You are a partner at VegasTechFund, an investment fund focused on helping startups who will help build a strong tech community in Downtown Las Vegas. What prompted the creation of this group?The VegasTechFund is just one part of the Downtown Project. The different aspects of the project work together to accelerate the revitalization of the community in downtown Las Vegas. The fund is able to help by investing in early stage tech companies that are solving big problems and have an opportunity for exponential growth.
What are the key elements that you look for when evaluating whether or not a company will fit with the VegasTechFund community? What are some of the goals and values that you need to have in common?It’s very important that the company's founders understand the value of community. They need to have a focus on true relationships where people get to know each other first then offer to help. They also need to value giving before you get and to know that working with each other throughout the entire journey is much more valuable than waiting until you’re successful and then giving back.
Can you give us an example of some of the problems that companies in the VegasTechFund community are solving?Romotive is making robots affordable for everyone. The Spirit Project is organizing the chaos that's currently known as our juvenile justice system. Order Mapper makes it easy to order anything from anywhere. LaunchKey is eliminating the need for passwords.
You are the Founder of both Millennial Technology and SchoolCenter. How have your experiences with these companies prepared you for your current responsibilities at VegasTechFund?The experience gained from founding a technology startup is invaluable. However, many things have changed since I started my company. I've spend the past several years learning the new startup techniques. I was able to put this into practice while at BoomStartup and now with the VegasTechFund. We know so much more about startups now than we did in the mid 90's.
In your experience, what are some of the characteristics a startup needs to possess in order to succeed?Startups need to have passion for their customer’s problem not the product that they've developed. Beyond that the two greatest startup challenges are building the right team and premature scaling of their infrastructure.
Both your position as Founder of SchoolCenter and as an Executive Board Member of the SIF Association show your interest and dedication to our school systems. How did you become involved in this particular area of technology?Of course it was great working in an industry that everyone could believe in. We all wanted to build a better learning environment for students. In addition to that, part of it came down to the fact that in 1996 schools were more likely to have high speed Internet and we could get the entire list of contacts for about $1500.
Is there a specific type of startup that you most enjoy working with?My favorites are teams that have found ways to innovate on the business model as well as the tech around it. It's not always enough to just apply new technology to the old solution.
What was the most surprising thing you learned about starting a business the first time around?How easy it is to get complacent and believe that you know your customer well enough that you can just develop new products for them. You should never stop doing customer development.
What is something you’re excited about right now?I'm excited to see all the individuals coming together as part of the growing Vegas Tech community. The energy around a community focused on building true relationships is unparalleled. Together we're going to do amazing things here.
What is your definition of success and have you achieved it?Success is measured by how much you can give to others not how much they give to you. It's not something that can be achieved. It's something that happens as great moments in time, typically centered around experiences.
What does your typical day look like?Most of my days are spent talking with entrepreneurs. Typically at the beginning of the week this is done via email, phone calls, and video conferencing. At the end of the week we have visitors in town so we're able to meet in person. With 43 million people coming through town each year it keeps us pretty busy.
Where are you located?
Las Vegas, NVWebsite | Twitter