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Captain of Industry: Good's incubator focuses on startup growth

April 4, 2010

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Captain of Industry: Good's
incubator focuses on startup
growth

By Jason Hidalgo • jhidalgo@rgj.com • April 4,
2010

Being bitten not once, but twice, by an imploding
startup typically is enough to make any aspiring
businessperson gun-shy.

But for Northern Nevada transplant Ky Good, two
business failures during the dot-com bust era only
served to fuel his entrepreneurial fire.

As a successful engineer with various telecom firms
in the '80s and '90s, Good traveled all over the
world for companies such as Nortel, Alcatel and
Advanced Fibre Communications.

Once he decided to be involved in starting a
business, however, Good's fortunes suddenly
turned bad.

"I came back (to the U.S. after five years in Tokyo and
Singapore) in 1999 and joined a startup in San Jose,
Calif.," Good said. "But that company imploded once
the tech bubble went bust. So, I joined another
startup in Southern California in 2002.
Unfortunately, the company had a very similar result
to the first one."

While the failure of both companies hit Good hard,
it also taught him valuable lessons about poor
investment choices and working in a tough
business environment. Good would take those
lessons to heart when he moved to Reno in 2003 for
a fresh start. Since then, he has had a hand in the
formation of several ventures, including business
incubator and venture company C4Cube, tech
consulting firm IN3, light armor developer 3D
Armor Systems and eye-tracking tech company Eye-
Com.

C4Cube is an fitting endeavor for Good, given the
setbacks he has experienced. A venture accelerator
and business incubator, C4Cube focuses on helping
aspiring entrepreneurs create viable startups -- and
hopefully, avoid the same mistakes Good has seen
in the past.

"The failure of the two startups taught me that you
can have good technology and still fail if poor
investment choices and certain business conditions
make a market no longer sustainable," Good said.
"But just because you fail doesn't mean your life
stops. You just need to learn from your failure,
reassess yourself, look for other opportunities and
continue growing."

Nurturing growth

These days, Good is heavily involved in nurturing
Northern Nevada's technology sector, which
includes his current stint on the advisory board of
Nevada's Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology.


The struggles of Nevada's gaming and tourism
industries are a classic example of the need to
diversify the state's economy, Good said.

One way to diversify is by attracting and developing
technology companies, whether it be firms that
specialize in software, hardware, high-tech
products or Internet-based services.

Tech companies especially are attractive since they
typically create quality, high-paying jobs. Many
technology companies also have the ability to scale
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up their business through manufacturing, which
leads to increased revenue and jobs, Good said.

To grow the area's tech sector, however, Good think
it's important not just to help develop young talent
in the area but make sure there are enough
opportunities available locally to keep that talent
here. Northern Nevada, Good said, hasn't invested
as much as it should on its education system,
particularly as it pertains to tech.

"In my view, you need to have both the education
infrastructure and the business infrastructure
present (for Northern Nevada's tech sector to be
truly viable)," Good said. "Bridging the gap between
those two is vital for the survival of the community
and making Northern Nevada a much stronger and
diverse community."

Tied to bridging that gap is securing the capital
needed to fuel startups, along with the programs
necessary to educate tomorrow's entrepreneurs,
Good said. Access to investment capital has always
been an issue for Nevada, especially when
compared to California.

"The other piece to this puzzle is clearly the
investment community," Good said. "We need to see
a better array of qualified investors who want to
invest time and money into business opportunities.
But we also need to have the opportunities that will
give investors a stronger rate of return."

Leveraging assets

Creating opportunities for investors is a key reason
for the creation of C4Cube, which essentially is
comprised of two companies.

The "C4" part is a for-profit "venture accelerator" that
focuses on the investment community. It has not yet
made any investments but is at a stage of
developing a venture fund. The "Cube," meanwhile,
is a nonprofit business incubator that provides
office space, mentoring and support for a select
number of startups. Funding for the Cube comes
from its founders, sponsors, grants, rent, services
and events.


So far, the "Cube" has 10 startups in its incubator
since opening its doors in October 2009. It can
potentially support a maximum of 25 companies.
The goal is to have the startups "graduate" and
become self-supporting businesses within 36
months, Good said. To do this, participants not
only must have a great idea or technology, they also
need to have great people.

"A person can have a great idea or technology, but if
that person has no experience making that idea into
a business, then the chances for success are
minimal," Good said. "Investors generally invest in
people and not on the technology. A bad manager
can make a good idea fail. A good manager can take
a bad idea and make it successful."

Good admits that C4Cube is just a small piece of the
overall puzzle and that a lot of work still needs to be
done to get Northern Nevada's tech sector where it
needs to be. But Good said he thinks the ingredients
also are present to make tech happen here. The only
thing needed is the spark to light the fire.

"Northern Nevada has great quality of life, a good
tax environment, close community access to local
politicians, and easy access to California, Seattle
and other areas in the West," Good said. "We have
tremendous strength here in the area for supporting
a tech industry. We just need to leverage those as
best as we can."

 
 

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