Taking Over the Southwest

If Gabe Shepherd has his way, the buzz at next year’s SXSW interactive conference won’t be generated by an app or website but by the Las Vegas technology community. Sounds like a lofty goal, but the local entrepreneur is no stranger to overcoming the odds. In 2003, Shepherd came to Las Vegas with $3,000 and gave himself three weeks to find a job. He quickly lost his money playing craps and was on the verge of leaving town when he was offered an IT job with Boyd Gaming.

Nine years later and now operating a successful Web development shop, Shepherd returned to Las Vegas in March from Austin, Texas, where he had attended SXSW. The conference hosted many of the brightest minds in the tech community, but Shepherd didn’t feel inspired the same way he does here. So he thought, “Why not bring the spirit of Las Vegas to SXSW?”

That thought set into motion the concept of SxVegas. Planned as a series of events at SXSW 2013, SxVegas will highlight the tech-related activities taking place in our city and promote Las Vegas as a hotbed for tech entrepreneurs.

“Rather than all of us going to SXSW individually and marketing our startups and products,” Shepherd says, “what if we marketed the tech community as a whole and that became the product?”

Shepherd has quickly rallied the city’s tech scene around the idea. At the official SxVegas launch announcement on May 10 at downtown’s technology library, people were spilling out the doors to learn about Shepherd’s vision.

“Imagine if we came [to Austin] with 150 people swarming Sixth Street in Vegas Tech tees with a Vegas Tech bat signal in the sky, a Vegas Tech ad draped over a building and all these Vegas Tech people on panels.”