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A winning partnership

Posted by Leigh Keeton
Leigh Keeton
Leigh manages Lorain County Community College's economic development messaging w
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on Wednesday, March 08 2017
in Business Assistance

Work with SMART Microsystems yields big wins for Nordson – and the region

Nordson Corp.’s Lorain County roots run deep.

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Success in 3-D

Posted by Leigh Keeton
Leigh Keeton
Leigh manages Lorain County Community College's economic development messaging w
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on Saturday, February 11 2017
in Business Assistance

As additive manufacturing explodes, MakerGear gets spark from LCCC’s Fab Lab


In the early days of 3-D printing, MakerGear founder Rick Pollack bootstrapped a small business making components in his Shaker Heights garage.

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Cracking cybersecurity: What businesses need to know

Posted by Leigh Keeton
Leigh Keeton
Leigh manages Lorain County Community College's economic development messaging w
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on Thursday, January 12 2017
in Business Assistance

As cyber criminals become increasingly sophisticated, digital crime has grown at an alarming rate, motivating businesses of all sizes to strengthen their cybersecurity protocols and hire new talent.

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How a startup becomes a scale-up

Posted by Leigh Keeton
Leigh Keeton
Leigh manages Lorain County Community College's economic development messaging w
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on Wednesday, January 11 2017
in Business Assistance

All successful companies start as an idea, but at some point, that idea has to generate sales if the business is to succeed.

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Mastering business fundamentals for startup growth

Posted by Leigh Keeton
Leigh Keeton
Leigh manages Lorain County Community College's economic development messaging w
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on Wednesday, January 11 2017
in Business Assistance

With a doctorate in engineering from Case Western Reserve University, Simon Melikian knew a lot about building technology when he founded Recognition Robotics.

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The One Question Every Entrepreneur Should Answer

Posted by John Rastetter
John Rastetter
John advises applicants on their business strategy and the application process
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on Tuesday, December 20 2016
in Business Assistance

I was in Tuscaloosa, Alabama visiting my mother-in-law a few weekends ago.  One of the things I always do while I’m there is visit the University of Alabama. That got me thinking about the entrepreneurship space. 

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Pitching your startup to investors? Be ready to answer 3 questions

Posted by Dennis Cocco
Dennis Cocco
Dennis Cocco is responsible for developing marketing and technology-based busine
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on Tuesday, November 22 2016
in Innovation Fund

Entrepreneurs: when pitching to investors, you need to stay focused on only a few key items. While most likely you will be asked about many different aspects of your business, there are three elements you need to understand and be able to discuss in depth and with clarity. Most entrepreneurs would prefer to discuss their product or business idea, because that's what they've been focused on developing for months or years. But investors only have one goal—making a return on their investment.

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How a Favor Helped Launch this Fast Growing Business

Posted by Leigh Keeton
Leigh Keeton
Leigh manages Lorain County Community College's economic development messaging w
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on Thursday, November 17 2016
in Innovation Fund

It all began at a funeral home on Cleveland’s west side. The funeral director wanted to help families with the grieving process when not all members could travel to attend the service. He asked his tech-savvy friend Gordon Daily to help.

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A Startup Giving Stroke Victims Hope

Posted by Leigh Keeton
Leigh Keeton
Leigh manages Lorain County Community College's economic development messaging w
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on Friday, October 28 2016
in Innovation Fund

Every year nearly 800,000 people in the United States have a stroke. One-third of the survivors experience vision loss. This team plans to give them back their sight.

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Why Startups Should Always be Raising Money

Posted by Dennis Cocco
Dennis Cocco
Dennis Cocco is responsible for developing marketing and technology-based busine
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on Friday, October 21 2016
in Business Assistance

Money makes startups fast.

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A Reality Check for Your Startup Expectations

Posted by John Rastetter
John Rastetter
John advises applicants on their business strategy and the application process
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on Thursday, October 06 2016
in Business Assistance

As you begin your journey as an entrepreneur what are your expectations? If you’re like many new entrepreneurs, you’re probably thinking you have a great idea for a new business. You assume you’ll dedicate your time and talents to your startup for the next year or two, get it to positive cash flow in three years, and in five years you will be in control of your destiny. You’ll be in charge of a profitable business venture with opportunities to either grow it or sell it.

