Tech Cocktail just announced a $2.5 million investment from Tony Hsieh’s Downtown Project. Congrats to Tech Cocktail on raising a great round of funding.
Those in the Vegas Tech startup community are likely familiar with Tech Cocktail. I’d say they’re best known in Las Vegas for their monthly Tech Week events that they hold on the second week of every month. When I talk to entrepreneurs and investors outside of Las Vegas, I’ve started suggesting they come visit what’s happening with startup companies in Las Vegas during Tech Week.
Another interesting part of the Tech Cocktail funding announcement is this little tidbit, “We’ll soon be announcing an exciting new national platform for startups and their regions around the country.” We’ll have to see what kind of platform they’ve created. I guess they didn’t read the latest tech buzz about building a platform is a lazy pivot. Or maybe it’s a logical one given their audience. It will be fun to see how it plays out.
It’s been great to have Tech Cocktail as part of the Vegas Tech community. They’ve embraced the community with open arms and done a lot to contribute to it. I look forward to many more great Tech Cocktail events in the future.
On April 5th, a local Las Vegas startup company was on the popular ABC show, Shark Tank. The company is called Liddup and they have a really interesting story. The following is a recent interview Taylor Gwiazdon from Liddup. In the interview he talks about the Liddup product, the experience on Shark Tank, and how the Las Vegas community can help them out.
I know that many in the Vegas Startup community, including myself, love Shark Tank. So, you’ll enjoy hearing from someone who’s been on the show.
We have taken the common ice chest/cooler and incorporated interior lighting, just like your refrigerator: you open the lid and the lights come on. The cooler industry has been stagnant for years and being able to find what you are looking for just makes sense to us. The LEDs inside the LiddUp Cooler give you ample lighting to find your favorite item.
Tell us about your experience getting on Shark Tank. Was it harder to get on being from Las Vegas?
Our experience on Shark Tank was incredible. It was definitely one of the most exciting moments for LiddUp. The national exposure was great for our product, millions of people saw the cooler on the show and we enjoyed every minute of the taping. It allowed us to finally showcase our product to the public. I don’t think being from Las Vegas had any sort of impact on our approval.
What was it like being on Shark Tank? How many times did you have to pitch to be on the show? How much do the producers work with you on your pitch?
Being on the show was a surreal moment. It was intense standing in front of five prominent venture capitalists and pitching our product for the first time. We practiced our pitch and rebuttal questions for months making sure we were on point with every detail of our company and could properly handle any question while on set. At the time of taping we were a pre-revenue start-up company so we had to appropriately justify the valuation of our company. We wrote our pitch and the producers were helpful in structuring it. The great thing about the show is that it’s all business and the dialogue is non-scripted. What you see is what you get. The experience overall was exciting and intense, a moment we will never forget.
We had a slightly more fortunate approval process than most. We were introduced to one of the producers of the show who loved our product and thought we would be a great fit for Shark Tank. We went through the application process, paper work and audition video, and he was able to drop it right on one of the executive producer’s desk to see if they would like. They loved us!
What was your background before going on Shark Tank?
Jayson is the founder and inventor of the LiddUp Cooler. He has worked in the dental industry for 27 years and has an incredibly creative mind, which led to the invention of the LiddUp Cooler.
I have a degree in Civil Engineering and I am currently the National Marketing Manager at ARIA Resort & Casino.
Tell us some of the pros and cons of running Liddup in Las Vegas.
Honestly, we cannot see any cons for running LiddUp out of Las Vegas. The pros to us are unparalleled. We have tax benefits, an incredible network of entrepreneurs and successful businessmen and women, all the amenities to entertain clients, great weather and a huge LiddUp following. We enjoy living here in Las Vegas and it seems to be working out pretty well
Any suggestions for Las Vegas entrepreneurs?
If you are passionate about a project or business that you started then wake up every day and do something that gets you nearer to your goal. It could be a baby step or a giant leap, just try to make forward progress. A common phrase we have heard, and learned is: “An overnight success typically takes seven years!” Times will be tough and difficult decisions will need to be made but you have to be able to get past those moments if you want to succeed. We follow these three rules when making a decision: logical, ethical and just shoot. Some people are afraid to take a shot, chance, leap, or even a simple step, but you’ll never know the outcome unless you try. If you do not know how to do something then ask for help. Nobody knows everything and we have made sure to surround ourselves with people who are smarter than us in different fields and areas. This has really made us stronger, together we are better.
