2017: The Year in Review

SUMMARY

As a startup ourselves, 2017 was the year that Adams Hub shifted into high gear, accelerating our role in the Northern Nevada entrepreneurial ecosystem and within the Carson City community.

  • We attracted a variety of exciting new businesses.
  • We recruited a number of highly-qualified new mentors
  • We received growing recognition for the value of our program, both from members and through kudos from the business community.
  • We forged closer ties to local non-profits and were able to offer them, at no charge, a venue for their events, fundraisers and board meetings.
  • While continuing our recruitment of high-growth potential startups, we identified new opportunities to encourage and support local businesses.
  • We hired a visionary new Director for our New Entrepreneur Network, who has strengthened our program to help the area’s young people engage in their education and envision a bigger future for themselves.
  • We created unique new business-education programs in response to community needs.
  • We won new coworking clients and neared 100% occupancy for our private offices, prompting a decision to expand our private office capacity.

 

ADAMS HUB MEMBERS

Our mission is to harness the power of entrepreneurism to improve opportunities and grow new community-engaged businesses, creating more well-compensated jobs and prosperity in our region. In keeping with Nevada’s independent, “Don’t Fence Me In” spirit, our Carson City facility and its programs were designed differently than a traditional incubator’s. Most incubators focus exclusively on scaling tech companies. Instead, our charter embraces the success of the entire community, not just startups. This has enabled Adams Hub to be a contributor to the growth of opportunity across the region, and across many demographics, including youth. We support the growth of local businesses that would not be prospects for traditional incubators, but which are a vital part of the fabric of a vibrant and attractive community.

2017 Takeaways

Member Mix. One of our learnings from the past year of operations is that mixing formally-incubated startups with compatible or synergistic growing businesses creates a better, more supportive habitat for all participants. Sometimes these growing businesses offer services that our startups need, such as app development or IT support. In other cases, it’s the unexpected, “creative collisions” between members that bear the most fruit.

In fact, the “secret sauce” of our program is exactly that: the spontaneous, dynamic collaboration that springs from day-to-day interactions between members, mentors, subject-matter experts, staff and guests. While these collaborations may be spontaneous, fostering the ideal environment for them to occur requires a thoughtful, strategic curation of our members and mentors.

We provide a state-of-the-art physical environment for productivity, offer programming that meets the needs of entrepreneurs, populate our facility with motivated, smart, talented and visionary people–and the collaborating and connecting begins. One recent example: a coworking member, a serial entrepreneur and turnaround consultant working on a promising tech startup, lamented that he would soon need access to a supercomputer to complete his project. Our entrepreneur-in-residence Matt Westfield, an adjunct professor of Entrepreneurship at UNR, was able to connect the member with the computing lab at UNLV, which has an underutilized supercomputer. This same member has since joined our mentor cohort and is now an active participant in our monthly Entrepreneurs Assembly meetings.

This example illustrates another phenomenon that occurs frequently at Adams Hub: members often choose to participate in a variety of capacities, which deepens their engagement with our program and business ecosystem.

By the end of 2017, our office facility was almost entirely full, with demand continuing to increase. As activity has increased, a “buzz” has been created around Adams Hub, resulting in greater awareness and a burgeoning reputation as a key element of the Northern Nevada entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Growing Member-Companies

BASE VENTURE: This Fintech company provides a solution for modern investment fund management, including investor reporting, document management, communication and key process automation. BaseVenture was short-listed for the 2017 Hedge Fund Management Awards as well as the 2018 Private Asset Management Awards.

CHAMBER COMPLETE: Software and app for Chambers of Commerce, designed to attract and retain more members with functionality that includes virtual mixers, compliance and fraud alerts, crowd-funding, disaster-recovery tools and a vast library of business education resources.

CYCLADEX: This eco-friendly mining company, recipient of two SBIR grants, utilizes technology created by a founder who is a Nobel Prize winner in chemistry, which eliminates the use of cyanide while processing ore. They are in the midst of a collaboration with Comstock Mining.

EASYKEEPER: Ag-tech livestock herd management software launched a major new functionality that has opened the product to larger-scale operations, and which led the company to be lauded as a 2017 Top 10 Ag-tech SaaS by an industry influencer.