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5 Mistakes Startups Make when Negotiating License Agreements

Posted by Dennis Cocco
Dennis Cocco
Dennis Cocco is responsible for developing marketing and technology-based busine
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on Friday, September 30 2016
in Business Assistance

Negotiating a license agreement is hard, especially when you’re the small, young company in the deal. Here are the top five mistakes startups make when negotiating.

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Dreaming of an Acquisition? Here’s How to Prepare

Posted by John Rastetter
John Rastetter
John advises applicants on their business strategy and the application process
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on Wednesday, August 24 2016
in Business Assistance

You’ve made it as an entrepreneur. Your startup has positive cash flow, proven growth, and a strong management team. What’s next? No problem, you say. Just sell the company for big bucks. Easier said than done. Here are the things you need to think about before considering acquisition.

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The Most Common Reasons Startups Don’t Receive Funding

Posted by Dennis Cocco
Dennis Cocco
Dennis Cocco is responsible for developing marketing and technology-based busine
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on Monday, August 01 2016
in Innovation Fund

Next month the Innovation Fund will announce the latest group of companies to win funding awards. This money is usually the first market validation that a new business idea has the potential for success. But there are a number of reasons why a good idea might not be awarded funding—at least not on the first attempt.

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The Rules of Startup Financials

Posted by Nancy Ernstes
Nancy Ernstes
Nancy helps entrepreneurs develop pro-forma financial statements for their busin
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on Friday, July 29 2016
in Business Assistance

Applying for funding when you're a cash strapped entrepreneur can be stressful. Developing the financials for your business can bring on additional stress, but it doesn't have to. As long as you have a well thought out business plan, doing the financials to go with it is just a matter of putting the dollars to the business tasks. Here are my seven rules of effective startup financials.

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Turning $100,000 into Millions

Posted by Leigh Keeton
Leigh Keeton
Leigh manages Lorain County Community College's economic development messaging w
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on Monday, July 25 2016
in Innovation Fund

Every startup that’s raising money needs to start somewhere. For startups in Northeast Ohio, that place is the Innovation Fund. That’s where Doug Carr brought his company.

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Cleveland Whiskey’s College Connection

Posted by Leigh Keeton
Leigh Keeton
Leigh manages Lorain County Community College's economic development messaging w
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on Wednesday, July 06 2016
in Innovation Fund

Cleveland Whiskey is one of Northeast Ohio’s most successful and well-known startups. The company has raised more than $2 million, perfected a disruptive technology that dramatically accelerates the maturation of distilled spirits, and sold more than 200,000 bottles of its whiskey around the world. 

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A Cleveland Startup Blazing the Trail in VR Gaming

Posted by Leigh Keeton
Leigh Keeton
Leigh manages Lorain County Community College's economic development messaging w
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on Friday, July 01 2016
in Innovation Fund

“VR is not a trend. VR is the sandbox the future will be created in.”

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Under the Microscope: Why this Scientist Launched a Startup

Posted by Leigh Keeton
Leigh Keeton
Leigh manages Lorain County Community College's economic development messaging w
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on Tuesday, June 21 2016
in Innovation Fund

Todd Doehring spent years working as a scientist at the Cleveland Clinic and as a professor of Bioengineering at Drexel University. His projects centered on images and micro-testing systems. He wanted to make them work better for doctors and other scientists. Todd researched and taught biomechanics of soft tissues and microscopy.

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Improve Your Odds of Raising Money

Posted by John Rastetter
John Rastetter
John advises applicants on their business strategy and the application process
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on Tuesday, June 14 2016
in Innovation Fund

If you’re running a startup, chances are you’ll need to know how to raise capital.  You need to know how to find the right potential funding sources and once those sources are identified, how to increase your odds to get funding from those sources.

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How This Startup Captured 92% of Its Customers from Social Media

Posted by Leigh Keeton
Leigh Keeton
Leigh manages Lorain County Community College's economic development messaging w
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on Monday, June 13 2016
in Innovation Fund

Beth Potratz owns an eharmony.com of sorts for truckers. Not for love, but for matching truck drivers with jobs they will love. The human resource expert was working on driver recruitment solutions for a trucking industry client when she spotted a two-way challenge: employers couldn’t find the best-fitting drivers and drivers couldn’t find the best-fitting jobs.

