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#VegasTech STEAM Education Sessions for East Career & Technical Academy

Hi All. Wanted to let you know about a great event being put on by the #VegasTech community this Friday.

Originate, a global digital product development and venture firm, will be hosting #VegasTech STEAM Sessions with East Career & Technical Academy students on February 27, 2015. The Innevation Center proudly sponsors the space where the event will be held.

“I am looking forward to moderating the panel that will include several members of the Las Vegas technical community, including John Hawkins from 9seeds and Jinger Zeng from Skyworks Aerial Systems,” said Rob Mallery, VP of Talent at Originate. “I think the 100 high school students in attendance will enjoy hearing personal stories of what it’s like to have a career in tech and the steps each of the panelists took to get where they are today. I’m excited to be a part of helping our finest young minds connect with some of our city’s best technical leaders!”

A recent economic development assessment by Brookings Mountain West finds the K­12 educational system in Nevada is underperforming and workforce skill level is low, yet the state possesses the fundamental economic assets to build the next Nevada economy.

“Our team listened to the presentation from Brookings Mountain West this past November,” said Rob Meadows, founder and CEO of Originate. “We were inspired to organize an event with the Clark County School District to bring high school students to our Las Vegas office at The Innevation Center to hear from local entrepreneurs, startup founders, and STEAM professionals about what it’s like to work in technology.”

Meadows is a product of the Clark County School District and graduated from Bonanza High School in Las Vegas. He went on to receive a bachelor’s degree from the University of Arizona in computer engineering and a master’s degree in computer science. In 2003, Meadows co­founded Lumitrend and was CEO of the company until its acquisition by Asurion in August 2006. In 2007, Meadows founded Originate and is partner and CEO.

“STEAM educational initiatives are at the forefront of Switch’s philanthropic efforts which is why we are thrilled to donate space at The Innevation Center for this important and exciting event,” said Adam Kramer, Vice President of Government and Public Affairs for Switch. “When students get the chance to interact with the entrepreneurial minds that make up the VegasTech community, they will see first­hand how companies apply the fundamentals of traditional STEM learning with the Arts (STEAM) to build successful businesses that solve major problems.”

Originate hopes the event will excite and motivate East Career & Technical Academy sophomores, juniors, and seniors in the Electronic Technology and Information Technology Systems programs to continue to pursue STEAM­related fields post­high school.
“We organized three panels for the event,” said Jacqueline Jensen of Originate. “Panelists from the local tech community range from software developers at Originate, to local drone startup Skyworks Aerial Systems, to former NFL player turned startup founder Gerome Sapp. There will be participation from the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce Foundation, VegasTechFund portfolio companies, UNLV graduates, and Startup Weekend Las Vegas organizers. The goal for the event is to introduce students to individuals in our community who are doing amazing things in technology, and allow them a space to ask questions about their future in their own studies.”

Please join me in thanking Originate and The Innevation Center for hosting and sponsoring this great event.

February 23, 2015 I Written By

A veteran of five startups (one of which conducted a successful IPO), Rick Duggan is currently Director of Website Systems at Zappos IP, Inc.. Prior to joining the Zappos Family of Companies, he was Chief Technology Officer of Thinker, Inc., a Las Vegas-based provider of digital signage and co-founder and VP of Engineering & Operations at Incanta. One of the first people involved in the VegasTech community, he acts as a community evangelist, mentor, and is co-creator of the VegasStartups.com blog. He is an advisor to VegasTech companies Rolltech and LaunchKey.

Vegas Startup Company Profile: Revive Brand

The following is a short company profile interview with Jonathan Santos, CEO of Revive Brand. If you’d like your vegas startup company profiled, drop us a note on our contact us page.
Revive Brand
Tell us about your company.

Revive Brand Co. is a bag and accessories lifestyle brand based in Las Vegas. We develop, design and currently manufacture our products in the United States. Our products have expanded with the growth of the company since its inception in 2010.  Duffle bags, backpacks, tablet sleeves and much more are all a part of our diverse product offering. It takes an incredible amount of work and intensity to make each product because we want that attention to detail to come across to our customers.  We have our products in a few stores in town including LVCK and Urban Necessities in Downtown Container Park and Boulevard Mall respectively. Daily the Revive name is growing and more people are becoming a part of the #revivelife.

