Startup Genome Highlights: Las Vegas, NV, USA

This week in the “Startup Genome Highlights” video series is Adam Kramer  (@vegaskramer) who tells us about Las Vegas, NV, USA

In the video, Adam mentions:

Transcription:

Geoff: Welcome to the Startup Genome video blog. My name is Geoff Wood. Each week we talk with different community builders and Startup Genome curators around the world to find out what makes their city unique. Today we have Adam Kramer from Las Vegas, Nevada here in the United States. Adam, welcome to the video blog and I want to start by asking you what is it that makes the Las Vegas startup community unique?

Adam: Well, what makes the Las Vegas startup community unique is that fact that it is probably the community itself. I know that’s kind of an easy answer but truthfully the community itself has taken such ownership over what we’re doing and we have things like our Downtown Podcast which is a community run thing that really kind of captures the community. Organizing Startup Weekends. And really I think at the core of all that is supporting each other. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen this anywhere else that I’ve lived where we have startup founders that are as committed to their startups as they are to the startups that are happening around them and helping them be successful.

Geoff: I can see how that would be a benefit for sure. If there’s one thing that you’d say is really working in Las Vegas, for your community, what would it be?

Adam: I think it would be openness. I think that we have a really open community and that there’s not this kind of secretiveness where a founder’s like, “yeah I’m working on this project and I really don’t want to talk about it”. Or, “I’m working on this project and I really can’t help you out because I’m working on this project”. It’s always, “hey I’m working on this project, this is what I’m doing, if you guys have some ideas I’d love them”, and “if you need help with anything let me know, I’m here to help you out”. And, honestly as the community has grown, the fact that that has still stayed as part of what we’re doing has been fantastic. I think a lot of us were worried that as Las Vegas grew that we’d start closing off but it hasn’t been that way. It’s really exciting.

Geoff: That’s great to hear. Is there something you’d say is not working, especially as the community has grown?

Adam: I think that probably one of our areas for improvement is being able to better communicate as a community. It’s funny. We have a hack-a-thon this weekend and I think one of the problems is that we don’t have one kind of cohesive or easy way to communicate, track what’s going on. And I know this is a shameless plug for the Startup Genome but that’s one of the things we’re excited about with the Genome is to be able to kind of have one central place where we have information where we know what’s actually happening. I think that there is fragmentation within the community and we don’t necessarily know what’s going on. However, when you find out what is going on, there’s an openness and an ability to have that dialogue. So if we could avoid that fragmentation and maintain that openness and dialogue we really would have the perfect community in a lot of ways.

Geoff: Yeah, that would be awesome. You mentioned the hack-a-thon. Is there one event that you would say is the best event. If you’re going to come to Vegas for one event, it should be this one. What would that be?

Adam: You know, I would say that it’s probably Startup Weekend for us. Startup Weekend is really, our first one was in June 2011. We kind of consider that the kickoff or the birth of Vegas Tech, if you will. And so, the Startup Weekend has kind of become this really community gathering. We’ll have well over 100 people come for the pitches on Sunday and the pitches on Friday. And it’s a great community gathering. But, in between those we also have hack-a-thons that are put on by the community. And we have tech weeks as well. The second week of every month isTech Week where we fly in speakers from around the country to come in and speak in downtown Las Vegas absolutely free in conjunction with tech cocktail in the downtail projects. There’s a lot, but I would say Startup Weekend.

Geoff: That sounds awesome. You have a lot going on there. If someone’s going to come into Vegas and see you, is there one space where they should go? Maybe a bar, coffee shop that like this is the place where entrepreneurs hang out and you can bump into them there?

Adam: I would say anywhere on East Fremont Street and downtown Vegas. That that’s kind of where this rebirth is happening where the Downtown Project is taking place. And to answer your question I’d say specifically probably start at the Beat Coffee Shop right on the corner of East Fremont and 6th Street. That’s where you’ll see everybody coming in and out of. And from there you’ll be able to meet the right people, have the serendipitous interactions that you’d kind of be looking for from a startup community that will guide the rest of your trip.

Geoff: I definitely want to do that the next time I’m there. You said 2011 was the kickoff of Vegas Tech. Are you seeing certain industries emerging? Like lots of startups seem to be in these industries. Like a clustering effect there?

Adam: Yes and no. I would say that what we are, it’s really more a hospitality. We’ve seen quite a few hospitality startups come through. And then things that are in the more social space. We have apps that are very consumer focused which really builds off the core competency of Vegas. If we understand one thing really well it’s the consumer. And we built a brand doing that. So you see startups that either really much have a consumer focus in the middle of that or they have this hospitality focus.

Geoff: OK. That makes a lot of sense. For our viewers and other communities builders and other Startup Genome curators that are watching this, what’s the one thing that they can do to help you and help Vegas continue to grow?

Adam: Visit Vegas. I know that sounds like a copout but truthfully for us, the more people that come in here and that we can interact with the more knowledge we can take away from them, and the more we can share with them. Our goal is not just to be an open community internally, but to be an open community externally and then when people come in from the outside that we can have the knowledge-share about best practices and actually grow what we’re doing. So we love having visitors here. Whenever we have tech visitors coming to Vegas we really roll out the red carpet ‘cause we have them a lot. We actually know what we’re doing at this point, too. Tourism is our core competency here in Vegas and we’ve translated that into our tech community. So, if somebody emails me and says I’m coming to Vegas, the first thing I’m doing is emailing 10 other people saying this person is coming to Vegas, you need to meet with them, and we help set that up so we can share that knowledge. So visit Vegas. That is the number one thing you can do to help Vegas grow. The number one thing we can do to help you grow as well.

Geoff: Well, I’m sure you won’t have to work to hard to convince people to come visit you. Adam, I want to thank you for your time this morning and for all the work you’ve done in curating Las Vegas for Startup Genome.

Adam: It’s my pleasure, and thank you for offering such a great tool like Startup Genome to all of us.

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