Not Even Arson Could Stop This Startup For Autistic Children From Winning $100,000 In Nevada Contest

Sport-Social, Las Vegas Startup, Autism, Startup Contest

Autistic campers at sport-social enjoy the skateboard ramps during summer camp (photo:

Sport-Social is an off-line startup founded by 22-year-old therapist for autistic children, Andrew Devitt. Devitt created Sport-Social, a recreation/fun center of sorts, specifically for children with autism, offering therapy through sports, fun, and group activities.  The goal is to teach autistic children social skills through sports, games and the arts.

Last month, The Nevada Institute For Renewable Energy Commercialization held Project Vesto a startup contest with a $100,000 prize for startups across the state. The contest received over 230 entrants, and polling was done online.

Sport-Social was selected as the grand prize winner out of all the entrants. They will receive $25,000 in seed money and must hit milestones in order to receive the rest of the prize money.

While this story has a very very positive outcome, it didn’t look that way a couple of months ago. Back in May an arsonist set fire to the facility causing over $80,000 in damages, the worst nightmare for an already bootstrapped startup. Sport-Social’s employees worked around the clock to partially open up the facility a week later so the over 250 children that benefit from it’s programming.

The Las Vegas Sun reports that when Devitt woke up on Monday, April, 18th his phone was filled with voicemail messages from neighboring businesses and his alarm company. When he first heard the news that Sport-Social had a major fire he didn’t quite comprehend. When he arrived at the location he found out that seven fires had been set and that the prize closet and equipment for the children had been ruined. 24-year-old Samuel Powers, who used to work for an agency that collaborated with Sport-Social, was arrested for setting the fires.


Overcoming the tragedy, rebuilding, and pressing on led the company to the win the contest which will help the rebuilding efforts.

Despite the fire and rebuilding, Sport-Social will benefit from the program in other ways, namely mentorship and guidance on preparing the business to continue to grow in Nevada.

“For startup companies like Sport-Social, it is extremely important to couple hands-on mentorship with seed capital to help ensure their success,” Ian Rogoff, Chairman of the Board of NIREC said in a statement. Through Project Vesto, Sport-Social will gain access to a distinguished network of angel investors, experienced entrepreneurs, and consultants who will work hands-on with Sport-Social over the coming months to take their business concept to the next level. “We look forward to helping Sport-Social become an even bigger success story for Nevada than it already is,” says Rogoff.

You can find out more about the  Project Vesto here and about Sport-Social here.

Check out this Pittsburgh startup PopChilla that created a robot for autistic children.


Las Vegas Startup imagoo Is Changing The Way Businesses Collect Feedback

imagoo, Las Vegas startup, startup interview

We’ve all seen the movie The Social Network. We all know about Hot or Not. Polling is quite popular in the startup space. Whether you’re comparing two people you would like to date or two of your favorite songs, everyone has an opinion.

Well, a new startup in Las Vegas called Imagoo is looking to take that polling concept and make it extremely relevant to businesses, brands, and products.  While consumers have fun with these polling apps and love voicing their opinion on it, savvy marketers know this as a/b testing. Comparing product A to product B and seeing which one resonates with a user or a consumer is one of the most important tools a business owner, startup, or product manufacturer can use.

imagoo is bringing this same insight to any business. Available as a free iPhone app and on the Web, imagoo lets users upload photos to issue comparisons in the form of real-time polls, which are pushed to the imagoo community for anyone to vote on. It’s crowdsourced feedback in real time. And while users are having fun with the app – using it to ask other users which outfit they should buy while they’re still in the store, for example – businesses are getting on board, too.

Ranging from a casino to a clothing brand, businesses are already using the app to test their ideas in front of a random pool of customers before investing a ton of money and time into that idea. The implications are endless. A flower shop, for example, can now get reactions to two different bouquet arrangements before assembling them by the dozen in the store for customers.

We got a chance to interview the team behind imagoo. Check out the interview below.




What does your startup do?

imagoo is a real-time social polling app and Web platform that lets consumers, brands, and businesses issue challenges and comparisons and vote on content. Users can get advice on purchasing decisions, debate politics and challenge rival sports fans. Using imagoo’s challenge feature, users can go head-to-head with friends or other users to see whose car is cooler or what ring is prettier.

