Surprising exactly no one, Las Vegas crushed every other city on our list for nightlife, landing in U.S. News & World Report's top spot. I mean, what else is there to say about the city whose bars don't have a closing time? We don't need to explain why this is the place for you if you want to "turn down for what," but we will say that there's a lot more to Vegas than nightlife, gambling, and wedding chapels. According to a recent report by the Kaufman Foundation, Las Vegas ranked among the top five metro areas for startup activity. One reason? Two men with deep pockets making big bets on the Vegas tech scene.
The first is Switch founder and CEO Rob Roy. He created and donated to the community the Innevation Center, a 65,000-square-foot collaborative workspace and community event venue.
The second is Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, who went even further. He invested $350 million to help revitalize Vegas through the Downtown Project, which includes $50 million to fund small businesses and $50 million to provide startup seed money through the Vegas Tech Fund.
Another driver of tech activity in Las Vegas is the Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), which oversees academic programs around entrepreneurship at the university. While many of their efforts are focused on the student body, folks at the Center work with the local tech community as well.
"We have business plan competitions [and] pitch competitions that are open to both students and community members," says Leith Martin, executive director of the UNLV Center for Entrepreneurship.
Kenny Eliason, owner of NeONBRAND, an SEO, web design, and social media company, has had a front-row seat to the tech explosion in his city.
"It kind of lit a fire here in Vegas where before there were just a couple of web dev shops," says Eliason. "There was not a lot of excitement before the Tech Fund and the start of all that money infusion."
Eliason says there are several other reasons why Las Vegas is becoming a top choice to live for tech entrepreneurs.
"It's a 24 / 7 town," says Eliason. "Programmers especially tend to work odd hours, so being here in Las Vegas, you can get your groceries at three in the morning. It's also an exciting town, there is just so much going on, but it's also a smaller town than you realize. You go to a couple of these networking events and start meeting people and before you know it, the influencers of the town are at your fingertips really quickly."