Daniel deLaveaga and his business partner Daniel Price started their IOT development business Breadware in Santa Barbara, California. They found early success in a crowded market thanks to their deep knowledge of mechanical engineering and product design, carving out a niche in an area just north of Los Angeles.
However, after a few years in business, deLaveaga and Price wanted to expand their business – and the West Coast couldn’t offer them that opportunity. They looked eastward, eventually learning about opportunities in Reno, Nevada.
“Santa Barbara was nice, but we wanted to find a place and build an infrastructure that could scale our product,” deLaveaga said. “We didn’t initially think about Reno, but after meeting with local officials and development organizations, we found a unique tech ecosystem that wasn’t too far away from our original market base.”
The move to Reno has paid off considerably for Breadware, and serves as a good example of how tech startups can find success in smaller markets outside of major metro areas.
“Reno has a communal mentality, more of a ‘rising tide raises all ships’ over a ‘me vs. you’ mentality,” deLaveaga said. “Our whole team has been accepted in the community, and we’ve helped other startups get going through common contacts.”
deLaveaga noted that several key benefits arose after they shifted their business to the Reno market. While they were no longer directly on the West Coast, they still maintain a direct line to that market from their Nevada headquarters.
“If you’re a growing startup, it’s very easy to maintain connections to the West Coast and the Bay Area from Reno,” deLaveaga said. “The close proximity also helps when trying to attract new talent out here from the coast, which can sometimes be challenging.”
For their specific talent needs, Breadware needed a local community partner to source recruits. The Reno area provided ample resources for their recruiting needs.
“Nevada Industry Excellence, an organization run by the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR), helped us find talent with basic engineering functions,” deLaveaga said. “They were able to source talent from local universities and organizations, and even partnered with us to create courses at UNR that help train students on these functions. It’s important for new recruits to know the basics, but working with UNR to define a course curriculum helped us better tailor our potential workforce.”
The financial and tax incentives certainly helped when discussing relocation to Reno. But deLaveaga notes that they are only part of a wider community benefit, driven by business-friendly policies and governments.
“You start with no income tax for corporations and individuals, which allowed us to give a 10 percent hike for employees right away,” deLaveaga said. “Cost of living is much lower, which also helps with take-home pay. From the government level, they have consistently put us in the limelight. We are working directly with the University, raising grants through the Governor’s office. It’s a full business-community partnership.”
For deLaveaga, the combination of financial incentives, low cost of living, and community support have paid off for their growing business. They have since sought to debut their products at high profile conferences in the Reno and Las Vegas areas.
“We launched a part of our software development product at the Consumer Electronics Show, and our overall mission is to enable companies to create connected, meaningful products,” deLaveaga said. “Internet of Things products are very interesting at this stage, and they are pervasive in nearly every industry.”
It took a bold decision to relocate from the West Coast – and a pushback against Reno’s stereotypical image – to get Breadware to its current state.
“The people we look to hire and entice out to Reno are very good at what they do, and they likely juggle options with West Coast businesses at the same time,” deLaveaga said. “What we aim to do is show them that Reno isn’t a rundown version of Las Vegas – it is a thriving, artsy, interesting place.”
To do business in Reno, Breadware worked with the Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada (EDAWN). Many organizations work with EDAWN as they seek to expand in Reno. Now Doug Erwin, senior vice president of entrepreneurial development at EDAWN, has partnered with U.S. Bank for a seminar in September 2019 where he’ll share insights on the Reno market for tech organizations.