Recently I sat down with Gabe Shepherd to talk about SxVegas and all the amazing things he has planned for the event. For those of you who aren’t familiar with SxVegas, it is a series of events taking place at South by Southwest (SxSW) in Austin, TX in March of 2013. Gabe says the purpose of SxVegas is: “to highlight and promote the city of Las Vegas as a desirable place for tech startups and entrepreneurs alike.” He continued, “We have so much more to offer than tourism.”
Gabe is the real deal. He knows what it takes to build, market and sell successful companies. So, he wanted to take all the marketing and promotional lessons he’s learned with his own companies, and apply that to marketing the VegasTech community. He asked himself, “What if we made the VegasTech community the product and marketed the community as a whole?” This is where he came up with the idea for SxVegas. The result, he hopes (and I believe he’s spot on) is that “our startups and our community would get more traction. We would have the enticement of an existing brand ‘Vegas’ to get people in the door, and we would have a much higher success rate with respect to making an impact and people leaving the conference talking about us and our companies.”
And I’ve seen his plans. He’s 100% right. People will be very impressed with what VegasTech is bringing to the SxSW party…Literally. But his plan had a serious roadblock. Money. Having your company featured at SxSW is not easy, and not cheap. There is obviously a reason that Twitter, Foursquare and countless other companies have chosen to launch their companies at SxSW. But for the average startup, the cost is just too much.
“The obvious hurdle was even in pooling our resources the costs were through the roof.” Said Gabe. “We were talking about doing this at one of the industry’s largest conferences and finances was still an issue for the startups.” So, what was the answer?
The answer was Switch.
“I originally asked for them to be 1 of 3 main sponsors at 25k. They believed in what we were doing, and thought we needed the entire amont of money from all 3 to ensure its success. So they stepped up to the plate and gave us the runway to pull this off. I can’t stress this enough. Without Switch, SxVegas and everything planned would not be happening.”
And what exactly is happening you ask? This…
Trade-show piece – “A 40×20 trade-show exhibit booth highlighting the Vegas Tech community and the startups within it Over 70k attendees will go through this booth by the end of the show. In it you will learn about doing business in our state, what it is like to be a part of our community, and be able to get your hands on interactive demos of some of our startups. We will have “in-booth” media events including interviews and presentations. All live streamed.”
Cocktail Event – “A 3 hour open networking event with open bar for 400 attendees, decorated with an old school Vegas theme. Imagine Frank Sinatra playing overhead, walking past black and white prints of old Vegas while being entertained and learning about the Vegas Tech community today. Startups will be able to pitch their startups, we will have VC and Angel investors in attendance, and everyone will walk away with a bigger picture of what is going on in the Vegas Tech community.”
Vegas Tech Party – “According to many insiders, this will be the largest party happening at SXSW Interactive with the potential for over 1k attendees. This will be a celebration of the week with our new friends from SXSW. We’ll continue the conversation about Vegas Tech and put on display some of the great things happening in the community. We will have some digital and interactive elements still being kept secret.”
So, once Switch had funded the entire project, he began meeting with startups to be an official part of the event.
“Alice Receptionist was our first startup to sign up to sponsor and get involved in the various events. Soon we gained some momentum and Rumgr joined as well. We have 3 other startups committed but havent made those details public yet.” So, to-date, here is what SxVegas has on the table:
– Switch is the main sponsor with a 75k contribution
– TBAN (Technology Business Alliance of Nevada) has sponsored by acting as the non-profit sponsor.
– Alice, Rumgr and 3 other startups (to be released) signed up as startup sponsors.
– A letter from Governor Sandoval endorsing SxVegas and their efforts
– 70+ members from the community committed to attending in Austin, TX
– Community members volunteering to organize caravans and accommodations.
And I’ll throw another little tidbit out there…Gabe promises another major announcement next week that is going to raise the stakes, and says it will make the efforts of SxVegas and the VegasTech community all that more important. We will find out soon enough what that is, but he assures me it is going to be awesome.
There is an all-hands, community meeting going down on November 13th at InNEVation from 7-8:30pm. All are strongly encouraged to attend, as there will be some great information decided and announced. Please register here via TicketCake.
As the picture above hints, the future of VegasTech is bright. Gabe and SxVegas are undoubtedly adding to those lumens.