Who are the founders, and what are their backgrounds

Mickey Hernandez is founder and CEO of imagoo. With a background in economics from the University of Nevada Las Vegas, Hernandez’s analytical skills and passion for problem-solving fueled his desire to launch a startup. Raised in Las Vegas, Hernandez watched the city slowly transform into a tech hub and is excited to be a part of the growing entrepreneurial community.

What problem do you solve?

imagoo takes social polling to a whole new level. Moving beyond standard comparison features, imagoo enables users to go head-to-head against their friends or other users on the network by issuing ‘challenges.’ The result is a real-time poll pushed to the imagoo community in which anyone can vote to determine the winner, whether the debate is about sports teams, politics, food, fashion, or dozens of other categories. Beyond this peer-to-peer social function, brands and businesses can use both the challenge and polling features to gather instant feedback data from their target audiences. With people passionate about what they like and what they own, the challenge aspect of imagoo gives users a platform to engage in friendly competition and ask questions of the greater imagoo community.

Why does it matter?

Countless decisions are made each and every day by individuals and businesses alike, yet there are very few resources that make this decision making process both as simple and as informed as they ought to be. With a platform like imagoo, people are given the opportunity to ask for suggestions, assert their opinions and give companies feedback in a manner that is as fun as it is informative.

What are some of the milestones your startup has already reached?

In just about a month since our launch, imagoo has already accumulated around 17,000 downloads and seen more than 100,000 interactions on the app. We’re pretty excited about those milestones.

What are your next milestones?

We have a lot of exciting updates and new features in the pipeline. In the very near future, we will be incorporating power rankings. Stay tuned!

Where can people find out more? Any social media links you want to share?

@imagoochallenge or on Facebook

How to avoid hiring the wrong person for your startup


Nevada Startup SocialMatic Bringing Instagram To Life With Polaroid

Socialmatic,Instagram,Polaroid,Instagram camera,Nevada startup,las vegas startupI guess someone forgot to tell the founders of Las Vegas startup SocialMatic that bringing Instagram to life was done over 50 years ago with the first Polaroid. Of course the technology needs an update and a digital camera with an Instagram style face, some filters and Polaroid prints may just do the trick.

For now the company has entered into a binding agreement with C&A licensing an authorized Polaroid licensee and the same one that licenses the Polaroid One Step SX-70 image and likeness to Instagram.

Currently SocialMatic only has some really good mockups but they reportedly plan on bringing a product to market by 2014.

(photo: socialmatic)

“We are so proud to work together with C & A and Polaroid, giants of digital photography.” – said Mr. Antonio De Rosa, CEO of Socialmatic. “It ‘s been a long and difficult negotiation but we were strongly motivated to reach an agreement to create a small revolution in digital photography. This mix of Hardware and Software, together with our brand new photo social network will fill the gap between virtuality and reality.”

While the licensing deal has been struck with Polaroid it’s unclear whether they will need to do any licensing with Facebook, the owners of Instagram. The mockups look like one gigantic Instagram without the word Instagram on it.

One place where it may get a little hairy is the fact that Socialmatic plans to use the hardware to share pictures on their own photo based social network.

Would you buy an actual “Instagram Camera” tell us in comments below.

Vegas Tech Fund Startup Romotive Lands $5 Million Dollar Round, Prepares 3rd Generation Robot

Romotive,Las Vegas startup,Vegas Tech Fund,startup,startups,startup news,Pando DailyMany of you are familiar with the story of Romotive. This was the company that was building iPhone controlled robots in a mini assembly line in the founders’ apartment at the Ogden in Las Vegas. Of course if you’re familiar with Tony Hsieh’s Downtown Project or the Vegas Tech Fund you know that the Ogden building is entrepreneur and founder central.

Romotive has been making all the right moves. In the summer of 2011 the then three person company participated in the TechStars Seattle cohort. After that they launched a Kickstarter campaign to get their robots into the hands of backers.

It was that Kickstarter campaign that caught Hsieh’s eye. The story goes that Hsieh received the weekly email from Kickstarter highlighting some of the projects raising money at the time and Romotive was one of them. Hsieh reportedly liked their three minute video and actually knew a friend of theirs who was staying on his couch.

Hsieh is big on referrals in fact you can’t get a meeting with Hsieh or the Vegas Tech Fund without having a referral from inside the network. But like other tight knit organizations, once you’re in you’re in.

After Hsieh participated in a $1.5 million dollar round in December of last year the team relocated to their current home at the Ogden building. Business Insider reports that the team has grown to 18 and they are all living, playing and building robots together.

That’s all going to change now though as Romotive has just closed a $5 million dollar Series-A round. With that round the company plans on adding a few more employees and shifting production to a factory in China.  According to Geekwire, the round was led by Sequoia Capita with CrunchFund and SV Angels participating among others.

On top of the $5 million dollar round Romotive has gone back to Kickstarter to raise another $100,000 from the community. As they report in their Kickstarter pitch they are looking to broaden the robot by creating more apps and the $100,000 will be used to start that development program.

Romotive isn’t the first smartphone controlled robot startup to catch the eyes of David Cohen and the TechStars team. Orbotix, the Boulder based creator of the “Sphero” ball, accelerated at TechStars Boulder and had Brad Feld as one of their main mentors. Feld went on to participate in Orbotix seed round via his Foundry Group.  Orbotix has grown up big time as well. They recently announced a partnership for distribution in 1200 Target stores just in time for the holidays.


More on Romotive here

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Zappos Alum’s Las Vegas Startup: Fandeavor Brings Fans Up Close & Personal


Tony Hsieh’s company Zappos, the online shoe and clothing shop, is fueling a startup movement in Las Vegas that’s hard to rival anywhere else. Hsieh himself is dumping millions into the Las Vegas tech scene. He’s also very supportive of Zappos employees who have left his company to start their own startups in Las Vegas. One of those startups is Fandeavor.

Fandeavor is a new startup in Las Vegas that’s looking to match sports fans with over the top fan experiences that can’t be experienced any other way.

8newsnow reports that last November Fandeavor’s co-founders Tom Ellingson and Dean Curtis, who both used to work at Zappos, did a fan experiment. They were able to procure two sets of tickets to the Las Vegas Invitational basketball tournament at the Orleans Arena. Two fans paid $250 for the experience to see the Rebels beat the University of Southern California in the semi-finals. The other two fans paid $275 to see the rebels defeat UNC in the finals. Their seats were in an arena suite. They also received a pregame talk with an assistant UNLV coach, floor access to pre-game warm ups and a presentation at halftime on the floor with autographed basketballs.

At an August 5th soccer match between Real Madrid and Santos Laguna Fandeavor auctioned off a prize packaged for $575 which included on field, hospitality tent seats, free food and drink and an off-chance meeting with one of the players. They’ve also been able to put together packages for fans of professional bullriders and other UNLV games.

Currently the Fandeavor roster includes: UNLV, University of Southern California, Arizona State University, and Texas Christian University. Both Ellingson and Curtis have plans to continue to expand through the world of college sports, who are known for their passionate fans.

“We want to give the colleges a revenue stream that didn’t exist before,” Ellingson told 8newsnow. “They have assets that they may not be using up, like sideline passes. We want to help them monetize their hospitality assets.

Ellingson Continued: “One thing we want to do is give out stadium tours, which is something that doesn’t cost the university anything other than to have someone give the tour. We’d like to have the ability to get a fan into a press box when the announcers are going through their pre-game routines. We’d like them to have access to the locker room and weight room. These stadiums are shrines.”

The duo is also courting the NFL, NBA and Nascar. Like most of the other Zappos alumni, Fandeavor has raised $525,000 in financing including an investment from Hsieh himself. They plan on using the cash to help with expansion and marketing.


Check out Fandeavor here

Source: 8newsnow

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Las Vegas Startup: Instagripe Makes Customer Feedback Instant INTERVIEW

We’ve talked about some great startups lately that function in the customer feedback space. Entrepreneurs continue to try and streamline the process of getting store owner to know what store customer thinks, quick and efficiently. Long gone are the days that $10 off at Denny’s for calling a survey line, actually gets results.

