Tony Hsieh, Founder Of Zappos And Downtown Project On Startup Communities [video][sxsw]

Tony Hsieh,Zappos,Downtown Project,Vegas Tech,startup,startups,startup communities,sxsw,sxswi

Tony Hsieh proudly points out that he is wearing a Zappos t-shirt. (photo NMI 2013)

Tony Hsieh isn’t just a guy who created a household brand, made money and then decided to give some to charity. Although his Downtown project, an effort to revitalize downtown Las Vegas, is funded largely by him, he is quick to point out that it takes a village to raise a startup community.

At South By Southwest over 200 people who identified as being part of the Vegas Tech community made the trek (on their own dime) from Las Vegas to Austin to be part of SXSW. More than double that number are participating in rebuilding the downtown area of Las Vegas that “tourists don’t really see” according to Hsieh.

Hsieh and other investors have pulled together $350 million dollars to build up the community around the old city hall building, which in six months will be the new world headquarters for Zappos. Hsieh originally thought that Zappos would build it’s own campus around the block city hall is on, but than decided that doing so would be too inward focused. While Google has a lot of real estate in Mountain View and Apple has a lot of real estate in Cupertino, both company’s campuses, for the most part, keep to themselves.

“Those campuses are really insular and don’t really integrate or  contribute to the community around them” Hsieh said of Nike, Google and Apple.

Hsieh is hoping that, by recruiting statup companies, small businesses and others to the downtown area, an ecosystem will flourish and surround his own company with creative, forward thinking people.

The Downtown Project has committed $50 million to invest in small businesses, $50 million to tech startup companies, $50 million to arts, education and music and $200 million to real estate. They are trying to deal with the statistic that when a cities size doubles productivity goes up 15%, but when companies get there productivity generally goes down.

Hsieh and company have already recruited 20 startups to downtown Las Vegas. They’ve also been able to get commitments from folks that love what they are doing in Las Vegas but for some reason can’t move there. Many people have committed to speaking to the Vegas Tech Community, holding office hours or doing other community minded things.

This entire plan was demonstrated in high gear through many events at SXSW where people were packed wall to wall. It wasn’t just the 200 Las Vegas people either, people from startup communities across the country and around the world were clamoring for the opportunity to hang out with the positivity bubble that surrounds Vegas Tech.

The Vegas Tech community was also on hand throughout SXSW Interactive to show off what the community is like in hopes that the SXSW Las Vegas event this summer will be a huge success.

Check out the video below of Hsieh speaking on the Startup Communities panel at SXSW 2013.

Vegas Tech threw an awesome party at SXSW click here for photos and video

We’ve got a ton more startup coverage from SXSW here

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: 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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