As many of you know, the #VegasTech community showed up in style at SXSW back in March. From one of the largest booths at the trade show to two amazing parties, the community was well-represented at the hippest tech conference in the world.
#VegasTech at SXSW (photo courtesy vegastech.com)
It all started with an idea from Gabe Shepherd to leverage the power of community to bring attention to Vegas as an up and coming tech center. Instead of each company trying to bring attention to themselves, we would put the community front and center. With a larger platform (everyone working together) more attention would be placed on Vegas, and consequently, more on the companies themselves as well. Trite, but a win-win!
I still recall the first meeting where Gabe pitched the idea to me. I don’t recall the exact date, but it must have been somewhere around March/April of 2012. We had dinner at Le Thai. Gabe pulled out what I believe was a boarding pass from a recent flight where he had sketched out the basic concept. I was simultaneously impressed and skeptical. At that point, VegasTech was only about a year old, and while it had made great strides since the first Jelly in April 2011, there was still a long way to go. And here Gabe was with an ambitious plan to not just attend SXSW as a community, but to make a splash at a very noisy conference. I offered up support and told him to go for it. To be fair, my time was constrained and I wasn’t able to do a lot of heavy lifting with the planning, though I did assist with getting the Technology Business Alliance of Nevada (TBAN) on board.
Fast forward a year later, and 140 VegasTech members descend on Austin. I arrived on the 7th with my family in tow (more on that later), with the official start of SXSW Interactive on March 8th. Originally titled “SxVegas” by this time the event had morphed into #VegasTech at SXSW. In addition, by this time, SXSW had announced SXSWV2V a SXSW event right here in Las Vegas (set for the Cosmopolitan Hotel on August 11-14).
Sessions that day ranged from “The Learn to Code Movement” to “Tales of US Entrepreneurship Beyond Silicon Valley” to “How Side Gigs & Hobbies Can Help Your Career”. These sessions gave great tips for entrepreneurs and budding developers. These sessions, combined with the larger keynotes, plus appearances from celebrities and tech investors (and some celebrity tech investors!) highlight the quality programming for which SXSW is known.
At the same time the sessions were underway, the #VegasTech booth was under construction by our amazing friends at Fuller Street. The trade show, set to start on Sunday, was to be a major focal point of the #VegasTech invasion of SXSW.
#VegasTech banner raised high over trade show booth
The Fuller Street team taking a well-deserved break.
Now, back to the family story. Some of you are aware that my son, Ethan, has become part of #VegasTech. Having taught himself to program at age 11 with the help of the #VegasTech community, Codeacademy, and other resources such as W3Schools and Stack Overflow, he had just finished his first app, LazyHusband. A few months prior to SXSW, we decided to make the trip as a family, launch Ethan’s app at SXSW, and help support the #VegasTech community. He even became a sponsor of the #VegasTech party. Coming as a family was an amazing experience, as Ethan got to attend several SXSW sessions, met Shaq, and did about a dozen media interviews. The flip side of this was that it was harder to attend the informal late night sessions, but it was a tradeoff I’d be willing to make again.
Please stay tuned for Part 2, where we continue preparations for the trade show and attend the SXSW V2V Meet Up.