What’s Liddup doing today, and what can the Vegas community do to help you?
We are ready to go and cannot wait to fulfill all the orders but we need your help to get there! We have chosen our suppliers and manufacturing partners and are ready to get the LiddUp Cooler into your hands. LiddUp has been issued four patents on the interior lighting technology and we’ve finalized our CAD design drawings for our first three production models
One of our primary goals is to produce the LiddUp Coolers in the USA to provide jobs in America and help stimulate our economy. We have started a Kickstarter Campaign to raise some production money so we can construct our first cooler molds and begin the initial mass production here in the USA. We have already received strong distributor interest from Amazon, SkyMall and major outdoor and camping supply retailers.
We would like to ask the Las Vegas community to go to our website www.liddup.com, take a look around, like us on Facebook, follow us on twitter and support our Kickstarter campaign with a pledge so you can be one of the first to own the LiddUp Cooler and get it in a store near you.
As part of the natural progression of companies, ecomom‘s assets have been acquired by GreenCupboards (etailz is the parent company). This seems like a good home for ecomom and the ecomom community. I’ve put the full press release announcing the acquisition at the bottom of this post.
I asked Josh Neblett, Co-founder and CEO of etailz, Inc., about the acquisition of ecomom and any plans they have to continue ecomom’s presence in Las Vegas. Here’s Josh’s response:
“I have flown down and talked to the people at Downtown Project and the LV Tech Fund. It was mutually determined not to have an initial presence in Las Vegas. etailz is focused on re-launching the ecomom site and reengaging the customers. That being said, I’m inspired by what Tony and team are trying to accomplish and ultimately believe they will be successful, so I would not eliminate the possibility of etailz having a presence in Las Vegas at some point in the future.”
I imagine the company ecomom and its founder Jody Sherman will always remain a part of the Vegas Tech startup community. I hope that ecomom together with etailz will have a lot of success.
GreenCupboards acquires ecomom
GreenCupboards and ecomom will operate individually under parent etailz, Inc.
SPOKANE, Wash., April 24, 2013 – GreenCupboards, an online retailer of more than 25,000 environmentally friendly products for homes and businesses, today announced it has acquired the assets of ecomom, an online eco-friendly retailer serving the rapidly growing niche of baby, kids and moms. Today, GreenCupboards also announced that it has changed its corporate name to etailz, Inc. etailz will serve as the parent company of GreenCupboards and ecomom.
“While etailz has long admired the vision and mission of ecomom and was saddened by the series of events that led to the close of ecomom, we are pleased to have the opportunity to continue the work conceived and inspired by ecomom’s dedicated founders and employees,” said etailz Co-founder and CEO Josh Neblett. “Innovation and long-term success are central to etailz’s strategy. Changing our corporate name to etailz allows us to operate individual businesses, such as GreenCupboards and ecomom, as well as grow our etailz family of brands over time.”
Upon the acquisition, etailz owns all ecomom IP including trademarks, domain names, social media, customer lists and inventory. etailz will re-open ecomom at www.ecomom.com in early summer of 2013. Financial terms of the acquisition are not disclosed.
One of the first things we created when we started writing Vegas Startups was to create a list of Las Vegas startup companies. The list hasn’t evolved much since we first started it, but we continue to add companies to the list every week. It still needs some polish and if you’re company is missing from out list, let us know on our contact us page. However, it’s a pretty good list of the companies in the Las Vegas startup community.
A while back I saw a few other communities create a map of all the various startup companies in their town. I was jealous of them, but didn’t have the time to be able to follow in their footsteps and create one for Vegas (they made their code available for other communities). Well, someone else in the Vegas Tech community took the initiative and created the Vegas Tech Map.
It’s a great little way to visualize the various startup companies in Las Vegas. Although, it will be even more cool when all of the companies are added. It only has 27 startups on their list now, so we still need a lot of companies to submit their company to the list. If you have a tech startup company, go to the Vegas Tech Map and click the “Add Something” button.
I look forward to seeing the hundreds of Las Vegas startup companies spread across the entire valley (including those of us who technically live in Henderson).
