Rural Entrepreneurship

July 30, 2021

In the past 10 years, there has been a boom in entrepreneurship in Northern Nevada due in large part to leaders at the College of Business and EDAWN. Programs like the University's Sontag Entrepreneurship Competition have inspired students to pitch business ideas for the chance to earn prize money to kickstart companies. In November 2020, in the middle of a pandemic, rural Nevada entrepreneurs had their first opportunity to participate in a rural pitch competition.

Leaders of the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Northern Nevada, StartUpNV, Audacity Institute, and Biz Assembly, provided rural entrepreneurs with mentorship, information on access to capital, and networking opportunities. Cash prize money was provided by NV Energy, with additional awards coming from StartUpNV and Audacity Institute. Each company had seven minutes to make their pitch and then answered questions from judges for five minutes.

Rural entrepreneurs are tapping into the startup economy in Reno and the spirit of entrepreneurship is taking off throughout the state. Winners of rural pitch day included:

  • New Tech Products, LLC, earned $1,150 for first place and won the Audience Choice award. New Tech Products makes the Tidy Oil Changer. It is a molded plastic device that attaches magnetically to the oil pan to divert oil into a separate catch basin. A drill bit goes through the plastic device to loosen the screw to allow the oil into the plastic diversion device. It changes jobs into a white glove, clean job.
  • Goat Shell, represented by George Skivington earned $500 for second place. Goat Shells are hard sided pop-up camper shells that come in two sizes to fit over regular and long bed trucks. They are priced much lower than their competition.
  • GL Innovation, represented by Gerald Laughter earned $250 for third place. GL Innovation makes battery interrupters for large vehicles and mining sites. Future markets include electric cars and aircraft.

GOED partnered with StartUpNV, Entrepreneur’s Assembly, Great Basin College, Northeastern Nevada Regional Development Authority, Nevada Department of Business and Industry, the Audacity Institute, Northern Nevada Development Authority, the Ozmen Center, the Nevada Small Business Development Center and the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension to host this opportunity for rural entrepreneurs.

This support is helping bridge a widening prosperity gap and uneven divide between urban and rural economic resiliency. Cultivating a statewide entrepreneurial network that taps into our most valuable resource, our human capital, may be a pathway to bridging these gaps. Nevada cannot afford to under utilize the talent and idea generation of our people. Global companies have emerged from ideas generated by young people working out of a garage in the Silicon Valley, so can the next company with global impact come from a founder in Paradise Valley, Nevada.

Connecting entrepreneurial support partners in Reno with existing rural resources such as Great Basin College, Nevada Small Business Development Center, and Nevada Cooperative Extension, rural entrepreneurs are finding the expertise needed to take an idea through the full business cycle. Expanding resources found in Reno to rural Nevada helps create an ecosystem of entrepreneurs, mentors, and investors resulting in successful business development across Nevada.

Where there are people there is also a wealth of ideas, talent, and skills ready to create products and services for global markets. Mahatma Gandhi was quoted, “The real solution to the problems of this country is production by its masses and not mass level production.” His quote could easily apply to a post-pandemic Nevada.

Rural pitch day partners are planning the second annual rural Nevada pitch day scheduled for November 2021. If you are interested in participating as a founder, sponsor or partner, contact GOED at GOED@diversifynevada.com.

- Submitted by Patricia Herzog, Director of Rural Economic and Community Development, Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED)