The charismatic CEO of Zappos.com, Tony Hsieh, invested millions to turn Las Vegas into a startup utopia. He purchased 60 acres, established his own school, venture fund and even invested in his own medical clinic, restaurants and other businesses. Even though there have been hiccups along the way, one might say Hsieh developed an innovation city all in his own image.
Many an entrepreneur has opted to make a go of it as a part of this community. A few were born and raised in Las Vegas. Others have moved across country to be a part of something bigger than themselves. If you are thinking about making the move to Sin City, here are some reasons it may fit your start-up.
Small Town Feel
Most cities in the U.S. that have a well-developed startup and tech community already are large in population and in terms of the diversification of their economies. San Francisco, Seattle and Austin are obvious examples. Because these cities have well developed economies, they have lost much of that "small town feel." The Las Vegas Valley is somewhat different. Although it is geographically spread out and has more than a million residents, there is a supportive and small feel to the downtown area, where much of the local tech scene exists. The city recently launched its own domain name in an effort to help small business growth. The community has a desire to succeed and therefore, many people who live there say it nurtures a culture of camaraderie and giving.
It's Good On Your Wallet
Las Vegas is a good economic choice. If you're coming from San Francisco, the average cost right now for a 1-bedroom apartment is around $3000 per month, and they're scarce. In Las Vegas, you are able to get a three-bedroom home with a swimming pool for $1,800 per month, or purchase one for under $100,000. It is simple to do the math and check how you dramatically can help your company's chances for growth by trimming living expenses for your staff members. Additionally, you do not need to pay your staff members as much as you might in a big startup city for them to have the same (or possibly a better) quality of life.
The State Incentivizes You
Nevada certainly is set up for small businesses to thrive. Service-associated businesses are in a position to test their products in a huge population. Early-stage start-ups have potentially lengthier runways than in Silicon Valley or other locations. Nevada's income tax rate is zero, founders sometimes have a simpler time hiring cheaper developer talent, and office space comes cheap.
For an example, take Hartej Singh Sawhney, an entrepreneur who relocated recently to the Las Vegas. He works and lives out of the Ogden, a premium apartment complex downtown, and he pays $2,500 per month for a personal suite, as well as office space for his start-up. That is a tiny fraction of what it would cost to house a company in New York or even Denver.
Great for Expansion
The gaudy lights and thousands of tourists on the Vegas strip may have become a cliche, but the city's startup scene is definitely not. It is in its infancy, therefore it lacks the traditions and cliques of older communities. The Downtown Project has a goal to remain flexible. Leaders have absolutely emerged, yet if you move to town and you have a desire to become involved, nobody will discourage you. As a matter of fact, leadership and innovation are highly encouraged. "Firsts" will take place there each week. It is an solid place for a start-up to expand.
For all of its attractions, the Las Vegas start-up scene still is tiny as compared with many other regions. This might not matter much for early-stage start-ups, yet for later-phase businesses, Las Vegas offers generally less accessibility to capital, potential partners, and engineering talent. Just as it always has been, Vegas is a bit of a wild frontier town. If you decide to base your startup there, you are embarking on an adventure that may mean more hardships than you expect. However, don't be surprised if like many people who came before you, it turns out to be your lucky day in the end.