It has been nine months since the first round of grant recipients of Lehigh Valley LaunchBox became part of this University and community sponsored business accelerator program for early stage entrepreneurs. We wanted to check in with each recipient to ask how their business or product development is coming along, hear the advice they have for other entrepreneurs and see how they benefited from the micro grants, support and mentorship from Lehigh ValleyLaunch Box.
Tai-Yin Huang is the founder of Integrated Energy Solutions for Entrepreneurs (IESE). The IESE team -- which includes Huang, Harold Scholz, Richard Martin, Robert Wolfe and Kasey Hudak -- received a micro grant for their project during Lehigh Valley LaunchBox's first round.
IESE develops and researches energy solutions to address real-world problems in the areas of green energy and LED light applications.
Huang answered some questions for us.
What inspired you to start your business?
The IESE Project is not a business at this stage, but a research project which is designed to allow Penn State University students from multiple disciplines to collaborate in all aspects of the development, formation and implementation of an entrepreneurial venture. The venture intends to define the specific technologies, target markets and target consumers within potential markets for using solar energy to power LEDs for LED based illumination and visible light communication. This will involve retrofitting existing structures as well as new construction. The inspiration of the project was my vision that students could work together to create a viable business venture.
What was your biggest challenge before receiving a Lehigh Valley LaunchBox portfolio grant, and how did you overcome it with the help of your grant?
The biggest challenge was to develop a viable product, which provides both LED based illumination as well as visible light network communication. The grant from LaunchBox allowed the project to procure valuable equipment which allows the project team to develop a working prototype of the final product.
What Lehigh Valley LaunchBox services have you taken advantage of since receiving your grant?
The IESE project has primarily benefited from the proceeds of the micro grant.
How do you define success?
The IESE project team defines success as it relates to our venture as the completion of a viable product, which will provide LED illumination for a new or existing structure, combining visible light communication and LED indoor horticultural capabilities which provide significant value to the Lehigh Valley residential and commercial marketplace.
What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs who are requesting a Lehigh Valley LaunchBox portfolio grant? Or, more generally, as they start their businesses?
Entrepreneurs must take a considerable amount of time to plan all aspects of their venture and perform a thorough and rigorous assessment of the market viability of their offering such that it represents genuine value to potential consumers.
Lehigh Valley LaunchBox is a signature program of the Invent Penn State initiative.