April showers, May bring flowers…Unfortunately Michigan always seems to stray from conformity and does its own thing. Regardless of the unpredictable weather The SearchLite has uplifting news to share in this month’s community newsletter!
Lead Catalyst: Visha
IIRs: Margarita, Monica, Divya
Summary: Our client has developed advanced technology which improves upon spectroscopy commonly used in chemistry to provide a fingerprint by which molecules can be identified. This technology has many potential applications, including the detection of impurities within the storage and trasportation of liquified natural gas. Typical raw natural gas contains only about 80% methane and a number of higher boiling hydrocarbons as well as a number of impurities. Before it is liquefied, it is typically purified so as to remove the higher-boiling hydrocarbons and the impurities. The resultant liquefied natural gas contains about 95% or more methane and it is a clear, colorless and essentially odorless liquid which is neither corrosive nor toxic.
The SearchLite is helping our client identify who cares and why regarding this technology as the foundation for a commercialization plan in support of a federal grant to further the technical development.
Lead Catalyst: Scott and Visha
Summary: Our client is a tier one supplier to the automotive industry. The CEO has a track record of starting and successfully managing new business ventures in the past. Their core capabilities lie in CAE, Materials Analysis and product benchmarking which together provide the foundation for five complimentary business lines. The business is on a steep growth trajectory and needs to ensure that their organizational structure positions them well for further growth and profitability.
The SearchLite is helping our client generate alternative business models which will highlight critical tradeoffs relative to key activities, resources and strategic partnerships.
Lead Catalyst: Visha
Summary: Our client is developing Natural Gas storage tanks for a range of motor vehicles that will minimize refuelling time and maximize miles driven per tank. AFC’s tank design uses MOF (metal organic framework) adsorbent to capture Natural Gas at the molecular level. This means an AFC tank will store an amount of fuel comparable to CNG technology but without the limitations of tank shape, compression costs and safety concerns.
The SearchLite is helping AFC refine their value proposition, identify their beachhead market and develop strategic go-to-market partnerships that will reduce their market risk
TSL recently sent out an IIR Satisfaction Survey and we are waiting for many responses. Please take the time to fill this survey out. It will greatly help us improve the IIR Program and will give us feedback on what is and is not working. We look forward to receiving your responses!
As all of you know the Learning Management System is a crucial part of the IIR experience and we strongly encourage our innovators to participate. It is an easy fast way to become aware of what exactly The SearchLite does and what terminology we are using and why. Several IIRS have shown outstanding performance and have completed all of the courses to date on our new Learning Management System. We applaud you for your achievements!
Congratulations Level II IIRs!
What are the benefits of being a level II IIR?
Once you become a level II IIR you will have more flexibility of choosing your own projects and you will be given greater interaction with your client as you will be invited to participate in phone engagements!
The requirements of a level II IIR include:
Working with TSL for at least 3 months
Participated in at least 3 projects
Completing Learning Management System (LMS) lessons as they are developed.
Marina Vigen has been a wonderful IIR and has made significant contributions to The SearchLite. She will begin her new chapter in Detroit working for McKinsey & Company as a management consultant. We truly wish you the best of luck with this great opportunity Marina!
An IIR that has gone above and beyond…
The SearchLite would like to recognize Ravi Vedula for his exemplary contributions to the Automotive Testing project. Ravi has been with The SearchLite since March 2015 and demonstrated great leadership skills in the Automotive testing project. Given his background in the automotive industry Ravi was able to help the rest of the team in understanding industry terms and guide them in many instances. He went above and beyond to contact industry experts directly to obtain key insights that added great value to the project. His participation in the project and the final presentation was greatly valued by the client.
Being a Mechanical Engineer, my thoughts are always evolving towards creating an innovative design/model. Not to mention about enhancing combustion in automotive engines which is my primary goal and the reason for pursuing a PhD degree on the same. I love nature (yeah, it is becoming furiously cold these days!) and I strongly feel that the day when Science understands and also replicates the Nature, is the day of an all-time achievement.
