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'Shark Tank' Contestant Navigates Choppy Waters In Las Vegas

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Courtesy Kelsey Moreira

Aspiring cookie dough tycoon Kelsey Moreira had sweet dreams when she brought her business to Las Vegas, but the pandemic intervened.

Kelsey Moreira arrived in Las Vegas last year with a cookie dough recipe and a business plan.

She was fresh off an appearance on the “Shark Tank” TV show, where entrepreneurs vie for funding. She failed to land a deal with the judges, but the appearance connected her with an outside investor who helped her expand into Nevada.

Her Doughp, pronounced “dope,” cookie dough parlor opened in spring 2019 on the Strip.

“Things were pretty awesome,” Moreira told KNPR's State of Nevada. 

The shop was getting a lot of foot traffic, but then the pandemic hit. The store fell victim to the coronavirus, which forced a nearly three-month closure of Las Vegas resorts this spring.

“Things changed pretty dramatically in March,” she said, “Luckily, Doughp has an e-commerce side to our business and that’s been our saving grace and an amazing way to still have the business thrive in these trying times.”

While Moreira pivoted to selling her cookie dough online, she still needed to shed almost all of her workers.

“It was so heartbreaking to have to say: We don’t have the work for our staff anymore, who has helped us get this far,” she said.

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When the shop reopened in mid-June, Moreira was able to bring back some of the furloughed workers. 

Today she remains committed to the Southern Nevada market, even though “it’s not the same Vegas we all signed up for.”

“In brick and mortar, if you’re willing to tough out this difficult period, Vegas will come back,” she told State of Nevada. “My plan is to keep riding this.”

Latin Chamber of Commerce President Peter Guzman said while some sectors of the Las Vegas economy continue to perform well, recovery is going to take longer than people would like.

“These are challenging times, but you got to understand, challenging times also represents opportunities and that’s what entrepreneurs and business people look for,” he said.

He advised new business owners to invest heavily in cleanliness and security, predicting those concerns will remain even after the pandemic has passed.

“The best advice is you have to make sure people believe that your location, if it’s a brick and mortar location, it’s got to be the safest, the cleanest, otherwise, nobody is going to show up,” he said.

Guzman also believes curbside pickup services will continue even after the pandemic has passed. He advises businesses of all kinds, not just restaurants, to find a way to incorporate curbside pickup into their services.

Guests

Kelsey Moreira, Las Vegas entrepreneur, “Shark Tank” contestant; Peter Guzman, president, Latin Chamber of Commerce

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