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The CUBE ready to incubate its next batch

John Seelmeyer

More than three years after its launch as a business incubator in downtown Reno, The CUBE looks for a new batch of companies to hatch.

The nonprofit, privately funded incubator has provided direct support to 21 companies, and it’s helped more than 100 companies make their pitches to potential investors.

But as start-up companies have been incubated and flown off to grown-up office spaces, The CUBE now finds itself with about 10,000 square feet of vacant space. It occupies about 14,000 square feet on the 14th floor of the building at 300 E. Second St., across from Aces Ballpark.

The CUBE the name is short for “Center for Unique Business Enterprises” provides more than office space to its client companies.

More critically, says Managing Director Ky Good, it provides counseling and professional support to entrepreneurial companies.

A client, for instance, might pay $250 a month to lease an 88-square-foot office tiny, but enough for a one-person startup and pay an additional $350 a month for weekly consultation with experienced advisors as well as introductions to investors and industry leaders. Accounting, marketing, information-technology and other services are available through The CUBE, often at discounted rates.

The CUBE also provides counseling and support to companies located elsewhere through a virtual incubator. In three years, five companies have use that service.

National studies have shown incubation is a successful strategy to grow new companies.

The National Business Incubation Association reports that 87 percent of the firms that graduate from the 1,250 incubators nationally stay in business, compared with the 15 percent survival rate among all startups.

Among the companies that have grown in The CUBE’s incubator are LoadIQ, a developer of an energy-measurement software for small businesses, and VizKinect, which has developed technology to track the effectiveness of product-placement advertising in movies and videos.

Generally, Good says, The CUBE has focused on companies with concepts that either are patented or capable of patent. Most of them have come from either the high-tech sector or industries that support technology companies.

Because the incubator expects that it will be bringing many of its client companies before investors at some point, it tends to be picky about selecting them.

Still, Good acknowledges that The CUBE’s focus has shifted as it founders get more experience with the world of startups in northern Nevada.

Initially, for instance, organizers figured The CUBE would host 30 to 35 companies at a time, most of them from technology sectors and most of them ready to be connected with investment capital.

The reality: Fewer companies that need more time to get ready for the spotlight and occasionally spotty support from the community.

Basin Street Properties, owner of the building that houses the incubator, has been a major supporter and understands the organization’s unique needs, Good says.

Lawyers from Holland and Hart, meanwhile, unfailingly have provided an hour of free service each week to The CUBE, helping incubator clients with their legal questions.

“We’ve been pleasantly surprised by the people who have made donations, the people who really have stepped up,” Good says.

The organization also has hosted monthly sessions at which startup companies not all of them from The CUBE make their pitch to investors in the region.

Of the 102 companies that have made a presentation, about a third have been located in northern Nevada.

Convincing investors that good-quality deals are available in northern Nevada often has been a struggle, Good says. Thirteen companies from The CUBE have won funding.

Currently, the organization is home to five companies, and The CUBE provides virtual counseling to five more. The incubator’s goal is the creation of 150 entrepreneurial jobs in the next year.