1 Million Cups Live-stream in Carson City

Looking for a little inspiration on Hump Day? Grab a cup of fabulous Hub Coffee Roasters coffee, network with other entrepreneurs and business people, and enjoy the weekly live-stream of a popular Reno entrepreneurial event. While the Reno meetings unfold in the state-of-the-art Innevation Center every Wednesday from 9-10 AM, The Union will live-stream the event for the public in its new coffee house, which features Hub Coffee Roasters. During the casual, networking-friendly event, attendees will also have the option of ordering breakfast, espresso drinks, and fresh-baked pastries from the Union’s new menu.

“We’re excited to bring another great entrepreneurial event to Carson,” notes Miya MacKenzie, Chief Professional Officer at Adams Hub for innovation, a downtown business incubator and co-working habitat. “The Union’s wonderful new space is the ideal venue.”

1 Million Cups events are weekly meetings in which local entrepreneurs engage with their communities by presenting their early-stage businesses to a diverse audience, including other small business owners, advisors, and mentors. Run by more than 800 volunteers in over 40 states and one United States territory, these programs are organized by individual chapters who host their own meetings in locations that include coffee shops and co-working spaces.

The format is simple: entrepreneurs present for six minutes and then hold a twenty-minute question and answer session with the audience. By receiving honest and open real-time feedback from individuals with a similar business mindset, entrepreneurs can gain valuable insight into their startups from their own community, including ways that they can improve, moving forward.

While business owners certainly stand to gain from these events, everyone in attendance can learn a great deal by listening to and interacting with the presenters during the Q & A sessions. 1 Million Cups emphasizes a collaborative and welcoming culture in which attendees are encouraged to support each other in the various stages of their entrepreneurial journeys. All 1 Million Cups events are free and open to anyone.

“Adams Hub hosts an award-winning chapter of Entrepreneurs Assembly each month, and we anticipate that hosting 1MC at the Union will give EA members a chance to continue their networking and collaboration on a weekly basis,” says MacKenzie.

The 1 Million Cups name springs from the idea that millions of new ideas and connections occur over those all-important cups of coffee. The program was developed by Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a non-profit based in Kansas City, Missouri, and has seen rapid growth in recent years, increasing from 23 communities in January of 2014 to 100 communities in October of 2016. The current number of communities involved in the program is now 165. 1MC has generated buzz in media outlets such as The New York Times, Success, and Fast Company.

The live-streams of the 1 Million Cups Reno chapter’s events will be held at the Coffee Shop located at the rear of The Union Eatery and Taphouse, 301 N Carson Street. You’ll find the coffee shop through the courtyard entrance at West Proctor and Curry Streets.

Live-streams will take place every Wednesday from 9-10 AM.

For more information about the Carson City 1MC event, contact Adams Hub at 775.222.0001.

To learn more about attending or presenting at the Reno live event at UNR’s Innevation Center, visit https://www.1millioncups.com/reno.

How to Research Almost Anything: Lunchbox Learning Class April 27, 12-1 p.m.

If you’ve tried to do vital using Google and Wikipedia, you may have discovered that the “good stuff,” accurate, professionally-vetted data, is behind paywalls. One such premium database is ReferenceUSA. The Research Ninjas of the Library utilize ReferenceUSA and other premium tools on Wednesdays and Fridays while helping , solopreneurs, startups and community businesses at Adams Hub (psst! It’s free.)

On Thursday, April 27th at noon, The Carson City Library and The Studio at Adams Hub for welcome ReferenceUSA Senior Account Executive Nancy Spidle, who’ll share the amazing capabilities of this business-focused database, which offers accurate data on 268 million consumers and 48 million businesses. Learn how to find answers to your burning business questions as you scrutinize markets, search for customers, optimize your supply chain or get a deeper understanding of your competition. Learn how to search smarter, faster and more strategically in this informative free hour-long class.

To RSVP for Lunchbox Learning or reserve a session with a Carson Library Research Ninja, email grow@adamshub.com or call us at 775.222.0001.

Carolyn Usinger of ReadyConnect

We caught up with Carolyn Usinger, founder of disaster-recovery communications company ReadyConnect.

Why did you start ReadyConnect?
I have a passion for helping businesses succeed. My earliest careers were involved with foreclosures and bankruptcies. After those experiences, I wanted to devote my life to helping businesses succeed. I started by creating a series of kits to help people create their businesses easily, with the California Chamber of Commerce.

While I was doing that, my house and home office burned in the 1991 Oakland fire. It changed my whole life. I began to look at disasters through new eyes. I learned that 50% of local businesses don’t survive a disaster. Of the ones that do, another 50% are gone within 3 years. Disasters have a very long-tail effect of small businesses.