Ever since SXSW when The Verge wrote a story that Downtown Project had purchased 100 Teslas, it’s been a bit of a joke about the 100 Teslas. Of course, as someone inside the community I’d heard the rumor as well and knew it was a possibility. Well, like most of the best rumors, the 100 Teslas is a reality for Downtown Las Vegas.
The 100 Tesla purchase is one part of what’s called Project 100. I’d say that this is the most ambitious thing that Downtown Project has announced to date. Everything else that Downtown Project has done to date has been pretty incremental. Project 100 is the first announcement that’s working to stretch the idea of if you build it they will come. The current state of downtown probably doesn’t need 100 Teslas and all of the transportation infrastructure they’re putting together. However, they also know that if they don’t have enough cars for someone subscribing to Project 100, then they’re going to have a service that people won’t truly adopt.
What then is Project 100? The full FAQ on the Project 100 website does a pretty decent job of answering the initial questions. The cliff notes version is that it’s a car service that’s a mixture of Zipcar, Uber, Lift, and Sidebar. Their goal is to provide whatever means of transportation you need so you no longer have to own a car. This is all facilitated by a smart phone application and the built in GPS.
Here’s what I’ve heard suggested might be part of the fleet:
-100 Model S Teslas (with drivers in some cases)
-Low Range Electric Vehicle (like a Polaris GEM)
-Off road vehicles
They’re aiming to “keep the monthly cost for most members in the same range as a traditional monthly car payment + insurance which averages around $400 per month.” I guess they pay more for insurance and cars than I do. Of course, I buy my cars cash, so maybe that’s why I don’t know about payments, but I digress. I do think that many will think this price is quite steep. I’ll be interested to see what pay as you go options they make available. I imagine many tech visitors to Las Vegas would love a pay as you go option when they’re visiting.
The other part of the pricing angle is someone coming from San Francisco. If you’re used to the high rents in San Francisco, it’s a lot cheaper to rent a place in Las Vegas and get a Project 100 car service than even just paying for rent in San Francisco.
What’s interesting is that I heard Zach Ware say they’ve been working on this for the past couple years. Makes you start to wonder what other ambitious projects Downtown Project is working on that they haven’t talked about yet.
I’m looking forward to seeing Project 100 in action. It’s quite an ambitious gamble.
Fellow Las Vegas startup company, Keyport, is in the last 9 days of their Kickstarter project for the Keyport Slide 2.0. They’ve just passed over 2000 backers for their project and raised $134,413 when I started writing this post. Plus, they’ve added a stretch goal if they’re able to reach $150k on Kickstarter.
For those not familiar with Keyport, here’s a short description of their product:
Keyport combines technology, convenience, and style to redefine the way in which we customize, carry, and interact with our most frequently used personal items typically crammed onto a keychain or stuffed uncomfortably into a pocket or purse. Pairing utility with style, the Keyport Slide combines keys and many everyday-carry items into a streamlined keychain alternative that easily attaches to any auto remote.
I just got home from my first time attending SXSW. I must admit that it probably wouldn’t have been too bad, but I did it back to back with the HIMSS conference in NOLA which meant I was traveling for the last 12 days. Not a great mix, but an amazing experience that no doubt will take weeks and months to process.
I’m sure I’ll be writing more about the experience at SXSW over the next few weeks, but it’s worth mentioning that #VegasTech had a great showing at the conference. I could mention the plethora of Vegas Tech events, #VegasTech trending all of SXSW, the official kick off of SXSW V2V, the late night poster raids, the trade show booth, the Tony Hsieh Harlem Shake, and much much more. It would be hard to imagine that someone attended SXSW interactive this year and didn’t hear or see some mention of Vegas Tech. I consider that a big win.
With that said, I think there were two other amazing things that happened at SXSW that are worth pointing out.
The first is the rockstar known as Ethan Duggan (yes, he’s the son of Rick Duggan who started this blog with me). Ethan is 12 years old and launched his Lazy Husband app at SXSW. I couldn’t think of a better person to represent the future of Vegas Tech. Before we headed to SXSW, I asked Ethan how he was going to make money off his app. He quickly replied, “$0.99 per download…Coder’s gotta eat.”
