the searchlite

May, 2016 Newsletter


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see url The Community Monthly Newsletter, May. ’16

Did you know that the first permanent English Settlement in Jamestown, VA was established in May? Although The SearchLite is not founding countries, check out how we are expanding our TSL community in this month’s newsletter!

Interested in who’s already a part of the IIR Community Check out our members!

*Feel free to forward this newsletter to anyone that might be interested! We would also encourage you to share our monthly newsletters on your social media platforms so that others may become aware of the IIR Community.*

As always, please feel free to come to me with any questions or concerns you may have (

– Christy Song
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April, 2016 Newsletter


The SearchLite

The Community Monthly Newsletter, Apr. ’16

April is famous for April Fool’s Day, but did you know that it is officially Humor Month? So in honor of the month here it goes…Knock Knock! Who’s there? Dwayne. Dwayne who? Dwayne the bath tub, I’m drowning!

If that didn’t knock you off your feet, maybe the news we have to share with you for the month of April will!

Interested in who’s already a part of the IIR CommunityCheck out our members!

*Feel free to forward this newsletter to anyone that might be interested! We would also encourage you to share our monthly newsletters on your social media platforms so that others may become aware of the IIR Community.*

As always, please feel free to come to me with any questions or concerns you may have (

– Christy Song

Table of Contents

In this issue…

i.  News to Know 

ii.  New projects 

iii. News and Events

iv. IIR Spotlight

News to Know

The SearchLite welcomes 2 New catalysts  

Yewei and Prianca are our new catalysts! Yewei is leading the Covaron Project while Prianca is leading the Halo Project. They both started as Innovators in Residence and upon completing several projects and showing great leadership qualities they quickly advanced to catalyst positions. There is great value in participating in the IIR Program, but don’t forget about the possibility of moving up!


Scott Phillips went to Hannover Germany!

Scott Phillips, CEO & Founder of The SearchLite headed out to Hannover Germany to enhance our domain knowledge of the industrial internet of things. Check out the main takeaways from the event! 


The SearchLite has two new Focus Areas

We have expanded our areas of expertise into Biotechnology Innovation Organization and the Industrial Internet of Things. Explore our new websites to see what we have been working on.


***Want to know more about the IIR Program? Check out our IIR Page and fill out the contact form to talk with us!***  

New Projects:

What we’re working on…


ArborSense Inc. 

Lead Catalyst: Meghan Cuddihy
 IIRs: Mohammad, Agatha, Arasakumar, and Rahul
Summary: Arborsense Inc. has developed a graphene based wearable sensor for real-time alcohol monitoring using the vapors transpiring through the skin. The sensor has potential use for continuous alcohol monitoring by criminal justice systems, providing faster detection times with lower limits of detection on a chip that is much smaller than current alcohol detection technologies. 


Automation of Things

Lead Catalyst: Greg Sadler
IIRs: Edward and Linjun
Summary: Automation of Things is a software development company devoted to the automation and embedded device industry. Automation of Things’ products streamline the efforts of automation and industrial-systems engineers by maximizing reuse and simplifying the processes. The disruptive change this platform provides creates a more efficient and sustainable system, catalyzing operational innovation.



Lead Catalyst: Yewei
IIRs: Peng, Yan, Juliana, JC, Dhanashree
Summary: Covaron’s mission is to create disruptive and environmentally sustainable solutions for a wide range of industrial and energy applications. A two-step thermosetting material designed with sustainability in mind, this new composition of matter redefines ceramics by combining the outstanding physical properties of technical ceramics with the benefits of low energy processing and endless customizability without shrinkage. In less than two years Covaron has drawn the attention of, and secured collaboration with, a broad spectrum of clients representing the automotive, aerospace, energy, manufacturing, and coatings industries.  


Razor Threat 

Lead Catalyst: Hui
IIRs: Isabella
Summary: RazorThreat is a solution for public and private enterprises that are faced with targeted, customized, persistent attacks unique to their environment. RazorThreat deploys a Policy-based, Positive Control Communication Profile, which is unique to each client taking the guess-work and complexity out of deepening he security of one’s network. RazorThreat’s preemptive threat intelligence – highlights unknown and unauthorized activity – identifying both internal and external threats in real time.

News and Events:

Stay up to date on TSL’s latest news!