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How Startups Should Approach Doing Financials

Posted by Nancy Ernstes
Nancy Ernstes
Nancy helps entrepreneurs develop pro-forma financial statements for their busin
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on Wednesday, May 25 2016
in Business Assistance

"Wait, I have to do financials for my business?!" That's what many entrepreneurs shriek as perspiration rolls down their foreheads when they're told three or five year pro-forma financials are needed for their business when applying to the Innovation Fund. That's closely followed by, "How am I supposed to do that? I'm an entrepreneur, not an accountant." In all honesty, when asked to write this blog I shrieked, "But I'm a numbers person. I don't write!" It took a bit to calm me down, but I realized I do know about financials and I have written before, so I could do this. Hopefully, your panic will subside or at least diminish and be replaced by some degree of confidence after reading this blog.

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Top Ways Startups Can Make their Money Last

Posted by John Rastetter
John Rastetter
John advises applicants on their business strategy and the application process
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on Wednesday, May 18 2016
in Business Assistance

If you’re running a startup I’ve got one important bit of advice: you will never have enough funding. You will (and should) always be looking for your next source of funds. Well, maybe never is a bit over the top, but never is a good benchmark during the first five years of any startup.

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Bringing Blood Tests Out of the Lab

Posted by Leigh Keeton
Leigh Keeton
Leigh manages Lorain County Community College's economic development messaging w
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on Tuesday, May 17 2016
in Uncategorized

To perform most blood tests, a nurse draws a vial of blood from a patient and sends the sample to a lab, where it’s spun in a big machine and analyzed. Then the lab technician sends the patient’s results to the physician who ordered the test. The entire process takes up to two hours, but can be rushed for urgent cases.

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Here's $100,000. How Much of Your Company Do I Get?

Posted by Russ Donda
Russ Donda
Russ is the EIR for medical device and biosensor technologies at GLIDE, BioEnter
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on Wednesday, May 11 2016
in Business Assistance

It's a valid question. Your innovation is going to require money in order to advance from development to commercial launch. Whether your total capital needs are $3 million or $30 million, the needed money can trickle in via smaller increments or in tranches of millions of dollars—depending on how you ultimately structure your funding request. But, independent of such incremental amounts, you must establish and validate a valuation for your business. In other words, how much of your company (i.e., stock or ownership) will an investor get for their investment?

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A Cleveland Startup that's Quietly Winning

Posted by Leigh Keeton
Leigh Keeton
Leigh manages Lorain County Community College's economic development messaging w
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on Wednesday, May 11 2016
in Innovation Fund

Some growing startups are flashy, hit social media hard, and make headlines in Inc. or Entrepreneur. Others grow in a quieter, more conservative way. David Levine built Wireless Environment like that.

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Why Every Startup Needs a Task and Timeline

Posted by Russ Donda
Russ Donda
Russ is the EIR for medical device and biosensor technologies at GLIDE, BioEnter
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on Monday, May 09 2016
in Business Assistance

An embryo seems to miraculously mature through layers of development. Cellular differentiation, a forming spinal column, organ development, and more, are all necessary for a healthy, vital birth. Just as the developing fetus goes through a myriad of maturation steps, your innovation and your company must proceed methodically through multiple tasks. But this business procession is no miracle—it’s plain old work. I would say the adage, “plan your work, and work your plan” is invaluable advice—provided that your plan is well constructed.

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Inventor’s Syndrome: The Symptoms and the Cure

Posted by Russ Donda
Russ Donda
Russ is the EIR for medical device and biosensor technologies at GLIDE, BioEnter
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on Friday, May 06 2016
in Business Assistance

Can you diagnose these symptoms? The subject has conceived of a novel innovation that he or she believes is so important it will soon become a staple product across the globe. The inventor thinks its features and benefits solve a problem facing the world. However, our inventor has never queried anyone beyond him or herself and a few friends.

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An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Patent Infringement Research

Posted by Russ Donda
Russ Donda
Russ is the EIR for medical device and biosensor technologies at GLIDE, BioEnter
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on Tuesday, May 03 2016
in Business Assistance

How likely are you to obtain a patent for your invention? If you made and sold it right now, would you be infringing someone else’s patent? Researching the patent databases will help you answer these questions and give you a good idea about whether your innovation is already described or claimed by others.