Turns out that much of SXSW took notice of Ethan. I saw Ethan engage the likes of Shaq on the show floor. Brad Feld wrote a great blog post talking about Ethan and Lazy Husband. GigaOM also wrote a great piece about Ethan and the support the Vegas Tech community has provided Ethan as he built out his app. That article then got posted on CNN Money. I’m told that Ethan had at least 10 interviews during SXSW. Not bad for a 12 year old. Ok, that’s great for anyone at SXSW. I bet it’s close to the number of interviews Tony Hsieh did.
Now our job in Vegas Tech is to find a few hundred more Ethan’s in the community. Of course, my oldest son is almost 9. I figure I better take him to SXSW when he’s 11 since Ethan was 12. I’ll get him starting on an app now.
A lot of other Vegas Tech people were also out spreading the Vegas Tech love, promoting their companies, and making the most of SXSW. Although, I think the most valuable benefit to Vegas Tech taking SXSW by storm might be the deeper relationships that were built within the community. The things you learn being on a Groupme chat with the Vegas Tech community. The memories that are shared posterizing the Austin convention center. The hours spent by many on their feet in the Vegas Tech booth. The Vegas Tech party (turns out a lot of Vegas Tech people like to dance).
Some of the Vegas Tech bonding could have happened in Las Vegas, but there’s a different connection when you go somewhere and do something like was done at SXSW. I’m certain that many of the relationships that were forged in the SXSW craziness will last for many many years to come. Mark Johnson has a lot to live up to at SXSW 2014.
Last night was an amazing TBAN event at the beautiful Moon Nightclub at the Palms. There was a huge #vegastech turnout along with a number of long time TBAN members. I’ve been going to TBAN for a lot of years and this is probably the best event that TBAN has hosted yet. Nice work to the team behind TBAN and the Tech Nevada Honors.
For those who missed the event. The following are a list of the Tech Nevada Honors winners:
Most Promising Early Stage Start Up
Technology Company of the Year
Entrepreneur of the Year
Mio Babic, CEO iStream Planet
Vegas Technology Spirit Award
Product of the Year
Tech Transplant of the Year
Technology CIO/CTO of the Year
Chris Nordling, MGM Studios
Technology Star of the Public Sector
Technology Hall of Fame
Congratulations to all the companies that were nominated and to the all the Winners!
The following is an interview with local Vegas Startup company Myaa. Be sure to read through the whole interview since they have a special offer for Vegas Tech startup companies at the end.
Tell us about Myaa.
Myaa provides a dynamically scalable, cloud-based, manpower platform so businesses worldwide can offload their business processes and tasks. Our service offerings include virtual assistants, call center services, back office services, engineering, UC services, logistics, digital media, web development, research, HR, accounting, and IT services.
In addition, with the launch of MyaaWorld (www.myaaworld.com), Myaa offers a virtual collaborative office environment for customers to interact with their Myaa team as well as their existing team. This virtual environment offers customers a superior level of access and adds a higher level of accountability to Myaa services than seen in any other manpower solution. The addition of this platform provides an increase in communication, teamwork, and productivity.
Every Myaa agent must make it through a 2-week online bootcamp before they are hired. After they are hired, we train them, supervise them, and manage them through our international management team that stretches the globe. We manage our Myaa’s to ensure they perform successfully.
Myaa offers the 6 million+ new startup companies a year a way to launch their business in just a few hours, instead of months, by providing cloud-based manpower and cloud-based office space on demand.
Who’s the team behind Myaa?
Michael Sinclair: Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
Michael has been an entrepreneur for over 20 years. His primary focus has been the development of technology-based outsource companies in the U.S. and the Philippines.
Matthew Brussel: Co –Founder and Chief Technology Officer (CTO)
Matthew brings a deep and diverse background in Information Technology, and holds an IT and Economics related B.S., plus over 100+ Advanced Technical Certifications and industry exams, from most major vendors and global IT organizations. He also brings a background in sales, marketing, promotion, and social business integration and adoption.
Daniel Palladino: Co –Founder and Chief Marketing Officer (CMO)
Daniel has 10+ years of experience in utilizing information systems technologies to streamline and enhance productivity and overall program effectiveness throughout the international marketplace. He has expertise supervising and managing national and international contracts, to include subcontractor relationships, client interface, and quality control. He brings extensive sales, marketing and International business experience in LA, NYC, Hong Kong, Turkey, Canada, Australia, Dubai, etc.