FLASHVOTE: Founded by serial entrepreneur and Adams Hub mentor Kevin Lyons, FlashVote enables citizens to “vote” on any topic in seconds, from any communication device, anytime. Governments can routinely ask for opinions or advice and receive citizen feedback or suggestions in a flash. The mission of the company is to make local governments more responsive to citizen needs.

LIMA3: This company provides credit card processing solutions for companies which accept payment cards that makes use of Lima3’s proprietary Level 3 data creation to reduce processing fees by up to 30%.

MAPWATER: DRI researcher and Adams Hub startup founder Dr. Justin Huntington received grants from Google, NASA and Bechtel to pursue research that is enabling him to build out Climate Engine, a tool with multiple applications in public and private sectors.

RUVATO: App and game developer Ruvato launched the beta of their flagship product, MunyCard, a chore-management/rewards app for families. A user-testing process was conducted with students at Carson High as well as at Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Nevada. Ruvato is collaborating with several Adams Hub clients to create apps for their startups.

WHAT WORKS COACHING: Principal Diane Dye Hansen expanded her successful in-person coaching practice into online coaching programs, tripled revenues in 2017, and graduated from USC with a Masters in Communication Management.

WICIS: This company expanded its satellite-enabled, real-time biometric and geolocation data solution from its initial market in adventure sports to defense, personal security and telemedicine. It received a Thuraya award.

New Member-Companies in 2017

ALACRITY: This Silicon Valley-based, med-tech product-realization firm develops medical device and diagnostic concepts rapidly and efficiently. The company expanded to Nevada with an office at Adams Hub, creating new jobs in engineering and sales and hiring their first Nevada-based employees.

BONANZA HEMP ag-tech startup is developing year-round, indoor growing facilities for large-scale, commercial hemp (non-cannabis) production. This company was founded by two of Ruvato’s partners.

COMMUNITY YOGI: This sharing-economy startup is disrupting the yoga and fitness industry by hosting classes in unconventional spaces, offering a “pay what you want” model to attract first-time yoga practitioners, and providing better compensation for instructors. The company is in the process of developing its mobile app.

DLL TECHNOLOGIES: This growing, 15-employee IT support company expanded from the San Diego area, establishing its first office in Carson City.

HONEST HEMP is producing nutraceutical and natural skin care products with compounds extracted from hemp.

LUDELA: Smart-candle startup Ludela is disrupting the candle industry with its real-flame products. Target, Frontgate and other major retailers have signed LOIs, and founder Jamie Bianchini is working with offshore manufacturers to bring the product to market in Q4 2018.

PN LLC: A consultancy focused on strategic and financial matters. Founder Paul Niedermeyer is a veteran turnaround specialist.

YOUTH POSITIVE: This educational startup offers a curriculum for students grounded in the evidence-based tenets of positive psychology, a strengths-based approach to living. The curriculum was adopted by 4 new schools in California as well as Carson High, Oasis Academy in Churchill County, North Valley High School and Mendive Middle School in Washoe County. The Youth Positive Curriculum has also been adopted by several schools in Australia. Founder Molly Dahl conducted her first teacher training seminar and was a presenter at the Innovative Schools Conference in Las Vegas, a national event. Ms. Dahl also accepted the position of Executive Director of New Entrepreneur Network, Adams Hub sister organization and completely revamped the program. She is now embedded in the Carson High Entrerpeneurship I and II classes each week providing value-added, real entrepreneurship training and facilitates guest speakers to augment the traditional classroom curriculum.


ADAMS HUB PROGRAMS

Adams Hub provides an array of in-house business education and entrepreneurial support programs. Our goal is to provide a spectrum of services, designed to support business owners and founders from entry-level to advanced.

While startups are a major focus of our education and support offerings, we pay increasing attention to other local businesses, including those that are contributing to our revitalized downtown. For example, two new downtown restaurant startups, Scoups and Gather, utilized business counseling services and participated in Entrepreneurs Assembly in 2017. Adams Hub facilitates such peer-to-peer learning as well as curates classes and workshops facilitated by acknowledged subject matter experts.

Adams Hub also collaborates with other providers of entrepreneurial and business-support services, public and private.

A Strategy of Deep Collaboration

While awards and recognition are gratifying, Adams Hub focuses on collaboration with other programs and resources, public and private, in the Northern Nevada community. Our goal is the overall, healthy growth of our entrepreneurial ecosystem. To that end, we’ve sought out collaboration and cooperation, and we do our best not to “reinvent the wheel.” If there’s another program that’s working well at filling the needs of our members, we’ll support and promote it, and even offer it a venue.

