When people think about Las Vegas, they think about casinos, entertainment, nightlife, and possibly even palm trees. Even though there is a huge amount of money flowing through Vegas every day, our city is not usually associated with high-tech business, innovation, or private equity. What most visitors, and even some locals, do not know is that, there is a small, but growing community of startups right here in Southern Nevada. Even though our ecosystem is a small one, the community shows a lot of promise.
Since this great foundation and community already exists, community members can build on it and create more opportunities for entrepreneurs and investors, by working together with other members, investors, and funds. As a nascent community, it is critical that we connect entrepreneurs with great ideas, and to investors who want to help grow new businesses.
So where can a person who wants to become a part of the vibrant Las Vegas startup community go to meet entrepreneurs, investors and other like-minded people? One place to look is to Rebel Venture Fund’s new monthly social gathering, #VentureFriday.
One of the biggest challenges at RVF has been finding promising early-stage companies to help and invest in. RVF is a relatively new fund and many entrepreneurs in the community do not know that we are out here. It is hard to offer help and resources if no one knows you exist!
In speaking with other local angel investors, we found that they have the same problem. This connects directly to another issue: finding other investors to bring in on deals that the fund is interested in. We found ourselves saying, “if only there were more events that brought together entrepreneurs and investors to meet each other. Somebody should really put on more of these events!”
As it happens, we are that somebody! Thus #VentureFriday was born.
Our goal is to create a regular setting where entrepreneurs, investors, and others interested in the Las Vegas startup community, can meet in a casual and social environment. We are hoping to create a place where people in the community can get to know each other in an informal way, and offer an entry point for those who are interested but don’t yet have any connections.
#VentureFriday is more than just hanging out and meeting new friends. We want this event to be an intentional social event that builds connections between people in the Las Vegas business community, and helps people build relationships that help them achieve their goals. As part of UNLV, Rebel Venture Fund is in a unique and unbiased position to help bring together the business community, and strengthen relationships between entrepreneurs, investors and other stakeholders.
We hope that #VentureFriday will be a valuable experience not only for others in the community, but also for all UNLV students to learn and grow. Oftentimes for students, it is easy to get caught up and comfortable being in a classroom environment and in a “bubble”. One of the goals of RVF is to give student real life venture capital and investing experiences. While it is easy to just look at a piece of paper and review applications, documents, etc., the reality is that there is much more to a company and the people behind it. We want to give our members opportunities to meet with and interact with real entrepreneurs, investors, and experienced individuals in the community.
As an educational institution, UNLV and RVF can take a leading role in building our startup ecosystem and help bring a wider variety of businesses and industries to Southern Nevada. Rebel Venture Fund has built strong relationships with other local funds like VTF Capital, Las Vegas startup accelerators like The Mill and Iron Yard, and co-working spaces like Work-In-Progress, in order to put entrepreneurs and investors together. UNLV also has existing partnerships with organizations like state and local governments, industry leaders, and the Chamber of Commerce, that can be leveraged to build relationships beneficial to the startup community.
Building these relationships is a key component of what RVF is trying to do with #VentureFriday. While business can be competitive and not every company will be the next unicorn, like Uber or AirBnB, our economy has more to gain by working together than by competing with one another. We can all help make the Las Vegas startup ecosystem stronger by making introductions, sharing information, and maintaining friendly relationships with each other.
As John F. Kennedy said, “A rising tide lifts all boats.” This is the approach that RVF takes towards being a partner in the startup community in Las Vegas and helping build a stronger ecosystem.
A robust support network is critical for any entrepreneur. It can be difficult to build that network if you don’t know where to meet the people who can help your business get off the ground and grow. #VentureFriday is a great way for entrepreneurs to get connected with Las Vegas investors and businesses in an effort to build their support network. Whether you’re looking for investment, strategic partners or even advisors and mentors, RVF wants to help you make those connections and get tapped into the startup community.
Should you come join us at #VentureFriday? Absolutely! If you’re looking to meet and network with experienced entrepreneurs, angels, investors, and members of the Las Vegas community, #VentureFriday is for you. Whether you want to hear advice on your company, discuss what investors are looking for, or learn what goes into making a great pitch, this is your chance to ask questions that will help you learn and grow in a casual environment.
While #VentureFriday is focused and catered to the tech and entrepreneurial communities here in Las Vegas, anyone can attend! Whether you are an aspiring entrepreneur, student, or a seasoned CEO running a successful company, we encourage everyone to attend. Part of building a thriving community here in Las Vegas is to make everyone feel welcome and invited to join in no matter your background or area of expertise. What makes businesses great is that it encompasses every industry imaginable. The more diversity and range of views that you can get, the better. That’s what drives innovation and helps communities to thrive.
Our next #VentureFriday event is on September 30, 2016 at Aces Bar and Grill and admission is free. If you can’t make it this month, we get together every month, typically on the last Friday. If you’re interested in joining us this month, RSVP on EventBrite using the link below: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/venturefriday-tickets-27563849215
Hope to see you at #VentureFriday!
Interested in hosting or partnering with us for the next #VentureFriday event? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
About the Author
Jason LeDuc grew up in New England, went to college in Boston and spent 20 years in the US Air Force working mostly engineering and flight test jobs. His experience has led him to start his own management consulting business based here in Las Vegas. He is currently an MBA student, learning to build a successful business, and helping others achieve their goals.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RVF or UNLV. In addition, thoughts and opinions are subject to change and this article is intended to provide an opinion of the author at the time of writing this article. All data and information is for informational purposes only.