Fighting brain drain in Reno

The city of Reno has been developing programs to attract and maintain higher levels of individuals with college degrees. Have a look at the programs being created to connect local businesses with current college students in an effort to demonstrate the true opportunity that resides in Reno, including inqiri’s leading efforts in the creation of Start-Up Row and their competitive intern opportunities.

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Workplace Satisfaction

Employee engagement is a hot topic in the business world today. Company leaders are constantly seeking ways to improve employee engagement. A mind-boggling 88% of employees don’t have passion for their work. According to research conducted by the Gallup organization, employee disengagement costs U.S. companies $350 billion dollars annually.

One of the big disconnects between an employee and employer is due to the old management paradigm of command and hierarchy. This old style of management gives the executives at the top of the hierarchy essentially all of the power in the company and leaves the lower level employees without a voice. The repercussions are too big to be overlooked. Without a voice employees are now going to work every day, unhappy and stressed out. This has led to a huge decrease in employee engagement.

In this constantly changing business world, providing a means for employees to communicate their ideas is essential to developing the economic growth that every organization strives for.

The report by think tank Tomorrow’s Company, employment relations firm and professional services firm Tower Watson, provides key findings regarding voice in the workplace. For one, voice increases employee engagement, enables effective decision-making and drives innovation. Most firms will acknowledge the importance of having policies in place to encourage employee engagement, but not so many are actively taking action to encourage employees to voice their opinion and contribute in a meaningful way. A second finding was that authenticity and trust are essential. The employees need to feel safe and valued when voicing their opinion. Last but not least, organizations need to use a variety of channels to access employee voice, and ensure they support both the individual and collective voice of the employees.

At inqiri, we seek to serve organizations by providing an efficient an effective platform for employees to voice their ideas. Management could use inqiri to ask a question such as “What is the best way to increase employee satisfaction?” The employees could then participate in the inqiri by first providing the criteria they believe to be important pertaining to the particular question. Criteria can be defined as a rule or principle for the evaluation or testing of something. In regards to the inqiri, an employee may feel that teamwork is important to employee satisfaction. The employee could then select a criterion such as collaboration and rate it based on how important they think it is to the decision being made. The employee can also view and rate criteria submitted by other employees that they may have not thought of, but still believe to be important.

The next step in the inqiri process would be to choose and rate options. An option is anything that one believes would be a good choice for the decision. In the inqiri process, any option has the potential to be one that no one else has thought of, but ends up being the preferred option among the group. Referring to the question about the best way to increase employee satisfaction, an employee may suggest that management provide a platform for employees to voice their opinion, such as inqiri. The employee can then view and rate the options that other participants have submitted that they have not thought of.

The final step of the inqiri would be viewing the results. Management could view the results in the form of visual analytics to provide a quick and easy way to understand the voice of their employees. They would be able to see the top options, as well as the collective value placed on the criteria relative to each option to get an understanding of the “why” behind the decision. Management may find that what employees feel is important to increasing satisfaction is very different from their views and opinions. Using inqiri would provide an efficient way for employees to voice their opinion and would provide management with real time data to take action and increase the employees’ level of satisfaction.


 Newcombe, Tom. “”Employee Voice” Is a Key to a Successful Business, Says Nita Clarke.” HR Magazine -. N.p., n.d. Web.

inqiri’s Role in Local Reno Growth

As a leader of real estate development firm Reno Land & Cattle, Vince Griffith conveys his vision of developing the economic condition of Reno through investing in commercial real estate in the downtown area. Griffith believes in housing many of the local Start-Ups as they continue to prosper and contribute to Reno’s quickly developing economy. Check out this article to read about inqiri’s role in Griffith’s vision.

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Big Data Makes Better Decisions and Drives Retention

In the technology industry, big data has been compared to oil as the next great natural resource, according to Forbes. The buzz around this new resource can be found anywhere and everywhere, and for good reason—big data holds the key to understanding every measurable aspect of a business, from finding ways to increase sales and revenue to improving customer satisfaction.

But big data isn’t just helpful when it comes to customer retention. Data is an increasingly crucial asset in the human resources industry for slowing employee turnover and driving retention. Big data is known to foster culture within a company, and those than can tap into the power of quantitative analytics are able to boost employee engagement and keep top performing employees. Large companies like Google, Yahoo, and Facebook have been harnessing big data to create more personalized customer experiences, but the idea of big data can be daunting for smaller enterprises.

INQIRI enables smaller enterprises to utilize big data in a convenient and practical way. The platform allows qualitative opinions on business processes to be converted to quantitative figures in order to make more sense of all the feedback. Our pertinent analytics can model and present the data so that it can be interpreted and applied to future operations. In this way, INQIRI helps businesses identify their strengths and weaknesses within the fields of employee engagement and customer satisfaction, driving retention on both sides of the company.

Better decisions require big data—and software that knows what to do with it.

How can your company use big data to improve employee and customer retention? Please comment below with your answers!