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3 Ways the Innovation Fund is About More Than Money

Posted by Guest
Guest
Entrepreneurs, innovators, mentors and investors who've contributed to the GLIDE
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on Monday, May 02 2016
in Innovation Fund

This guest blog was contributed by Andrew Bennett, co-founder of KnowledgePost and $25,000 Innovation Fund award winner. It's a firsthand perspective on the Innovation Fund application process. 

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Why Having a Patent Doesn't Guarantee Startup Success

Posted by Russ Donda
Russ Donda
Russ is the EIR for medical device and biosensor technologies at GLIDE, BioEnter
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, April 20 2016
in Business Assistance

IP. Many of us have heard that commonly used abbreviation “intellectual property.” IP includes patents, trade secrets, trademarks and copyrights. If you have an innovative idea that could, some day help people or solve a real world problem, then being a little versed in IP, especially patents, could be very important.

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Five Things to Address if You Want to Get Your Technology to Market

Posted by Russ Donda
Russ Donda
Russ is the EIR for medical device and biosensor technologies at GLIDE, BioEnter
User is currently offline
on Friday, April 08 2016
in Business Assistance

Hardly a week goes by that I don’t hear about an entrepreneur’s new service or product. If you’re one of those innovators toying with such a technology right now, then you must deal with some very critical realities. In fact, I would boil those realities down to five basic elements.

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This Startup Owns Heart Rate Driven Virtual Exercise

Posted by Leigh Keeton
Leigh Keeton
Leigh manages Lorain County Community College's economic development messaging w
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on Wednesday, March 23 2016
in Innovation Fund

meet the new company twitter bodiesdonerightAs virtual reality continues to make headlines as it floods into the main stream tech scene, one startup recently funded by Innovation Fund Northeast Ohio is hoping virtual exercise follows suit.

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An App that’s Changing the Way We Watch Sports

Posted by Leigh Keeton
Leigh Keeton
Leigh manages Lorain County Community College's economic development messaging w
User is currently offline
on Friday, March 18 2016
in Innovation Fund

Joel CritesThis month, the Innovation Fund announced its latest funding round, injecting $250,000 into seven Northeast Ohio startups. This cycle was a first for us—it was our first venture into gaming technology.

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Students and Startups Make the Perfect Pair

Posted by Dennis Cocco
Dennis Cocco
Dennis Cocco is responsible for developing marketing and technology-based busine
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on Wednesday, March 09 2016
in Internships

This article was originally featured in the Winter/Spring 2016 issue of Community College Entrepreneurship, a publication of NACCE.

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What 'Skin in the Game' Means to Investors

Posted by Cliff Reynolds
Cliff Reynolds
As Director of GLIDE, Cliff is responsible for the planning, organizing, and dir
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on Wednesday, January 27 2016
in Innovation Fund

skin in the game imageEvery quarter a handful of entrepreneurs are pitching their companies to the Innovation Fund investment committee. That same day, the committee decides which companies will receive between $25,000 and $100,000 to advance their technologies.

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Meet the startup team turning wood into energy

Posted by Leigh Keeton
Leigh Keeton
Leigh manages Lorain County Community College's economic development messaging w
User is currently offline
on Monday, December 28 2015
in Innovation Fund

The founding team of Renewable Carbon & Electric is trying to change how we produce energy and make products. With a recent $25,000 Innovation Fund award, the company will continue to test the wood-based carbon products they hope will help reduce the environmental problems facing the world today.

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Size Up Your Market with These Four Questions

Posted by Dennis Cocco
Dennis Cocco
Dennis Cocco is responsible for developing marketing and technology-based busine
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on Friday, December 11 2015
in Business Assistance

Sizing the market is a necessary task for business planning and budgeting for all startups. Those seeking investment from third parties want to be particularly diligent in this task, as VCs and angel investors need to know they are investing in a business with potentially large market size. To determine the market size for your startup, ask yourself the following four questions:

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Ten Years and 1,000 Pitches Later

Posted by Dennis Cocco
Dennis Cocco
Dennis Cocco is responsible for developing marketing and technology-based busine
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on Wednesday, September 17 2014
in Uncategorized

The Ohio Third Frontier's Entrepreneurial Signature Program has been supporting Northeast Ohio's incubators and entrepreneurial support organizations for approximately ten years now. GLIDE joined the ESP as a state-funded incubator 2006 and since that time we have helped numerous companies through the challenging early days of their startup.

