The growth of Las Vegas’ technology community was evident Wednesday night at the Technology Business Alliance of Nevada awards.
Where the awards dinner two years ago was held in a country club, 2014’s ceremony took place in a nightclub.
“Just to think two years ago there might be eight people in the room, but last night we had 200-plus there,” said Lexi Glaser, president of the alliance.
The organization was rebranded two years ago to reflect the diversity of the tech scene, and 2014 awards honored groups from Switch, Downtown Project, UNLV, government and corporations.
Banjo, a live social-media news aggregator, was named technology company of the year. As described by CEO Damien Patton, it’s “the largest collection of social posts in the world, organized by location, time and distance.”
“If you search for something today, you go to Google,” Patton said. “But if you want to see what’s happening live any place in the world, you go to Banjo. It’s truly the live Internet.”
Among its uses are the ability to create social media timelines. On the anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings, Boston’s Fox affiliate used Banjo to stitch together observers’ views of the attack.
Patton founded Banjo in 2011 in Silicon Valley and opened a second office in Las Vegas in 2013. The company recently announced $16 million in additional funding, bringing the 2-year-old business’ fundraising tally to $23.5 million.
Patton moved to Las Vegas in 2002 but went to California to start his business. He commuted but eventually moved back. “I love Vegas as a place to live,” he said.
He also loves the community, the accessibility of direct flights, the cost of living and that clients travel here often.
Zach Ware was named entrepreneur of the year for Project 100, a car-subscription service that has access to Teslas.
Ware said Thursday he didn’t grow up wanting to be an entrepreneur, but ended up as one because sometimes it’s the most efficient way to make a difference.
Belief is key, he said, although creating new companies isn’t always necessary.
“The pattern throughout my life is that I’ve tackled big things I knew nothing about because I thought things could be done better. Doing that over and over again also means that I’ve spent most of my working life having no idea what I’m doing, which is terrifying and thrilling.”
Project 100 hired its 21st team member and is getting ready to soft launch this summer. It finalized its onboard hardware. The cars’ communication hardware, software and integrations systems were developed in-house.
Moveline, a website that helps people coordinate home moves, won tech transplant of the year. A group of 16 moved to Las Vegas from New York in 2013 and has since grown to 56. All new hires save a few are Las Vegas-based, and the company has a dozen open positions.
In the public sector, Thomas Wilczek of the governor’s economic development office was honored for his work to bring commercial drone testing to Nevada under a Federal Aviation Administration permit.
Jeff Oberschelp of CenturyLink won for tech entrepreneur. FSL3D, maker of the Pegasus 3-D printer, was recognized for its outstanding product desktop 3-D printer. And founders of Downtown Podcast won for “spirit.”
“Our main goal is to unify the voice of technology,” Glaser said of the alliance. “We want to be that place where UNLV and downtown and Switch and the casinos can come and be together.”
Contact reporter Kristy Totten at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-477-3809. Find her on Twitter: @kristy_tea.