TechNevada Honors is an annual event to celebrate those individuals and companies that have greatly enhanced the growth and prestige of the technology community in Nevada. Considering many of the great things happening with Vegas Tech and particularly this great list of Las Vegas Startups, I hope that we see a bunch of those startup companies featured at the Tech Nevada Honors event.
Qualifications for the awards are outlined on the nomination form (PDF). Nominations must be made in the following categories:
CIO/CTO of the Year
Tech Company of the Year
Tech Entrepreneur of the Year
Tech Transplant of the Year
Tech Educator of the Year
Tech Start Up of the Year
Tech Star in the Public Sector
Technology Hall of Fame
Green Company of the Year
Tech Nevada Honors is hosted by Technology Business Alliance of Nevada (TBAN). The Awards Banquet will be held on the evening of October 19, 2011, at the Springs Preserve, 333 South Valley View Boulevard – Las Vegas, NV 89107. Limited seating & Sponsorship (PDF) are still available if your company is interested in sponsoring this event.
As I posted a couple months ago, I was part of the organizing committee that brought the Startup Weekend event to Las Vegas. By all accounts, it was a huge success. The sold out event was completely packed and full of great startup energy. It makes me wonder how many more people would have come if we hadn’t sold out.
Then, during and after the event we had news coverage from the RJ, ABC Channel 13, Fox, CBS Channel 8, and I’m sure I missed some others. It was really great to have all this coverage of tech startups in Las Vegas.
However, more important than all that coverage was the buzz that happened within the tech and startup community in Las Vegas. The connections that happened thanks to Startup Weekend is what I really wanted to have happen because of Startup Weekend. I wanted startup companies and internet startup minded people to have a chance to meet and come together. That happened in spades during startup weekend.
Whether any of the ideas that were started this weekend at Startup Weekend will continue after the event really doesn’t matter to me. What I do know is that many of the relationships and connections that were made at the event will endure for many many years to come. This is why I call Startup Weekend a raging success.
I was also really excited by the caliber of judges that we had on the Startup Weekend judging panel. I think it was best summarized by a tweet from @JonMumm:
“las vegas sw win the prize for most intimidating judges” @terradrop#swlv
No doubt, it was an incredible opportunity for entrepreneurs in Las Vegas to be able to present and interact with the likes of Tony Hsieh, Kevin Rose, Tom Anderson, Josh Reich, and Ryan Carson. Not bad to have founders and investors from a number of billion dollar companies on the judging panel.
I think the weekend is nicely summed up in a quote of mine the RJ published:
“We learned that Las Vegas has enough tech companies to actually have a tech scene, but none of us knew about each other,” said John Lynn owner of Crashutah.com, a website creation and marketing business in Las Vegas. “This event was the start of bringing those companies together so Las Vegas can begin to build its tech scene.”
Certainly this was the start of something and not the end. The question is, Where will we take it from here?
There’s no one individual that’s going to make it happen. Instead it’s going to take a little bit of effort from a whole lot of people to continue to grow the Las Vegas startup community. I’m committed to continue doing my part to grow the community. I hope everyone will do the same.
I love the quote that says, “Many hands make light work.” That’s definitely applicable to growing the tech startup community in Las Vegas. Let’s all help grow the community.
I know I’m kind of crazy to admit it, but one of my hobbies is to read venture capitalist and startup entrepreneur blogs. Maybe one day I’ll be brave enough to go after VC money for a startup company of my own. I haven’t needed to do so yet, but maybe one day. Until then, I’ll continue to enjoy it as a hobby.
As I mentioned in my last update, I’ve been doing what I can to help grow the internet startup eco-system in Las Vegas. As I continue to meet more Las Vegas entrepreneurs, I see all sorts of challenges and issues related to the Las Vegas startup eco-system. One of those issues is having more Fall Back Las Vegas Startup Companies.
This is one of the powerful features of a city with a strong startup environment. The numbers are against every startup company. If I remember right, it’s something like 9 of every 10 startup companies fails (and that might be being generous). That means the majority of new companies that are created are going to fail. We need more Las Vegas startup companies so that if and when a startup company fails the founders and employees of those companies know they have other companies they can go and work for.
One beauty of silicon valley and other startup hubs is that the culture accepts companies failing and there are other opportunities if and when it does fail. Certainly even in silicon valley they aren’t happy when the company they’re working for fails. However, at least when it does happen, they have a lot of other companies that will hire them. They don’t have to go start parking cars to pay the bills, but can move on to another startup company. Rinse and repeat.
Ok, I may be oversimplifying it a little bit, but the ability of a city to absorb talented people who worked for a startup company that’s failed is something I’d love to see happen in Las Vegas.
The last month or so I’ve been extraordinarily busy. Actually, much busier than I like. However, I love all the projects that I’m working on and so I keep driving them all forward. Here’s a quick summary of what I have going on (in no particular order).
