RENO, Nev. — In recent years, Northern Nevada’s growing reputation as a hub for startups has led to a wave of entrepreneurs choosing greater Reno-Sparks as their launchpad.
These entrepreneurs, however, might not have known where to turn for resources, whether they were seeking mentoring, fundraising, networking, fellow founders, and everything else under the Northern Nevada sun.
Now, there’s an app for that.
The Nevada Small Business Development Center recently announced the launch of the Nevada Entrepreneur Network. Hosted by Startup Space, the free mobile app and website connects entrepreneurs with resources needed to grow and succeed with support from government, nonprofit and private organizations, according to a Jan. 21 press release.
“The purpose of the platform is to bring all the resources together, create engagement among entrepreneurs and really be a digital representation of what we have in the startup community,” Doug Erwin, senior vice president of entrepreneurial development at the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada, said in a video interview with the NNBW. “And it’s sort of the perfect timing with COVID, because we’re all shut down. We can’t do the things that entrepreneurs do in person, so it’s a great way to augment our ecosystem.
“If we ever needed something for people to connect with online, this would be the perfect time to have it. COVID sort of accelerated its importance.”
The Nevada Entrepreneur Network — the mission of which is “to digitize Nevada’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, offering easy access to relevant and curated information, resources, and like-minded entrepreneurs” — is touted as the Silver State’s first statewide community of entrepreneurs.
Those who register can choose to join either the Northern Nevada or Southern Nevada community.
The NEN is designed for entrepreneurs in all different stages and needs, from business setup and scaling to web development and public relations, according to the Nevada SBDC.
“The Nevada Entrepreneur Network builds on the existing Nevada Department of Business & Industry Business Roadmap,” Winnie Dowling, deputy director of the Nevada SBDC, said in the press release. “The intent is for new and existing businesses to quickly reach the right resource when they have questions or need help, as well as building connections and opportunity throughout the state.”
Erwin said a “one-stop shop” for entrepreneurs is something that has been missing from the state’s startup ecosystem. In fact, he said EDAWN did a survey last year that revealed one of the biggest gaps in the startup community was knowledge of other resources and where to find them.
“Sometimes we’re so close to it, we didn’t always see that it was a need,” Erwin said. “We thought resources were reasonably easy to get too, but clearly not easy enough.”
Erwin said he hopes to see at least 500 users on the NEN within the next six months, and 1,000-plus users by the end of the year. As of late January, there were more than 120 total users.
“If anything, it will allow people to realize there’s more going on here and there’s more people like them than they would otherwise know,” Erwin said. “And one of the big values for us, long-term, is it will generate some community measurements and metrics on ecosystem health, which is hard to do.”
Funding for the NEN was awarded via the inaugural Google.org Impact Challenge; Nevada SBDC was one of five nonprofits to receive $175,000 in November 2019 after a panel of Google-selected, Nevada-based judges reviewed applications from across the state.
Aside from the Nevada SBDC and EDAWN, network partners include the Nevada Department of Business & Industry, Nevada SCORE, Entrepreneurs Assembly, StartupNV and Vegas Chamber of Commerce.
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