Dr. Simon Melikian invented a way for robots to see and learn. Basically taking the biology of the human eye and turning it into technology.
"I knew I had something really, really good to sell," he said.
But he had no idea how to turn his creation into a business.
"I know how science works, I know how engineering works, I know how to build things but building a company is a completely different set of skills," he said.
So he went to GLIDE the Great Lakes Innovation and Development Enterprise in the Desich Business and Entrepreneur Center at Lorain County Community College. There he met experience business minds who gave him great advice, for free.
"We have no other motive we have no equity stake in businesses the motivation is simply economic development and it basically comes down to one thing, jobs," said Cliff Reynolds, Co-Director of Glide and the Innovation Fund.
GLIDE targets technology businesses in IT and biomedical. They've advised more than 3,000 entrepreneurs, helped create more than 800 northeast Ohio jobs with salaries averaging $50,000.
Reynolds advice to those with hopes of starting a business?
"The two best traits of an entrepreneur is that they're good listeners and they ask a lot of questions," he said.
Dr. Melikian still takes advantage of the business mentoring ten years later. But for start-ups there also something quite valuable available.
"We give money to people before they can get money anywhere else," Reynolds said.
Innovation Funding fromt he state is available if an entrepreneur wants to apply.
"We have two grants a $25,000 grant and up to a $100,000 grant that has to be matched by the entrepreneur but we've given out $11 million dollars so far and those people have gone on to raise over 250 million," Reynolds said.
That money can help future entrepreneurs have the same success as Dr. Melikian whose robotic eye is now being used in some of the biggest car manufacturers in the world. Including Ford, Chrysler and Mercedes.
"In the beginning you need real business advice and if I didn't do it right I probably wouldn't be here," Dr. Melikian said.
Ten years later, Dr. Melikian's Recognition Robotics has ten patents, more than $2 million in revenue, offices in Elyria, Michigan and Milan, Italy and plans to hire several more employees. Click on the websites for more info on Glide and the jobs at Recognition Robotics.
Also LCCC has a program called FEBE Fostering Entrepreneurial Business Education. They meet every Wednesday from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., and in the evening every 2nd Wednesday of the month from 5:30-6:30 p.m. in DEC Room 132.