What are some of the things we don’t understand about disaster recovery?
Even well-meaning attempts to help can backfire. For example, a truckload of bottled water or a load of plywood may be donated to the community, and undermine sales that could have gone to struggling local businesses. Without accurate insights into what a community needs, efforts to help often don’t hit their intended target. ReadyConnect facilitates communication, coordination and recovery. It pulls the community together. As we say, “Don’t face a disaster alone.”

During a disaster’s immediate aftermath, consumers don’t know which businesses are open, which are closed, which may have supplies that they need. Employers may have difficulty finding out the status of employees. During power outages, cellphone batteries run low as people make multiple calls to family, friends, and employers.

I began doing research through chambers of commerce and started to create a toolkit. As I learned more about the needs of businesses following disaster, that tool morphed and grew. It became a resource to help business and people connect to each other.

Since then, the number of natural disasters and the intensity of the destruction has magnified. ReadyConnect was created to make recovery a reality, supporting local businesses and individuals with a community network. My goal is to provide toolkits to every community in the country, to enable them to start recovering on Day 1 instead of starting from scratch.

How does your product work?
Our toolkit is hosted online for business and we offer a mobile for end users. We’re beginning with Chambers of Commerce, so every member business receives an online toolkit at no charge, and their employees and families can purchase as many mobile apps as they wish. Anyone can purchase the mobile app, so we expect that our subscriber base will grow organically through these personal connections. If you’re connected, you want your friends and family to be, too.

The businesses create disaster plans and the employees who have the app can build their own family disaster plan. One of the features people appreciate most is that we keep their contact lists up to date and enable them to have fast, efficient, battery-preserving “one button” communication with all those people. But it is much more than a communication tool. Perhaps the most important element of ReadyConnect is that we help businesses themselves to the Ready-Connected Community in the aftermath of a disaster. They will be able to notify consumers of crucial supplies in stock. If they’re scrambling to re-open, they can let people know their re-opening date and sell vouchers to keep cash flowing. This is absolutely critical, because many businesses that survive that first year following a disaster will eventually succumb to poor sales. The disaster doesn’t end when the media coverage does.

How does this differ from what Facebook is doing?
Facebook offers a “safe” notification, which is a simple way to notify friends and family of your status–if you’re all Facebook subscribers. Now imagine, following a disaster, trying to remember who you have reached and then having to still communicate by phone or text with the individuals you’ve missed. Another serious issue is that Facebook and other social media sites are rife with scams and rumors, even well-meaning misinformation. ReadyConnect provides forums that are vetted by local community leaders. Users can ask questions and get reliable answers. We’re a source of trusted information. We can start disseminating information before the disaster center opens five days after the fact. We provide a platform on which to organize the recovery.

We recognize that not all disasters are big, natural disasters. A fire or broken pipe can close a business, too. So we’re offering ReadyConnect as a tool for “everyday” recovery.

What are some challenges you’ve faced?
People don’t want to think about disasters. And it’s human nature not to prepare—it’s called “denial”. So we are approaching “preparation” with tools that businesses can use every day, as well as during these epic events. For example, a tool to “broadcast” updates to your employees if you’re experiencing a sudden closure, that enables them to easily view work schedules and cover shifts.

There’s the obvious problem of government agencies being consumed with major infrastructure issues such as repairing roads or levees or putting out fires. But when it comes to recovery, we find that different agencies are “siloed.” There is not good integration of resources. Disaster centers are not enough. Without clarity about a community’s needs, agencies may not be providing the right help. We have built this company to deliver what FEMA is asking for, a “Whole Community Approach.” Unless you own your own business, you can’t understand the urgency of keeping your doors open. A weeks’ closure can be the difference between life and death for many local businesses. Folks in government don’t experience this kind of traumatic job insecurity, so their ability to relate to this situation can be limited. Meanwhile, a owner may be paying salaries to employees even when they have no sales and revenue. Many sacrifice themselves to keep their teams going, expecting that recovery will be faster.

In speaking with cities, we’ve learned that they’re willing to spend $30,000 on a reverse 911 system yet don’t understand why they should invest 10% of that cost to enable their community to recover. That has been eye-opening. Chambers “get it” because they’re part of the business community, so they’re our target market for the rollout.

Where is ReadyConnect now?
This is a very exciting time—we’re launching in five communities in California: Palo Alto, San Mateo, Half Moon Bay, Encino and Culver City. We’re working through Chambers of Commerce because they’re already connected to community businesses and they get it. Ironically, businesses receive the least amount of support after a disaster, and yet healthy businesses are key to the recovery of the entire community. ReadyConnect is filling a gap, and we’re very excited about the future.