As Steve Blank preaches in his book The Startup Owner’s Manual, you need to get out of the building for customer discovery interviews and see your customers’ pupils dilate when they see your product. Nothing beats meeting …
I-Corps™ Energy and Transportation is a customized curriculum to help teams of participating researchers discover the commercial potential of their technology, build a business model, and garner insights from leaders in the energy and transportation industries. This is the second year in a row that Next Energy has teamed up with the CFE I-Corps Program, a program offered by the University of Michigan Center for Entrepreneurship. CFE I-Corps is a region-wide program designed to foster, grow and nurture an innovation ecosystem. Through partnerships between the National Science Foundation (NSF), Michigan universities, Midwestern universities, Michigan SmartZones, and venture capital and entrepreneurial communities, the program has created an opportunity for teams throughout the state and region to turn technology into commercial opportunities.
Jonathan Fay, Clay Phillips and Dan Radomski led the Trasportation Track of the I-Corps Program. As the primary instructors, they gave constant feedback to the teams regarding their value propositions, target customers and other aspects of their business model hypothesis.
Visha, Scott and the The SearchLite had the privilege of working with Alternative Fuel Containers, LLC (AFC). AFC is developing Natural Gas storage tanks for a range of motor vehicles that will minimize refuelling time and maximize miles driven per tank. The AFC tank design uses MOF (metal organic framework) adsorbent to capture Natural Gas at the molecular level. This means an AFC tank will store an amount of fuel comparable to CNG technology but without the limitations of tank shape, compression costs and safety concerns. Visha and Scott enjoyed working closely with Dillon Fuerth and Joong Lee. Dillon is the Business Unit Manager, is responsible for guiding the company from proof-of-concept to commercialization. Joong is the Development Manager, is creating alternative natural gas tank systems using technologies developed by framergy Inc. and Texas A&M University.
Not all customer experiments are equal. Data reliability, cost, and time investment will vary from one test to another. What are the risks and benefits of speaking with customers versus making them do something?
Marketing leaders are perfectly positioned to orchestrate their company’s customer experience-led future, but must put more emphasis on internal communications and designing a framework for their organisation to emotionally connect with consumers.
The SearchLite Leads with Evidence-based Entrepreneurship at NBIA 2015
Automation Alley launches the 7 C’s
New Innovators-in-Residence Join The SearchLite Community
The SearchLite Leads with Evidence-based Entrepreneurship at NBIA 2015
There have been many voices in recent years touting the benefits of Evidence-based Entrepreneurship. Steve Blank has most recently incorporated the principle into his Lean LaunchPad Class. The class is all about teaching entrepreneurs and inventors the skills to move from a “faith-based” business plan to an evidence-based business model approach, which means “getting out of the building” and recording their learnings and insights through a scientific approach. Blank recently posted this article about the application of Evidence-based-Entrepreneurship in Life Science Startups.
More than 600 incubation and entrepreneurial support professionals from all over the world gathered in Denver on May 26th for NBIA’s 29th International Conference on Business Incubation. As the premier event in the industry, this conference provided a space for people to connect with others in the field, learn new techniques and explore new trends. The National Business Incubation Association is the global voice of business incubation, having over 2,200 members in 60 different countries. Incubation has been around since 1959 when it had its roots in Batavia NY where Joe Mancuso repurposed a facility, and one of the initial tenant companies was a chicken company (hence the term incubator). The Association has been in existence for thirty years. Membership is comprised of rural and urban innovation centers, sector non-specific, sector focused and technology focused incubation programs, and the membership broadly represents universities, municipalities, economic development organizations, communities, and others as stakeholders invested in job and company creation to revitalize and strengthen their community.