Tell us about your team.

Jonathan Santos: CEO- The guy who had the dream and inspired this break into the bag industry.  Man of many talents most importantly managing the day to day tasks and the company vision of Revive.

Cesar Santos: R&D- We call Cesar the “Jacknife” because he can do so many different things like fix cars, computers, and it turns out he is sick with designing and hand creating prototypes and products for Revive.

Amanda Appling: Creative Director- Amanda has the eye for everything we do creatively including our product prints, fabrics, and details. Nothing gets past her and she makes sure of it.

Medin Gebrezgier: CMO- Constantly working on getting the name out for Revive in different ways. With one goal in mind; that every store carries the products and customers have something to be loyal to.

Keith Pilot: Brand Manager- Keith is our guy working on ways for us to improve and spread our brands message.

Why did you choose Las Vegas?  What do you love about Las Vegas?

We chose Las Vegas because it is home for all of us. Being natives we feel it is important to give back to our community and bring more business to our town.  This city being 24 hours is helpful and there is virtually unlimited room for growth.

What can the Las Vegas community do to help your company?

Follow us on social media and take a good look at what we have to offer. When you are school shopping or searching for a gift, take a chance on us, we will not disappoint.  This is not a gimmick or a flash in the pan, Revive is here to stay and we want you to be a part of it. We are also in talks with many major industry retailers who want to distribute and carry our products. So, if you are an investor or know of one who is that’s looking to expand their portfolio, please let us know. We would gladly send a business plan and explain our goals and objectives

What’s your best advice for startup entrepreneurs?

First things first; know what you want in the beginning. You can save yourself a lot of time and loss if you know what you want and work toward that goal. By doing that all of the pain you suffer and money you spend will be used towards that, instead of blowing in the wind.  Take full ownership of every detail in your business. It is yours and if something is wrong, it’s no one’s fault but your own. The faster you come to that realization the faster success will come. Finally, the only way someone can fail technically is if they stop. Apply this logic to building your business and it will pay dividends.

Where can we find out more about your company?  What’s your twitter handle?

Check out the website www.revivebrandco.com our twitter is @revivebrandco. Can’t wait to meet you!

February 11, 2015 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 electronic medical record and health IT blogs. He also founded the Pure TV Network of blogs. John recently launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. As part of the Las Vegas Tech startup community, John helped organize the highly successful inaugural Startup Weekend Las Vegas. He's also been a strong supporter of the Vegas Tech community including co-founding the VegasStartups.com blog. John is highly involved in social media, and can be found on Twitter: @techguy and Google Plus.

My Guide to Visiting the #VegasTech Startup Community

One of the most common questions we get here at Vegas Startups goes something like this “I’m coming to Las Vegas, can you connect me to what’s happening in the Vegas Startup Community.” Sometimes they have variations like asking us to introduce them to startup companies or startup founders, but the concept is generally the same. They’re in Las Vegas, and they want to check out/hang out with/learn about the Las Vegas startups and the Las Vegas startup community while they’re here.

With this in mind, I thought I’d create what I consider my guide to getting to know the Las Vegas startup community. Plus, I had a couple guys from Brazil that I promised I’d help get to know the Vegas Startup community since they were planning a visit. So, this is inspired by my Brazilian startup friends (or soon to be friends).

There are two main centers of startup activity in Las Vegas: Downtown Las Vegas (Tony Hsieh’s Downtown Project is the core of this) and the InNEVation Center (Switch/Supernap is behind this). Visiting both of these communities will give you a good feel for the Las Vegas startup community. Then, along with these communities you have a wide variety of startup companies throughout the Las Vegas valley.

Now for some more specifics on these two hubs of the Las Vegas startup community and a few other resources to help you with a visit to Las Vegas:

InNEVation Center
The InNEVation center is Rob Roy’s (Founder of Switch) “gift” the community. It really is an amazing asset in the Las Vegas startup community. The InNEVation center is this really unique mix of co-working, a great meeting venue, and office space for Las Vegas tech companies.

If you reach out to the InNEVation Center, they should be able to schedule you a tour of the space. It’s a really unique venue that makes for a great tour. Otherwise, you can also check out the InNEVation Center blog to see some of the latest happenings. Each month they host a CommunityCation Luncheon which is great and they also list a wide variety of meetups every month. Attending one of those meetups is another great way to meet the community.

