Carson City group benefits local entrepreneurs
April 13, 2017
Since its local launch in August, the Carson City chapter of Entrepreneurs Assembly has become the fastest-growing branch in the area, said Peggy Wynne Borgman, community curator at Adams Hub for Innovation.
Held on the second Wednesday of each month at the studio on 177 W. Proctor St., local entrepreneurs, startups, and aspiring business owners gather after work at 5:30 p.m. for workshops and lectures.
During round table sessions, members identify their key priorities and action items, then leave the meeting with their marching orders for the next month.
On average, at least 25 people show up to the meetings in Carson City. Northern Nevada chapters are based in Incline Village, Reno, and South Lake Tahoe.
"We're aiming for more local brick and mortar businesses," Borgman said. "We're not limited to tech startups."
Many of the driven entrepreneurs who attended the meeting said attending EA meetings have further helped them build a path to success.
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For instance, Maureen Conlin recently opened an art gallery in Genoa called Gallery on Main, showcasing jewelry, paintings, ceramics, and photography.
She said opening her dream gallery was EA-enabled, as Borgman and another chapter member, Lisa Daggett of Southwest Designs in Virginia City, collaborated with her to make it happen.
"Mentoring and making connections helped so much," she said. "My income increased running my gallery and my other business."
Conlin also runs Happy Notes in Genoa as a music specialist, a hub where children learn about music, sing, and play instruments.
As for those in the tech startup fields, business owners said working with mentors and other owners also helped them develop a more solid structure to a business plan.
John Abbey traveled from Incline Village to attend the meeting in Carson City on Wednesday. His tech startup, JDxMobile, is in a framework process to assist local law enforcement.
The retired police chief said EA has provided him the best help yet.
"I've been in government for 25 years and in private business for 18," he said. "I never followed the rules of structure. Working with mentors and other business owners helped me put my business in context."
Experts in entrepreneurship are invited to mentor a seminar, such as Diane Dye Hanson of What Works Coaching consultation in Carson City.
After mentors finish presentations, attendees break into groups at each table with a mentor to share experiences about running their business – but not necessarily advice.
"We want this to be a safe environment," Borgman said. "Too much self-promotion is explicit. Our goal is confidentiality while having interactions, but not quite networking."
Ideas and conversations are never recorded at meetings as confidentiality is key to protect each attendee, said Executive Director Karol Hines.
"But we encourage people to speak openly about their challenges, even if they don't want to share it with the world," she said. "We have to help."
Although networking isn't the ideal mindset at EA meetings, sometimes helping one another leads to it, said Zoe Cockerill.
Cockerill is the chief financial officer for Carson City's Tri Fusion LLC, and founder of The Littlest Things non-profit program.
"I've met some great resources," she said. "I connected with website developers to help with my startups. I come every month just to learn."
Wednesday's seminar was also a first-time experience for independent entrepreneurs, such as Diane Rea and Allison Reitz.
Rea recently launched her business, Matilda's Creative Corner. She designs vintage clothing and accessories.
"I want my next step," she said. "Everything's in place but I wanted to attend to discover what's next."
With classes already successful in Reno, Reitz is seeking further ways to expand Yogi Community.
The southern Illinois native launched her business when she moved to Carson City in August as a yoga instructor herself.
Her goal is to provide a mobile yoga studio for all levels for free, but it's suggested to pay $10 to participate. She currently hosts Yogi Community at Comma Coffee on Sunday mornings.
"EA is such a wonderful service," she said. "I did not expect how much I was going to be provided."
With Matt Westfield as the founder and director of EA, he also launched a non-profit chapter in Africa, in expansion with The Young African Leaders Initiative Network. He will be traveling there in June to speak.
EA was founded in 2010 to help aid in Nevada's economic recovery and was honored with the Entrepreneurial Spirit award for Nevada by the Small Business Administration in 2014.