CENTER VALLEY, Pa. — 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 have benefited from the micro grants, support and mentorship from Lehigh Valley LaunchBox.
Nicholas Miller is the founder of TeraDrones, LLC. He received a micro grant for his business during Lehigh Valley LaunchBox’s first round.
TeraDrones, LLC offers professional cases for flight equipment and cameras.
Miller answered some questions for us.
What inspired you to start your business?
“I have always had a strong desire to be an entrepreneur and as the drone market started to take off in 2014 and early 2015, I saw the opportunity to fulfill my dream of being a business owner. With a strong supporting cast of professors and fellow students, I decided to jump into the industry even though I was still in college. With money set aside from previous internships and jobs, I created TeraDrones, LLC.”
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 startup costs are always the biggest challenge for any business just getting started, and the grant from Lehigh Valley LaunchBox helped me cover those costs. I was not only able to cover my attorney fees to file for the LLC, which is crucial when it comes to the credibility of one’s company, but also cover website fees.”
What Lehigh Valley LaunchBox services have you taken advantage of since receiving your grant?
“I have continued to tap into the Penn State networks and receive advice from the Lehigh Valley LaunchBox faculty. I look forward to continue to incorporate LaunchBox and students in my company as it continues to grow.”
How do you define success?
“For TeraDrones, LLC, success is defined based on sustainability and the market share held. I will consider TeraDrones a success when the company can sustain itself with three full-time paid employees and captures 20 percent of the current market share. By achieving both of these, the company will be a major player in the case market and will then be able to continue developing new products without more outside investment.”
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?
“The key to success is having a clearly defined business plan and being adaptable as company goals change. No matter what you estimate or forecast to happen will likely differ in real life and you have to be able to think on your feet to adjust your company's strategy. I would also recommend listening to the advice given by mentors and fellow businesspeople, but remember that no one is more passionate about your company than you are.”
Lehigh Valley LaunchBox is a signature program of the Invent Penn State initiative.