Scott attended Hannover Messe In Germany

The SearchLite has been conducting more and more Customer Discovery and Customer Validation Assessments in this space over the last year. Our clients have been startups, second stage companies, corporations and venture capital investors. The need is too great, that we have created a sister organization called IIoT Global to focus on this topi. To enhance our domain knowledge, we thought that we should head out to the “home of factory automation” to get immersed into this industry. So off to Hannover Germany we went! Read MORE…


The SearchLite welcomes 2 New Catalysts

The SearchLite welcomes two new catalysts to the lead team – Prianca and Yewei! Both Prianca and Yewei started out as Innovators-in-Residence and after showing leadership potential the two previous IIRs have now advanced into Lead Catalyst positions.
Read on as they share their experiences so far as Lead Catalysts…

Yewei: After working as an IIR for several months, I felt like challenging myself more by taking on extra responsibilities as a lead catalyst. Covaron is my first project independently and I have no previous knowledge in material science. All those made me very nervous. But with the help from Scott, Rachit and five awesome IIRs, I am surviving it and getting more confident through the process. With that said, working as a catalyst is a totally different experience. For this position, I have to care about how to keep good client relationships, how to manage the progress of projects, and how to break down the assignments to each IIR each week, while keeping them motivated and involved in the process. I still have a lot to learn and improve on, but it has been a fun journey and I really enjoy it!

Prianca: “I took up the catalyst position as it’s a great fit for people in academics who want to learn about project management and business in general. It presented me with an opportunity to lead a team of highly qualified IIRs, enabling me to bridge the gap between academia and the industry. The catalyst role is similar to an IIR as we still have to conduct research and participate in industry expert calls. However, this role is more challenging as it has ore responsibilities in leading a team, driving interviews and meeting client expectations. As a lead catalyst, you learn how to manage projects, validate market hypotheses and fine-tune your communication skills.”


Need help in engaging with us on social media? 

When we stumble upon a post that we think our peers would enjoy or find valuable we often share the information, but it’s not always as easy as it sounds so here is a tutorial on how to share, like, and examples of text you could get ideas from for your own posts! CLICK HERE! 


TSL Welcomes our new IIRs!  

We are always elated when we are able to say our Please welcome Lauren Tanabe,Agatha Radberger, Rahul DeshmukhMaggie Sikora, Arasakumar Subramani, and Telmo Santos! Check out their profiles. We look forward to working with you and are excited to see our IIR community grow!


Don’t Miss the Upcoming Events!

Suvey Reminder

If you have any suggestions or feedback about the IIR program, please take the time to fill this survey out. It will greatly help us improve the program and will give us feedback on what is and is not working. We look forward to receiving your responses!

*** Have more ideas? We are listening. Take the survey HERE so that you too can impact our community for the better! *** 


Course Completion

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 and 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!

Innovator-in-Residence Spotlight:

An IIR that has gone above and beyond…


Yewei Xing

“I worked as an IIR in four projects; all have been great experiences. The best part for being an IIR is the freedom: you have the chance to either work within your discipline or challenge yourself with something you never heard of before, you can work at your own pace, in your own way and have your own style; there is no limit to it. At the same time, it is always exciting: everyday during the project, I am learning new tools, getting new knowledge and meeting new people. Those can come from my peers, from the group leader, from clients and from interviewees. With the fast pace of projects (which normally take 4-6 weeks), I can see the progress each week and really feel the value we achieved by solving the problem and giving practical recommendations to our client. Also, all the catalysts I have worked with in The SearchLite are great. Not only are they good at business, but they also try their best to help the IIRs. I remember Samaya and Qi spent extra time helping me understand the project and taught me how to use some of the tools.”

– Yewei Xing

“Yewei joined The SearchLite Innovators-in-Residence Program in December of 2015 and in the past 4 months she completed 4 projects, which is the most efficient record ever. The reason why she was able to complete so many projects is because, for the most time, she joins two projects at the same time. Moreover, she always gets 3 points for the weekly self-assessment. Now, Yewei is going to run a project, Covaron, as a catalyst. I am sure she will do a great job as always. ”

– MJ Zhang


Innovator-in-Residence Alumni Spotlight:

IIR Alumni… where are they now?


Kanika Agrawal

“Working with TSL was a unique experience that helped broaden my skill set and allowed me to explore a wide breadth of interests and career opportunities outside the world of academia.

I have found the insights I gained into the customer discovery process from being an IIR to be invaluable in many of my pursuits post graduation, including developing the business model for a startup I co-founded.

Moreover, The SearchLite team made an effort to place me on projects that were relevant to my expertise and the market research I conducted as a result, has helped immensely in understanding the nature of the manufacturing environment in my current position at Intel.”

– Kanika Agrawal

“Kanika was only with us a short while, but made a significant impact on the projects that she participated on. One instance of Kanika’s ability to apply her knowledge and skills was evident on a client engagement with a company called VGP that develops thermoelectric materials. Thermoelectrics are an important class of materials that can convert heat into electricity and vice versa, making them useful in a wide range of heating and cooling applications. The goal of the engagement was to assess the technical claims made by the client and propose potential applications for their technology. VGP claimed that their material was three to four times more efficient than current state-of-the-art thermoelctric materials given its unique Bismuth-Telluride material composition. Furthermore, the inventor claimed that their material utilization efficiency was 200x better than an equivalent solution with similar output. Kanika was instrumental in validating these claims.