I’ve helped organize Startup Weekend Las Vegas (happens this weekend…Woot!). I’m happy to say that Startup Weekend Las Vegas has sold out. I can’t wait for this weekend.
Along with Startup Weekend, I’ve grown this new passion for trying to do some small part in helping to grow the number of internet startup companies and internet startup entrepreneurs in Las Vegas. I even launched with the help of a number of other people a new blog called Las Vegas Startups. However, the most rewarding part of it all has been the number of interesting Las Vegas internet entrepreneurs that I’ve met since doing these things. It’s a great feeling to be connected to so many interesting and amazing people. I can feel that it’s laying the ground work for something special in Las Vegas.
Many of you probably don’t know of my love for Ultimate Frisbee. Well, it’s real and fantastic. I always say my addiction to ultimate frisbee is my key to staying skinny (or at least relatively skinny). Lately, I’ve been helping to keep the Las Vegas Ultimate frisbee community organized. It’s a completely selfish desire since it’s hard to play ultimate frisbee without other players. I even organized a Las Vegas summer ultimate frisbee league which starts on Monday. We exceeded our registration goal and so life is good.
On the blog side of things, I’ve grown the Healthcare Scene blog network to 14 EMR and Health IT related blogs and still growing. Almost every site in the network is growing and improving in all the important metrics. I think we’re up to 9 people blogging across the network. I certainly couldn’t do it without all their help. July 1st, I’m changing the way I handle ads on the various websites. Let’s hope that the change goes well. Each day I’m in awe at the power of blogging and the influence blogs can have.
The Pure TV Network is doing really well. Pure DWTS, Pure SYTYCD and Pure America’s Got Talent are all killing it with amazing readership (and amazing writers that help me) and we even launched Pure X Factor. I’m lucky to work with the dozen or so writers that participate on those sites. After reading this post, I think they’ll realize why I haven’t had as much time to post myself.
I also just got put in as Scoutmaster. I’d been an Assistant Scoutmaster for the past couple years, so it hasn’t been all that much different. Just getting to know some new leaders and help them understand how scouting works. I love the impact a Scoutmaster can have on these fine Young Men. I can’t wait until July when I’m going up to a high adventure camp for a week. Certainly there’s some level of service required to be a Scoutmaster, but honestly I’ll probably have as much fun at this camp as the boys. Although, don’t tell my wife I said that. That’s the only bad part about scouting, being away from my wife and kids.
On that note, I’ve saved the best for last. I’ve been able to spend a lot of time with my kids lately. Mostly because my wife took off for a week to go on a Sister’s trip. It’s been pretty exciting watching the kids for a week. We’ve had some good time to bond. I’m sure I couldn’t do it all the time like my wife does, but I’m glad I had time to enjoy my children. I’m even happier my wife got a break and some time away from the children. Needless to say, I’ll be very happy to have my wife back.
There’s my update. As you can see, I have one or two things going on right now. Not that any of you really care, but I started writing and just couldn’t stop. There’s something therapeutic about getting it out in the open.
I’m really excited to tell you about Startup Weekend finally coming to Las Vegas. I’ve wanted to participate in Startup Weekend for quite a while. In fact, I was friends with one of the first people involved in Startup Weekend and I can’t say I wasn’t a little bit envious of him being part of it. Well, now it’s coming to Las Vegas.
Ok, if you’re still not convinced, here’s the rest of the details about how the event works and a great video which captures the essence of Startup Weekend quite well.
| About SW |
Startup Weekend is a 501(c)3 non-profit that brings together the entrepreneurial, web development and design communities for one weekend with one goal: Going from idea to launch! Here’s a quick video of the recent events in Philly: watch. I believe it captures the essence of the Startup Weekend, a launchpad that we’re truly excited to bring to Vegas!
The weekend is easily broken down into Pitch, Build, Present. Friday is pitch night when anyone with an idea gets one minute to pitch to the crowd. The crowd votes on the top 8-10 ideas and we start to form teams and build. We build all day Saturday until around 4:00 on Sunday (with some awesome meals mixed in). Finally, Sunday is launch day where teams will have the opportunity to present their ideas to investors, industry leaders. A few awesome ideas and their entrepreneurs have even gone on to receive funding.
