Featured articles

A collection of featured articles from NCIIA publications and newsletters.

Waiting a while for the payoff: Insitutec

Imagine trying to bootstrap a company that makes industrial positioning and measuring systems with nanoscale resolution. Sound tough? It’s exactly what Shane and Bethany Woody, co-founders of Charlotte-based InsituTec, Inc., have been doing since incorporating in 2001... read more


The right team at the right time: Keen Mobility

Often, the best teams don’t form as a result of careful planning: good teams synthesize when the right people work on the right project at the right time. Such is the story of Vail Horton and the Keen Mobility E-Team... read more

Credit, Debit, or Cell Phone?

Imagine that you’re shopping at the supermarket. As you reach the end of the checkout line, the cashier offers you the familiar menu of choices with a new twist: “Credit, debit, or cell phone?”

Ajay Bam, founder of Boston-based mobile commerce processor Vayusa, Inc., and twice a recipient of NCIIA funding, wants to make this transaction a reality... read more


Different problems, same solution

It’s hard to go wrong when giving people access to new information: people crave it, markets need it, and the benefits often extend far beyond the initial application. Case in point: two Sustainable Vision grantees recently took a look at widely divergent problems and arrived at the same basic solution: these people need more information... read more

E-Team grantees focusing on new ways to meet residential energy needs

Even a brief look at the statistics regarding home energy consumption in the US can be staggering: American households consume 355 billion kwh per year for heating and cooling alone; US homes produce 21 percent of the country’s total global warming pollution; by 2020, the US residential sector will account for 11.4 quadrillion BTUs of end-use energy annually…In the long run, satisfying our energy needs while decreasing CO² emissions will require a coordinated effort on a number of fronts, including developing renewable energies and increasing energy efficiency.

Over the years, a number of NCIIA E-Teams have looked to do just that... read more

  Two E-Teams talk about how they got venture capital funding—and the impact it made

One of the primary reasons the NCIIA is starting Venture Well is to address what you could call the “Big Gap”: the space between a group of college students working on an idea and a full-fledged venture worthy of investment. There’s a long way to go between the two, and it takes lots of hard work to get from one to the other. This summer we talked with two teams that succeeded in going from student E-Team to start-up to venture-funded company and discussed their journey through the world of early stage funding and venture capital... read more

Student-run, their way: EcoTech Marine

Amid all the talk these days about elevator pitches and equity, burn rate and liquidation, preferred stock and venture fairs, we present to you one simple and reassuring fact: you don’t have to get fancy angel or VC funding to succeed. In fact, in certain situations you might be better off without it. Such is the story of EcoTech Marine, a team of students with enough entrepreneurial spirit and drive to take a product all the way to market themselves, with a minimum of private investment... read more


Marketing to the poor: International Development Enterprises (IDE)

Paul Polak didn’t have to do any of this. At age forty-seven, Polak was a successful Colorado psychiatrist with a wife, three daughters and $3 million in real estate. But in his extensive world travels Polak witnessed more and more the debilitating effects of extreme poverty on the world’s rural poor—who often make less than one dollar a day—and became curious about ways to help... read more

A failure success story: John Fabel

The story of John Fabel teaches us that when it comes to entrepreneurial endeavors, failure isn’t always a bad thing: new opportunities arise, lessons are learned, people move forward. In this profile we take you through John’s story, from invention to incorporation to bankruptcy to eventual success, and find out what he learned along the way... read more


Open to learn: Evan Edwards and EpiCard

Evan Edwards knows a thing or two about business plans. The recipient of an NCIIA Advanced E-Team grant in 2000, Edwards has been working toward commercializing his invention—a credit-card-sized epinephrine injector for people with severe allergies, dubbed the “EpiCard”—for the past few years. We spoke with Edwards about what goes into a business plan, the lessons he’s learned about writing them, and his advice for nascent inventors looking to build a company around a new technology... read more

Insulating your home with...mushrooms?

Open up the walls of just about any new home and you’ll find the same thing: two sheets of plywood sandwiching an insulating foam core. Known as Structural Insulating Panels, or SIPS, the approach is gaining popularity in the building industry because it’s cheap and effective. Unfortunately the foam insulation in SIPS is also environmentally damaging, requiring petroleum to produce, and it isn’t biodegradable, eventually ending up in landfills... read more


Whole Tree taking a wholly different approach

A standard approach to dealing with problems in the developing world is to develop a specific solution to a specific problem: if people lack access to potable water, you develop a water filter for them to buy and use. Need lighting? Manufacture and sell solar lamps. While there’s nothing wrong with this approach, Whole Tree, Inc., a former Baylor University E-Team and the first recipient of Venture Well investment funding (see sidebar on page 4), is using a different tactic: alleviating poverty by providing access to huge markets in the US and abroad... read more