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Startups raise big bucks during Las Vegas angel investor conference

Half the companies participating in a “Shark Tank”-like pitch session walked away with cash during the Southern Nevada Angel Conference, sponsored by business incubator StartUpNV and held at Las Vegas City Hall last week.

StartUp NV co-founder and executive director Jeffrey Saling said three of the six companies pitching on the main stage raised a total of $525,000. Two other startups raised capital during a lunch event.

Reno-based Right Hearted Weddings, a wedding planning app with a Tinder-like functionality allowing users to swipe left or right on vendors, raised $50,000 during the main pitch event. CareShare Manager, a Las Vegas-based provider of cloud-based software to help long-term care facilities manage patient information while updating families, also raised $50,000 while Reno-based women’s underwear subscription box Panty Drop pulled in a total of $425,000.

Two of the firms that pitched during the event’s lunchtime angel investing course — Reno-based insurance managing general agency iDemand Insurance and Las Vegas-based EdTech platform Socrates — raised $525,000 and $200,000, respectively.

Panty Drop wants more customers to sign up for its women’s underwear subscription box, but the Reno-based startup needs more capital.

“We are raising capital primarily for growth,” Julie Arsenault, founder of Panty Drop, said before the main pitch event. “A big part of our round is going into marketing — testing and identifying the most valuable ways to acquire customers. We will invest about 70 percent towards growth and 20 percent into operational efficiencies.”

The one-day conference featured educational sessions geared toward startup companies and accredited investors. Attendees gained advice on navigating the startup ecosystem such as the fundamentals of angel investing and capital stage requirements for startups. The sessions preceded the conference’s main event: the one-and-a-half-hour pitch session.

Fostering the state’s startup and angel investing community is the reason StartUpNV launched the conference, Saling said.

“We have awesome founders and really interesting companies being formed, but everybody struggles with early stage funding,” Saling said in an interview before the Oct. 10 event. “There’s plenty of wealth in Las Vegas. It’s not like there’s no money. It’s just a question of getting people inspired and focused on wanting to invest in startups in their community.”

More than 100 companies applied for a chance to pitch at this year’s conference, but only six were selected for the main event.

“It was hard to narrow it down, (and) we didn’t limit it to just Nevada,” he said. “We had companies from Russia, South America and Poland. I was surprised they found us and applied.”

Contact Subrina Hudson at shudson@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0340. Follow @SubrinaH on Twitter.

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