| Judges | Sunday (6/26) – 5 PM – 8:30 PM
There are so many ideas that come out of Startup Weekends. Some of them are wacky and a lot set out to rule the world. Judges are encouraged to give valuable advice/feedback in addition to just asking questions. We have a list of 5 basic criteria for the winners circle:
1. Execution (what teams have actually accomplished over the weekend; i.e. deliverable)
2. Presentation (self-explanatory)
3. Viability (financially speaking)
4. Innovation (is the concept unique? disruptive?)
5. Breakthrough Potential (maybe it’s popular among first adopters, but can it be scaled to a larger market?)
| Speakers | Friday (6/24) 7PM – 7:45PM
We’re going to have two speakers and a local startup do a demo before we begin pitching. Speakers will have 10 minutes of full on attention to speak on topics like: bootstrapping vs. raising funds, the local investment ecosystem and team dynamics and the importance of picking the right people and communicating effectively. The audience will then have 5 minutes of Q&A. Slides are ok but not required.
| Mentors |
Generally speaking, mentors spend about two hours on Saturday and/or Sunday meeting with teams or individuals. We plan on having some awesome ideas launched in Vegas, so we understand if you want to stay longer.
Saturday – 10AM to 6 PM and/or
Sunday – 10AM to 5PM
6:00pm – Registration starts (pizza served)
7:00pm – Kickoff & Speakers
7:30pm – Pitches Begin – (60 seconds per person)
9:00pm – Attendees vote for the top ideas
9:15pm – Teams start forming and discussing ideas
10:00pm – 1:00am – Teams begin to work
[Recharge on Fremont E]
9:00am – Doors open. Breakfast & coffee
9:30am – Teams continue working. Mentors arrive and begin working with teams.
12:00pm – Lunch
6:30pm – Dinner
7:30pm – Mid weekend check-in, status reports, call for help
12:00 midnight – Finished for the day. Stay and work as late as the venue will allow.
I had this little link stored away in my draft posts. It’s an article about a man named Michael Tchong who sees Las Vegas as a future Silicon Valley. The article is a nice read and does a good job talking about the challenges of internet startups in Las Vegas. However, I agree that there’s some real potential here in Las Vegas for entrepreneurship and specifically internet startups.
I did a little more digging and found Michael Tchong’s website called ubercool (nice name). He also has a twitter account by the same name and it even lists Las Vegas, NV as it’s location. So, I guess he does live in Las Vegas according to Twitter. Although, if you look at his speaking schedule on his website, it looks like he travels a whole lot. He does seem to have a pretty interesting background and so I hope that one day I get to meet him.
It’s fun to think about Silicon Las Vegas. There are some tremendous upsides to living in Las Vegas versus Silicon Valley. Not the least of which is the now very inexpensive housing. Of course, there are some challenges as well. This quote from the article linked at the top is one of the largest ones:
Information technology and Web publishing employees comprise less than 1 percent of our workforce, according to the Center for Business and Economic Research at UNLV, meaning Las Vegas isn’t exactly a tech hotbed.
Of course, the fact that UNLV categorizes them as information technology and web publishing (who uses that term?) should say something about the area as well. There’s so little activity they don’t even know how to categorize it.
However, the article is right that Las Vegas could use a few more Zappos like companies to make their home here. While the jobs from those companies would be good. There’s even a greater value of having technology companies like Google and Yahoo located in a city, because many of their employees will end up quiting and starting their own companies. Or they will leave the large tech companies and provide the future work force for the smaller internet startups.
If I were in Las Vegas politics, I’d be working to bring some of those large tech companies to Las Vegas. It would be worth the cost.
I know that there are lots of arguments all over the internet about whether entrepreneurs are born or made and of course the right answer is it’s somewhere in the middle. Some people’s nature would never make it as an entrepreneur and some people’s environment makes it impossible for them to be entrepreneurs.
However, I’m a strong believer that you get what you want. If your heart is set on being an entrepreneur then you’ll more than likely end up with that result. It’s hard to stop a person’s strong desire and passion.
I think one of the biggest problem we have is what we define as an entrepeneur. Don’t get me wrong. I think there is a very big difference between small business and entrepreneurship. For example, a mechanic runs a small business. Unless they have a dozen repair shops. Then, they become entrepeneurs.
However, I think we also love to glorify the entrepreneurs who get hundreds of thousand or millions in funding which they burn through like a women burns through cash in a shoe store.
My favorite is when groups define entrepreneurship by revenue. So what if you have $500k in revenue if you have $1 million in expenses. I’d rather have the entrepreneur with $300k in revenue and $200k in profit. It is certainly a different approach to entrepreneurship, but just as valid as the former in many cases.
The key for me is that an entrepreneur sees a way to make 10 times the amount they were making with the same amount of effort.
Plus, the reality when your an entrepreneur in a place like Las Vegas is you have to be smarter with your money since the investment dollars don’t flow the same way in Las Vegas (at least for internet startups in Vegas). I think this is a really healthy thing and it is why I’m glad to be a different kind of entrepreneur in Las Vegas.
This morning I was greeted by an interesting post by one of my favorite entrepreneur bloggers, Brad Feld, about building entrepreneurial communities. I’ve been reading Brad’s blog for a long time and I’ve enjoyed learning about what he’s done to build entrepreneurship in Boulder.