Mentor Moment: Dr. Bob Whitcomb

Dr. Bob Whitcomb teaches courses at Western Nevada College and serves as an Adams Hub Mentor. WNC’s 101 course is taught in the Studio at Adams Hub, bringing students into the business incubator environment and exposing them to entrepreneurial culture. Bob brings passion, joy and a sense of humor to his work as a as well as a mentor. He has a unique gift for putting others at ease and challenging them to grow at the same time. Dr. Whitcomb divides his time between Northern Nevada and Alaska, where he spends four months of each year.

Why do you Mentor? I’ve been a teacher for a long time, and I love seeing the ideas and successes of my students. Being at the Hub enables me to see people come in with great ideas, then help them craft these into something that’s viable, workable. Creative people generate great ideas, great concepts, and many have great strength in their field, but they don’t have that business acumen you need to be successful. That’s why I’m so delighted to partner with the Hub. We get to use our skills and passions and share them with others.

Why did you focus on marketing? I’m a marketer by training and by nature. The root of marketing is meeting needs. How are we meeting customer needs? Marketing is fun. If I’m not having fun I’m not going to do it. Marketing isn’t rocket science. It’s gratifying to see students take advantage of the resources here at the Hub. For example, the Carson City librarians are bringing these amazing databases here, and when students sit down with them to explore markets, they can discover unmet needs. Putting the tools and inspiration together is what we’re all about.

Did that naturally lead to mentoring? Mentoring is a blast. You bring your perspective, you’re not trying to impress anyone. You’re just offering your ideas, sharing your experience. It’s exciting to see the light bulb go on, or give someone an idea that will help them solve a problem.

How else do you give back?
You know, non-profits have a serious struggle to attract talent. One of the things that we do is have students work with non-profits, build a non-profit experience base. It’s important as a manager and people benefit from that. That’s the caring, compassionate side of me that wants to help people. I’ve never cared about the money.

What’s your Alaska life like? I’m in Alaska for three months each summer, and one month during the holidays. I have dogs, a house, friends. I kayak, hike and run away from bears. If the barge doesn’t make it up for 2 weeks there’s no food in town, so everyone has a larder. Ben & Jerry’s is eight bucks a pint! I have to go to the yarn shop to get internet. Everyone knows your business. It’s a different way of life.
I mentor in Alaska, too, I can’t help it. Marketing is very unsophisticated there. But the local culture there is very interdependent, everyone just naturally helps each other. Houses burn down every winter and the community comes right out to help.

What was your career path? I graduated high school with a 1.8 GPA because I wasn’t interested. I told my parents I was going to be an auto mechanic. One day I got in an accident I realized I couldn’t bend over engines for the rest of my career. I went back to college, and had a very dynamic marketing instructor; he was great, and so was the next one. I decided that marketing was what I wanted to do. I truly believe that marketing is the soul of the business. Because it’s about customer needs. It’s how I look at the world.

When I decided to teach for a living, it changed my world view. Then I had to work out what students needed to be successful. I don’t want my classes to just be a bunch of theory. Kids do their own marketing plans in the marketing class, they write training plans, HR manuals. It’s very practical, real-world, and hands-on.

I knew I wanted to teach when I was in college, and when I graduated, I decided to go to grad school and got an assistantship in 1985, found I enjoyed that and I’m good at it. One-on-one, few-on-one, is best for my teaching approach.

How did you find your way to Carson? I had a pivotal moment when I worked for Home Depot. I was HR manager at the store in Juno, Alaska, and for a store with a staff of 100, I had to hire 125 new employees each year. We had incredible turnover. I decided to go back to teaching in colleges, but I really wanted to work at a college where I could teach these first-job people. I was drawn to the opportunity to help regular students who wanted to get their first job. I love to work with that population.

When I got the offer from WNC, I loaded up my pickup truck with six boxes, rented an apartment in Carson City sight unseen, and slept on the floor for the first six weeks. It was an adventure. WNC has been open to letting me create a my own curriculum. I remember how hard it was to learn when I wasn’t engaged, so I work hard to make my classes very engaging. The college is truly committed to the community. Education is the economic driver. Bringing my class to Adams Hub has helped my students to start thinking outside the classroom box. I encourage them to take advantage of everything that’s going on here.

What do you enjoy most about teaching? One of the neatest things happened to me last year. A former asked, “Are you the Bob Whitcomb who used to teach in Maine?” Turns out he had friends who both had been students of mine, many years ago. These kids had ended up getting married. I reconnected with this couple. They told me, “You just need to know you changed our lives. Your style of management and instruction changed our lives. You are one of the significant people in our lives.” I had no idea. All I did was what I do. That’s the reward of teaching.

Over the years, I was fortunate to meet people who were willing to develop me, to cultivate me. It’s great to take the time to stop and thank the people who taught us. I’m blessed to have people in my life that took me for what I was, and helped me achieve my potential.