Local Companies Compete for Startup Money; Vegas Firm Wins

By  | 

UPDATE: NIREC is proud to announce Sport-Social as the winner of Project Vesto. Sport-Social, a Nevada startup servicing the needs of children with autism and other special needs, will be awarded the business competition’s top prize and opportunity for $100,000 in seed funding and support. Andrew Devitt, a 22-year old therapist for children with autism, started Sport-Social in 2011 with just $15,000. In the past 20 months Sport-Social has grown to employing 20 people and servicing 225 children per week using action sports, team sports, and the arts to provide an ideal environment for social interaction.

As the winner of Project Vesto, Sport-Social will receive a $25,000 check during an awards ceremony at its place of business during the next month (date and time to be announced). The Las Vegas startup will then be required to achieve important milestones established by Project Vesto and experienced industry mentors in order to receive the full prize.


RENO, NV - A dozen Nevada companies are in the running for a hundred-thousand-dollar grant to kick their ideas into high gear.

The Nevada Institute for Renewable Energy Commercialization sponsors Project Vesto to help kickstart new businesses in Nevada.

One is an educational company that's designed a program to teach foreign languages over the internet; the other has designed an app that aims to get people outdoors and will track their progress as they hike, bike or ski anywhere in the world.

Loogla co-founder Tyler Ulrich says, "We're really getting results from people. It's the most rewarding thing we could ever hope for."

Loogla is a project years in the making... a web-based application designed to help people learn a foreign language at their own pace... focusing on their personal interests.

"You can go to any webpage, a band or sports team something you love, in a foreign language. Then we transform it into lessons and activities that are provided by a community of instructors so you get the best teachers from all over the world and you get to follow the things you love."

The program lets language teachers combine activities, lessons, video quizzes and more into any page on the web, with the opportunity to connect with tutors for one-on-one training. Founders Tyler Ulrich and Jen Peck came up with the idea when they were living in South
America. Now their dream is a reality

"To watch it really materialize, we demo the thing and if I may be so bold, jaws drop when we do the demos, so it's really fulfilling to see it come to fruition. There are 12 finalists and we are the only educational company and we have the power to impact millions of lives and really revolutionalize education."

Another finalist in the competition is Hotlap.co, an app that uses GPS technology to track your performance as you recreate, train or race. It's interactive and works all over the world. You can even compete for prizes.

Co-founder Nicholas Vandermade says, "This app is really meant to get people outdoors, participate in healthy activities. We want to incentivize people to be outdoors; we want them to go out for a mountain bike ride and perhaps they can win something."

Vandermade is a UNR graduate and avid motocross racer. He says this app will help competitive racers and casual enthusiasts take their game to the next level.

"It tracks speed, elevation... if you have a heart monitor it tracks that. They can start from beginning to advanced. If people want to start from the bottom, we want to be there too to show them their progress."

Both of these ideas are still in the testing phase, but should be on the market soon.

This competition is down to the wire... a dozen companies total, seven of them from northern Nevada, and you only have until Friday to get your vote in. The link to the website is below, and we should know by next week which company will take home the hundred-thousand-dollar prize