Stacking the Entrepreneurial Deck

Matt LushHow a Former Casino Town Used a Deck of Cards to Spread the Startup Gospel

The Reno Startup Deck is a deck of playing cards, created by EDAWN, featuring 52 key northern Nevada entrepreneurial people, programs and events.  Here are the rules from the very first card of the deck.  (You can learn more about the Startup Deck at www.renostartupdeck.com.)

Rule one: Break rules and dream

Reno is not the next Silicon Valley, nor is it trying to be. Instead, Reno is embracing the philosophy of Silicon Valley by building an ecosystem of entrepreneurial possibility.  But there also remains the Nevada spirit that says, “We can get hit the hardest, but you better believe we’re getting right back up to be better than we were before.”

Rule two: Open doors and listen

Face-to-face is Reno’s (and Nevada’s) business culture. As EDAWN’s Vice President of Entrepreneurial Development Doug Erwin says, “you can’t beat the analog, human experience.” Mentorship is another critical component to Reno’s entrepreneurial success. A culture of mentorship is creating a town that has the space and economic capacity to support major companies.

Rule three: Trust and be trusted

Ecosystem building is culture building. One major reason the Startup Deck was created is to engage Reno’s “old culture” — long-standing gaming and hospitality businesses — and connect it to Reno’s “new culture” — for example, that of an millennial software entrepreneur thinking of moving to Reno.

Rule four: Collaborate

Reno brings companies from many differing sectors together for networking events, round table discussions, conventions and the like.

Rule five: Seek fairness, not advantage

Governor Brian Sandoval is planning a trade mission to Europe this summer to educate foreign leaders in business, education and politics about opportunities in Nevada.  Apple, Tesla, Amazon and Microsoft are examples of just some of the companies that choose to operate in northern Nevada, thanks to a business-friendly environment, inexpensive property and low taxes.

Rule six: Err, fail, and persist

Startup failure is a hard reality for the majority of early-stage companies, even in hotbeds of innovation like Silicon Valley and Austin. The magic of a resilient and fertile entrepreneurial ecosystem is what happens after a startup fails. Do the best ideas of that failed startup go on to germinate new, successful companies? Do the talented people behind that startup take the lessons from that failure and try again, this time better prepared for success? Northern Nevada is fostering that spirit of innovation and experimentation where failure is seen as the first step toward success.

Rule seven: Pay it forward

Entrepreneurship is difficult for even the most talented individuals. The number of skills needed to launch and scale a successful company — expertise in everything from HR and finance to product development and marketing — can be overwhelming. All successful startup cultures rely on homegrown successes to re-invest their time, knowledge and money into the next round of entrepreneurs. This culture of paying it forward grows the entrepreneurial environment as the funding, mentorship and networking opportunities grow to support the next crop of startups.

 

Matt Lush is an account executive at The Abbi Agency (www.theabbiagency.com) and NCET’s VP of Membership (www.NCET.org). 

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