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Tech startup gets funding

A downtown Las Vegas company that aims to eliminate annoying passwords is getting a big funding boost.

LaunchKey, formed just five months ago, is slated to receive $750,000 in fresh investment, mostly from Vegas Tech Fund.

The news means LaunchKey will have the cash to hire employees and continue toward its goal of having a product available for private testing within a few months.

“We will be working 80-hour weeks once we really get going now,” said co-founder Devin Egan.

The funding is also significant because of its timing. The announcement was scheduled Friday during downtown Las Vegas’ first Tech Cocktail Week, an educational and networking event for technology investors and innovators.

“As a community … we’re beginning to see the tide turn on critical mass,” said Zach Ware, a Vegas Tech Fund partner, of the burgeoning downtown tech scene.

LaunchKey joins about a dozen other companies in the Vegas Tech Fund portfolio.

The idea behind the startup is to replace passwords with a process that is easier and more secure.

In short, LaunchKey wants to use software to connect mobile phones to participating websites.

Rather than recalling and typing in a login and password to use a website, users could click on a LaunchKey button and receive a message on their mobile phone to verify their identity.

The founders say it’s better than passwords because it can’t be hacked over the Internet like a password.

“On the website side … it takes the liability of the passwords away, on the consumer side it makes it a lot easier to not have to remember all those passwords,” Egan said.

The idea behind LaunchKey formed in July during a Tech Startup weekend, another downtown Las Vegas event.

During Tech Startup weekends, aspiring founders can pitch ideas to a group of peers. Teams form around the best ideas and spend the rest of the weekend preparing a demonstration of the proposal for a panel of judges.

After the judges, a group that included Ware, selected LaunchKey as the winner the co-founders worked to develop the idea to the point it could receive the latest boost from investors.

Ware said the days and weeks to come will probably be frenetic and energizing for the startup.

“Once you actually have the investment, I think it is invigorating and terrifying at the same time,” Ware said. “It is real.”

Contact reporter Benjamin Spillman at bspillman@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0285 .

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