I also had the opportunity to observe Kanika at the Next Energy I-Corps event in Detroit in the Spring of 2015. This program is designed to help researchers discover the commercial potential of their technology and selectively funds only the most promising inventions. Kanika was an entrepreneurial Lead for a team with a novel concept for an advanced solar technology solution that she helped develop during her time as a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Michigan. She did a wonderful job coordinating her team’s customer discovery interviews which resulted in several collaboration opportunities for her team within a short period of time. Throughout the event, Kanika made compelling presentations and responded very credibly and professionally to the questions posed by I-Corps trainers and mentors, a panel of highly experienced professionals in the energy and transportation sectors, of which I was a member. Since then, Kanika has gone on to establish a startup company called The Fold Institute, based on her team’s learnings from the I-Corps program.

Kanika is now working for Intel and we are elated to hear that many of the skills she has obtained through the Innovators-In-Residence Program have better equipped her for this new position and has made the transition more manageable and fluid. We strive to provide a beneficial and applicable experience for our IIRs and are grateful to hear when our program makes even a small, yet meaningful impact on the career experiences of our IIRs.”

– Scott Phillips

What is a Lead Catalyst? TSL Welcomes 2 Lead Catalysts to the Team


By: Christy Song

Edited By: Scott Phillips

Every Market Discovery Challenge involves a lead catalyst, Innovators-in-Residence, clients, and industry experts. Although each player is crucial and necessary to every project, the lead catalyst can be seen as the nucleus that guides the entire cell and keeps it functioning in the proper ways to survive. With this being said, you might be wondering Ok, so they’re important, but what do they do?

After expanding our leadership team with two more lead catalysts:  Samaya Krishnan and Qi Zhang, we realized that their fresh insights and first hand experiences might be a better way to walk you through the life of a Lead Catalyst. After all who better to explain what they do, why they do it, and what they’ve learned, than catalysts themselves?

Read more

Transitioning Out of Academia? Here’s Visha’s Story…


Visha Krishnan transitioned from academia to The SearchLite (TSL) several years ago and now has transitioned again into the world of intellectual patent (IP) licensing!

From her involvement at The SearchLite, Visha gained varied experiences in startups and consulting and, for the next stage of her career, she wanted to pursue negotiation and licensing. TSL focused more on consulting,market validation and customer discovery research, while her new position focuses on commercialization (technology transfer). She compares her role to being a broker of technology. “We just make things happen. We help people find the right customer company,” Visha said. This new position allows for Visha to take every single skill obtained throughout her academic and professional career to date and provide a whole round experience. Rather than sitting behind the scenes and working from the bench, she is able to help get the science out into the market. Visha recommends this field for any Innovator in Residence or any academic that loves science, loves to learn new things, and desires to be involved in new areas of translating research. “Every single skill that I have picked up at TSL, I will be using it in this job and any job in the future, Visha stated. Her skills obtained included market assessment, business involvement, people management, working with startups, and strategizing. With her dynamic experience, Visha was able to apply those concepts to her new position of approaching potential licensees and finding people to interview for potential licensees.

Read more

Win school credit by participating Market Discovery Challenges? It is possible!

(Written by MJ Zhang; Edited by Christy Song; Photos by Hui Yang and MJ Zhang)

Professor Mohammed Islam notified his students at the University of Michigan that they may earn credit for course EECS 499, Directed Study, by participating in The SearchLite’s Market Discovery Challenges.

UM EECS 406 class

Scott Phillips (left) and Professor Mohammed Islam (right) in EECS 406 class at the University of Michigan.

Most graduate Innovators-in-Residence join The SearchLite in their senior years looking for exposure to the industry and business sector, which enhances their resume and benefits their careers.

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Innovators-in-Residence Program comes to McMaster University

mcmasterThe SearchLite had the privilege of being invited to McMaster University to conduct an Innovators-in-Residence Workshop on March 3rd, 2016.   The invitation was extended by the Graduate Student Life Team, part of the School of Graduate Studies.   This event was made possible by a connection between Scott Phillips from The SearchLite and Catherine Maybrey from McMaster University back in 2014 when Catherine hosted a “CV to Resume Webinar” on behalf of The SearchLite.

maybreyCatherine began her career with dreams of the tenure track, and along the way discovered something much better – the ability to take the best of what she loves about academia and to apply it in practice helping others. Her approach to career development is grounded in labour market research, hiring practices, and innovative use of technology to make service available to all graduate students on their timetable.  She previously served as the Alumni Career Coach, where she advanced services for graduate students including workshops and videos on Transforming Your CV to a Resume, The Academic Job Search, The Non-Academic Job Search, Transferable Skills, and Graduate Student Boot Camp.

