The usual suspects from the Las Vegas business community – banks, insurance companies and accounting firms – on Wednesday dotted the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce Business Expo floor at World Market Center.
But one row of exhibition booths, marked with a street sign reading, "Innovation Avenue," hosted a new generation of chamber members: the startups putting Vegas tech on the map.
Las Vegas tech was represented by social collaboration tool Tracky, graphics startup Walls 360, event-ticketing site Ticket Cake, polling platform Wedgies and business-to-business system ALICE Receptionist.
Innovation Avenue was the chamber’s inaugural effort to emphasize economic diversification efforts by featuring a "pop-up business community" for startups at the expo, spokeswoman Cara Roberts said.
"The fact that people are looking to Las Vegas to start a business, to bring new technology, bodes well for our future," Roberts said. "Helping to make these new startups successful is to going to help the entire business community."
For more than 20 years the chamber expo has been a forum for members to display their wares and to network. This is the first year that technology companies have been promoted at the expo. Participants described it as a win for everybody: the chamber gets to expand its membership base, and the Vegas tech scene is legitimized by support from the old-school business community.
"The technology scene has never gotten a lot of support from the community," said Mike Yoder, chief technology officer of Wintech LLC. "That’s really started to change in the last year."
Wintech was showcasing its ALICE Receptionist product at the expo. "ALICE, A Live Interactive Customer Experience," is a virtual receptionist system that connects customers with employees using two-way video. Wintech launched the mobile version of ALICE at the expo.
The tech startups showcasing their sites said the chamber, led by public relations coordinator Adam Kramer, has intensified efforts to bring them into the fold.
"We’re new to the community and we don’t get out much," said Walls 360 co-founder John Doffing, who was representing the company with wife, Tavia Campbell. Walls 360 joined the chamber this week to participate in the expo.
Doffing said the chamber and the Nevada Development Authority have introduced him and Campbell to so many influential people that, after a short nine months in Las Vegas, he already recognizes many faces around town.
Event-ticketing startup Ticket Cake is hoping to make the same connections. The company moved to Las Vegas from Salt Lake City a month ago to join downtown redevelopment efforts led by Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh’s Downtown Project. The company handed out Retro Bakery cupcakes as an enticement for attendees who might let Ticket Cake handle ticket sales for their upcoming events.
Some 150 exhibitors and 2,000 attendees turned out for the event – including startups seeking the exposure that could let them break into the big time.
Contact reporter Caitlin McGarry at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-5273.