Oct 2, 2023
Eric Martin shared with us his journey from the research lab at the University of Michigan to launching a hardware startup. Eric also discussed how he turned the first roadblock from NSF into a successful grant.
[01:15] Eric discussed his journey from a research lab at the University of Michigan to launching Monstr Sense Technologies. (Products were named Bigfoot, Nessie, etc.) He found out from the semiconductor industry that a potentially useful technology is imaging.
[05:16] Eric took a deeper dive into the support provided by the entrepreneur ecosystem at the University of Michigan. Through some of the entrepreneur classes, he learnt about customer discovery and patent applications which became very useful for his startup. The company also received support and mentorship from the University of Michigan Technology Transfer Office.
[13:10] The science behind Monstr Sense was discussed. Eric shared with the audience the background of nonlinear measurement and how he discovered that it can useful for semiconductors (silicon carbide) in the EV industry.
[20:37] Eric discussed the company's customers.
[22:34] Discussion on the trade war (semiconductor) with China and its impact on the company.
[24:22] Eric explained the company's business/revenue model. Currently, most customers are concentrated around university and national research labs.
[28:18] Eric discussed the initial target market (academic research labs) and he made the company in the small communities known by attending key conferences. Currently, the company only focuses on marketing (as it does not have a sales team).
[29:04] The first NSF grant application was discussed. Eric explained how he was able to use the experience from the first application and turned it into a successful one in the second grant application. For hardware startups, it is rather typical to receive funding/support from NSF as venture capital investment is less common.
[40:13] Eric took a deeper dive into the critical moment when he got the problem statement from the semiconductor industry participant so that he can come up with something new. (leading to successful grants, building the Nessie microscope and patents)
[44:25] Eric discussed the challenges as a hardware entrepreneur.
[46:41] Eric highlighted several books that he enjoyed.
Link to Monstr Sense Technologies website: https://monstrsense.com/
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