IMG_0984The Innovators-in Residence (IIR) program is a community-based learning platform. The IIR program provides a unique opportunity for Ph.D. graduate students and postdoctoral fellows from all academic disciplines to gain experience in innovation commercialization, acquire insights into market risk assessment and build relationships with leaders in industry while trying to solve real-world problems.

ThIMG_0987e McMaster University Graduate Students who participated in the workshop learned about the principles of Product-Market Fit and Value Proposition Design through live engagement in case studies which represent real Market Discovery Challenges recently completed by The SearchLite. Value Proposition Design is one of the 2016-03-03 10.41.01most critical skill sets needed to be a successful inventor or entrepreneur and a key element of the Lean Startup Process and Business Model Generation. Understanding Value Proposition Design will also be a valuable skill for academics in transition to industry with interest in various aspects of Corporate R&D, Engineering, Product Management or Marketing.

IMG_0988Students broke down into teams and were assigned a case study. Their assignment was to  identify the best -Product-Market Fit given the Value Proposition for a particular invention.  Inventions included (1) Portable Ammonemia Detector (Stanford University) – A low cost, portable, simple-to-use device designed to rapidly detect elevated ammonia in a drop of blood; (2) Rapid Decoupling & 2016-03-03 11.04.39Isolation (Oakland University) – Concept with ability to sense a sudden event and rapidly decouple load-bearing, structural joints in order to isolate occupants from the shock of the event; (3) Mobile Power Generation (Diversified Solar) – Hybrid solar system for mobile stand alone and grid-tied solar-based power generation and other inventions.

The teams all did an amazing job.  With no background on the principles of lean startup and only one hour to study their inventions, they all presented to a mock group of venture capitalists at the conclusion.  It was amazing how they were all able leverage the individual strengths, skills and experiences of their individual team members.  After the presentations, Scott had a chance to have lunch and visit with the students to learn more about their future plans and answer questions about The SearchLite and the Innovators-in-Residence Program.













February 2016, Newsletter





The SearchLite

The Community Monthly Newsletter, Feb. ’16

Throughout the month of February love was in the air as boxes of chocolates were exchanged, and heart-felt messages were shared. Although our messages might not end with XOXO, The SearchLite has plenty to share with you for the month of February!

Interested in who’s already a part of the IIR CommunityCheck out our members!

*Feel free to forward this newsletter to anyone that might be interested! We would also encourage you to share our monthly newsletters on your social media platforms so that others may become aware of the IIR Community.*

As always, please feel free to come to me with any questions or concerns you may have (

– Christy Song

Read more

Transitioning out of Academia is scary, but you’re not alone!

Transitioning out of Academia is scary, but you’re not alone!

change mich state recruiting

Visha Krishnan, former Market Discovery Director of The SearchLite, recently attended a career event for Doctoral and Postdoctoral scholars interested in exploring careers outside of academia at Michigan State University. She participated as one of the panelists for the Innovation/IP portion of the Expanded Careers Conference, along with, Cindy Bott (Partner at Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohn LLP and Tom Herlache, Technology Manager at MSU Technologies). The event featured a portion where the guest panelists individually explained how they arrived at their current job position and they shared with the scholars what it is that they are currently doing.

Read more

Customer Discovery Scoreboard: Survey 0; FieldTrip 1

sThere are many tools that can be used within the realm of Customer Discovery Research for early-phase startups, including interviews, phone engagements, surveys, field trips, etc..   It is beneficial to have all of these tools in your Customer Discovery Toolkit and know when to use which tool based upon the circumstances. Our experience with Giggso is a perfect example of how a variation of tools may be more effective than using just one approach.

Giggso has become one of the most well-known projects in the history of The SearchLite.  For the past 3 months, we have been talking about this project in all of our weekly project update meetings, and when we weren’t talking about it, we were thinking about it. Giggso is one of the longest and toughest Market Discovery Challenges yet it happened to be my first project!

If you define success as the ratio of outcome over goal, I can’t say Giggso is a successful project. However, from an experience gaining perspective, people grow faster in the process of tackling tough problems rather than being handed easy solutions. I grew tremendously because of Giggso.

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January 2016, Newsletter


The SearchLite

The Community Monthly Newsletter, Jan. ’16

It’s already 2016! Happy New Year to you and your family! How are the new year resolutions coming along? Well to help get us started January is National Staying Healthy Month so let’s get motivated and start the year off with a healthy start. In other news, we are excited about the New Year as well and have much to share with you for the month of January!

Interested in who’s already a part of the IIR CommunityCheck out our members!

Read more

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