Behind the InNEVation Center is a company called Supernap (Switch). If you’re looking for a data center option for your company, getting a tour of the Supernap should be on your list of things to do in Las Vegas. It’s an amazing experience (at least for a data center and tech geek like me).

Downtown Project – Downtown Vegas
The Downtown Project is Tony Hsieh’s (CEO of Zappos) $350 million investment in downtown. As of this post, the project consists of over 300 businesses that span the spectrum of tech startup companies, restaurants, venues, healthcare, education, and even a supermarket.

With that said, it’s hard to summarize everything that’s going on in Downtown Las Vegas that might interest you. However, you might start with a Tour of Zappos and Downtown. They have a number of options if you want someone to kind of introduce you to the area.

If you’d like to do your own tour of Downtown, I’d suggest you stop by the co-working space Work In Progress and then spend some time enjoying The Beat Coffee Shop, The Gold Spike, and Downtown Container Park. For a more specialized experience, you can check out Stitch Factory (Fashion), SYN Shop (Hacker Space), or Turntable Health (Healthcare).

As for tech startup investments and funding in Downtown Vegas, you’ll want to check out the Vegas Tech Fund and also the The Mill. The later includes an Idea Accelerator and a Startup Accelerator.

Regular Events
Community Dinners – Happens Every Wednesday night at 6 in various locations in Downtown Las Vegas. Organized by @WorkInProgress, so check with them for the latest details.

InNEVation Center Meetups – More meetups than we can keep track of.

Downtown Podcast – Happens Every Thursday Night at 9 PM. It started with a little more tech focus, but has lately been more Downtown Las Vegas focused. Still a fun event where you can meet people Downtown.

Tech Cocktail Week – Las Vegas – Usually happens the 2nd week of the month (Wed-Sat) in various locations in Downtown Las Vegas. Organized by @TechCocktailLV, so check with them for the latest details.

#VegasTech Hashtag
One of the very best ways to connect with the Vegas Tech startup community is to use the #vegastech hashtag on Twitter. The community really connects and rallies around that hashtag. A large portion of the community monitor it regularly and it’s a great way for you to connect with people in the Vegas Tech community. Feel free to post a message that you’re in town and who you’d like to meet. The community is likely to respond or connect you to the right person/company.

Vegas Tech Companies
Along with our own list of Las Vegas startup companies (which continually needs updating), there are a number of other places that have lists of Vegas Startup companies. Unfortunately, none of them are comprehensive. In fact, I don’t think all of these lists combined together would be comprehensive since the community is growing in such a dynamic way. However, it should give you a start when identifying startup companies in Las Vegas that could be of interest to you during your visit:
Vegas Startups Company List
Vegas Tech Funded Companies
InNEVation Companies
Work In Progress Companies
Vegas Tech Map
Vegas Valley Angels

Conclusion
Hopefully this gives you a small taste of what’s happening in the Las Vegas startup community and where you should go if you’re ever visiting Las Vegas. No doubt there is a lot more happening than’s described in this post. Plus, I expect it to be out of date tomorrow as things are constantly changing. That’s the fun of being in such a vibrant and exciting startup community. The comments on the post are open if someone in the community wants to highlight something I’ve missed.

February 6, 2015 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 electronic medical record and health IT blogs. He also founded the Pure TV Network of blogs. John recently launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. As part of the Las Vegas Tech startup community, John helped organize the highly successful inaugural Startup Weekend Las Vegas. He's also been a strong supporter of the Vegas Tech community including co-founding the VegasStartups.com blog. John is highly involved in social media, and can be found on Twitter: @techguy and Google Plus.

Vegas Startup Company Profile: eBrokerHouse

The following is a short company profile interview with Alan Fenn, CEO of eBrokerHouse. If you’d like your vegas startup company profiled, drop us a note on our contact us page.

Tell us about your company.

eBrokerHouse is a transaction and offer management platform for real estate professionals. We serve every market in the country. Our platform allows agents to manage every back office aspect of their real estate transactions in one location. We eliminate the need for agents to use multiple software platforms for listing managment, CRM, showings, offers, tasks, notes, doc storage, etc.

