Getting the Word Out: inqiri and the “Startup State”

The last couple of weeks have been quite exciting for all of us at inqiri, and I wanted to share some of the highlights. Being in a startup that is growing quickly and involved with several initiatives in the Reno startup community, it is important to reflect on the experience. Otherwise, all we will remember is how the landscape looked from the window of a speeding train – just a blur.

A couple of weeks ago, the Sunday edition of the Reno Gazette-Journal ran a very nice profile on inqiri. We were interviewed by Jason Hidalgo, who covers technology in the northern Nevada area for the RGJ. We spoke about the inqiri concept and how we were helping organizations improve decisions.  He did a great job of capturing the message, translating it into an interesting article, and bonus, he included references to our Zombie Apocalypse inqiri.

inqiri CEO & Co-Founder, James Elste, and Chief Data Architect & Co-Founder, Travis Schwieger, are interviewed by the Reno Gazette-Journal.
inqiri CEO & Co-Founder, James Elste, and Chief Data Architect & Co-Founder, Travis Schwieger, are interviewed by the Reno Gazette-Journal.

One of the initiatives we have been spearheading, with several other local startup leaders, is the establishment of “Reno Startup Row.” The startup community in Reno is thriving and growing organically. We are organizing among the local startups and creating a sense of identity and community to promote the outstanding environment and support for entrepreneurs in Reno.

Reno Startup Row culminates in the identification of 1st Street in Reno as the physical nexus of many of our startups. We have established a website that lists companies located on Startup Row, along with members of the startup community located around the area. In addition to the website, and to provide a physical sense of identity, we have had banners placed along 1st Street marking the boundaries of Startup Row and drawing attention to the 1st street area as the hub of entrepreneurship in Reno.

The Reno Startup Row effort culminated in Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval’s press conference on February 27th. Governor Sandoval spoke about the importance of entrepreneurship to the Nevada economy and praised the efforts of the Reno startup community. He highlighted the potential that each startup represents and the energy of the community.

Governor Sandoval said something very powerful: “We’ve always called ourselves the Silver State, but now we should rename it and call it the Startup State.” Nevada has had to fight its way back from the economic collapse. But hearing Gov. Sandoval announce that in the last three years, the state has added 60,000 new jobs is proof of that the people of Nevada are hard working and resilient.

Governor Sandoval signs a Reno Startup Row banner, nicknaming Nevada, "The Startup State."
Governor Sandoval signs a Startup Row banner, nicknaming Nevada, “The Startup State.”

I had the distinct privilege, along with three other local CEOs and Mike Kazmierski from the Economic Development Association of Western Nevada (EDAWN), to speak at the press conference. Each of the speakers discussed their companies, growth potential, and why they found Reno an appealing location to start and grow their business. Eric Jennings of Pinoccio, Nate Pearson of TrainerRoad, and Joe Salesky of ustyme each brought their diverse experiences and specialties to the discussion and add incredible value to Startup Row. A special thanks is in order to Colin Loretz and the Reno Collective for hosting the event.  It was a unique experience for all of us, and I know that it helped to further galvanize the startup community. We made a video of the presentations and have posted it to our YouTube Channel and on the Reno Startup Row website.

The inqiri team at the Governor's Press Conference. From Left to Right: Travis Schwieger, James Elste, Seth Voltz, and Chris O'Sullivan.
The inqiri team at the Governor’s Press Conference. From Left to Right: Travis Schwieger, James Elste, Seth Voltz, and Chris O’Sullivan.

To round things out, last Saturday I appeared on Mike Bosma’s radio program on KOH “Bosma on Business” where we discussed inqiri and the challenges of running a startup. It was an interesting discussion and we covered a variety of topics. In the hour-long dialogue, we had the opportunity to explain the inqiri concept, our current state, and some of our goals for external fundraising. It was an interesting experience and in many respects, the conversation between breaks was almost as useful as what we discussed on air.

Over the last couple of weeks, the events we attended and opportunities to spread the inqiri message have amounted to an unplanned, but welcome PR campaign. We have had great feedback and have generated even greater interest in the inqiri solution.

Next week, we will be traveling to the Re:Think 2014 Conference hosted by the Advertising Research Foundation. We are looking forward to continuing our forward momentum and to speaking with other dynamic industry leaders. Organizations that seek to improve decisions by applying state of the art technology are looking to inqiri to provide a solution.

