August 29, 2014
The 4 companies coming out of The Mill this August are each thriving in their own niche market, but alas, they also have a common thread uniting them. Each startup founder connected and networked in Downtown Vegas and was referred to The Mill by established members of the community.
It’s an interesting look at how the Downtown Project is fueled by the 3 Cs: collision, connectedness, and co-learning. There was a hint of serendipity for each founder as they applied and were accepted into The Mill, and they’re all looking forward to a bright future with $5,000 in their pockets.
The Mill’s August graduates are:
Design by Numbers, by Rebecca Zajac
For Rebecca Zajac, starting up began as a side hobby. Working a part time gig at Work in Progress, she was turned onto The Mill from members of the Downtown Project. The offer of funding for early-stage startups was enticing, but Zajac didn’t know if she actually had a startup.
After she was accepted, Zajac committed fully to the idea that she absolutely had a startup on her hands, and pursued an improved site design. Her company, Design by Numbers, is an online interactive approach to design. Zajac’s goal is to be the number one stop on the internet when it comes to looking for ideas and how-to guides on decorating your own space; it rings similar to the Paint-by-Numbers pictures.
She’s off to a great start, and the Downtown Vegas community wishes her the best of luck.
SportsHawk, by Louis Driving Hawk
Louis Driving Hawk moved to Las Vegas in January to work with MGM Resorts, but his research into the tech ecosystem opened new doors. He came across the VegasTechFund, who referred him to The Mill where he was accepted shortly thereafter.
His idea was to create an interactive sports prediction application that tracks in real time. The thought struck him when he was watching March Madness and noticed that everybody was playing sports-analyst, predicting their own outcomes for the games.
The plan for Hawk, post-Mill, is to stay in Downtown Vegas and hammer out an MVP. He’s an advocate of the lean startup mentality, and the next step towards greatness will be building a solid prototype.
Hawk found himself getting support from a host of people in the Downtown Vegas community throughout his experiences to date, and he’s looking forward to their assistance in the future.
“When people are willing to offer their time it’s great – I have friends downtown now who I can talk sports with,” says Hawk. “Going from not knowing anybody to knowing a lot of people and having friends is unparalleled.”
Prezent, by Melvin Brown Jr
For the entire first year that he lived in Vegas, Melvin Brown Jr built connections with people. Specifically, he met people at the VegasTechFund that told him to apply to The Mill.
Brown Jr had come up with the idea for Prezent two years prior and had spent a copious amount of time researching. The Mill seemed like the perfect next step to build out his team, finish an MVP, and launch in October; he’s on track to meet all of those goals.
Prezent is a location based service that taps GPS functionality on school locations – essentially it’s Foursquare for the classroom. Students can check in and get points for going to class, and Brown Jr has designed it primarily as an assistance tool to improve engagement inside and outside of the classroom.
Seeing as how Nevada has the third worst graduation rate in the country, Brown Jr knew Downtown Vegas would be a great place to launch his reward-based learning system. Originally from New Jersey, he’s not planning on leaving Downtown Vegas anytime soon.
“I want to solve educational issues in Vegas and then I can solve it everywhere else,” says Brown Jr. “I’m totally committed to Downtown Las Vegas.”
HealClick, by Joey Tuan and Rachael Korinek
Rachael Korinek spent almost a decade visiting specialists, trying to figure out what ailment she had that was causing her constant pain. She ultimately ended up house-bound, but she made the most of her time and discovered other patients who had the same set of symptoms and reclaimed their lives.
That’s the driving force behind the HealClick platform: trying to restore the quality of life to patients who feel as if they’ve lost it. She moved to Las Vegas only 6 weeks ago to connect with her co-founder Joey Tuan, who’s called the desert home for the last 2 years.
Andy White suggested that the duo apply to The Mill, and Tuan and Korinek jumped at the opportunity. They ended up pivoting during their time at The Mill, but Korinek and Tuan didn’t abandon their mission.
Patients can use the HealClick platform to find treatment experiences and social support from other patients that can relate. All of their data is made anonymous and used towards research via HealClick’s partnership with UCLA.
There may not be a lot of healthcare companies in Downtown Vegas, but the community is glad to stand behind a group of entrepreneurs so readily willing to give back as much as they receive.
“You can’t really put a dollar sign on the mentorship, and we wouldn’t have been able to connect with the who’s who in other communities,” says Tuan. “All we have to do is ask here. As a social enterprise that makes us want to give back to Downtown Vegas.”
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