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Why the Innovation Fund Loves When Entrepreneurs Who Don’t Win, Don’t Give Up

Posted by Dennis Cocco
Dennis Cocco
Dennis Cocco is responsible for developing marketing and technology-based busine
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on Monday, August 04 2014
in Innovation Fund

You know the old saying, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again?” Well, it’s pretty fitting for the Innovation Fund’s application process. On average, it takes entrepreneurs two to three attempts before they win funding. Surprised? I’m not.

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Your New Tech Transfer Office

Posted by Dennis Cocco
Dennis Cocco
Dennis Cocco is responsible for developing marketing and technology-based busine
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on Wednesday, October 23 2013
in Business Assistance

What do you think of when you hear technology transfer? Maybe you picture a university professor approaching the school's technology transfer office with an idea that has been the basis of her graduate team's research for years. The college then foots the bill to patent it, build a prototype, and license it to a startup for commercialization.

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How Startups Can Determine Market Need

Posted by Dennis Cocco
Dennis Cocco
Dennis Cocco is responsible for developing marketing and technology-based busine
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on Monday, September 24 2012
in Business Assistance

I wish I had a dollar for every time we are told that the market really wants this product or service. For most startup companies conducting well designed and professional market research is a non-starter. In addition getting even limited access market research reports can also be very expensive. Scouring free online news reports can be helpful but generally they only report a snippet of the actual data in a market research report and very seldom question the validity of the study. Some startups conduct informal surveys that can be helpful but probably not conclusive based on who they pick for the study.

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The GLIDE Blog is Open for Business Assistance

Posted by Dennis Cocco
Dennis Cocco
Dennis Cocco is responsible for developing marketing and technology-based busine
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, August 15 2012
in Business Assistance


openforbusiness 1Well, this is a first! The first GLIDE blog...when we started GLIDE in 2001 I am not sure if blogs existed. But over ten plus years you see and learn a lot. And that's what the GLIDE blog will be for the most part, a discussion of the entrepreneurial lessons we've both learned and shared in the past decade. All the questions we've been asked by entrepreneurs and the business advice we've given will make their way to this blog.

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Latest Blog Posts

  • Work with SMART Microsystems yields big wins for Nordson – and the region

    Nordson Corp.’s Lorain County roots run deep.

    The global industrial company, based in Westlake, was founded in Amherst by Eric and Evan Nord, sons of local industrialist Walter G. Nord. While the Nord family no longer runs the company, the manufacturer retains close ties to the community, and nowhere is that more evident than in its relationship with SMART Microsystems, located in the Richard Desich SMART Commercialization Center for Microsystems on Lorain County Community College’s Elyria campus.

    Roots of the partnership

    Nordson SMART partnershipThe relationship between Nordson and SMART began in 2010 when the center bought state-of-the-art equipment from Nordson’s Advanced Technology Systems group, giving it a competitive advantage with capabilities in automated dispensing, plasma treatment and X-ray inspection.

    “We do microelectronic packaging, and Nordson manufactures a wide variety of equipment that supports that,” says Matt Apanius, president and managing director of SMART Microsystems. “When we first got SMART off the ground, we purchased four initial pieces of equipment from them.”

    From that initial interaction, Nordson and SMART developed an ongoing dialogue, discussing the capabilities of both organizations and how they could develop synergies that would drive both the company and the college forward.

    “They had a couple of conferences on site, and we attended,” says Dave Selestak, business development manager for Nordson MARCH, part of the Advanced Technology Systems group. “That, in particular, allowed us to see the additional capabilities SMART had gained as far as microelectronic diagnostic capabilities and the like.”

    The fact that Nordson, SMART and LCCC are all located in the same region also provided shared motivation for partnering.