Reno City Council Supports Local Startup Community

Jim Elste - Reno Startups

This Wednesday I had an opportunity to provide testimony in support of a two hundred thousand dollar contract that will provide a funding source for startup accelerators in Reno.

On Wednesday, October 9th, the Reno City Council approved a contract to allocate $200,000 of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds. With wide support from local entrepreneurs, this contract represents a step towards providing greater support for local startups, and the opportunity to grow the Reno startup community.

It was great to see the Reno City Council recognize the important role that the startup community plays in the local economy.  This contract and future local startup funding sources will help accelerate the development of local startups. Companies that don’t want to move to the Bay area or other locations, but want to stay, grow and contribute to the Reno economy.

With a focus on growing the technology economy, Reno continues to benefit from fostering the development of a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem. It was a privilege to be able to lend my voice and testify in support of this contract.

You can see the video (starting at 1 hour and 5 minutes) in the Reno City Council video archive.

inqiri Celebrates Launch

inqiri launch party awards

Months of work to launch inqiri at TechCrunch Disrupt SF last week have culminated with the inqiri launch party held in Reno on Wednesday, where friends, family, and colleagues joined in the celebration. In addition to delicious food and drinks, guests received an inside look at the last 9 months of the company, from first concept to launch, though a ceremony to recognize contributors to the inqiri project. Continue reading inqiri Celebrates Launch

TechCrunch Launch Wrap-up

Travis and Jim at TechCrunch Disrupt

We are back in Reno after a few exciting days at the TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2013 conference. From our perspective the conference was a success. It was a great experience and an excellent launching pad for the production release of the inqiri solution. We are now officially launched, the site is live, and we are starting to see people using inqiri. Continue reading TechCrunch Launch Wrap-up

On the Eve of Launch

It is not hard to imagine how astronauts feel the night before they launch. We are on the eve of our launch at TechCrunch and the anticipation is running high. We have checked and rechecked the systems, loaded all our gear for the exhibit space, and packed our bags for the trip into San Francisco (actually about the same distance as a trip to the International Space Station, in vertical miles). We are ready. Continue reading On the Eve of Launch

All Systems GO for Launch…

We have been trying to blog in a consistent, regular manner, but over the course of the last few weeks things have gotten quite busy and our blogging has suffered. This post will attempt to catch up on some of the exciting news, and set the stage for the upcoming launch of inqiri. Continue reading All Systems GO for Launch…

inqiri Presents at 1 Million Cups Reno

1 Million CupsToday, Travis and I presented at 1 Million Cups Reno and had one of our first opportunities to discuss inqiri with a diverse audience of mentors, advisors, and entrepreneurs. The inqiri solution was well received and the feedback during the Q&A portion of the session was interesting and very supportive. As we enter the final phase of our project, in preparation for our launch at TechCrunch Disrupt, we look forward to more of these types of discussions. Continue reading inqiri Presents at 1 Million Cups Reno

inqiri Alpha launches in MIT Media Lab Spotlight

Yesterday, I participated in the MIT Media Lab eCitizenSalon session on Deliberation and Decision-making Online. It was a very interesting discussion on the challenges with eDeliberation and decision-making, along with an opportunity to demonstrate the power of the inqiri solution. To make it a true milestone, we officially launched the ALPHA version of the inqiri solution. Continue reading inqiri Alpha launches in MIT Media Lab Spotlight

MIT eCitizenSalon Spotlights inqiri Solution

On Tuesday, July 23rd, I have the distinct privilege of participating in the MIT eCitizenSalon, which will be livecast from the MIT Media Lab. The agenda, speakers list and participation information will be posted on the eCitizen blog and at the eCitizen.MIT.edu research site. Continue reading MIT eCitizenSalon Spotlights inqiri Solution

Shifting the Focus to Decision-making and our Solution

As we get closer to launch, we are shifting the focus of our blog posts to provide more a more explicit discussion of decision theory, the decision-making process, and how we are building these theories into a practical application with our Decision Optimization EngineTM.  We have laid the ground work in previous posts covering topics such as building a community, collaboration and crowdsourcing. All important and relevant topics, a necessary foundation that frames the future focus of our posts. Continue reading Shifting the Focus to Decision-making and our Solution