Reno, NV: Startup City

Reno, NV: Startup City

With all of the talk about the Tesla Gigafactory coming to Reno, NV some of the smaller players have gotten a little overshadowed. However, Popular Mechanics recently recognized Reno, NV as the #8 Best Startup City in the Country! Between the Reno Collective and Startup Row, Reno has a lot going for it these days, which is great given its slow economic improvement since the 2008 Financial Crisis.

Here’s a few of the companies sprouting up in the area and a little of what they’re about.

inqiri operates the premier online collaborative decision-making platform. Our patent-pending technology combines the power of collective intelligence with a multi-criteria decision analysis (MCDA) methodology. The inqiri solution provides organizations with a structured, objective, rational technique for improving decisions. Founded in 2012, inqiri develops advanced business intelligence solutions designed to enhance business outcomes.

Dunce, LLC:
Dunce, LLC is college planning that’s clever! Founded in 2013, we help high school students determine their paths after graduation, and provide resources and guidance to help them achieve their goals. Dunce prides itself in challenging our clients to think outside the box when it comes to their goals after high school, as well as develop an entrepreneurial mindset when it comes to life and learning.

TrainerRoad provides indoor-cycling software to cyclists and triathletes with the goal of making them faster on the bike. TrainerRoad records athletes’ workouts and displays live data such as power output, cadence, and heart rate.

In addition to these great startups, there’s a lot more in the works for Reno. Apple is expanding their Data Center presence in town, Petco is opening a new distribution center, and Amazon is moving their distribution center from Fernley, NV to Reno, NV. This is just the tip of the iceberg for great companies popping up in town and it looks like the next few years will greatly expand the presence of tech companies and the ever-present warehouse/distribution business.

I know there are a lot more startups out there in Reno, NV, but for the sake of time I limited my post to only a few. If you have a startup in Reno and would like to talk about it on my blog I would be happy to let you do a guest post or conduct an interview.

Are You A Renaissance Man? Writing Is Perfect For You.

Some of my friends have asked me what attributes make a successful writer.  I answer that writing is perfect for those who are a jack-of-all-trades.  We all know that person out there who can play guitar, complete a marathon, and has enough energy at the end of the day to beat you at Call of Duty.  Maybe they aren’t the best at everything, but they’ve learned enough of a lot of different skills to be more than well-rounded.  I think any good writer experiences as much as possible in life and those experiences, good or bad, influence their storytelling.

Hemingway drunkenly made his way around Europe and then wrote about characters who often did the same.  I’m not saying every story has to be cut from your life.  Heck, I’m a science fiction writer.  If I went around parading my stories as truths most people would think I’m crazy, or worse, some people might start a church and start worshiping my writing…

Let me put it this way.  I get a lot of inspiration from my dreams.  Dreams are often very much influenced by our real life, only warped and changed within our minds to reach us at a symbolic level.  Maybe that cigar is not really a cigar at all.  In science fiction, the guts, the core of it all is just like any other story apart from the setting and the technological advances or regressions.  Novels are about people, whether real or fictional.  Tangentially, did you know the human brain is incapable of creating a human face from scratch?  If you were to think of a face right now, it might have the eyes of the man you saw on the subway, the mouth of the homeless man outside your building, and the facial hair of Brad Pitt on the tabloid at the supermarket.  Our brains are wondrous things, but they can only rearrange what we have already seen.

How does this relate to writing?  I believe we are a collection of our experiences.  Everything we see and everything we do can influence how we put pen to paper.  When I look out my window and I see someone walking down the street, I like to think up an imaginary back story for that person.  I never know when I’ll need another character.

When writing, sometimes I’ll come up with an idea involving a subject I know little about.  This is when things get interesting.  I’ll spend days or weeks heavily researching that subject, sometimes even reading a college textbook on the subject (in the case of Immunology and my novel Symbiote).  Over time, I feel I’ve educated myself on far more than my two, going on three, college degrees would suggest.  The way I motivate myself is that I want to know enough about a subject that I could go in right away and test out of that college class if I wanted to without any further study.  When I first became interested in writing science fiction novels, I read textbooks about Physics, Astronomy, the space program, cloning, and several biographies of scientists and leaders in technological fields.  In this sense, I think being a good reader is absolutely necessary to being a good writer.  Who knows, if you become interested in knowing the basics of many different subjects, you too could become a Renaissance Man or Woman.

What’s on your reading list?  Have you become something of an expert in a field you recently knew little about?  Sound off in the comments or tweet me @TrevorSSchmidt

New Year’s Resolution

It’s that time of year again, give or take a couple of days.  It’s the time when everyone makes the resolution to lose weight…and I’m sure a smattering of other things.  I don’t believe in resolutions so much as setting goals.  The problem a lot of people have seems to be with the name.  You see, they’re the same thing.  However, a goal to some may equally be labeled a ‘pipe dream.’  So let’s talk about goals.

Goals are nothing without a plan of attack.  For me, I make time to write 1,000 words every day, even if it’s a blog post rather than a few pages in my latest novel.  I’m an avid user of to-do lists and if I miss a day of writing I don’t get that satisfying check.  On the rare occasion that happens, I let it carry over to the next day, where I’ll double my normal productivity out of guilt.  I’ve been following this pattern for about 6 months now and have written and published 2 novels to show for it.

The problem with a lot of people’s goals is that they take a long time to achieve for a person completely dedicated to the task.  Someone might go in and give it a half-baked effort for a month or two and then stop.  Maybe it’s too hard or you’re not getting the results you want.  Any task, if repeated enough times, can get boring.  The people who succeed find the bright spots and continue on even if they don’t feel like it, if they aren’t getting the results they want, or if their goal seems unreachable.  It can take decades to gain any real following as an author, musician, or other type of artist.  During that time, just about everyone will hit a wall at some point.  What matters is how you deal with those setbacks.

I have goals for 2015, goals for the next three years, five years, ten years, and so on.  I realize that forecasting that far out might seem pointless to some people, but I stand by it.  Every year I reevaluate where I am and where I want to be.  I don’t make some arbitrary resolution per se, but I do adjust my goals to be somewhere between realistic and optimistic.  And so here it is: in 2015 I will publish four novels and the quality of each will meet or exceed the previous novel.  I’m already on track to hit that goal, and it’s a good feeling that I know all I need to do is continue on the way I’ve been going.

I want to hear about your resolutions!  Post a comment in the space below with your 2015 resolution.