    “SMART and LCCC are organizations committed to helping individuals and businesses in the region,” says Apanius. “You want to help the people in your own backyard, because when they’re successful, it benefits everyone who lives here.”

    Uncovering new opportunities

    Over the last six years, Nordson and SMART have worked together on a number of projects. SMART’s ongoing acquisition of advanced equipment and new capabilities has made it an increasingly valuable resource to Nordson.

    “For about a year and a half, Nordson needed sophisticated camera capabilities for looking at microelectronic devices,” Selestak says. “We worked on some designs of experiments (DOEs) that we wanted to turn into a white paper to distribute to conferences and trade shows.”

    Nordson worked with SMART and LCCC Business Growth Services to fund a DOE, a systematic approach to finding the relationship between factors affecting a process and the output of that process. That support helped pay for an LCCC student intern to develop a white paper evaluating how plasma might benefit the manufacture of microelectronics, especially circuit boards.

    The white paper – which showed that plasma helps clean circuit boards without inflicting any damage – was presented to a global audience at the 2015 Surface Mount Technology Association International conference in Chicago.

    “That student now works at SMART,” Apanius says. “It’s a great example of how everyone can work together for a lasting benefit to everyone involved.”

    Nordson continues to market the results of the study and has performed other DOEs with customers to find new uses for its plasma technology. The company is using the analytic capabilities and inspection equipment of SMART Microsystems to conduct the studies, which are a critical part of the commercialization process.

    In addition to these projects, Nordson has sponsored a series of biomedical sensor technology conferences at LCCC, helping to boost the industry’s profile across the region.

    “We bought equipment from them, they’ve helped us with event sponsorships, and now we’re helping them find new applications for their products,” Apanius says. “We’re both open to new ways in which we can work together, and that’s a big factor in our combined success.”

    Helping Nordson grow

    As Nordson continues to leverage SMART to help develop new product lines, Selestak considers the relationship a critical factor in Nordson’s continued success and growth.

    “SMART and LCCC are very valuable sources for developmental capabilities,” Selestak says. “When you are in the process of developing a device, LCCC not only has the facilities to support the tangible needs of development but also the industry expertise that is going to help shorten the time to market. It’s not only about developing the device, it’s about turning it into something that’s commercially viable, and doing it as soon as you can.”

    Meanwhile, the partners always looking for new ways that their relationship and mutual goals can benefit each other, as well as the region.

    “The more applications Nordson develops, the more they sell, so that’s an instance where the partnership has a direct correlation to their bottom line,” Apanius says. “Every time we’ve worked together, it’s been a win-win for SMART, the college and Nordson. We’re creating a high level of mutual value for all involved, and that’s always what you want to aim for.”

    This article originally appeared in the Winter 2017 issue of Impact magazine

  • As additive manufacturing explodes, MakerGear gets spark from LCCC’s Fab Lab


    In the early days of 3-D printing, MakerGear founder Rick Pollack bootstrapped a small business making components in his Shaker Heights garage.

    “When we started out, we made our machines out of laser-cut plywood,” Pollack recalls. “I was making printer parts one at a time in my garage.”

    In 2008, a friend introduced him to the Fab Lab at Lorain County Community College’s Nord Advanced Technologies Center. The lab had a much better laser-cutting machine, so Pollack quickly jumped on the opportunity to use it to augment his own equipment.

    “The lab gave us access to a $25,000 piece of cutting and fabricating machinery for basically no cost,” Pollack says. “It was really a visionary thing for the college to do. They saw how manufacturing companies like ours needed access to advanced machinery that required too large of an investment for a startup.”

    Eight years later, MakerGear is a thriving manufacturer selling thousands of 3-D printers a year to companies via its website, www.makergear.com, and an Amazon reseller.

    Printing in three dimensions

    3-D printing – also called additive manufacturing – is still a relatively young technology, but it’s fast becoming a key aspect of advanced manufacturing. Once the exclusive domain of research and development, 3-D printers have expanded beyond their R&D roots of modeling and prototyping to the production of end-use products.

    “The applications of additive manufacturing are expected to grow significantly as advancement in materials and technologies continue,” says R. Scott Zitek, Assistant Professor, Automation and Fab Lab Coordinator at LCCC. “The ability to print objects with various combinations of mechanical, optical and thermal properties will expand the possible applications.”

