06/10/2013 02:54 pm ET Updated Aug 10, 2013

Searching for Hidden Startups Across America

Startups are everywhere but they are often not heard or seen. They are working either by themselves or in small teams in coffee shops and coworking spaces fueled by caffeine and a dream. While there are large events in New York and San Francisco as well as festivals like South By Southwest (SXSW) that give startups a chance to shine, there is still a large part of the country producing early-stage startups in a vacuum.

For the past several years, my team at Tech Cocktail has taken on the mission to try to give these startups and regions a voice. Since 2006 we've been going to cities around the U.S. looking for these startups, providing free space for them to demo to local audiences, and writing about them on our national blog to increase their exposure and reach.

To build on our events around the U.S., today I'm very excited to announce a startup competition & conference called "Tech Cocktail Celebrate" to be hosted this year in downtown Las Vegas, October 23rd -25th. While we will continue producing regional startup showcases across the country, from Boise to Boston, Dallas to DC, uncovering the hottest startups, we're now giving these events a larger purpose and inviting qualifying winners from those regional events to Vegas to pitch in front of an audience of influencers, media, and investors. They'll be vying for investment and the Tech Cocktail Chalice. Along with the startup pitches, the event will also gather top-notch speakers to share experiences from their own entrepreneurial journeys.

Of course there are other large startup events out there such as Disrupt, DEMO and Launch, but we think our grassroots approach, touring around the nation and working with local community ambassadors to uncover startups, brings a special flavor to the mix. To make it even more unique, we're also excited to announce a partnership with the Life is Beautiful Festival, a new festival featuring music, food, art and learning that will be hosted in Downtown Las Vegas October 26-27 (right after Tech Cocktail Celebrate). When our tickets go on sale (June 10th), you'll have the option of buying a combo ticket for Tech Cocktail Celebrate and Life is Beautiful, for a tech, music, arts, food, wine and learning fest like you've never experienced before.

This is an exciting new chapter in the life of Tech Cocktail, following our office opening in Las Vegas to work with the Downtown Project in September, and our $2.5M funding announcement in May. We've been producing startup showcases across the country since 2006, when we did our first event in Chicago, and always wanted to turn our series of events into more of a program, a sort of American Idol for startups -- it's amazing to be able to finally make that happen.

As is often quoted:

Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive. - Howard Thurman

That's what we get to see everyday at Tech Cocktail -- people who are taking leave of jobs that drain them, risking it all for the possibility of bringing their ideas to life and fully coming alive. Now we hope to uncovered some new, talented startup founders and entrepreneurs in places that haven't garnered the exposure they deserve, and in doing so, help them live their dream to the fullest.

Note: Tickets for Tech Cocktail Celebrate will be on sale Monday, June 10th, 2013 at 10:00 a.m. PT.