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Free business incubator launches for Clark County startups

Got a new business in Clark County that could use venture capital funding but not sure how to get it? A new business incubator program by StartUpNV can help.

The Las Vegas-based nonprofit received $600,000 last week from Clark County to start and run Incubate Vegas, a free 10-week incubator program that is meant to provide educational and mentorship opportunities to first-time entrepreneurs and early stage startups.

The incubator will focus on “scalable businesses,” or those with the potential for rapid growth, according to Jeff Saling, founder and executive director of StartUpNV.

Clark County Director of Community and Economic Development Shani Coleman said the $600,000 grant were part of the $400 million American Rescue Plan funds the county received.

She said the incubator will also focus on connecting with underserved communities, such as women and people of color, when it comes to entrepreneurship.

“I think it’s no secret that the tech industry has a high amount of folks that all look the same,” Coleman said. “We want to make sure that all people have access to the great opportunities that entrepreneurship and working or starting a tech company can bring.”

In 2021, the Pew Research Center’s latest report found white people make up 67 percent of the STEM workforce, Asians made up 13 percent, and Black people made up 9 percent of the STEM workforce while Hispanics were at 8 percent.

Coleman said Clark County would like to see about half of the program’s participants be women or people of color, but the main goal is to help entrepreneurs take the next step in developing their business.

“(Incubate Vegas will) really help people identify … their niches, or where there’s an opportunity, and help them move that idea to the next phase of creation, and give them the education and the tools and the mentorship to do that,” she said.

Although the focus is to support diverse entrepreneurs, enrollment is open to anyone looking to grow their business, according to Saling. He said the only requirement is that an entrepreneur or business is based in Clark County.

Incubate Vegas will have four 10-week sessions starting in spring 2023 with the last program taking place fall 2024, according to Saling. In total, StartUpNV expects about 100 entrepreneurs to go through the program.

He said founders often struggle when branching into other aspects of launching a business and hops the program will allow them to be more comfortable in taking on unfamiliar tasks as well as attract funding from investors and VC groups.

“A lot of times the founders will be experts in whatever it is that they’re doing,” Saling said. “But they don’t know the other things like, ‘How should I form this business? Should it be an LLC? Should it be a C Corp?’”

Registration is now open online for Incubate Vegas at lp.startupnv.org/incubate-vegas-1.

Contact Sean Hemmersmeier at shemmersmeier@reviewjournal.com. Follow @seanhemmers34 on Twitter.

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