A cosmetic surgeon wants to do something to help Las Vegas, his adopted hometown, replace its Sin City image with a new iumage — that of a growing tech center.
Meet Dr. Samir Pancholi, the man behind the fledgling Launching Las Vegas competition.
He was born and raised in Pennsylvania and says his education carried him “from Pennsylvania, to Missouri, to Michigan, to Ohio, to Kentucky, and Oklahoma” attaining different degrees.
“I did my undergraduate at Penn State and then after there I went to Still University in Missouri and from there Ohio University,” he explained, “I went to Ohio University for my internship, and then I did my residency in otolaryngology and also facial plastic surgery at Michigan State and from there I did my general cosmetic surgery fellowship in Oklahoma.”
Las Vegas was a logical choice for him to set down roots, start a practice, and make this his home. “I wanted to be somewhere warm because I had been everywhere cold.” He says while looking, he wanted “a place where I could go travel; I wanted a city that had a lot of opportunities professionally, and also to go out and entertain myself.”
Las Vegas had everything Dr. Pancholi was looking for in a city and he says “it just kind of worked out for me…it was an easy decision” to choose Las Vegas.
With a thriving practice Dr. Pancholi is moving forward in community participation through a new program he’s developed called Launching Las Vegas, which will be an annual competition and award for new tech companies in Las Vegas.
The first winner, announced last month, is Find Veggies, a cross-platform mobile app that will bring the farmers market right to your phone. The porize is $1,000. Stitch Factory collected $250 for finishing second.
“Our community has a growing number of wonderful startup companies and entrepreneurs innovating new products, technology, and services,” Dr. Pancholi says. “I’m thrilled that I could help highlight some of their hard work through this award.”
Dr. Pancholi, who operates Cosmetic Surgery of Las Vegas, is president of the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery.
Q. How did you develop the Launching Las Vegas Award?
A. Now, it’s been almost 10 years for me here. What we do here is essentially make people look and feel better about themselves. I’ve really adopted this city; I really like this city, and I like it more when people don’t talk about casinos and I love it when they don’t call it “Sin City.” So I want and I love developing — or having any sort of role in developing — the other half, the arts and the and the businesses and everything else.
I thought when Zappos came that was great. Big tech firm, here you are.
I know just how I had to start off. There’s a lot of struggles that can come with it. You can go and get the financial backing though banks and so forth but a little notoriety and support can get you further. So, what I did was went and found some companies that met the criteria I wanted. I wanted them to be less than five years old. We wanted them to based, or have offices in Las Vegas, and we wanted to find something that we thought was cool.
And so we went and found some companies, reached out to them, told them about what we were doing and we found the people that were interested. And said alright, we’re going to put this contest together and we want you to reach out to your base and get them to vote for you; and vote for you because they like your business and they think your business is better than the other businesses that were out there.
So, having done that, we had two companies that really took things to task. They were Fine Veggies and The Stitch Factory; they counted for almost two-thirds of all the votes.
Q. For those businesses interested in entering next year, how does it work and who can enter?
A. Right now, because it was the first year, there really was no entering. This was more of us choosing. We went and sought out companies that met criteria that we wanted or felt were important. So, in the future, I think it will be more you can enter as opposed to we will go and select. They will certainly still have criteria; that you have to be new, you have to be an up and coming business, and in the tech industry.
Q. Why is the focus on Las Vegas Tech industry specifically?
A. Well, one, I like technology so that’s part of it. The other part of is these are businesses that can grow very rapidly. And, they tend to require more and more employees and so forth. It has the greatest potential to grow quickly and that’s how we can help this community, the Las Vegas community get bigger faster and also it’s one of the fastest growing sectors. Everything we do is based off of technology. And outside that I find it interesting, I think it also has the most potential to grow.
Q. What advice would you give startups to attract capital and investors?
A. Well, outside of the basic of having a good business plan, you have to know where you are going with things. And one of the things for me was really realizing where I wanted to go and how I was going to get there. A lot of the financial idioms that we hear regularly are that you don’t want to go and live like you’re a millionaire when your not; but you do want to go and look at what can you accomplish and how can you accomplish it effectively. And so I would say you need to have a proper business plan and that’s the biggest part of it. Because not only will it get you the financing, it will also allow you to tell your story in a way that people understand it and they’re going to buy into it. But if you just have an idea, which we all seem to have, everybody has an idea but you don’t know how to execute it and you can’t think of what’s happening next year, next week, next month, in five years, your likelihood of succeeding starts to go down.