One of the greatest challenges a small business faces is transitioning from its startup phase to being an established, high-performing second stage company. It is not for the faint of heart. The changes in strategy, organization and culture are often profound. But the rewards can be dramatically positive for all of the key stakeholders: owners, employees and clients. Nanospective, Inc. certainly found that to be the case when it made the transition to its second stage of growth with assistance from the Florida SBDC at the University of Central Florida (FSBDC at UCF).
Nanospective likes to say is delivers “Big Solutions to Small Problems” because it provides advanced materials characterization analytical services and consultation to clients around the world using advanced imaging and spectroscopic instruments to determine what atoms are present in a material and how they are arranged. Those two relationships determine every physical property about a material: is it brittle, will it bend, does it conduct electricity, can it be seen through, for example. It is this kind of information associated with molecular science that the experts at Nanospective provide to their clients, primarily related to quality control and intellectual property protection.
The company was founded by four UCF PhDs in 2003, with initial assistance from the UCF Business Incubator and the Florida SBDC at UCF. Based upon what they had studied in school and then used in corporate America, they innovated with a heavy emphasis on client service. The company grew to be a profitable business but, like most startups, hit a wall where growth was harder and harder to come by. It was then that Nanospective turned again to the FSBDC at UCF and its consultant Roger Greenwald.
“We started working with the FSBDC again and with Roger because we wanted to change from being a lifestyle business and put ourselves in position to understand how to really move forward and grow,” says Brenda Prenitzer, President and CEO of Nanospective. “At the time, we had four, then three, owner-employees leading by democracy, each with different visions for the future. We had evolved into three different companies each working from home. We had reached a plateau.”
At no cost to the company, Greenwald and the FSBDC team were brought in to help Nanospective make the transition to being a second stage growth company. They assisted by helping to develop a strategic growth plan, providing financial analysis, giving marketing and business development direction and offering guidance on organizational structure and development.
“Our experience with the FSBDC has been fabulous,” Prenitzer says. “Roger Greenwald has been immensely helpful to us. While it wasn’t easy and required extremely delicate navigation, we have transitioned successfully to a single-owner company with a unified vision and strong corporate culture. We are fortunate that the two other owners chose to remain to do what they love: be great scientists. We have developed a Nanospective ‘Way’ focused on both our clients’ and our employees’ success. And we have achieved superior business results, delivering an average of 25% revenue growth year over year and adding 9 new employees to meet the needs of our clients, she concluded.”