’s who studied coding, professional athletes that get into business, corporate lawyers turned inventors. Varied experiences allow your brain to be more nimble and you can exist between social circles and better connect them to one another. I have tried to chart a path that leans into many different interests and then take the highlights from each of those chapters and find unique ways to apply them to the next.

3 — What is something you’re passionate about, that people might find surprising?

As much as I believe in the power of startups, tech, and innovation, I think many of our challenges require political or policy solutions, and I am incredibly passionate about younger people getting involved in the political process and running for office. That’s a large part of why I’m running for Phoenix City Council in District 6. Local issues matter, urban living matters, and when you think about city planning, growth and sustainability, housing design and zoning rules…these are things I can talk about all day. What does it mean to “build” an ideal city, and how do we bring together the right people to make it happen?

4 — What skill are you really bad at, but still try to do?

Fundraising — It’s incredibly hard and uncomfortable for me to ask people for financial support because I know how hard people work for their money, and finances are a very personal thing. My family and I grew up without a ton of cash to spare and even talking about money is difficult. That being said, I think we need to lean into discomfort because that’s where growth happens, so if you would like to contribute to the Mark for Phoenix City Council campaign you can do so here.

5 — If there’s one prominent person today, who you could have work FOR you — who would that be?

Monty Williams has become a huge role model. He’s inspirational and motivational, he gets results, and he seems like an incredibly compassionate human. The man knows how to build and lead a team, sign me up. #Let’sGoSuns

5–1/2: …. And … the bonus question:

A doctor does some tests and tells you that you have 3 months to live. You go to another doctor and she says that she interprets the results differently and you’ll be just fine? What do you do?

I take a sabbatical I don’t quit in case I am fine and I travel. I pack a bag and I get on a plane, and I start my world tour — crossing off all my bucket list items.

I move forward with life as if the first one is the more valid one I’ve still got. Best case scenario you’re fine and you had a great 3 month vacation. So I won’t liquidate everything but enough to, kind of have a good time for 3 months.

For more 5–1/2 Questions Interviews, see:

5–1/2 Questions” from CJ Cornell is a new series of mini-interviews with leaders in the entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystem around the world. In less than a half-dozen short questions, we’ll try to learn more about each leader, and what makes them successful and unique.

The questions are designed a little like a “Magic Eight Ball” (my GenX colleagues know what this is): A set of questions, posed at random. Plus, at least one question, or half-question, is designed to find out something about their personality that most people might never suspect (I mean expect).

CJ Cornell is a serial entrepreneur, investor, advisor, mentor, author, speaker, and educator. As an entrepreneur, CJ Cornell was a founder of more than a dozen successful startup ventures that collectively attracted over $250 million in private funding; created nearly a thousand new jobs; and launched dozens of innovative consumer, media, and communications products — that have exceeded $3 billion in revenues.

He is the author of the bestsellingThe Age of Metapreneurship — A Journey into the Future of Entrepreneurship.”

And the upcoming “The Startup Brain Trust — A Guidebook for Startups, Entrepreneurs, and the Mentors that Help them Become Great.”

Follow him @cjcornell or visit: www.cjcornell.com

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CJ Cornell

CJ Cornell

Professor of #Entrepreneurship & Digital Media. Serial/Parallel Entrepreneur, Author, Speaker, Mentor, Angel Investor, #VC. Crowdfunding & #Startups Evangelist