Collaborations with Public Resources

  • The Carson chapter of Entrepreneurs Assembly, a now-global, Nevada-born non-profit. The Studio at Adams Hub is now the home of Entrepreneurs Assembly Carson, which won “Chapter of the Year” in 2017. EA has also grown its mentor cohort with the addition of Adams Hub mentor-volunteers.
  • The Northern Nevada SBDC (Small Business Development Center) counselor conducts counseling sessions at Adams Hub each Tuesday. Client Koble tells us he now conducts more sessions here in Carson City than all his other communities combined.
  • The Carson City Library provides research librarians at Adams Hub every Wednesday, giving members and the community complimentary access to premium business intelligence databases.
  • The SBA (Small Business Administration) is establishing the agency’s Northern Nevada Regional satellite office at Adams Hub. We expect to have many new opportunities to collaborate with SBA as a result.
  • We partnered with Nevada Arts Council and Carson City Visitor’s Bureau to produce a highly-rated, four-workshop arts business education course, Artrepreneurs.

 

ADAMS HUB ENTREPRENEURIAL SUPPORT PROGRAMS

Programs for incubator companies:

Mentorship

The centerpiece of an incubator program is mentorship. Our mentor team includes civic leaders, veteran entrepreneurs and subject matter experts. Our incubator Members benefit from both formal, scheduled mentor-team meetings as well as informal, and on-demand mentoring throughout the work week to assist founders with problem-solving, ideation, and marketing communications.

Our mentor cohort grew substantially in 2017, with an influx of recently-relocated, veteran entrepreneurs and subject matter experts.

The Intern Program

One of the most significant benefits of being an incubator company at Adams Hub has been access to an intern team for projects. Interns are paid by Adams Hub but provide services to clients at no charge. Interns are selected from Carson High, Western Nevada College, and University of Nevada Reno (UNR). Our interns have gone on to participate in the Pre-Accelerator Program, become coworking members and have opportunities to become employees of our Member companies.

Programs open to the business community:

The following ongoing resources are made available to the local business community, at no charge, drawing on our cohort of subject matter experts and mentors.

Weekly Recurring Programs

  • Mondays: Motivation Mondays, one-on-one coaching sessions with business coach Diane Dye Hansen (two complimentary sessions)
  • Tuesdays: SBDC business counseling with Clint Koble, one-one-one counseling sessions on startup, business expansion, and business management (unlimited free sessions)
  • Wednesdays: Private one-on-one consultations for startups with Entrepreneur-in-Residence Matt Westfield (two complimentary sessions)
  • Wednesdays: Research Ninjas from the Carson City Library, with access to premium business-intelligence databases such as Mergent and Business Decisions, assist businesses with research (unlimited free service)

Monthly Programs

  • Entrepreneurs Assembly (EA): EA is a Nevada-based non-profit organization co-founded by our Entrepreneur in Residence Matt Westfield. The Carson chapter debuted in 2016 and grew rapidly in 2017. EA offers mentor-facilitated round-tables and peer-to-peer learning that supports business owners, founders, and even people just working on a business idea. Participants present a challenge or issue they’re facing and the round table members offer feedback and share experience. Then members are asked to identify their “marching orders” for the next 30 days. At the next meeting they report on their progress and continue to focus on their top priorities. 75 new members joined EA Carson in 2017, as did 7 new mentors. Many Adams Hub mentors participate as mentors with EA as well. EA Carson was also named the 2017 “Chapter of the Year.” EA has a global vision of harnessing entrepreneurism for positive change. New chapters were established in Africa and South America in 2017.
  • Adams Hub hosts Lunchbox Learning, a noon class series featuring different Subject Matter Experts.

