Neon9 – 9 Questions with Vegas Entrepreneurs:


9seeds LogoJohn Hawkins


If you’ve been to WordCamp almost anywhere, you may have heard developer John Hawkins speak on how to build awesome WordPress plugins.  He co-founded where they build whitelabel plugins for some pretty noteworthy clients and are building a strong portfolio of public plugins. It only seems right to launch the Neon9 blog series with Mr. Vegas WordCamp himself.

Why Las Vegas? What unique opportunities does Vegas offer?

JH: Originally we moved out here to work with a company that was in the online gaming space. That transformed in to something totally different as I stayed with them for a little over 10 years. But, after a short amount of time here, I had pretty much decided that Vegas is where I want to live. I absolutely love it here. Living in the valley you are 4 hours from LA, 30 minutes to the lake, an hour from the mountains, there are amazing places to eat and there is something going on 7 nights a week. What’s not to love?

What got you started?

JH: Over the past 20 years I’ve started 3 businesses. One failed, one got bought out by my previous employer and my current business ( is a year and a half old and going strong. I’ve always been an early adopter of technology. I think I’ve always found technology as my way out of doing “real work.” It was pretty early on that I realized that no matter how great technology is, there are people out there who are going to want somebody else to do the work for them. Just because something is simple to do doesn’t mean everybody WANTS to do it.

What does your company do?

JH: We are a web development company. We specialize in building business solutions using the WordPress CMS platform. I say “business solutions” instead of “building websites” because there is far more that can be done online these days than a simple website. Yes, we can build your company a website. But more importantly, we can build you tools that make your day-to-day job easier.

Who are your partners and how did you find them?

JH: I worked with Todd at my previous company for about 7 years. We met Shayne at WordCamp Las Vegas in January 2009 and hit it off immediately. Over the next few months we had started working together on some side projects, and in October we decided to hang a shingle and make a go of it.


JH: Ultimately I would love to get to a point where we have a handful of premium plugins that we spend our time developing. We love doing client work as it is always a new challenge, so that will always be part of our business as well.

If our attendees could solve any problem, what could they build for you?

JH: A WordPress user/developer community here in Las Vegas. I’ve said before that I would be happy to help promote it, attend, speak and even sponsor it as needed. But given my work load, it’s not something that I can personally be the driving force behind.

How do you stay focused / productive?

JH: Headphones! When I really need to focus on something to get it done, nothing helps more than headphones. Even if I’m home alone working, I’ll still put them on to focus.

Lately I have been trying to get to my desk with something already in mind that I want to get done that day. I’ll try and work on it for 30-60 minutes before I open up Email/Twitter/Facebook/Instant Messenger. Somebody much smarter than me said that if you open your email and let that be your guide for what you do in the morning, you are working on THEIR To Do list, not yours.

Tips for new entrepreneurs?

JH: If at all possible, don’t go in to it alone. If you have a partner who is just as passionate about the project as you are, it makes (just about) everything easier.

When’s the next wordcamp?

JH: That is the million dollar question. We are currently looking for a venue that is willing to sponsor the event and provide some space for free, or at an extremely discounted rate. If any of your readers know of a place to make that happen, have them contact me directly!

There it is Vegas! Keep the movement growing by checking out John Hawkins aka @Vegas Geek and

–If you know you should be featured on the Vegas Rollcall, let us know why: @SWVegas or lasvegas (at) startupweekend (dot) org.