Its essence was captured in a photo.
Thursday night at Up Summit, a conference for Startup Weekend organizers, two men from warring Israel and Palestine clasped hands for a picture in a photo booth and vowed to share each other’s stories.
The interaction, said Startup Weekend CEO Marc Nager, is what the conference represents.
“It’s about creating and building with people we love,” said Nager, whose team is based in Seattle.
Organizers of Startup Weekends from all over the world converged on downtown Las Vegas Thursday through Sunday for Up Summit. The fourth annual conference, held at The Learning Village on Fremont and Seventh streets, connects facilitators of the 54-hour competitions to launch startups with the goal of networking and helping to improve their events.
Conference activities were dubbed “learning experiences” and “fun experiences” — the former being motivational and how-to talks, and the latter being excursions such as indoor skydiving or horseback riding in Red Rock Canyon.
Startup Weekend founding partner Google for Entrepreneurs hosted a handful of sessions about marketing, innovation, growing community and improving live demonstrations.
More than 500 attendees came from 75 countries, including Brazil, Mexico, India, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and Ghana.
Past summits were held in Kansas City, Mo.; Austin, Texas; and Rio De Janeiro. Las Vegas was chosen for its growing startup scene. At the event kickoff on Thursday, Nager called Las Vegas “the biggest epitome of building a startup community.”
“Las Vegas is really happening right now for startups,” said Lasse Chor, a Startup Weekend community leader from Denmark, who as a teenager founded Denmark’s first online record store.
Chor, who is now an investor, cited the city’s “density of network” and investor presence as two of the biggest draws. He said his friends in San Francisco are considering moving to Nevada.
“It feels like people are here for each other and helping each other out,” he said.
Which isn’t always the case.
The world of a entrepreneur is often solitary, said Joey Pomerenke, Startup Weekend’s chief marketing officer, who started his first company while in college.
“As an entrepreneur, you’re kind of on your own island,” Pomerenke said. “It’s lonely and there’s no one to bounce ideas off.”
That’s what Up Summit seeks to change. Entrepreneurship, Nager said, transcends cultural barriers.
“To create is to be human,” Nager said. “It’s natural to identify problems and want to solve them.”
Contact reporter Kristy Totten at email@example.com or 702-477-3809. Find her on Twitter: @kristy_tea.