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Got an idea for a tech startup? You could get up to $10K

Updated July 8, 2024 - 6:43 pm

Las Vegas entrepreneur Michael DeLucca is looking to grow his hospitality-based tech startup and the overall tech scene in the area.

DeLucca, the CEO of Red Carpet VIP, a concierge service company, founded in 2021 Otsy, a travel app that shows social media videos of travel experiences that people can book. As DeLucca plans to grow Otsy in Las Vegas, he wants to help build the Vegas tech scene both for his own company and others in the region and has started a mentorship program called Scared to Scale.

“I’d like to see a lot of innovation come out of Las Vegas like some of the other cities, and if I can help jump-start it or kick-start it in the right direction, it only benefits us for attracting top-tier talent,” he said.

Details of program

The Scared to Scale program will host monthly networking events and about four pitch events a year where entrepreneurs can share their ideas and possibly get an investment of up to $10,000 from DeLucca and other partners that created the program.

The first event was held in June and the first pitch event should happen in September, DeLucca said. He said Scared to Scale currently has about $250,000 in its fund to give to founders.

The program can also connect founders to a network of both financial and tech experts who can help with building a startup.

More opportunities like this are needed for entrepreneurs in Las Vegas since people in the tech scene aren’t very connected to each other and it’s hard for many early-stage tech founders to make these connections.

“These aren’t sales guys,” DeLucca said. “These are kids that are video gaming all day. They’re not going to walk up in a mixer and start shaking hands and kissing babies. … It has to be structured.”

Can it make difference?

Creating this program and effort to help foster early career tech people is good for Southern Nevada, said Jeff Saling, the executive director of StartUpNV, a nonprofit that also focuses on building the tech scene in Nevada through funding startups and creating programs for entrepreneurs.

“The more of us doing it, the more attractive the (Las Vegas tech) ecosystem becomes,” Saling said.

Saling said he isn’t familiar with DeLucca but thinks as long as he is earnest about helping entrepreneurs and providing capital then Scared to Scale should help Las Vegas and its economy.

Even though $10,000 isn’t a lot when it comes to funding tech companies it can be pivotal for early-stage startups since it’s “brutal” for startups to find funding during this stage, Saling said. He also said that it has become harder to find investors in recent years as interest rates have risen.

“It’s an investor’s market,” Saling said. “Many people have closed their wallets.”

Next steps

DeLucca hopes to grow the Scared to Scale program with other tech programs and community members in Nevada like StartUpNV in the future. He said this program and similar ones can help shape the Las Vegas tech scene which still has a lot of room for growth.

“We have a potential to kind of shape what it looks like,” DeLucca said. “It’s not already done, and you have to operate within the box that somebody else built. We can build whatever box we want for tech.”

Contact Sean Hemmersmeier at shemmersmeier@reviewjournal.com. Follow@seanhemmers34 on X.

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