Yesterday, our CEO, Charles Popenoe, III visited Bullis School in Potomac, Maryland. He spent the afternoon with seniors in the Entrepreneur Program headed by Marc Steren. The goal of the program is to learn to build repeatable and scalable business models using the Customer Discovery Methodology and the Business Model Canvas as its scorecard.
Charles told the story of how his father, Chuck Popenoe, invented SmartBolts technology in his basement while on staff at the National Institute for Standards and Technology. Then he went into some depth about the tension indicating technology, how the company makes capital investments in machinery, and how SmartBolts are made at our facility in Gaithersburg.
“The Q&A session that followed my presentation was excellent”, related Charles, “The students asked some penetrating and insightful questions. I was impressed with their focus on costs, pricing and profit margins. They were also very interested in our research and new product development activities. They even had great ideas for specific applications for SmartBolts – for instance, one student asked about use in amusement park rides. Another suggested remote monitoring as a product advancement. I was very impressed!”
At the core of the program are the various ideas for new businesses the students create and develop. Small groups of three students work together for the duration of the two year program, culminating with a Shark Tank presentation of their business ideas. Each group presented a brief summary of their business ideas to Charles.
He continued, “Each group gave an ‘elevator pitch’ style presentation for the business ideas they were in the midst of developing and I gave them some comments and suggestions. I was quite impressed with their professionalism and I look forward to returning in the spring for their final presentations.”