Top 10 startups in Nevada outside the Las Vegas neon
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Photo courtesy: US Bureau of Reclamation

All most people remember about Nevada is Las Vegas. Get closer, however, and non-neon spotlights shine on fascinating startups in Reno and all across the state

Nevada has a lot of land, being the 7th largest state, but not a lot of people. In 1940, there were only 110,000 people in the entire state. Electricity from the Hoover Dam helped draw people, but gambling proved the biggest lure. Between the 1940s and 2003, Nevada was the fastest growing state in the country on a percentage basis.

Gambling means many things to many people. In Las Vegas, gambling means dice or cards. For the many startups in Las Vegas (see earlier Top 10 list) and in Reno and the rest of the state, starting a company is pretty dicey as well.

Tesla bet on Reno for their new battery factory in Nevada, and startups in the area bagged more than $38 million in 2016, so the desert remains a hot place to be for new companies.


Photo courtesy: Flirtey

While the buzz of consumer drone hobbyists drones on, companies figuring out ways to solve business problems with drones are few and far between. That’s why Flirtey has snagged the spotlight with their service for advanced drone deliveries for humanitarian and other uses.

Starting in late 2013, Flirtey received $50k in seed money just over a year later in January of 2015. Nothing special then, but a breakthrough or two later, Flirtey landed $16 million in Series A funding from two heavyweights, Menlo Ventures and Qualcomm Ventures. Another 12 investors put in an undisclosed amount in September 2015. Perhaps that was the key? A total of 19 investors are helping Flirtey fly, spool down a payload, and fly back to base autonomously.


Photo courtesy: Filament

The Internet of Things (IoT) numbers in the millions and millions and the counter will soon click over to billions of devices. Connecting and managing those devices takes new tools for a new kind of job. Filament focuses on secure communications with IoT devices over customized wireless networks. Filament can also help process payments and manage digital smart contracts.

Unlike many of the IoT “coming soon” vendors in the technology, Filament started in the spring of 2012 and acquired over $100k in product crowdfunding help in February 2013. A few months later, $1 million in seed funds arrived, followed by several smaller placements. May 2015 came with $5 million in Series A funding, and the kicker was $15 million in Series A in March of 2017.


Photo courtesy: IQvcloud

We’re past the time when every company with “cloud” in the name was showered with VC cash. In the case of IQvcloud, however, VC attention makes sense because IQvcloud focuses on cybersecurity and encryption. Healthcare records must be secure to comply with federal law, data centers are attractive hacker targets, and most government offices from local to federal levels still need more protection.

Organized in 2012, a single venture fund allocation of $11.2 million occurred in February of 2014. While a single funder may raise eyebrows in many sectors, security companies often have secretive business plans and even more secretive investors.


Photo courtesy: NevadaNano

Sparks is a great location for a chip maker, right? Just outside Reno, NevadaNano (officially Nevada Nanotech Systems, Inc.) designs and manufacturers MEMS, or micro-electro-mechanical systems. Most people just call them sensors, one of the leading members of the IoT family of devices.

The company started in 2004, well before IoT took off. Why so far ahead of their time? Because they were an early R&D project supported by the Department of Defense and their famous DARPA program. But they were ready when IoT became a buzzword, and grabbed $5.5 million from a convertible note in October, 2015.


Photo courtesy: VirnetX

There’s no lack of screaming tweets about Internet security problems, and VirnetX offers to help you stay out of the “hacked” headlines. They also work on the Internet side people never see, but still need to be secure. Wireless security is another area they have some of their 20 U.S. and 26 international patents. In the wings? Over 100 more pending patent applications.

Started in 2005, VirnetX gained $6 million in venture funding in September of 2009. It doesn’t hurt that Apple was ordered to pay VirnetX $302.4 million for patent infringement (FaceTime technology), although the lawyers are still fighting over that one.


Photo courtesy: AirWire

All the buzzwords stack in perfect alignment for AirWire: global supplier, next-generation, mobile wireless, networking, IoT, Connected Car, and even Cloud Ecosystem. You don’t know about AirWire, but they are partnering with and supporting some of the biggest connected car players in the world.

Another company that started before the technology really worked, AirWire opened their doors in 2002. Finally in 2007the market was catching up, and they received $1.2 million in Series A funding. Several more rounds, including the last one in February 2016 for $5.25 million, bring the total investment to date up to $8.29 million.


Photo courtesy: SonoCine

SonoCine focuses on developing the best possible imaging solution for breast cancer screening. Better detection means smaller tumors that can be excised more easily or addressed via less-harmful chemotherapy treatments. But separating tumors from dense breast tissue has proven to be a stubborn problem.

One might disregard SonoCine since they were funded in 2000, before most startups profiled here. But their only funding round, $7.09 million, came in February 2015. To receive so much investment after 15 years indicates something going on at SonoCine caught the attention of a major VC group.


Photo courtesy: Onstream

Another IoT startup, Onstream focuses on making buildings more intelligent. Their Activator product line connects otherwise non-cooperative and isolated devices. With Onstream, no device is an island, but the islands tie together with less expense and more options. Cameras, locks, HVAC and more become automated once Onstream gets involved.

Starting in March 2015, Onstream didn’t take long before drawing attention from the investment community. By August of that year $2 million connected to their coffers thanks to a seed round from Traynor Family Enterprises. The press has been paying attention as well, with profiles and rankings in leading IoT voices in roundups.

Photo courtesy: Sensr

Take one helping of cloud, as in where to store data, and software to juice up inexpensive surveillance cameras, and you have the recipe for They help you “watch your stuff” with an IP camera, an Internet connection, and a device like a laptop, tablet, or mobile phone.

IP (network) cameras started getting affordable when started back in 2009. Leveraging the cloud helped get more investors intrigued, and nine clumped together to place $1.5 million in venture funds in the hands of in January of 2011.


Photo courtesy: Dronesmith

Drones are cool and new and fun, but the biz will fizzle to hobby status unless drones start making money and integrate into company operations. Wave at Dronesmith as it flies by, a company helping companies develop drone software and integrate drone advantages to existing applications and workflows.

Drones are fairly new, and Dronesmith started in early 2014. By May of that year, the first seed funding of $195k landed in their laps. Multiple other seed fundings and convertible notes, ranging from $100k to $400k over 2014, 2015, and 2016 total up to $1.2 million. That may not be a lot for big products, but drones are small and nimble andDronesmih makes sure their software and hardware controllers are as well.

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James Gaskin

About James Gaskin

James writes books, articles, and jokes about technology, and consults for those who don’t read his books and articles.

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