Patrick Dexter: Co-Founder and Chief Information Officer (CIO)
Patrick Dexter has been working in the information technology and the telecom sector for 7 years specializing in sales engineering, infrastructure design, management and administration. He holds many high-end certifications with Microsoft, IBM, CompTIA and others in systems engineering, database administration, and unified communications.
What do you like most about being a startup company in Las Vegas?
Vegas provides a great atmosphere for people who want to see their dreams come true. I believe the pulse of Vegas is all about dream fulfillment. People come to Vegas to create the life they want and play to win!. Now that technology companies are migrating here it is a perfect environment because eager people are waiting to be a part of something that can change the world.
What’s your best advice for other entrepreneurs?
No matter how many times the finish line gets pulled back, keep running and never stop, eventually you will bust through.
What can the vegastech community do to help Myaa?
We would like to offer a promotion to people in the Vegas Tech Community. We will give a 10 hour free trial of a Virtual Assistant plus give 10% off the monthly charge, for 1 year. Just sign up for Myaa and mention Vegas Startups. No better way to support our startup, then to use our service.
The following is an interview with the founder of newly launched Vegas Startup company, IntelliTalent, Jamie Amaral.
Tell us more about IntelliTalent.
We are a recruiter-owned company formed as an antidote to the general dissatisfaction of the recruitment industry overall.
Powered by both technology and human researchers, our revolutionary new online recruitment service is a comprehensive candidate sourcing solution – on steroids! It’s incredibly cost-effective and timely, with plans as low as $1589 per vacancy and no additional per-hire fees.
We leverage an expert research team and disciplined sourcing techniques to help our clients identify top talent, providing them with highly accurate active and passive candidate resumes – fast.
Why did you choose Las Vegas as the home of IntelliTalent?
Well, it started because the taxes are less! guess we had a certain degree of subconscious foresight because now that we are involved in the Las Vegas startup community, we couldn’t be happier with our choice.
At what point should someone in the Vegas Tech community consider using IntelliTalent to find employees?
We believe in the startup community – we even offer a startup discount package.
The thing is, the time, resources and expertise required to identify and screen resumes internally is daunting and costly, and the price tag of a traditional recruitment agency simply cannot be justified for 95% of open vacancies.
We created IntelliTalent because we wanted to level the talent acquisition playing field for small and mid size companies. Our service will empower the Vegas Tech community with access to the right talent (which is also today’s greatest corporate resource).
So, to answer your question – if you are tired of paying hefty agency fees, struggling with your in-house recruitment efforts, overwhelmed by all of the work and frustrated by your lack of results…CALL US!
How does the cost of your service compare with other hiring services out there?
Our clients are saving an average of 90% in recruitment agency fees. Although with our service, they do have to do some of the leg work themselves – like scheduling interviews, negotiating with candidates, etc.
In addition, if you add up the job board fees and hours of resume filtering and Boolean searching, we are also less expensive and less time consuming than if you try to fill the role in-house. It’s a no-brainer.
Simply put, IntelliTalent is the Legal Zoom of the recruitment industry. We give you access to top talent without paying top dollar so you can focus on growing your company and on doing your job.
What’s the biggest challenge you face with IntelliTalent?
Our challenge lies in educating companies on what is possible. The recruitment industry is a guild model – our goal is to pull back the curtain and bring the industry up-to-date with a solution that clearly makes more sense. Although our service is more cost effective, less time consuming and gives you enhanced control over your recruitment process, overcoming resistance to change remains our greatest challenge. There is a saying, “No one ever got fired for hiring IBM…”
Tell us more about the IntelliTalent team.
Our team is made up of a passionate group of recruiters, researchers, account managers, technologists and industry partners committed to redefining the recruitment industry by offering the most innovative and effective solution in the marketplace.
What’s the most exciting thing you’ve seen happening in the Vegas Tech community?
It’s all exciting! The movement Tony is facilitating with the Downtown Project is tremendous. There is an undeniable buzz in the air that we hope to contribute to on some level.
What’s your advice for startup entrepreneurs?
Do the thing you cannot not do; follow your next highest excitement; let fun and easy be your guide. And trust that they will not lead you astray!
How can the Vegas Tech community support IntelliTalent?
We feel so loved and supported already. Let us help you!