During the conference, Scott Phillips, CEO of The SearchLite was interviewed by Rick Duree, CEO and Founder of XLR8. XLR8 connects entrepreneurs to the people they need to know throughout their community and the entire XLR8 global community. Scott explained how the SearchLite works with Business Incubators and their startup clients to help them with Customer Discovery and Market Validation of their Value Proposition and Business Model assumptions. The SearchLite’s Market Discovery Challenges provide a unique and effective combination of an Industry Expert Panel linked with a Community of Innovator’s in Residence. Along with Social Media Engagement and Online Polling, The SearchLite is able to generate evidence-based insights which support or refute the key assumptions underlying the startup’s liklihood of market adoption. Incubator Managers resonated with The SearchLite’s guided approach to assisting and training entrepreneurs at the same time. A common theme heard was that Incubator Managers are busier than ever and are looking for 3rd Party Service Providers who can work effectively and indepently with startup clients while keeping coaches and mentors informed along the way.
There was quite a bit of interest in The SearchLite’s Exhibit Booth. We were at the show with John Fitch, Ron Carter and Bruce Lerner, our new software platform partners – Decision Driven Solutions. The Decision Driven® Solutions Platform is based on the belief that DECISIONS are CENTRAL; they are the value-added thinking process that creates and consumes the essential data associated with product development, project management, evidence-based entrepreneurship or business generation. The software is built around a lean Decision Driven® Information Architecture that enables rich, seamless traceability between many types of knowledge.
CLICK HEREto listen to Mark Long at NBIA 2015 share his views on Evidence-based Entrepreneurship. Mark teaches entrepreneurship at Indiana University and founded Long Performance Advisors based upon his thirty years of expertise to strategic marketing services, brand marketing, business incubation, and technology management.
CLICK HERE to listen to Karl LaPan at NBIA 2015 share his views on Evidence-based Entrepreneurship. Karl LaPan completed his tenure as Interim NBIA Chief Executive. Karl is a business professional with over twenty-seven years experience in a variety of consumer, industrial, technology, & financial industries. In October 2000, he was appointed the President/CEO of the Northeast Indiana Innovation Park, a high tech, high touch 55 acre campus dedicated to accelerating the growth of innovative companies.
Automation Alley launches the 7Cs Accelerator Program
Automation Alley is launching a new accelerator targeting Southeast Michigan’s advanced manufacturing firms. The 7Cs Program, as it is being called, will assist firms that are beyond the idea stage and can get to commercialization within the next 12 to 24 months. But what is most exciting about the program is that it promises to connect participating firms with their first customer. Already Automation Alley has the chief innovation officers of more than two dozen tier-one suppliers in Michigan signed on to review the participants when they are ready.
“Getting that first customer was critical to the program because my philosophy is that you don’t build a company to raise venture capital funding,” said Tom Kelly, who started developing the accelerator last spring when he was appointed to be AA’s director of entrepreneurship. “You build a company to get customers. As you get customers, venture capital funding will come to you. Stop trying to get money and valuing yourselves at $5 million; just focus on the blocking and tackling of getting customers.”
New Innovators-in-Residence Join The SearchLite Community
The SearchLite would like to recognize the most recent members who have joined our growing community of Innovators-in-Residence.
Sofiane Boukhalfa, Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering, is a team leader for Prescouter in the Greater Atlanta Area; Andrew Barazia is a Ph.D. Candidate in Pharmacology at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Karan Patil is a Graduate Student in Industrial engineering at Wayne State University. Ravi Vedula is a Ph.D. student in Mechanical Engineering at Michigan State University.
Marta Cerejo is a Ph.D. student in MIT-Portgal Bioengineering Systems at Universidad Nova de Lisboa. Melissa Geyer, is a Ph.D. candidate in Pharmacology at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Dhanashree Moghe is a Research Associate in Engineering Material and Thin Film Photovolatic Device Architecture at Michigan State University. Oluseyi Adeniyi is a Doctoral Researcher in the Efficacy of Vaccinations at the University of Michigan.
Margarita Sifuentes, is a Graduate Research Assistant in Molecular, Cellular, Developmental, Nanoparticle, Microbiology, and Immunology at the University of Michigan.