How to achieve product market fit while externally funding your R&D
Are you wondering how to make the transition from grant funding to customer funding? Then this Denver Startup Week session is for you! Come hear the success stories of experts who have crossed that chasm.
For many startups, getting to a working prototype requires significant R&D funds. They look to external sources of funding such as state grants, federal grants (SBIR, NASA), or contract work. However, this type of work requires a focus on a specific single customer: the grant or contract funder. Selling products, on the other hand, requires a completely different mindset: serving a market segment represented by a generic use case and persona, and where the technical maturity is only part of the story. In a small startup, how can the two mindsets coexist? We will hear from successful startups that have done both, and what strategies to adopt and pitfalls to avoid.
This session is relevant for hardware-focused startups who want to transition into product, as well as software startups who want to leverage grant funding into developing their customer base.
Sally Hatcher, Entrepreneur in Residence at CU Boulder and co-founder of Precision Photonics and mBio Diagnostics
Sally Hatcher, J.D. is the Commercialization Academy Director, providing an educational and experiential resource for campus inventors wanting to commercialize their work. Sally is a serial entrepreneur, advisor, startup accelerator faculty member, impact investor and board member. She co-founded and was President of two high-tech companies, Precision Photonics and MBio Diagnostics, and has worked as an executive or consultant with several digital women’s health companies, working on all aspects of business strategy and leadership, connected devices (IoT), operations and scale-up, IP, legal structure, ISO and regulatory compliance.
Katie Hoffner, CEO of Prieto Battery
Katie M. Hoffner is CEO for Prieto Battery, a revolutionary 3D advanced Li-ion battery technology. Katie has been with Prieto since 2011 in various strategic roles before assuming the CEO position last August. She heads up the investment and business activities for the Company, and during her tenure at Prieto, Katie has raised significant equity funds, including securing two major strategic investors, Intel Capital and Stanley Ventures. Her sole focus in the corporate leadership role is to help the company and the technology realize its full potential by fostering a sustainable path to revenue and nurturing key relationships along the way.
Nathan Kundtz, Board of Advisors at BridgeComm Inc. , former CEO of Kymeta, and Physicist in Residence at Tectonic Ventures
Dr. Kundtz is a physicist, engineer, and entrepreneur. He works with Tectonic Ventures, Duke University, and numerous other organizations to find and build great companies. Nathan founded and was the CEO of Kymeta Corporation. The technology behind Kymeta’s products was Nathan’s brainchild as a PhD student to make Kymeta’s groundbreaking mTenna products. Dr. Kundtz is currently an adjunct assistant professor of Electrical Engineering at Duke University, a member of the Duke University Graduate School Board of Visitors. Dr. Kundtz has been recognized by LinkedIn as one of the top 10 technology professionals under 40, and has been inducted into the Duke Graduate School’s Few-Glasson Society
Chris Pearson, CEO of Roccor, an aerospace products company
Chris Pearson is Chief Executive Officer at Roccor, a small business in Longmont delivering solar array, antenna and custom sensors for the space industry. Chris joined Roccor 3.5 years ago as employee number 12 and the company recently celebrated both the hire of it’s 50th employee and third facility expansion. Chris was previously the founder of the U.S. arm of space battery supplier ABSL (acquired by Enersys in 2011) and was Chief Operations Officer for the U.S. arm of satellite builder Surrey Satellite Technology that was acquired by General Atomics in 2017
Tanya Ramond, Director of Product Management at BridgeComm Inc., an early stage Denver company commercializing optical communications for aerospace, terrestrial, and airborne markets. She earned her PhD in physics from the University of Colorado Boulder, and an MBA from the University of Denver. Tanya has supported such entrepreneurial organizations as Rockies Venture Club and the State of Colorado Office for Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) as an early stage capital grant reviewer. She worked as a systems engineer for Ball Aerospace developing novel laser-based remote sensors. Tanya lives at the intersection of R&D, product development, and product strategy, and her mission is to facilitate adoption of great technical products in the marketplace.
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