Targeted Networking Opportunity Leads to Valuable Resources for one Start-Up Company
Tim Monroe started SoraLinks only a year ago. This young, Saratoga Springs, NY-based company is developing a high tech product aimed at the exploding drone industry and its consumers. “Networking is critical when you are starting up a company,” says Monroe, “but if you are not doing so in a targeted and directed way you can waste a lot of time.”
Prior to starting SoraLinks, Monroe was running Saratoga Aerial Media, a business he founded which provides aerial cinematography, photography and video services using drone devices. A Clarkson engineering graduate with over 20 years of senior engineering management experience and an extensive background in software, Monroe confesses that “there are some aspects of this new technology product that I am developing that are beyond my expertise. And I don’t know enough about manufacturing, which makes it difficult to figure out how to design for commercial production levels without help.”
New Connections Open Doors to Solving Product Development Needs
In July, Monroe attended a FuzeHub Solutions Forum held in Saratoga Springs, NY. These events are hosted by FuzeHub around the State and bring together manufacturing, technology, product development and business support resources in a “one-stop shop” format that allows entrepreneurs to access an incredible collection of expertise for free. “It was a very efficient and effective way for me to network with the right people,” according to Monroe.
At the Solutions Forum, Monroe met with Molly Zimmermann, Associate Director of the New York State Science and Technology Law Center (NYSSTLC) at the Syracuse University College of Law (SUCOL), and Glenn Saunders, Senior Engineer with the Center for Automation and Technology Systems (CATS) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI). Both NYSSTLC and CATS (as well as FuzeHub) receive funding from Empire State Development’s (ESD) division of Science, Technology and Innovation (NYSTAR) to support NYS companies with business, technology and prototype development. ESD is New York State’s largest economic development organization. NYSTAR funds 70+ facilities and tools that enable growth.
As a result of the Solutions Forum, Saunders advised Monroe on some of his product design questions and introduced him to a fellow research scientist, Professor James Castracane, Head of the SUNY Polytechnic Institute’s Nanobioscience Constellation. Professor Castracane and the SUNY Polytechnic Institute are key resources now involved in helping Monroe further develop and test his product prototype and proof-of-concept.
Networking with the Right Resources Leads SoraLinks to $25k Grant Funding
Though his discussions with Zimmermann at the Solutions Forum, Monroe was also introduced to the services offered by NYSSTLC. NYSSTLC provides legal education, research, information and support services to NYS entrepreneurs and companies with new technologies. Monroe worked with Sean Assad, a third year law student at SUCOL working with the NYSSTLC. Assad researched the intellectual property landscape and completed a market and regulatory analysis. “My new product is a novel invention and I want to protect it,“ says Monroe, “NYSSTLC has access to incredible and extensive databases and can provide a great analysis of the status of existing, competitive IP for technologies like mine. This is key for entrepreneurs like me who are going through the IP and patent process.” NYSSTLC utilized the experience and legal expertise of Dean Bell, an engineer with over forty years of experience in product development, and a faculty member at SUCOL. In addition, Kelsey Leeper, a student from the Syracuse University Whitman School of Management’s Entrepreneurship and Emerging Enterprises researched the market landscape.
Many inventors and entrepreneurs aren’t aware of the myriad legal and regulatory challenges their business or technology is facing. The research and analysis compiled by the NYSSTLC is provided as a proprietary Commercialization Report to clients like Monroe to help them identify potential challenges and effective strategies to bring their technologies to market. Companies are selected through an application process and receive the research reports and analysis for free.
SoraLinks’ connection to the NYSSTLC and Syracuse University also led to more opportunities and expanded business support. After becoming a virtual incubator member of the Syracuse Technology Garden, SoraLinks won a $25,000 funding award through their “Grants for Growth” program. This funding is currently enabling Monroe to finance the product development and testing support for SoraLinks with SUNY Polytechnic. “It comes down to targeted networking with the right resources,” says Monroe, “and FuzeHub’s Solutions Forum was a great event for SoraLinks to get connected.”