Newman, Daniel. “Big Data ROI: Making Better Decisions That Drive Community, Retention And Revenue.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, n.d. Web. 14 Jan. 2015.

Collaboration Within the Virtual Workplace

In today’s workplace, employees are clocking in from home or even from other countries. Technology has enabled employees to commute virtually to work. This offers tremendous opportunities for organizations, allowing them to scale without expanding offices, while also allowing them to pool talent from virtually anywhere on the globe. However, this trend poses challenges to executives trying to cultivate a positive company culture.

According to Richard Hackman and his team of Harvard psychologists, the single strongest predictor of group effectiveness was the amount of help that employees gave each other, or in other words, collaboration (Grant). This defied the popular belief that the critical factors to effective teams were having stable team membership, or having well-defined roles and responsibilities. Evidence from studies led by Indiana University’s Phillip Podsakoff demonstrates that the frequency with which employees collaborate and help one another predicts sales revenues in pharmaceutical units and retail stores; profits, costs, and customer service in banks; creativity in consulting and engineering firms; productivity in paper mills; and revenues, operating efficiency, customer satisfaction, and performance quality in restaurants (Grant).

The research conducted by Podaskoff revealed some key benefits that collaboration among employees facilitates. The benefits include: enabling employees to solve problems and get work done faster, enchanting team cohesion, reducing variability in performance when some members are overloaded or distracted, and establishing an environment in which customers and suppliers feel that their needs are the organizations top priority.

Executives recognize the importance of cultivating a corporate culture that promotes collaboration to improve organizational efficiency, but with many employees now scattered across multiple states or constantly working on the road, they are facing challenges to implement an effective collaboration program.

Certain software and online tools are answering this question. YouEarnedIt for example, is a software platform that allows employees to reward co-workers for their achievements. The software allows employees to receive recognition points that they can redeem for prizes, such as donations to a favorite charity or executive coaching. YouEarnedIt promotes employee engagement and makes rewarding employees an easy task no matter where they are located geographically.

Although YouEarnedIt is a great service, it doesn’t tackle the challenge of effectively implementing a platform for collaboration from employees across multiple states. Inqiri provide an efficient and effective platform for employees to voice their ideas and collaborate. Inqiri empowers Management to ask questions about current organizational issues and allows employees to submit their opinion and rate their answers in an anonymous manner. The technology behind inqiri has not only developed a technology to present decision alternatives in an easy to understand, quantifiable manner, but has also leveraged the phenomenon of “collective intelligence”. Collective intelligence has the potential to produce very effective decisions and create outcomes that normally would either not be recognized, or fall subject to personal bias.

With more and more organizations with employees working from different regions, the challenge of collaboration is something that needs to be addressed. As Richard Hackman and his team found, creating a culture that supports collaboration is the single most important factor to cultivating an effective team. Inqiri provides a very effective and efficient solution to organizations that want to scale without expanding offices, but still foster a collaborative culture.

For more information on inqiri’s creative solution, visit


Grant, Adam. “Givers Take All: The Hidden Dimension of Corporate Culture.” McKinsey & Company (n.d.): n. pag. Web.

Mirshahzadeh, Darius. “3 Online Tools for Supercharging a Company’s Culture.” Entrepreneur. N.p., n.d. Web.

How to Improve Employee Engagement by Opening Communication Channels

Recently the Harvard Business Review posted an article about boosting employee engagement, while subsequently increasing levels of customer satisfaction. As states in the article, “companies with energized, motivated employees make an extra effort to create a superior experience for customers, who in turn reward the company with intense loyalty and contributions to its profit growth.” By giving lower-level management the task of motivating and energizing employees, businesses can help bring the communication sphere from the upper levels of management down to the employees themselves. In order to retrieve honest and accurate feedback, the channels of communication should be focused around the employees themselves and finding new, innovative ways to improve engagement.

Employee surveys have long been the favored strategy among upper-level management to acquire feedback and engage employees. The idea of conducting regular “pulse checks” is crucial to employee engagement, but online surveys make participation an inefficient process that leads to inaccurate results. Online surveys tend to collect information on what management thinks might be the problem and not what employees know is the problem. In order to tap into the latter, a collective intelligence platform is much more appropriate and effective. Employees should have the power to create and rate the best ways to encourage workplace enthusiasm instead of merely providing feedback on the shortcomings of the current processes. Collective intelligence helps the workplace as a whole to find the best solution for engaging and energizing employees.

INQIRI is the collective intelligence application that can effectively move the sphere of communication down to the employee level. Our software allows users to generate and evaluate options in real time to create a streamlined channel of communication. When employees are able to voice their opinions in an unbiased and anonymous setting, the barriers to engagement are lifted. Ultimately, INQIRI provides the tool for increasing engagement, motivation, and energy for the entire workplace.

We’d love to hear how INQIRI could be helpful in your workplace. Please comment below!


“Boost Employee Engagement (and Make Customers Happy) – Management Tip of the Day – March 28, 2014.” Harvard Business Review. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Apr. 2014.

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.