Our most popular feature is online offer submission, which allows agents to receive offers on their listings online direct from the MLS. Listing agents can ensure complete offers are submitted to them and that they come over in a uniform format for easy organization and management. This feature also adds a lot of transparency to the offer process for all parties.

Why did you choose Las Vegas? What do you love about Las Vegas?

The company was actually started in Ohio, but we chose to relocate the business to Las Vegas for a several reasons. One was the real estate market. Las Vegas has a very dynamic real estate market and some of the best real estate professionals in the country. Things tend to happen here before they hit the rest of the country. Being in Las Vegas and consulting with local agents allows us to identify industry trends early and adapt our offerings accordingly. Also, being close to most of the important industry events and conventions was a huge factor. Plus we love the weather.

What can the Las Vegas community do to help your company?

Las Vegas has the highest percentage of agents that have adopted our platform than any other market. So we just hope local real estate professionals will continue to support our efforts and promote the benefits of our technology.

What’s your best advice for startup entrepreneurs?

Don’t be afraid to pivot strategy and don’t wait to long to do so if things aren’t going as well as you had hoped. Many times it will be very clear that a strategy is not working like you had planned, but entrepreneurs can be stubborn and think if they just tweak this or that, things will change. You need to be honest with yourself and pivot sooner than later. There are several things we have done or are doing now that I waited quite awhile to pull the trigger on. I wish we would have done them sooner and we would be that much further ahead.

Where can we find out more about your company? What’s your twitter handle?

http://ebrokerhouse.com

January 25, 2015 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 electronic medical record and health IT blogs. He also founded the Pure TV Network of blogs. John recently launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. As part of the Las Vegas Tech startup community, John helped organize the highly successful inaugural Startup Weekend Las Vegas. He's also been a strong supporter of the Vegas Tech community including co-founding the VegasStartups.com blog. John is highly involved in social media, and can be found on Twitter: @techguy and Google Plus.

Vegas Startup Company Profile: Discotech

The following is a short company profile interview with Ian Chen, Co-Founder and CEO of Discotech. If you’d like your vegas startup company profiled, drop us a note on our contact us page.

Tell us about your company.
Discotech is the “OpenTable for Nightlife”. Our free to download mobile app allows users to discover events, reserve bottle service, purchase tickets, and sign up for VIP guest lists at nightlife venues in different cities. Discotech is live on the iOS and Android app stores, and we currently service 5 cities – Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, and Washington D.C. Our mission is to bring transparency to the inefficient and outdated nightlife reservation space – you can think of it as a virtual promoter that can get you into any of the 80+ clubs that we currently work with. (Our partners include the biggest clubs in the U.S, including XS, Hakkasan, Marquee, Drais, etc.)

Furthermore, Discotech also offers a customer loyalty program that allows users to accrue points based on their spend and redeem them for rewards such as free bottles of champagne and liquor. The page most frequently viewed on our app is the Events page, which allows users to see which clubs are open and which DJs are playing by date.

The idea for Discotech came about from the customers perspective. After having one too many negative experiences dealing with traditional nightclub promoters (getting promised a certain price for a table, and then showing up at the venue and discovering that the same table is double the price), we decided to take matters into our own hand by leveraging technology to disrupt the space.

Discotech is currently angel funded, and has raised over $500K in our first round. We are in the process of raising our second round where we hope to raise 7 figures.

Tell us about your team.
Our team was founded by 4 UC Berkeley grads from the class of 2008 who have been friends since our Freshman year. After college, we all went our own direction, pursuing different careers, but we quit our jobs and came together to build Discotech. Two of the founders have a business background and handle the sales, operations, and marketing side of the business, and two of the founders are mobile developers.

The team developed Discotech in San Francisco, but moved to LA together to launch the product there. We have since moved to Las Vegas to expand our product. The team lives together and works together out of a house in Summerlin. (Think the show “Silicon Valley”, but in LA and Las Vegas) We used to do a lot of “market research” together at the clubs here in Las Vegas, but quickly burned out, and now spend our free time being nerds and playing board games like Settlers of Catan.

Why did you choose Las Vegas? What do you love about Las Vegas?
We chose Las Vegas because it is by far the largest market for Nightlife in the United States, and we want to be as close as possible to our biggest customers / partners.