Lunchbox Learning Classes in 2017 (Free and open to the community)

  • Research Like a Boss,” a presentation by Mergent, a business intelligence database utilized by our Carson Library Research Ninjas
  • Making Winning Pitches,” by Matt Westfield, explaining the nuts and bolts of creating and delivering a startup pitch to potential investors
  • Winning More B2B Sales,” with Sales Trainer Alice Heiman
  • From Idea to Action,” with Diane Dye Hansen, teaching participants how to overcome the “paradox of perfection” and get started on their business idea
  • Mastering the Mindset of World Class Service,” with Peggy Wynne Borgman, designed to enable local businesses and their employees to improve their customer service skills
  • Turning Curiosity Into Cash,” with Diane Dye Hansen, a session designed to help business owners better understand customer needs and identify the most profitable opportunities
  • Negotiation Made Simple,” with Professor Bob Ash, on negotiating skills
  • How to Research Almost Anything,” with Reference USA
  • Using LinkedIn to Generate Leads,” with Diane Dye Hansen
  • Telling Your Business Story,” with Terri Vance of Nevada Photo Source
  • Sales Without Fear,” with Peggy Wynne Borgman

 

Special Programs

  • The Pre-Accelerator Program. This three week program with veteran entrepreneur and mentor Kevin Lyons takes startups through a rigorous process based on the proven model pioneered by renowned Silicon Valley incubator Y Combinator. The Pre-accelerator is designed to hone a minimum viable product, engage customers, generate sales and increase traction. Participants continue their collaborations through semi-monthly TEOS” (“Test each other’s stuff”) sessions. We conducted two Pre-Accelerator programs in 2017, with a goal of expanding that to three in 2018. Acceptance to the Pre-Accelerator program is by application, and there is no charge to attend.
  • Artrepreneurs Workshop. We produced a new, four-weeks series of three-hour, once-a-week worskhops in collaboration with Nevada Arts Council and Carson City Visitors Bureau, designed to help local artists develop their business and marketing skills. The curriculum included industry-specific content on web development, social media marketing, craft fairs, galleries, grants and documenting artwork, presented by an array of subject matter experts. The program was held at different venues, including the Nevada State Museum, the Brewery Arts Center and Adams Hub. The workshop culminated in a group exhibition, open to the public, at the Studio at Adams Hub. 25 students participated, and the program had a waiting list. Tuition for the 12 hours of training was just $49.

 

ARTREPRENEURS WORKSHOP AGENDA

  • Who’s your customer? Peggy Wynne Borgman
  • What’s your “Why”? Miya MacKenzie
  • Telling Your Story, Creating Your Elevator Pitch: Teri Vance
  • Introduction to Social Media: Kyle Horvath
  • Creating Your Web Presence: Kat Hood
  • Wholesale, Retail and Beyond: Casey Sibley
  • Commercial and Non-Profit Galleries: Paul Baker Prindle
  • Documenting Your Work with Photography: Larry Burton
  • Writing a great blurb or capsule bio: Peggy Wynne Borgman
  • Selling at Fairs and Festivals: Curtis Beck
  • Grants:  Shoshana Zeldner, Fran Morrow
  •  Artist Residencies: Mark Salinas
  • Panel discussion:Sharon Ross, Andrew  Daugherty, Annie Zucker, Mark Salinas
  • ARTREPRENEURS POP-UP SHOW, June 3

 

International Engagement

  • YALI: The State Department-sponsored Mandela Fellowship includes the Young African Leaders Institute (YALI) brings groups of high-potential community and business leaders to UNR and Northern Nevada to immerse themselves in our entrepreneurial ecosystem. Adams Hub hosted the Fellows, offering presentations by our incubator clients as well as government leaders. According to the State Department, while a number of YALI cohorts take part in programs at prestigious universities across the US, participants in the University of Nevada program have made the biggest impact in their communities, starting substantially more companies than participants in the non-Nevada groups.
  • Australian Youth Engagement Mission: Cassandra Mao and Alex Splitt visited Adams Hub to discuss our youth engagement initiatives and share their experiences. Ms. Mao is a 23-year-old thought leader in youth entrepreneurism and director of Australian non-profit Youth Without Borders; Mr. Splitt, while at the Foundation for Young Australians, oversaw the National Indigenous Youth Leadership Academy.
  • Czech Trade Mission: Adams Hub team met with a GOED-sponsored trade mission for Czech Republic delegates. We discussed opportunities for Czech startups in Northern Nevada and for Nevada startups exploring potential business resources in Czech, including coding teams that could accelerate technology ventures.

 

NEW ENTREPRENEUR NETWORK (“NewE”)

Creating more and better economic opportunities in the community requires supporting our youth in “thinking bigger” and “thinking like entrepreneurs.” Cultivating a new generation of locally-grown entrepreneurs and “intrapreneurs”) is a vital, long-term initiative of Adams Hub.

2017 was a watershed year for NewE, with the appointment of a new executive director, Molly Dahl, who immediately pushed the program into high gear. A veteran educator, engaging teacher, author, and expert in the field of Positive Education, Ms. Dahl brought a new vitality, knowhow and effectiveness to our in-school programs at Carson High.

In 2017 NewE:

  • Delivered the Youth Positive curriculum as an integral part of the Freshman Transitions class at Carson High, reaching approximately 600
  • Conducted an Introduction to Entrepreneurism program as part of Carson High’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) department’s Entrepreneurism I and Entrepreneurism II classes, in collaboration with instructor Billy McHenry. We shared concepts such as divergent thinking and disruptive thinking, as well as presentations by company founders, to help students understand the fundamentals of innovation. The Carson High business classes culminate in a popular, Shark-Tank style business pitch competition.
  • Delivered 11 sessions, reaching 250 students, on the Fundamentals of Ideation to Carson High Students. The class was taught by Miya MacKenzie. We also presented a class on the Entrepreneurial Mindset to approximately 350 students.
  • Conducted a summer 6-week Entrepreneurial Readiness Intensive (ERI) through the Boys & Girls Club, and a spring ERI at Carson High. This program results in a “Certificate of Entrepreneurial Readiness,” signed by Carson City mayor Bob Crowell, to let prospective employers know that the student has gained an understanding of how to contribute to their company’s success. As part of the program, students acted as consultants to local businesses, conducting discovery and then offering solutions to operational issues, in a presentation to business owners and managers.
  • Conducted a “Middle School Makers Camp” in collaboration with the Carson Library, during spring break.

 

2017 AWARDS & RECOGNITION

  • EDAWN (Economic Development Agency of Western Nevada) named Adams Hub the “Entrepreneurial Program of the Year.”
  • The EDAWN “Startup Deck” (a deck of cards highlighting the assets of the local startup community) featured the Adams Hub coworking space. Among just 14 individuals honored with a “face card” were our Chief Professional Officer Miya MacKenzie, Adams Hub Entrepreneur-in-Residence Matt Westfield, as well as Adams Hub mentors Craig Macy and Kevin Lyons.
  • Entrepreneurs Assembly (EA), a Nevada-based non-profit organization, board of directors named the Carson chapter, which is hosted at The Studio at Adams Hub and includes Adams Hub mentors, “Chapter of the Year”.
  • In the Carson City “Taste of Downtown” The Studio at Adams Hub was awarded the “Staff Favorite” venue.
  • Adams Hub received a 5-star average rating across online review platforms on Yelp, Google and Facebook.

 

 

 

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.

June Mentor of the Month: Karol Hines

Karol Hines has spent five years as a volunteer supporting the development and growth of the entrepreneurial community in Northern Nevada. Today, she serves as the Executive Director of Entrepreneurs Assembly. (EA) In addition to serving as a volunteer with EA, she was a board member of both NCET and Entrepreneurship Nevada, curated the Reno/Tahoe Digest, and participated as a preliminary judge in several Sontag Plan competitions and as a final judge for the Governors Cup Business Plan competition. Karol’s professional career, spanning over thirty years in New York and Silicon Valley, included technical leadership and executive management positions in several startup companies. We are proud to call Karol our June Mentor of the Month!

How did you get involved with Entrepreneurs Assembly?

Coming out of retirement after moving to Reno from the Bay Area, I decided that I wanted to work with small companies and startups to help them get started, grow, prosper and lift the economy. Through a lot of –something I love to do–I ended up on the Board of Directors of Entrepreneurship Nevada and NCET (Nevada Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology). Somewhere along the way, I had the opportunity to take a shortened version of Matt Westfield and Rod Hosilyck’s seminar on starting a business. This is the now the Jumpstart class they teach at UNR. It was during that time that I found out about the Entrepreneurs Assembly Startup Incubator (EASI) workshops. From the first time I attended an EASI workshop on a Saturday morning in February 2013 as a mentor, I knew I had found a place where I could use my extensive experience with startup companies in the tech world of Silicon Valley to help aspiring entrepreneurs and participate in a meaningful way to help boost the economy of Northern Nevada.
 
What unique perspectives does a female mentor bring to the table?
        
