“As one of the earliest start ups in the Vegas Tech scene, Ayloo couldn’t be happier with Vegas Tech’s breakneck growth. “It’s been a wild ride so far,” claims Mark Cicoria. The bags under his eyes seem to comply. Vegas natives Mark Cicoria, Mark Johnson, and Shaun Swanson were working on Ayloo before the first Start Up Weekend injected start ups and interest into the region, before the Jellies gave the scene its networking backbone, and before Zappos began to implement its catalyzing, community-building initiative downtown. “We got involved in Vegas Tech when we spoke with someone at a local coffee shop wearing a Start Up Weekend shirt. He suggested we attend the Jelly – of which there had only been one at the time,” says Johnson. Swanson continues, “This got us thinking – how can you accelerate the process of community-building? Instead of having to rely on slow, random interaction between people in real-life… what if there were a community network online where people knew to go to in order to feel empowered and involved in something bigger than themselves? A digital platform where connections between passionate people and communities that might interest them can be suggested and accelerated.”
This way of thinking inspired the re-focusing of Ayloo as a community empowerment platform. “We’ve just finished our moderators update, so now members can give a sense of direction and purpose to the community spaces on our network. Our next updates include a re-vamped community discovery and community creation process,” says Cicoria. “We want anyone to be able to log into our site, type in a few interests, and immediately see what communities are around them. And they should be able to easily create and cultivate their own.” Additionally, Ayloo’s mobile app, currently being designed with the help of the Ayloo community, is an important element needed to realize this goal due to the link it provides between digital and physical space.
“The community here has really inspired us along the way. The culture of action that Vegas Tech has established worked its way into Ayloo’s next iteration – we hope to dissolve the barrier between discussion in a community space and the realization of those ideas in the form of real-life action. There are a few features, such as the formation of community initiatives, that we hope will empower communities in a way that hasn’t been done before.” Mark Johnson adds, “We’re excited to see how things come together, and we couldn’t have gotten this far without the ongoing support of everyone in Vegas Tech. With all of the community-building going on in the Valley today, and the unique ideas implemented by The Downtown Project, we couldn’t have asked for a better prototyping field!” Indeed, with the creation of a Vegas Tech co-working space, a campaign to re-vamp a historic Vegas landmark (The Huntridge), and a protest against SOPA being organized on the platform at this very moment, Ayloo members seem to have caught on to the new focus.
Keep an eye out for the Ayloo team. Aside from their community network, the guys are also co-founders in another Vegas Tech start up, Counterless, and are heavily-involved in Vegas communities across the board – the music, art, and table-top gaming communities to name a few. They encourage anyone who would like to assist in their efforts to build community in the Valley to send an email to [email protected], tweet at @aylooinc, or catch them at the /usr/lib.”