October 21, 2019

Reno: A Vibrant and Thriving Technology Ecosystem

Reno, Nevada is positioning itself as a top-notch tech hub and was recently named one of the best places to live by US News & World Report. In 2018, Reno-Sparks added over 2,000 new jobs as the result of 29 new and expanding companies. According to the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada (EDAWN), tech companies, in particular, are recognizing the value of starting up or relocating to the area. Technology-related businesses like MOBE, Bombora and Breadware now call Reno home. 

MOBE, an innovative health solutions tech company based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, recently announced they will open their second headquarters in Reno. In the next five years, they expect to create up to 300 highly skilled jobs. 

According to Eric Hamborg, MOBE’s chief commercial officer, choosing Reno as their second headquarters was very strategic. The business-friendly environment, tax-structure, people, natural beauty and its proximity to Silicon Valley and Lake Tahoe attracted them to the area. “We wanted to expand where there was divergent thinking going on. As we looked at West coast environments, there was a natural draw to Reno in terms of innovation. Nevada’s tax structure is also helpful from both a corporate and personal standpoint,” said Hamborg. 

MOBE explored tech hot spots like Seattle and San Francisco prior to choosing Reno. “These are busy markets where there are lots of stressed out people so it’s just pounding through the motions of life. There’s something different about the Reno market. There’s a fresh approach to life which plays into what we are trying to accomplish in our business. It’s a place that has friendly people with different perspectives and diversity on how to solve some of the toughest challenges in healthcare and that equals innovation to us,” Hamborg shared.

MOBE is slated to open in Reno Q3 of this year. Just down the hall from the temporary MOBE headquarters is Bombora, a leading provider of B2B demographic, firmographic and Intent data. With offices in New York, San Francisco and London, opening their R&D office in Reno was pure serendipity. In 2015, co-founder Rob Armstrong, was on his way to the Bay Area and stopped in Reno-Tahoe to ski. An avid ski enthusiast, he fell in love with the area. That’s when he took a gamble to expand Bombora to Reno. According to Nicholaus (Nico) Halecky, Vice-President of Data Science, Armstrong’s gamble paid off tremendously. In fact, since moving to Reno in 2016, they’ve grown from 8 to over 40 employees. Bombora expects to hire another 10 employees throughout the course of the year. Of their four locations, Reno has the most employees. 

Ironically, Halecky is a Reno native who moved away in 2003 to attend graduate school at Berkeley. It wasn’t until EDAWN connected him with Bombora in 2016 that he considered moving back to Reno. “It is great to see all of the changes that are taking place here. I love the collaboration between the community and organizations that are putting in the effort to help that happen. This doesn’t happen in more established communities,” he said.

Along with the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR), Bombora recognizes the importance of expanding the Reno talent pool. “We have a great relationship with UNR who helps promote industry here. I’m on the College of Science and Engineering Board as they want industry partners to be part of that conversation. They want graduates that are more prepared for the workforce and can be hired by companies like ours,” he shared.

According to Halecky, “Reno has an openness to it that other places don’t have and it’s not just when it comes to technology companies. The whole community decided after the last recession that they wanted to move dramatically away from gaming which was the basis of the economy here. There is a forward-thinking mentality here that wants to move away from where we were to something that is more sustainable and interconnected in the future. As a Reno native, it is awesome to see the community transforming itself to become something better. That whole aspect of it allows a company like ours to succeed.” 

Breadware, an innovative company that provides tools and services to support companies building IoT products, visited Reno in January 2017 to explore moving their headquarters from Santa Barbara. EDAWN quickly convinced them Reno was the place to be. In less than two years, they have grown from 12 employees to 36. And they are continuing to grow on multiple fronts. Daniel (Danny) DeLaveaga, Breadware co-founder, shared, “We have two business units now. One is a professional services engineering firm where companies hire us to help develop their products. Our other business unit is launching on May 15. It’s a marketplace where we connect companies with service providers, all around IoT product development. We help companies find a service provider that specializes in exactly what their project may or may not need.” In addition, they are launching a product development conference series that brings companies together that are in the IoT space. Their first conference will focus on sports tech. 

What attracted DeLaveaga and his co-founder Daniel Price to the Reno-Sparks area was the biggest little city kind of welcome. Tech hubs such as Austin, the Bay area, and Boulder didn’t put out that same vibe. “We were won over by Reno as they gave us the red carpet treatment. In addition, there is a growing ecosystem of angel investors and VCs supporting the ecosystem here. Reno is really pushing the edge and looking for opportunities to grow technology in the community,” DeLaveaga shared.

Now that DeLaveaga has lived in Reno for a couple years, he is happy to share what continues to attract him to the area. “I ride my motorcycle to work each day which takes about two minutes. I like the four seasons which creates a lot of diversity and different experiences throughout the year for skiing, hiking and mountain biking. Whatever you want to do, it is here. Doing the river float on the Truckee River is fun. There’s a huge community of people, young and old, and lots of different events happening. I am excited to become more and more entrenched in the local community. There’s a lot going on here,” DeLaveaga said. He is now a member of the local Boys & Girls Club. 
Boasting 320 days of sunshine and now a vibrant tech community, start-ups and more established companies alike are happily making Reno their home.