For my entire life, I have been surrounded by males. I was a “tomboy” growing up with four brothers.  When I was very young, my dolls, dress-up clothes and other girlie play things sat on the shelf while I negotiated with my brothers to play with their trucks, bikes and such. It wasn’t until well into my career as VP of Development for a rapidly growing software company in Silicon Valley that I realized my career was in jeopardy because of bias and perhaps jealousy from newly hired senior executives, all male. I tried to play the game without realizing that they were not threatened by my superior ability to execute, but just did not want a woman in the board room. I learned that women need to work together, play the game a bit differently, teach each other the rules and choose the right mentors that will help them embrace their unique qualities, skills and perspective.

How would you describe your style?

My mentoring style is much like the management style I used with my employees and the style I used as a management consultant with my clients. I am a coach. Rather than telling people the “answers” when they often don’t even know what questions to ask, I will often ask questions to help lead them to reveal what they didn’t realize they knew and or realize what they don’t know. That sounds a bit circuitous, I know.  But sometimes that is just the point. It’s like a mining expedition to help people find that vein of precious metal, that spark, that passion in them that will allow them to believe in themselves and be willing to take on the risks necessary to start and build a business.

Tell us an interesting fact about yourself!

Whenever I need to get in touch with who I really am, I go fly a glider or tell stories about my career as a nationally ranked competition glider pilot. I had always wanted to learn to fly–be a pilot. But the twists and turns of life, including my career, kept veering me off that course. When the opportunity came to take an introductory flight at Sky Sailing in Fremont, CA, it coincided with having fewer personal obligations and time commitments. Within a year, I had soloed, gotten my license and bought my first glider. It wasn’t long before I reached out to find accomplished glider pilots (all male, of course) to mentor me to start flying longer distances away from the home airport–we call it cross-country flying. Flying in small local events led to first managing and then flying in Regional and National competitions. My “mentors” remained my friends, but they became my competitors, so were not so much mentors any longer, even though most of them were always above me on the scoresheet. This was another lesson of how lonely it can be for an accomplished woman in any business, sport or other endeavor that’s dominated by males.

I found my passion on that first flight in Fremont and it really did change my life. The ability to pursue that passion with just my own drive and skills to rely on was very freeing. The confidence I gained from pushing myself to complete a flying “task”, getting myself into and out of trouble, trusting myself to make decisions quickly, not deriding myself if the decision turned out to not be the best and using the information gained to make the next decision, carried over to all other aspects of my life.

When I work with entrepreneurs, particularly women, I try to discover both their deep-seated passions and their insecurities. It’s more difficult, at least for me, to get men to reveal their insecurities. I find women often are more forthcoming about their insecurities with other women. If they can get to that point and find the magic that turns those insecurities into strengths, that’s when I get…well, I have to be clear with myself that I am helping them soar and hold back from soaring myself!

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.

2017 EDAWN Award for Adams Hub

Adams Hub has been chosen as the recipient of the 2017 EDAWN (Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada) Award for Program of the Year. The award was presented on March 30th during 10th annual Technology Awards at the Atlantis Casino Resort & Spa. The NCET Technology Awards celebrate the individuals and companies who have greatly enhanced the growth and prestige of the technology . The Awards recognize the people and resources that have played an integral part in contributing to the growth of our community.

City officials and local experts meet with a group of visiting Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative fellows at the Adams Hub for Innovation in Carson City, Nev. on Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016.
Photo by Cathleen Allison

“We’re delighted to receive this honor,” said Miya MacKenzie, Chief Professional Officer of Adams Hub for innovation. “We’ve kicked off lots of new programming in the past year to support entrepreneurs and small businesses. This award is validation that those efforts are making a difference.”

New program launches in 2016 included a Carson City chapter of Entrepreneurs Assembly, the award-winning Nevada nonprofit; a Pre-Accelerator program facilitated by Kevin Lyons; Research Ninjas, on-site Carson City Librarians who assist clients and community businesses with deep research using proprietary databases; and Lunchbox Learning, monthly sessions with subject matter experts on a key business-building topics. A 2017 addition is “Motivation Mondays,” one-on-one entrepreneurial-effectiveness coaching with Diane Dye Hansen of What Works Coaching.

“Adams Hub has extended our programs beyond traditional incubation,” explained MacKenzie. “Our goal is to foster and increased employment throughout the Northern Nevada business community.” To that end, a number of the ‘s services are offered to community businesses and non-profits. “We’re building an ecosystem that supports peak performance for the entrepreneur and solopreneur,” she said.