Innovator of the Week
CEO of Near Field Magnetics
Please provide your 30-second pitch about your company.
Wireless communication systems such as WiFi, Bluetooth, cell phones and RFID do not work well in many environments including those that have metal, liquids, or other materials that interfere with radio waves. You have probably experienced this as the “Can you hear me now?” problem with your cell phone. This fact prevents wireless data acquisition in many Internet of Things (IoT) sensing and tracking environments.
NFMI provides wireless data collection systems (sensors, readers, and their software working together) for the IoT using patented technology that operates in harsh environments that are hostile to traditional wireless communication systems. Without NFMI’s technology and products, some sensing applications simply can’t be realized because the data cannot be acquired.
NFMI’s initial products are a Trade Show Attendee Tracking System that provides better leads and data to exhibitors by automating attendee data collection and a Hands-Free Access Control System that solves the security problems experienced with existing access systems.
Who or what was your best resource for starting your company?
The founding team was my best resource. They brought unique perspectives and experience that helped get the business structured correctly. They were also instrumental in selecting our initial markets and products from a very large array of potential markets and products where our technology can be used.
I also found meetings with the SBDC and seminars and networking events sponsored by Alpha Loft and the NHHTC to be very helpful in clarifying my thinking around key issues. We were also selected to present at the High Tech Council’s Entrepreneur Forum and exhibit our technology at the Council’s Entrepreneur of the Year banquet. Both of these events helped us make many new connections and raise our visibility. These are great organizations for startups to engage.
What was the biggest obstacle in starting your company and how did you overcome it?
Finding a great analog circuit design engineer was very challenging because most engineers are drilled on digital circuits and software. Our products require very sophisticated analog circuits to get the range we want in the small package size we need. We were able to find just such an engineer through our network. As a bonus, our analog engineer also brought excellent digital circuit design skills to the table. When matched with our software team, we were able to quickly turn out a proof of concept and build a beta product for trade show attendee tracking. Now we are ready for customer trials and to begin selling our products.
What’s the best advice you have received?
Get out of the office and talk to people. By doing this we have been able to focus on what features must be in our initial products, identify potential customers, and develop a list of many markets for our technology. It’s really great seeing people light up when they see the demo systems and to hear their feedback, good, bad, and ugly.
What about the NH lifestyle appeals to you?
It’s a great place to raise a family. The state has friendly people, lots of great activities, cultural events and sports. It also has a great business climate and a really sharp base of technical people.
What does the future look like for your company?
It looks very bright. With our base technology, we can rapidly move into new markets to grow our business. As the IoT market explodes over the next five years, we are well positioned to stake our claim.