Las Vegas Sun

March 27, 2015

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Joe Downtown: Got a business idea but no funding? Try this

Any given day downtown on East Fremont Street will find people gazing at vacant lots or price-guessing as they point toward decrepit buildings.

The air of new and potential business is a constant buzz, especially at The Beat coffeehouse, where it seems daily that deals are literally being made or ideas are landing for the first time.

One of those ideas playing out on a tiny coffee table underneath the store’s logo comes by way of two sisters from Reno. Constance Aguilar and Abbi Whitaker, owner of The Abbi Agency, were in town Wednesday promoting a state plan to give $100,000 to the people who come up with the best business idea.

“Project Vesto” is asking for one-page business models from entrepreneurs who can demonstrate “real growth potential.” When 10 finalists are chosen, Nevada residents will be able to vote online for the winner, who will get $100,000 to invest in his or her business idea.

Prize money comes from “private investors and venture capitalists,” Aguilar said.

Winners are required to become “Nevada-based entities and hold a state business license.” The competition is open to all startups with less than $1 million in revenue and less than $100,000 in external equity investment.

The project is the result of a collaboration between the Nevada Institute for Renewable Energy Commercialization and the governor’s Office of Economic Development.

Entry deadline is Dec 31. See for more info.

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