Why LaunchAStartup Took a Chance on Las Vegas

January 2, 2013

10:29 am

The startup scene in Las Vegas is growing thanks to the Downtown Project, a fund headed by Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh that includes $50 million for startups. Many startups come to Vegas hoping for an infusion of investment from its VegasTechFund. But, increasingly, startups are coming to Vegas for the community.

LaunchAStartup is one of those startups. Founder Jay Soriano read an article about the growing community in downtown Las Vegas, and got excited. He had seen the transformation of downtown Portland from industrial to vibrant, and he knew change was possible.

“It’s that thing of wanting to be a part of a movement … wanting to see something happen,” says Soriano.

After a brief visit last January, he moved down in June (when the average high is 99 degrees, no less). He went to the meetups, talked to the community – “It’s awesome. I haven’t seen anything like it,” he says – and got help with his burgeoning idea: LaunchAStartup.

LaunchAStartup was designed to be a site where bootstrapping entrepreneurs could post services and make extra money on the side. Instead of companies posting their consulting jobs, as they do on Elance and Odesk, entrepreneurs would be the ones putting up ads – hopefully saving everyone the hassle of an application process for one-off or short-term jobs. Soriano launched the site in mid-December.

He will probably turn to the community again when he decides to hire a full-time developer. Although Vegas has its issues – a scarcity of downtown housing, for one – Soriano is optimistic.

“When I actually moved down here, I felt a little duped. Aesthetically, there’s still much left to be desired,” he wrote. “But I shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. The Downtown Project is in motion.”

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Kira M. Newman is a Tech Cocktail writer interested in the harsh reality of entrepreneurship, work-life balance, and psychology. She is the founder of The Year of Happy and has been traveling around the world interviewing entrepreneurs in Asia, Europe, and North America since 2011. Follow her @kiramnewman or contact kira@tech.co.

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