There is actually a lot that we love about Las Vegas. For one, we love that housing prices here are so affordable! We live in a great 4 bedroom house and are paying about half of what we were paying in LA, and a quarter of what we were paying in San Francisco. Secondly, there are a lot of great restaurants outside of the strip.

What can the Las Vegas community do to help your company?
The Las Vegas community has already been very supportive and I have met a number of people from the Vegas Tech Community who have been great friends and mentors to me.

Our biggest challenge right now is actually in recruiting, we are looking to onboard at least 2 more developers to our team and its not an easy task!

What’s your best advice for startup entrepreneurs?
I think its a good idea to get an experienced advisor who has been through the entire start up process to back your team. There are a lot of processes that you have to go through with every start up, and having someone who has been there to guide you through the different moves can save your team a lot of heart ache and effort. (For example, setting up a corporation, filling out the 83B / tax documents, Founders agreements, fund raising documents, etc).

Where can we find out more about your company? What’s your twitter handle?
Some additional links:
Website: http://www.discotech.me/
Discotech app on iPhone
Discotech app on Android
Instagram: discotechapp
Twitter: discotechapp
angelist: https://angel.co/discotech

January 3, 2015 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 electronic medical record and health IT blogs. He also founded the Pure TV Network of blogs. John recently launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. As part of the Las Vegas Tech startup community, John helped organize the highly successful inaugural Startup Weekend Las Vegas. He's also been a strong supporter of the Vegas Tech community including co-founding the VegasStartups.com blog. John is highly involved in social media, and can be found on Twitter: @techguy and Google Plus.

LaunchKey Raises $3 Million

Who says you can’t get a startup funded in Las Vegas? TechCocktail just announced another $3 million in funding for Vegas Startup company, LaunchKey. Here’s the details of the new investment:

After previously raising $750,000 from the VegasTechFund, Kima Ventures, Ludlow Ventures, and Prolific VC, LaunchKey announces that this venture round was led by Metamorphic Ventures with participation from ENIAC Ventures, Crosslink Capital, Pantera Capital, Rimrock Venture Partners, VegasTechFund, and others. LaunchKey has raised $4 million to date, and will use the new funding to expand its team and bring LaunchKey to market in 2015.

Congrats to the LaunchKey team! Always great to see more Las Vegas startup companies successfully raising money.

Best of luck to LaunchKey as they work to eliminate passwords.

December 20, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 electronic medical record and health IT blogs. He also founded the Pure TV Network of blogs. John recently launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. As part of the Las Vegas Tech startup community, John helped organize the highly successful inaugural Startup Weekend Las Vegas. He's also been a strong supporter of the Vegas Tech community including co-founding the VegasStartups.com blog. John is highly involved in social media, and can be found on Twitter: @techguy and Google Plus.

Vegas Tech Company, Wedgies, Raises $700k

A big congratulations to the Wedgies team! This brings Wedgies total funding to $1.2 million and adds Greycroft Partners, VegasTechFund, KBS+ Ventures, and Battle Born Venture to their list of investors. I’m excited to see Battle Born Venture investing locally in Vegas Tech. Plus, the Tech Cocktail article on the funding says in 2014 Wedgies has powered polling across 10 million pages and 2 million voters a month.

In case you’re wondering, Wedgies is hiring:

Plus, a post about the funding of Wedgies wouldn’t seem appropriate without embedding a Wedgie of our own:

December 19, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 electronic medical record and health IT blogs. He also founded the Pure TV Network of blogs. John recently launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. As part of the Las Vegas Tech startup community, John helped organize the highly successful inaugural Startup Weekend Las Vegas. He's also been a strong supporter of the Vegas Tech community including co-founding the VegasStartups.com blog. John is highly involved in social media, and can be found on Twitter: @techguy and Google Plus.

Vegas Tech Company, Full Spectrum Laser, Raises $10 million

The Buffalo News is reporting that Summer Street Capital has made a $10 million investment in Las Vegas tech Startup company, Full Spectrum Laster. Here’s the note from the article:

Summer Street Capital, a Buffalo-based private equity fund, has made a $10 million investment in Full Spectrum Laser, a Las Vegas, Nev.-based laser and 3D printer engineering and manufacturing company.

The company said it would accelerate development of its next-generation, affordable laser cutting/engraving and 3D printing platforms to capitalize on market demand.

