Adams Hub mentoring in Carson City: ‘Not for sissies’
The Adams Hub for Innovation business incubator in Carson City will be 4 years old in March. Located downtown, the Adams Hub provides budding entrepreneurs with innovative tools and resources to help them succeed. They also partner with educational, governmental and economic development organizations to foster an entrepreneurial ecosystem in Northern Nevada.
Originally founded to concentrate on technology developers, there is now a broader range of products and services under the Adam’s Hub umbrella. Miya MacKenzie, chief professional officer for the Adams Hub, said they are now working with three agricultural technology companies and also several manufacturing companies, although usually with a technical component. They also work with existing businesses looking to expand.
“The local business community has accepted us because they have seen the value we provide,” MacKenzie said.
MacKenzie also said they have been getting inquiries from startups and existing companies looking to relocate to Northern Nevada — both U.S.-based and international.
“Interest has increased in the last six months, and much of it is driven by the quality of life here,” she said. “The idea of a business incubator is used widely elsewhere, and companies look for organizations like ours when they want to relocate. They like the idea of shared workspace and collaborative synergy.”
MacKenzie is enthusiastic about watching entrepreneurs partner with one another through the Adams Hub.
“It’s like watching the evolution of an ecosystem,” she said.
Resources provided by the Adams Hub, which was started by the Hop & Mae Adams Foundation, named for the long-time owners and operators of the Carson Nugget Casino, include not only workspace but several levels of support.
Part of the evolution of the Hub is the development of a mentor program — experienced business people who want to give back by mentoring new entrepreneurs. The mentoring team includes experts in finance, law, intellectual property, programming, pricing and more. Three or four times a year they put on what is called the Pre-Accelerator Program aimed at companies preparing to launch a product. Usually four to six companies are involved in the program, and it is intense.
“It’s not for sissies,” MacKenzie said. “They need to leave their egos at the door. We promise sweat and tears, but hopefully no blood.”
One of the most important functions of the Adams Hub is working with young people. The New Entrepreneur Network is a youth entrepreneur program aimed at fostering innovation early in people’s lives and focusing on the entrepreneurial mind set.
“We give the kids problem-solving tools, tools to help them think critically,” said Community Curator Peggy Wynne Borgman. Part of the program includes paid internships from local high schools and colleges. The interns are paid for by the Adams Hub and they are available to the Hub’s clients free of charge to do research and perform other tasks. Both interns and clients benefit.
“They get great experiences and opportunities,” Borgman said.
A few of the companies currently working with the Adams Hub point out the diversity of ideas and products being produced by the companies being helped. One such company is LuDela, which is launching a high-tech candle.
Jamie Bianchini is the entrepreneur responsible for the real-flame candle that can be turned on or off remotely, and even extinguishes itself if it begins to tip or senses an object over it. LuDela also donates a book to a school in Africa for every candle cartridge sold. Bianchini is ready to begin production and has letters of intent to distribute to several major national retailers.
Another company is far different from the usual entrepreneurial effort. It is called Community Yogi and it puts yoga classes in unusual places to introduce yoga and meditation to people who might not have considered the practice. There is a session at the Adams Hub on Mondays, at Comma Coffee on Sundays, and seven other locations in Carson City and Reno. Community Yogi has 12 instructors and 200 students so far.
“The goal is to remove the ‘mystery’ from yoga and attract new students,” MacKenzie said.
A more traditionally tech-oriented product is the Muny Cards app, which was successfully tested at the Boys and Girls Clubs. It is undergoing further testing at Carson High School in preparation for an early 2018 launch. The app is basically a chore app for kids. Parents put chores on the app, and when their kids complete them, they are rewarded with points that can be used to purchase things on Amazon.com.
Cycladex, another company working with the Adams Hub, has funding from two Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grants provided by the U.S. National Science Foundation.
Cycladex has a non-cyanide process for extracting gold and silver from raw ore, and is working with Comstock Mining to prove the process. Besides being a more ecologically sound method of extraction, it is proving to be more efficient, leaching higher yields than cyanide and working faster as well.