For six years, John Todero worked to build his marketing company Dyverse in Orlando. He decided to relocate over 2,000 miles away with his small team still in Orlando. John tells us about what spurred his decision to move to the hopeful lights of Downtown Las Vegas.
While the number one benefit of being an entrepreneur is the freedom from others telling you what to do and how to do it, the truth is, running a company also comes with a lot of responsibilities that can tie you down. Always working long hours to make sure everything gets done on time and ensuring that everyone stays productive, I never felt it was the right time to up and move — even though I’d felt the urge for awhile.
After grinding it out for six years in Downtown Orlando running my marketing company, Dyverse, I had a real longing to spread my wings and explore what living in other cities would be like. All the same, I had a small in-house team working with me and I wasn’t sure if our foundation was strong enough yet to be working remotely from different cities.
Meanwhile in October 2012, we launched a new concept called LiveUrbn.com, an apartment locator service with a social mission that promotes living and working in a city’s urban core. For years I’d felt that urban development could be a major solution for many economic and environmental issues, and I’m a big believer in the power of walkable urbanism. “Living urban” facilitates a more exciting social and walkable lifestyle and helps create communities and collaboration.
Learning about what Tony Hsieh was doing with the Downtown Project in Las Vegas inspired me to be a part of it — so much so that I finally made the decision to take a chance and move out here.
The Downtown Inspiration
What’s going on here in Downtown Vegas is unique. I often use the analogy that Tony Hsieh is creating a real-life Disney World, building businesses, streetscapes, characters, a city from scratch. Every month there is something new in the works.
One of the most amazing aspects of the Downtown Project is how bottom-up most of the development has been. Yes, there’s a lot of money being invested in real estate and construction, but there are no mega projects trying to change Downtown Vegas in one fell swoop.
Instead there are many relatively low-cost, high return-on-community initiatives like the Container Park — a converted shipping container multispace for retail, restaurants, and recreation; Work in Progress — a coworking, learning, and meeting space; and the Learning Village, made up of a series of portable trailers where some of the world’s top thought leaders regularly contribute to the Downtown Speaker Series.
A small billboard promoting the Downtown Speaker Series claims “Downtown Makes You Smarter.” I couldn’t agree more with this statement, as I often feel like I’m getting a free MBA with all the talks and mentors I’ve had access to since I moved here.
Right now the Downtown Project is about one year into a five-year initial plan. It’s really incredible what has been done already and I’m excited to see what takes shape over the next several years.
Meeting the Remote Work Challenge
The good news is I couldn’t be happier that I made the decision to move out to Vegas. I found that I was more than capable of working with my team remotely, and I’ve actually seen a lot of growth in my core business Dyverse since I moved here.
Saying that, running a company and working with a remote team offers its challenges. To help keep things running as smoothly as possible, while not being around my team physically, we rely on a few key communication and organization tools. Skype is our main day-to-day method for easy communication, and we also use Codebase as our project management software.
We started using iDoneThis after I met its CEO and Vegas Tech community member Walter Chen. iDonethis is a simple but useful tool that keeps everyone posted on what each member of the team has accomplished for the day. I’m excited about anything that helps improve communication between myself and my remote team.
It’s important to find the right tools for distributed teams, and I support any that help facilitate the ability to work from anywhere and “LiveUrbn”!
Looking Ahead to LiveUrbn
I’d always thought I’d move to a bigger startup scene like New York or San Francisco. Vegas had never even really entered my mind as a possibility. But as someone passionate about urban development and what the Downtown Project was doing, I believed Downtown Vegas was the best place for me to grow my company.
It’s been seven months since I moved to Las Vegas. I’m currently working on getting some traction with LiveUrbn, and potentially partnering in some capacity with the Downtown Project. As with any startup, there have been unexpected setbacks and figuring out exactly what LiveUrbn should be. When we first launched LiveUrbn, the idea was to start in six major start-up cities, but now we’ve decided to focus on one test market — Downtown Las Vegas!
It feels great to know that if I want to, I have the freedom to work from any location and still grow my business. That freedom is what the essence of “LiveUrbn” is all about, and what we hope to help others accomplish.
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