Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Spotlight: Reno-Sparks, NV

Reno-Sparks, NV

Reno-Sparks make up the second-largest metro area in NV. Here’s what you can find throughout their entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Reno-Sparks, NV, is comprised of a pair of cities Washoe County in the state’s northwest section. Reno, the state’s third-largest city, is known as “The Biggest Little City in the World.” The slogan won a competition in 1929 to determine what would be put on the town’s new arch sign. Sparks, which lies just a few miles East of Reno, is the fifth-largest city in Nevada. Together, the two make up the second-largest metro area in the state.

While Nevada in general and Reno specifically might bring to mind thoughts of the gambling industry, the city and state both have a more varied economy, with entrepreneurship playing a vital role. Reno ranked 39th overall in WalletHub’s 2019 list of the best large cities to start a business, while Sparks was 515th on the same site’s rankings of the best small cities to start a business, coming in at 328th overall in the “Business Environment” category. The Reno-Sparks metropolitan area together was ranked 46th overall in a Verizon list of the most innovative metro areas in the US.

Based on these rankings, FundingSage has reviewed the resources that make up Reno-Sparks’ entrepreneurial ecosystem:

Entrepreneurial Meetups:

The Association of Motivated Professionals is a group that works to help local professionals, entrepreneurs, and small business owners grow their networks through referrals.

The Northern Nevada SCORE chapter aims to support local entrepreneurship and small business through regular meetings and events.

Entrepreneurs and other business professionals in Reno can attend the networking group’s monthly events.


Regular Entrepreneurial Events:

Reno is host to one branch of 1 Million Cups. The organization that hosts weekly events during which two area entrepreneurs can present their companies and participate in an audience Q&A.

The Reno-Sparks Chamber of Commerce hosts a variety of events for businesses. Including everything from regular networking opportunities to educational workshops to basketball tournaments.

NCET Expo is an annual small business expo that plays host to over 1000 people and 100 business exhibitors every year.

April 2019 was the second annual Reno Cannabis Convention. This is an opportunity for entrepreneurs and investors in the recreational cannabis industry to network with one another.


Startup Competitions:

Down the road a bit from Reno, Sierra Nevada College hosts three competitions every year that correspond the full process of entrepreneurship: idea, pitch, and full business plan.

All full-time students at the University of Nevada, Reno can participate in the school’s Sontag Entrepreneurship Competition, which offers a grand prize of $50,000.


Co-working Spaces:

Beacon CoWork is a co-working space in Reno that has a wide array of membership plans. Each provides access to specific perks and amenities.

The University of Nevada, Reno’s Innevation Center is a collection of resources made available to entrepreneurs, including co-working space.

Reno Collective offers a variety of co-working options and office space as well as a number of other resources, including a podcasting studio and small “maker studio.”



The Bridgewire Makerspace holds weekly open houses on Thursday nights. It is made up of a 3D printing lab, electronics lab, laser lab, wood, machine and metal shops, and a media room.

Located in Sparks, The Generator is a 35,000 square foot workspace that offers access to tools, equipment and a community of creators.

The makerspace at the University of Nevada, Reno’s Innevation Center makes a wide variety of manufacturing equipment and tools open to the university community and the public at large.



The Entrepreneurs Assembly is a statewide network of entrepreneurs that acts as an incubator by providing mentorship and other support to its members.

The Nevada Small Business Development Center works to support small businesses throughout the state and has a location hosted at the University of Nevada, Reno.

Founded in 2010, One World is a 2,000 square foot commercial kitchen space and food business incubator program located in Sparks.

With primary locations in Las Vegas and Reno, StartUpNV is an incubator program that works with promising startups throughout the state.



Located just down the road from Reno on the shores of Lake Tahoe, Elevate Blue is a combination incubator and accelerator program that works with startups throughout the region.

The Entrepreneurs’ Organization’s Reno-Tahoe branch runs an accelerator program that works with first-stage entrepreneurs from the region.

Hosted by the University of Nevada, Reno, the InNEVator is an 8-week pre-accelerator program that works to support IoT companies in Northern Nevada.

The aim of the Mountain West Tech Accelerator is to support technology startups located throughout the state of Nevada.



A few miles from Reno and Sparks, Sierra Nevada College offers both academic programs and extracurricular opportunities in entrepreneurship.

Truckee Meadows Community College offers a number of certificates and degrees in entrepreneurship, with several focusing on specific fields.

UNR’s Ozmen Center for Entrepreneurship offers a number of resources, including a minor program and MBA emphasis in entrepreneurship.


Angel Groups/VCs:

Hosted at UNR’s Innevation Center, Ozmen Ventures is a seed- and early-stage venture capital firm that invests around the Northern Nevada region.

Founded in 2008, Reno Angels is a group of angel investors based in Reno that invests primarily in promising technology companies around the area.

The goal of the Reno Seed Fund is to support early-stage startups throughout Northern Nevada. Their core interest lies in the internet of things, advanced manufacturing, software, and consumer products.

Based down the road in Incline Village, Sierra Angels invests in companies across the Western United States, with a particular focus on technology companies.


Entrepreneurial Newsletter Coverage:

The Economic Development Authority of Western Nevada is located in Reno and offers weekly economic updates on the region through email.

Nevada Business Magazine offers a monthly email newsletter that offers previews and advance versions of business news in upcoming issues.

Northern Nevada Business View offers a variety of newsletters with different focuses on the business and entrepreneurship scene in the region.


Are you familiar with entrepreneurial ecosystem infrastructure in Reno-Sparks, NV not included in the article above?  If so, let us know via a comment below, and we will add it to the article. 

Interested in Ecosystem Spotlights of other cities in the USA?

Las Vegas, NV, Albuquerque, NM, Phoenix, AZ


Feature Image: Reno, Nevada photo D Ramey Logan.jpg from Wikimedia Commons by D Ramey LoganCC-BY-SA 4.0

Quinn Pilkey

Quinn is a journalism major at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He also serves as a freelance author for Hashtag Basketball where he writes about the NBA's Charlotte Hornets and at FundingSage where he researches and writes about entrepreneurial ecosystems.