Congrats to Full Spectrum Laser on the funding! It’s great having you as part of the Las Vegas tech startup community. We’re looking forward to seeing your success in the growing 3D printing space.

November 12, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 electronic medical record and health IT blogs. He also founded the Pure TV Network of blogs. John recently launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. As part of the Las Vegas Tech startup community, John helped organize the highly successful inaugural Startup Weekend Las Vegas. He's also been a strong supporter of the Vegas Tech community including co-founding the VegasStartups.com blog. John is highly involved in social media, and can be found on Twitter: @techguy and Google Plus.

Uber Starts Service in Las Vegas

Update: ABC News is reporting that a court has ordered Uber to stop offering rides. No doubt this is the start of a long fight between Uber and the Taxi Authority.

Back in April 2012, we were asked by Uber to post a few Uber Las Vegas job positions for them. It’s taken about 2.5 years for Uber to finally make the plunge and announce their Uber Las Vegas service which starts today. I believe this is great news for Las Vegas even if the Taxi Authority feels otherwise.

I think this quote from an RJ article describes well the demand for Uber in Las Vegas:

Justin Kintz, Uber’s head of public policy, said in the past 45 days, 50,000 people have opened the Uber app on their smartphones in Southern Nevada, an indication, he said, that the market is prime for the company that refers to itself as a technology company and not a transportation operation.

If I understand this correctly, in 45 days the Uber app was opened by 50,000 people who then had to find a different mode of transportation. That’s pretty amazing, but not really surprising. Uber is in over 200 cities and many of those users are coming to Las Vegas for conferences and want to have a similar Uber experience to what they have at home. No wonder the Taxi companies are so worried.

One thing is a little unfortunate. As part of the Uber Las Vegas roll out, Uber drivers will not be able to pick up customers on the Las Vegas strip hotels or at McCarran International Airport but will be able to drop off passengers at those locations. Uber is still trying to work out the logistics of pickup at these locations. I’ll be interested to see how this evolves.

I’m also interested to see Uber users react to surge pricing during major conferences like CES. Can you imagine how much you’ll have to pay for an Uber during CES which is chock full of Uber users? Although, we’ll see how much Uber can do during an event like CES. I’m pretty sure CES isn’t going to create a special Uber pickup and drop off line and traffic during CES is insane.

I’m excited to have Uber in Las Vegas. I know many in the Las Vegas tech startup community and those visiting us will love having the service available. Plus, Uber says that their rates are generally 10 percent to 20 percent below taxi rates.

If you’ve never tried Uber (in Las Vegas or another city), you can sign up and get your first ride free(up to $30).

October 24, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 electronic medical record and health IT blogs. He also founded the Pure TV Network of blogs. John recently launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. As part of the Las Vegas Tech startup community, John helped organize the highly successful inaugural Startup Weekend Las Vegas. He's also been a strong supporter of the Vegas Tech community including co-founding the VegasStartups.com blog. John is highly involved in social media, and can be found on Twitter: @techguy and Google Plus.

Where Are We At with Vegas Tech and Downtown Project?

I’ve been meaning to write about this for a few weeks, but work’s been busy. Yep. That’s right. There are a lot of people working at Las Vegas startup companies that are too busy to fret over some misguided reports about what’s happening (or not happening) with the Downtown Project and in many regards the larger Vegas Tech community. However, as someone who could live anywhere in the world, but has chose to make Las Vegas my home, I’m very interested in the discussion.

I won’t recap here all that went down. In case you missed the flare up, check out Mike Yoder’s nice summary and also the statement from Downtown Project. That should give you a pretty good summary. The facts are that Downtown Project laid off 30 people or about 10% of the Downtown project staff and Tony still has the same role he’s always had in Downtown Project. Layoffs are never fun at any company and is a huge deal for those 30 people. My heart goes out to those individuals, but it’s hardly a sign that Downtown Project is over/failing or whatever other verb you prefer.

First, Downtown Project scaled so quickly, that there’s little doubt that there were some bad hires, bad fits, or some hires that aren’t needed as the project evolves. This is especially true when you think of Downtown Project as a collection of over 300 companies and legal entities. Plus, none of those layoffs were from the 100+ (I lose track of their actual number) tech startup companies that come from the $50 million Vegas Tech Fund. All in all, there really isn’t that much of a story here. Downtown Project is still on the same trajectory it’s always been on. However, I can see how an outsider media member might not understand the entire context of what’s happening.

