Ice Trey takes first place at Las Vegas’ Startup Weekend

The second time’s the charm for two members of Ice Trey, the first-place winner at Las Vegas’ seventh Startup Weekend, held Friday through Sunday at the Startup Center at University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Ice Trey was created by designer Melissa Volkmann, developer Mike Cao, business developer Dan Ebel and digital marketer Drea Lung.

Ice Trey uses simple profiles to connect professionals with similar and complementary skills. Whereas other professional networking sites require exhaustive profiles, Ice Trey is meant to be a quick way to make acquaintances and maximize time spent at professional events.

“It’s a way to facilitate meeting people with complementary skill sets at events and conferences by helping to break the ice,” Cao said.

The team plans to market the website to event organizers who can add the step to their registration processes.

Volkmann and Cao were part of team that won second place during Startup Weekend in August. Ebel, who has participated in Startup Weekend twice before, helped create Room Champ, which won second place during Startup Weekend No. 5 in May.

Volkmann said she and Cao initially attended the event to continue work on, the website they created three months ago that aggregates content from Imgur, Reddit and Pinterest and presents the content in the form of tiles, but decided at the last minute to take another route.

“The idea for Ice Trey came from professional and personal experience,” Volkmann said.

For example, Ice Trey would’ve helped form teams at Startup Weekend.

Taunts!, a game that challenges players to random mini games, took second place. Neighborhood Conquest, a app that combines gaming elements with Four Square-like check-ins, took third.

The top two winners from each Startup Weekend are invited to submit videos to a global competition that offers up a total of $500,000 in prizes.

Startup Weekend Vegas was judged by Scott Purcell, founder and CEO of Arctic Island; Janet Runge, an entrepreneurship expert at UNLV; Brady Dehn, vice president of strategy for Originate; and Dominic Marrocco, serial entrepreneur, member of the UNLV engineering advisory board and namesake of the Dominic Anthony Marrocco Southern Nevada Business Plan Competition.

About 50 percent of participants were UNLV students, much higher than in past events, and each of the top-three teams had at least one UNLV student.

“It was a great experience for us to be able to go down to UNLV and build those connections and relationships at the local university,” Ebel said. “I’d like to see more connection between downtown and the tech community and the university in the future.”

Contact reporter Kristy Totten at or 702-477-3809. Follow kristy_tea on Twitter.

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