Five Reno startups were recognized by the city and state officials this month for raising funding and creating high-paying jobs.
From a company that caters to endurance athletes to one that specializes in the Internet of Things, Governor Brian Sandoval and Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve paid them a special recognition. Breadware, the Sufferfest, Talage, MyVR and Bombora have brought 125 new tech jobs to the area and raised more than $10 million in funding. Even better, the average annual wage for those jobs is $77,000.
“We’re at the brink of a fourth industrial revolution, a new economy,” Sandoval said. “This community… has to be at the foundation and at the beginning of this fourth industrial revolution so we can position this state as the new economy establishes itself.”
Smaller startups are just as important as big companies in economic development in the area, but they don’t get quite as much recognition. In recent years and even still now, moves by Tesla, Switch and recent newcomer Google to the Tahoe-Reno Industrial center have received plenty of local and national attention.
“Many of us have been to or heard about announcements of the larger companies over the past several years, but these smaller start-up companies are just as important to the long-term success and diversification of our economy,” said Mike Kazmierski, CEO of the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada.
Breadware just finished a round of $2 million in seed funding for its development solutions for the Internet of Things. The company just moved from California last year. Talage is an insurance marketplace in the digital space for small businesses. They will soon be announcing their own round of funding. Bomboa is a business-to-business startup that expanded its offices from Reno to New York just a few years back and just went through a round of hiring people. MyVR is a multi-channel management platform provider for vacation rental businesses and just expanded to the area a few months ago. The Sufferfest just got here last month, offering an app-based training system for cyclists and triathletes.
State and local officials hope to encourage more startups to consider Reno as a viable location to start or grow a business. Several of the startups mentioned here began in the Reno Collective renting workspace and have since grown and moved into their own offices. Rob Armstrong, Bombora co-founder, says expanding into Reno three years ago was considered a risk, including by some members of the company’s brain trust. Seattle and Austin were pushed as better options for a new western foothold. However, the Reno branch today accounts for nearly half of their employees and has the most workers out of any locations. They also have 37 University of Nevada, Reno grads working throughout the company.
“My favorite part of the story is how Reno won the hearts and minds of people across the company, including those who were initially skeptical,” Armstrong said. “Reno went from being a wild experiment to a sure strategic advantage for Bombora.”
Northern Nevada used to be a place that startups would go to while looking for something different from the Bay Area, Kazmierski said. Slowly but surely, the region is gaining awareness within the industry. Whether it be the arrival of big companies and small startups or even connected projects such as LimeBike, Reno-Sparks is steadily elbowing its way into the tech conversation.
“(For these companies) to make that leap of faith and land here is so important,” Kazmierski said. “We’re starting to become less different and that’s exactly where we want to be.”
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