However, the thing the media people seem to miss is that there’s a whole lot more to the Las Vegas startup community than just the Downtown Project. Sure, Tony Hsieh is the only one in the Vegas Startup community that can get on 60 Minutes (and he should get whatever exposure for Vegas that he can get), but that’s not to say that there’s not a number of interesting companies and people with no real relationship to Downtown Project doing business in Las Vegas. In fact, I’d suggest that some of the most interesting companies in Las Vegas have no ties to Downtown Project. One day, the media will discover this as well.

Plus, it’s worth noting that Downtown Project together with a variety of other factors have literally brought together a startup community in Las Vegas from nothing. I know first hand since I quit my day job to start my first company back in 2010, a full 2 years before Downtown Project even existed. I’d done my Masters at UNLV. I’d been to all the local tech meetings. In 2010, there was no tech startup community for me to look to for my new company. There were a few tech startup companies, but literally no community.

In 2011 (6+ months before Downtown Project), Rick Duggan and I started this blog to try and do something to bring together the Las Vegas startup community. We knew of 20 startup companies and figured there had to be at least 20 more that we just didn’t yet know about. Boy were we wrong. We’ve now lost count of companies, but there are hundreds of tech startup companies in Las Vegas.

However, the number of companies really doesn’t matter. Maybe there have been hundreds of tech startup companies in Las Vegas all along. What we discovered was that none of these companies knew each other, supported each other or worked together. The first Startup Weekend Las Vegas (Side note: the 8th Startup Weekend Las Vegas is happening next month), the Vegas Jelly, and the #vegastech hashtag started bringing the tech startup community together in a really extraordinary way.

Now, hundreds of startup companies and thousands of startup company employees interact, support, and help each other. That didn’t exist in 2010 in Las Vegas, but it does now. Tony Hsieh’s $350 million Downtown Project has just thrown gas on the already burning fire. The Supernap’s InNEVation Center has contributed the same. Now the fire has spread and the Las Vegas Startup community isn’t dependent on either organization. However, I don’t expect either the Downtown Project or the InNEVation Center to stop what they’re doing anytime soon. They’ll both keep contributing in a big way.

That’s not to say that the Las Vegas startup community is out of the woods. I’m not saying we couldn’t take a step back. We definitely will takes steps forward and backwards. There are cycles that we’re certain to see. Not to mention we could benefit from more outside investment. We could use some nice acquisitions from landmark companies like Google, Facebook, Apple, Twitter, Microsoft, that are big enough that they leave the company in Las Vegas.

We’ve had a number of “singles” and “doubles” as far as exits, but the startup community will really benefit from some much larger exits that will fund the next generation of startup companies. We haven’t had that yet, but that will take some time to build. We also need to do a much better job engaging the wealth in the broader Las Vegas business community. Not to mention, we need to work to develop the entrepreneurial culture in our high schools and colleges. Although, those present tremendous opportunities considering we haven’t had their support and we’ve already made it this far.

Who knows if Downtown Project is going to be a success or a failure for Tony Hsieh and his other investors. It’s already 300 investments in including $200 million in real estate. I think they’ll turn out just fine. However, regardless of what happens to the Downtown Project, the Las Vegas tech startup community is 100 or maybe even 1000 times better today than it was before Downtown Project was started. Some of that was thanks to Downtown Project, but a lot of it happened totally separate.

Even if Downtown Project were to close its doors today (which it’s not even close to), the Las Vegas startup community would continue to thrive. Those who’ve only taken the Tony Hsieh tour of Las Vegas won’t understand that, but those of us who’ve lived the change know that a community is much more than an area of downtown and its most visible member.

The 20 year outlook for the Las Vegas startup community is very bright. I’m excited to be a part of it.

October 23, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 15 electronic medical record and health IT blogs. He also founded the Pure TV Network of blogs. John recently launched two new companies: InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com, and is an advisor to docBeat. As part of the Las Vegas Tech startup community, John helped organize the highly successful inaugural Startup Weekend Las Vegas. He's also been a strong supporter of the Vegas Tech community including co-founding the VegasStartups.com blog. John is highly involved in social media, and can be found on Twitter: @techguy and Google Plus.

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