Customer feedback is critical and it needs to happen quickly because these days people are looking for things to happen at the speed of the net.

Instagripe provides a platform that allows businesses to achieve “insanely responsive customer service”.   Like most other business segments founders are finding that customer service can be achieved quickest via mobile phone. Now a customer still in an establishment, can provide much needed feedback.

With Instagripe a customer can be anonymous if they’d like and they can also provide feedback instantly through their smartphone. Instagripe also allows you to leave feedback based on geo-location.

We got a chance to interview Instagripe’s Josh Payne. Check out the interview below:

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Las Vegas Startup: SpoonerSpot Prepares For Global Rollout


A new Las Vegas startup called SpoonerSpot is preparing for a global launch. Their socially charged recommendation platform has been in beta for a while. The develops are putting the finishing touches on the official public release and tidying up their website.

SpoonerSpot is trying to bridge the gap between the physical world and the world. This is achieved by users posting “spots” or places and recommending them on a global map for others to see. Its like a crowd sourced, map based version of Yelp.

SpoonerSpot was born when Las Vegas startup CitySpoon pivoted from a coupon platform along the lines of daily deals, to recommendations. Users, called “spooners” could report their own great or hot deals to the social community. Now the platform is for any kind of “spot” and soon it will encompass the globe.

The company did an extensive beta test which they report gave them lots of feedback:

Feedback from beta users of SpoonerSpot has allowed the site to increase its overall User Experience, continuously creating an even more engaging social networking platform. Beta user demand has given the team insights that has led to a notification system, so users can be updated on recent changes in their SpoonerSpot social network, a more robust layout that brings all of the site’s features to the forefront of the experience, and an easy to use method of finding friends on SpoonerSpot by searching for either user name or first and last name.

CitySpoon was launched in Las Vegas’ thriving startup community last summer and they pan to release the first version of their public product by the end of the week.


For more info on SpoonerSpot visit this site

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Las Vegas Startup: Rumgr Is Like A Garage Sale On Your Phone

We constantly hear about Google alumni and Facebook alumni who have moved on to greener pastures with their own startups. Today we turn to Las Vegas and a new mobile startup called Rumgr. It’s founders are alumni of online shoe site

The startup was born out of an idea from co-founder Dylan Bathurst. Las Vegas’ (which for a tv station does  a kick ass job of covering Vegas startups) reports that Bathurst was looking to unload some old housewares that he was storing with a buddy. He didn’t want to wake up early and have a garage sale, and most likely didn’t want to deal with a bunch of fake buyers wanting to paypal him $5,000 for his microwave in Nigeria, using craigslist.

So what he decided to do was take a bunch of pictures of the stuff he was selling and put those pictures on his phone. He showed off his wares to his friends and was able to sell everything. That’s when he thought to himself that this kind of thing would make a great app.

Bathurst teamed up with Ray Morgan and Alex Coleman two other developers who previously worked at Zappos the Las Vegas online shoe retailer. The three co-founders liken Rumger to a gigantic yard sale on a free app.

More after the break
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Las Vegas Startup: Hangover Heaven Hopes To Drip You Back To Life

This story has been making it’s way around the interwebs. It’s been vetted now, a number of times and while this may seem like something out of a movie, Hangover Heaven is very real.

A Las Vegas anesthesiologist, Jason Burke, came up with the idea for Hangover Heaven after realizing that most of the effects of a “hangover” are things that he regularly sees in a recovery room after surgery.  Burke decided that he could use mild doses of the drugs used to revive patients after surgery to get people back on their feet after a night of card playing and binge drinking.

Hangover Heaven has a fleet of IV equipped buses that will be strategically placed throughout Las Vegas’ infamous strip. They’ve already been approved for pickups at The Cosmpolitan, Hard Rock Hotel, The Paris and The Bellagio.

After you’ve been drinking and you need a little pick me up, simply board the bus and fork over Dr. Burke’s fee. There are three different plans available; the Redemption, Salvation and then In Room Treatment. The latter will set you back just $500 for the first person and $375 for each of your other drunk buddies.  They are discounting the Salvation package to an introductory price of just $150.

More after the break
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