As I read his latest post, this quote jumped out at me:
I continue to study and think hard about the dynamics of entrepreneurial communities around the US and believe that there are at least 100 cities in the US that can have strong, significant, healthy, 20 year plus sustainable entrepreneurial communities.
Of course, I could help but imagine his comments with the lens of the Las Vegas Entrepreneurial community. I think it’s easy to see the reasons why Las Vegas could be a great entrepreneurial hub. Although, I must admit that I don’t really see it taking its proper place as a city of entrepreneurs. At least not in the web and technology space that I take part in.
Certainly there are good companies like Zappos.com in Las Vegas (although they came here years after their founding). There’s also the Vegas Valley Angels, but to be honest they haven’t really been all that active in investing over the past couple years.
Much like any community, I think there’s great interest in entrepreneurship in Las Vegas. In fact, I’ve only written about Las Vegas internet startups a few times on this site and I regularly get search engine referrals from people searching for entrepreneurship in Las Vegas. So, people are interested, but don’t have very many places to turn.
I’m currently buying a house in Las Vegas. My family and I are happy here and don’t really have any interest in moving somewhere else. So, I’m in it for the long haul. I’m really interested to see how entrepreneurship in Las Vegas will grow over time. Hopefully I can be part of that growth and support.
I first moved to Las Vegas a little over 5 years ago. I’d heard good things about living in Las Vegas and to be honest I moved here to be close to family. Luckily family has moved away and so it’s just my wife and our family again and we like it that way. Although, that’s a topic of another blog post.
I must admit that I didn’t move to Las Vegas because I was an internet entrepreneur and Las Vegas is the perfect place to be an entrepreneur. Obviously, if i wanted to do that I would have just moved to Silicon Valley. Although, I’m not a fan of that area, so I’d probably move to the next best thing: Boston (and yes, I know there are a few other decent places as well). In fact, a couple years back I was really close to picking up my family and moving to Boston with a contest called YouBeTheVC to be a full time internet entrepreneur working the forever long hours in a very expensive place and wondering how exactly I was going to feed my family.
To be honest, it actually sounded really exciting to me. I’ve been to Boston a few times and LOVED it there. I hate the cost of everything, but I would have loved to be in that are and be part of what seems to be a much larger internet startup scene. Well, I didn’t win the contest (Thankfully since it turned out to be kind of a sham) and so I stayed in Las Vegas. Long story short, I kept building my blogs and learning about internet startup companies while I was in Las Vegas (you can see my full blog story at Word Camp Las Vegas in a couple weeks).
Now I’m working full time on the idea I was planning to build in Boston, Giving Sports Fundraising. However, I’m not in Boston, I’m in Las Vegas.
In the 5 years I’ve lived in Las Vegas, I’ve done quite a bit of networking. Let’s just say that I haven’t had many chances to associate with other internet entrepreneurs. I started thinking about this when I read Brad Feld’s blog post about creating a startup community in Boulder. It was cool to hear him talk about what’s happened in Boulder with internet startup companies. I wish that the same thing would happen in Las Vegas.
I’ve actually met quite a few entrepreneurs here in Las Vegas. Just not that many internet entrepreneurs. I wonder what could be done to change that. Especially since I really don’t have any immediate plans to leave Las Vegas. I never thought I’d admit it, but honestly my family and I are quite happy right here.
Many of you probably don’t know about my history with a company called Izea (previously known at PayPerPost). Turns out that Izea is really the key to me being able to live my dream as a full time blogger and internet entrepreneur today. Without Izea I’d still be working the 9 to 5 and submitting resumes looking for a job. Instead, I’m working from home, working whatever hours I want and never changing out of my pajamas. It’s an awesome life. In fact, if you want to hear more of my story come to WordCamp Las Vegas where I’ll be sharing more details about becoming a full time blogger.
All of this intro is really just my way of saying that Izea should hook me up with a free pass to the BlogWorld New Media Expo in the lovely Las Vegas. You can learn more about the contest here.
As Blogger 61 in the Izea blogger family, I feel that I’m in a unique position to tell stories about Ted (CEO of Izea). Don’t believe me? Check out this blog post I made up back in 2006 about Ted really being a guy named Willie trying to hook up with Colleen. Although my favorite story about Ted was probably the Big Green Monster and eating a large pizza. Ask him about that one!
I can’t make any promises about what will happen during BlogWorld Expo with Ted and the Izea team. However, I can’t make any promises about what won’t happen either. Just don’t be surprised if we find Ted swimming in a big sheet cake at the end of the night while 3 Izea ladies massage his back with the icing.
While they say What Happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas, that’s just not possible at a blogging conference. I’ll have the camera and the Flip video ready to make sure it doesn’t.