The following is part seven in a series detailing the efforts of UI students as they work alongside influential Las Vegas entrepreneurs, including Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, to help reimagine the city’s downtown area. View the full series.
By Storm Vaske and Natalie Conlon
After a semester of anticipation the day was finally here where we met the man who was making this all possible: Tony Hsieh. We entered the morning in shark infested water, although to our surprise there wasn’t a lot of bloodshed.
After pitching our ideas in a mock “Shark Tank” with some members of the Downtown Project and receiving their feedback, we split into small groups and worked furiously on our projects to prepare for our final pitch to Tony Hsieh.
We spent the day modifying our projects and meeting with graduate teaching assistants to practice our pitches, and problem solving issues with our ideas.
Tensions were high as we walked from The Ogden over to Container Park where we finally met with the top dogs of the Downtown Project to reveal our three final projects. These three projects ranged from artistic to health conscious to technological.
Rena and Chelsea pitched Frozendipity, a mobile vegan frozen yogurt business which is paired with a health education initiative.
Drew, Storm, Mike, and Sevy pitched Intersections, an interactive game at intersections that causes serendipitous interactions among pedestrians waiting at crosswalks.
Phil, Natalie, Ashley, and Bill pitched a community arts project bridging the gap between two distinct districts with a great potential to collaborate.
As we nervously, yet confidently presented our projects, Tony attentively considered our ideas and provided constructive criticism and suggestions to improve them. Our Reimagining Downtown Tribe, as we like to call it, is now ready to reunite in Iowa City and get moving on additional adjustments so that we can finally narrow down to one final idea.
We were all extremely proud of one another after the weeks events. Having such a great opportunity to actually visit the downtown area and put our ideas into perspective has allowed us to expand our thinking.
Moving forward, we are all anxious to make something meaningful happen in Las Vegas and show the generational voice of ‘20-somethings’! Stay tuned for future updates.