    Improvements in the speed and accuracy of 3-D printers are creating a world in which plastic or metal parts can be printed instead of formed in tooling molds, eliminating the time-consuming process of creating a mold. That allows the manufacturing process to jump from raw material to product fabrication, resulting in less scrap and waste.

    “As the technology evolves it will be able to produce increasingly more capable parts by integrating materials that offer a range of properties from flexible to rigid, transparent to opaque, and conductive to isolating,” Zitek says. “In addition to prototyping, this technology will be used for the creation of rapid tooling and flexible production.”

    3-D printing can potentially allow for a made-to-order production system in which products can be fabricated quickly and shipped in smaller batches, allowing distributors, wholesalers and retailers to more closely manage their inventories.

    Energizing MakerGear

    LCCC opened the Fab Lab in 2005, making it the first of its kind in the country outside of Boston. When Pollack heard about it three years later, he decided to augment MakerGear’s production operations.

    He quickly set to work using the machinery to build a better product, hiring an LCCC student to run the Fab Lab’s cutter. He even took a course on how to use the lab’s advanced equipment.

    “So many technology businesses are out there looking for a way to bootstrap, and LCCC is one of the local entities that has provided a facility that can help deliver that,” Pollack says. “And outside of the class fee, it’s available for no cost – a huge factor for a company just starting out.”

    With access to the Fab Lab’s more advanced machinery, MakerGear’s business began to take off. Pollack was able to spend less time focused on the manufacturing process and more time focused on building his business.

    “We were really able to bootstrap the business with that increased level of efficiency, as well as build a commercially viable business with the capacity to grow even more,” Pollack says. “We could devote time to refining the product, refining our business plan and developing strategies to take our products to market.”

    MakerGear has continued to grow along with the rapidly expanding market for 3-D printing. It has purchased specialized machinery to outfit its production facility in Beachwood and it is preparing to open a second location in Northeast Ohio to serve as an R&D and production facility. MakerGear will produce parts for existing products as well as develop new products at the new location, which will house multiple production CNC centers.

    As a way to thank the college for its help in getting MakerGear off the ground, the company last year donated one of its 3-D printers to the Fab Lab.

    “You think about the fact that I paid $100 for a course on how to use the Fab Lab equipment at LCCC, and the benefits our company has received from it, many times over,” Pollack says. “It wasn’t a cheap investment for a local college to make, but my business, and so many others, have benefited from it.”

  • As cyber criminals become increasingly sophisticated, digital crime has grown at an alarming rate, motivating businesses of all sizes to strengthen their cybersecurity protocols and hire new talent.

    To learn more about the evolving area of cybersecurity, I spoke with Kelly Zelesnik, dean of the Division of Engineering, Business and Information Technology at Lorain County Community College, Douglas Huber, LCCC assistant professor of computer information systems, and Hikmat Chedid, LCCC professor and director of the Advanced Digital Forensics Institute. Here's what the group wanted you to know:

    Cyber attacks are more common than you think. 

    Zelesnik: Most companies don't want you to know if they have been breached. So every time you hear of confidential files being hacked, there are probably 50 to 100 other significant breaches that you don't hear about.

    Some industries more vulnerable than others.

    Huber: A really vulnerable area is in the manufacturing space. The industrial controls systems that control valves, tanks, manufacturing machines, rolling mills and nuclear power plants. Many of these were never developed with security in mind, and because of the expense, they are upgraded only in a 20- or 30-year cycle.

    There are more stringent cybersercurity policies on the way.

    Chedid: Cybersecurity insurance policies are already in effect, but new, more stringent policies are coming soon. These policies will help ensure that a company is conforming to some minimal security standards and provide a baseline of security.

    Chedid: Companies should also keep in mind that Europe has rich data privacy laws that are different from the U.S. That affects how cybersecurity solutions get architected and delivered, so you have to be compliant with those European standards. People with knowledge of that space can be very valuable in cybersecurity activities.

    Make sure your cybersecurity professionals have the right skills.

    Huber: Cybersecurity involves everything from auditing and policy development, all the way up to very specific technical skills, such as penetration testing and vulnerability testing. There are functions that are technically deep, but there is still a place for nontechnical people in the profession.