After 2019 launch, Discover Podium in Reno aims to double staff in 18 months
- Name: Jacob Warwick, CEO
- Name of business/company: Discover Podium
- Location: Reno
- Year founded: 2019
- Type of company/description of services: A career consulting and advisory company concentrated on helping professionals find more fulfilling work.
- Website: discoverpodium.com
RENO, Nev. — Before the coronavirus pandemic pumped the brakes on the U.S. economy, Northern Nevada was on a roll.
Thanks to greater Reno-Sparks’ business-friendly climate, deepening talent pool, and access to a high quality of life, companies from across the country have been flocking to the region like clockwork over the past several years.
Though the growth stalled for a few months because of the COVID crisis, the economic engine is revving back up in Reno-Sparks as the state continues to gradually reopen.
With that in mind, the NNBW is periodically checking in with CEOs of some of the companies that launched here, or migrated to the region, over the years to find out exactly why they chose Northern Nevada, and what opportunities and challenges they have faced since launching in Reno-Sparks.
Q: Why did you decide to establish the company in Northern Nevada?
Jacob Warwick: Reno, from a community perspective, offers a lot of opportunity. It kind of feels like the Wild West a little bit, where we get to help develop the community in ways the community supports and we see fit. It feels like a very strong collaborative environment. And there’s a lot of opportunity and a lot of smart people that are looking to build that vision and that really aligns with us. We’re a real bootstraps company — we’re very small, we’re resourceful, and we’re resilient to hard times. And that really embodies a lot of the culture that we have here in Reno and it’s a great spot to work from a business perspective.
Q: What is it about Nevada’s favorable tax climate that makes doing good business in the Silver State possible?
Warwick: I might be a little contrarian in this approach. I guess unlike some other companies in the area, the tax climate, while it is obviously favorable, it wasn’t really a determining factor for us to launch here. We found the value in the community and other aspects of the location more of a priority of ours when determine where to launch our business than the tax climate alone. I’m really no tax expert, but I’m sure the benefits of the tax climate make my headaches a little bit less.
Q: What’s the biggest thing that’s changed about the company since first starting here?
Warwick: We’ve grown really quickly. We’ve grown to 12 fulltime employees within about a year, which is exciting and challenging in its own right. My team is very flexible and they’re resilient and they can change quickly and adapt to the needs of a growing business. And not a lot of people out there have that mentality. And what I’ve found is the people that we’ve hired locally, which is essentially all of our staff, they have that … it’s almost like an X-factor that you need to be able to survive, particularly in trying times like COVID and in an election year and all of the things that are going on. That mentality and that belief and vision in what we’re trying to create, that’s the X-factor that I look for when hiring people and when looking to build a sustainable business for years to come.
Q: What kind of job growth has the company experienced since first starting here?
Warwick: We’ve grown to 12 professionals. We started remote and transitioned to full-time, W2 employees, locally. That was kind of an important transition for us. We’re a bootstraps company; we’ve never received funding. We started by concentrating as a company to provide exceptional experiences for those looking for work, and by concentrating on helping people every step of the way more so than getting a bunch of money or pushing the company as far and as a fast as possible, we’ve been able to naturally grow while maintaining profitability through that entire stage.
That said, through COVID, we’re looking at developing more accessible solutions for our client base. We’re looking at sharing our expertise more broadly through both free and reduced-cost resources. We want to really help people get back on their feet but we don’t want them feel like help is unattainable because it’s too expensive. We’re really concentrating on expanding our expertise and growing. And with that in mind, we’re looking at making an additional 15 hires in the area over the next 12 to 18 months or so.
Q: What levels of financial success has the company enjoyed since starting here?
Warwick: We just recently are crossing the $1 million mark in revenue. We were able to obtain that relatively quickly and maintain at a fairly substantial rate from that.
Q: What opportunities for growth are on the horizon for the company here in Northern Nevada?
Warwick: Our vision is really that we believe everyone has the right to love what they do. And in order to fulfill (that) vision, we need to be more accessible. We need to be accessible to anyone initially starting their career, going into graduate school, to those reaching retirement age and want to spend the rest of their years doing something they absolutely love. One way we will do that is by being very engaged with our local community. If we want everyone to love the work that they do, we also have to be a place of employment where people love the work that they do. With every employee we have, we have to ensure that we’re giving them opportunities to feel fulfilled in their roles, to make sure they’re enjoying their roles, to make sure it feels like we’re driving toward the mission that it’s more than just working for a paycheck.
Q: What challenges, if any, do you address when it comes to recruiting a strong local workforce that’s paid well and can comfortably live here?
Warwick: There are a couple challenges. One is identifying talent that’s local. Fortunately, there’s plenty of that. We found success reaching out to our local community and our network, through programs like Entrepreneurs Assembly, for example. We’ve done some work with the American Marketing Association and the Reno chapter. We’ve almost latched onto overcoming these challenges by understanding what these people are looking for through our community connections. Additionally, we kind of have an unfair advantage because we do this for a living for our clients. So, we have to practice what we preach to a degree and use those techniques to identify those people locally.
In terms of paying well, my expectation on compensation is kind of skewed from almost a decade of working in Silicon Valley. Understanding some cost of living adjustment still feels like it’s a pragmatic way to pay people fairly locally. It’s certainly not easy as a bootstraps resourceful company, but it’s something that we are consistently mindful of because compensation is an important factor in what helps people feel more comfortable and more fulfilled in the work that they do, so it’s something that we’re mindful of. That said, we haven’t always been able to be at industry averages for pay, particularly as we’re getting a company off the ground. But we’ve consistently worked through that and compensated people regularly, and done our best not to make any steps backwards as we push that forward.
Q: If you could change anything about your decision to plant their flag in Northern Nevada, what would it be?
Warwick: I certainly wouldn’t make a decision to be elsewhere. I likely would’ve opened our local office a bit sooner. We initially started 100% remote, which has it’s own challenges. I likely would’ve better articulated the communication expectations upfront when hiring our first employees. But that’s not so much on them as it is on me not knowing how to clearly articulate the expectations up front, as well. So it’s kind of a catch-22.
Editor’s note: This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
From a national standpoint, research shows the embrace of digital commerce is a whole decade ahead of schedule thanks to the pandemic. We spoke with the Retail Association of Nevada, Downtown Reno Partnership and the Reno+Sparks Chamber of Commerce to give local context to the growth of online retail.