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Offshoot of popular South By Southwest conference heading to Las Vegas in 2013

SXSW V2V event will focus on tech startups

Updated Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2012 | 2:58 p.m.

South by Southwest, the massively popular set of movie, music and technology conferences staged annually in Austin, Texas, is expanding next year to Las Vegas with a new event focused on technology startup companies.

The four-day SXSW V2V event, announced Tuesday morning, will be at the Cosmopolitan starting Aug. 11, 2013.

The event will feature standard convention fare like panel discussions, workshops and pitch sessions with a focus on bringing entrepreneurs and investors from a wide range of industries— including technology, film, music, health, education and sustainability – together to work on turning promising ideas into successful businesses.

“With the growth and popularity of the startup-related programming across the SXSW family of events, it is clear that there is enough momentum to create a wholly unique and independent event focused on entrepreneurs,” SXSW V2V producer Christine Auten said in a statement. “It is about turning creative ideas into reality – bringing visionaries to Vegas.”

Las Vegas’ tech scene is still small compared to Silicon Valley or Austin, but it has been a hotbed for startup activity in recent years.

“Las Vegas is repositioning itself as a hub for innovators and digital creatives. We are excited about all the new energy in this city. This is the perfect place for this small, offshoot event to find its voice and grow as the Las Vegas tech scene emerges onto the national scene,” SXSW interactive director Hugh Forrest said in a statement.

Organizers say the V2V moniker stands for a number of different things, including “Visionaries to Vegas”, “Vision to Venture” and “Venture to Vegas.”

Gabriel Shepard, a local entrepreneur involved in the Las Vegas tech scene, said South by Southwest’s arrival helped validate efforts to build the industry locally over the past several years.

“It says we’re open for business, (that) we have a community here that is sustainable for tech startups and entrepreneurs,” Shepard said.

Shepard is organizing efforts for the nonprofit SxVegas, which will be traveling with local entrepreneurs and businesses in March to the South by Southwest festival in Texas. SxVegas will have a booth at the conference and host a cocktail hour and party to promote Las Vegas’s growing technology industry.

“The premise is we can do better as a community than we can individually. We’re pooling our resources to highlight the Vegas tech community as a whole,” Shepard said.

One of the biggest challenges facing Las Vegas startups is a lack of venture capital and seed money, Shepard said. Efforts by SxVegas and the arrival of the SXSW V2V conference will help draw more attention to Las Vegas and its businesses, he said.

“We imagine V2V getting to the point where we have the eyes of the world on us,” Shepard said. “That’s going to attract more attention from companies looking to invest in brilliant ideas that haven’t been discovered yet.”

South by Southwest started in the late 1980s in Austin as a small music festival, but it has grown over the decades to encompass multiple conferences and festivals each March with tens of thousands of attendees.

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