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Blueprint for Startup Growth

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

If someone asked Andy Sherman how his startup took a new product from paper to lab, signed numerous development agreements, and attracted investor interest from around the world in less than a year, he'd say it was due to his team.

When MesoCoat, the JumpStart Ventures portfolio company commercializing coating solutions using nanotechnology, was featured in JumpStart Connect in April, the company was about to introduce PComP™ to the metal finishing industry. The lighter, cheaper, stronger, more environmentally-friendly chrome alternative is a next-generation coating material used to combat metal corrosion and wear. The team was also in the beginning stages of another breakthrough: developing a greener, cheaper, and faster process for applying the coatings. Today, PComP™ is being implemented by top industry innovators through Joint Development Agreements (JDAs) and MesoCoat's application technology is on its way from the lab to real world applications. Here's how the team did it.

They used their expertise. The application process MesoCoat is commercializing is called FARCoat™ (Focus Arc Radiant Coating) and it uses heat from 200 kilowatt light bulbs to fuse coatings onto large metal surfaces such as bridges, railcars, and pipelines. No one knows the technology better than MesoCoat CTO, Greg Engleman, who spent nearly a decade perfecting it at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. "I asked everyone at Oak Ridge who I should bring with me when we licensed the system and all fingers pointed to Greg," Andy said. Alongside electrical engineer Bruce Gordon, Greg is taking FARCoat™ from the lab demonstration stage to full scale industrial prototype, where it will coat the inside diameter of piping and large plates at assembly line speeds.

They pitched and pitched. Jim Burant is the customer relationship manager leading MesoCoat's sales, marketing, and outreach efforts. He spent hundreds of hours pitching PComP™ to visionary leaders in the metal finishing industry. His work has resulted in the signing of several JDAs, which are being executed by John Formica, coating operations manager. These JDAs put on paper what the acceptance and approval process will be to move from chrome coating to PComP™, and will lead to recurring sales.

They leveraged relationships. Andy's contacts in the nano world, including the NanoBusiness Alliance and value chain partners such as Polythermics, have led to interest from numerous investor groups worldwide. The team has also leaned on their partnership with JumpStart Ventures, especially when planning top-level strategies such as globalization, and where specialized expertise is required to ensure they hit their milestones.

What comes next is more jobs. To continue moving down the growth path and make sure customers are satisfied, Andy will soon be looking for a metallographer and a business unit manager, integral positions that will help MesoCoat reach its share of the multi-billion dollar coatings market.

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