Monday, April 15, 2013

Women entrepreneurs in industry

A pretty neat little article by Susan Ainsworth about women entrepreneurs in this week's C&EN. I think my favorite short article is the profile of Beth Bosley (emphasis mine):
After carving out a 20-year career in the specialty and fine chemicals industry, Beth Bosley, 49, identified a market need that matched her technical skills in the specialized area of inorganic boron hydride chemistry—and wasted no time acting on it. 
Three years ago, she launched Ambridge, Pa.-based Boron Specialties, which develops chemicals, materials, and applications that leverage the specific properties of boron. With a product portfolio heavy in high-value boranes and borohydrides, the company commercializes new boron-based technologies for life sciences, electronics, energy, and other applications. It also provides services in product and process development, market development, product safety practices, and regulatory compliance management. 
To be “efficient and agile” from day one, Bosley used personal savings to start the company. She first focused on consulting and managing the production of inorganic boron hydrides for customers that could not find them commercially available from reliable suppliers. She outsourced production in the U.S. through toll manufacturing, an arrangement in which a company that has specialized equipment processes raw materials or semifinished goods for another firm. 
Boron Specialties then began distributing a few fine chemicals for which there is no U.S. manufacturer. Finally, as a way to further the company’s product development goals and continue to drive growth, Bosley made the bold decision to build a lab for small-volume manufacturing and to hire chemists. The company, which is expected to post sales of $1 million to $1.5 million in 2013, now has six employees.
I wonder how much money from your personal savings you need to have, in order to start an actual fine chemicals manufacturing business? It's gotta be like $500k, right?

What I learned from the Bosley article and fine chemicals: You can probably start by becoming a consultant/project manager for someone else's compounds, then you probably move to making the compounds in-house. This probably takes a level of expertise and entrepreneurship I don't have yet...

1 comment:

  1. $500K is way too high.

    You can start an operation on a lot less than that.

    Here's some of the things you do, especially in the beginning to minimize cash outlays.

    -buy only used equipment. Everything from hoods to glassware to even chemicals can be bought used.

    -use nearby universities facilities. Many of them have fee-for-service arrangements that give you access to NMRs and other analytical equipment without having to invest in it or maintain it yourself

    -look for under utilized lab space whether it be with existing companies who have downsized or other companies which have moved or folded. Landlords are generally very willing to work with you.

    Really it's all about cash flow. If you can find the right niche market and build up some revenues, defer the bills, and treat every dollar like it's your last, you'd be surprised.

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