By Kathy Pretz
Running a startup isn’t cheap. Many founders bootstrap their company to survive. IEEE is helping members who are entrepreneurs save money through its new Powered by IEEE Program.
The program, developed by IEEE Entrepreneurship, includes discounts to the IEEE Xplore® Digital Library and IEEE DataPort™. Participants receive a US$10,000 credit toward the purchase of software from Freshworks, which provides customer-relationship management tools.
In addition, startups receive free mentoring from other entrepreneurs through IEEE’s Founder Office Hours Program.
There are now 13 participants in the program, which launched in March. Here is what the founders of BotBlox, TFWireless, and SciosHub had to say about how they use it.
HARDWARE FOR COMPACT SYSTEMS
IEEE Member Josh Elijah is the founder of BotBlox, in London. It designs and manufactures extremely small networking hardware electronics boards for small drones and mobile robots. Elijah says he works with some of the newest technologies in electronics networking such as single pair Ethernet. He claims its 2G5Blox to be the world’s first 2.5G (2.5GBASE-T) Ethernet switch. BoxBlox’s customers include Boeing, Google, and Tesla as well as NASA and NOAA.
“Our goal is to unify the mess of competing networking technologies into a single set of ultra-compact networking products,” he says. “I saw a massive niche in the market that no one was filling, and I believe I am the right person to make products to fill that niche. I wanted to use what I knew to contribute something positive to the world.”
BotBlox is a family business. Elijah oversees hardware design and manages the company while his brother writes the software. Their father is in charge of shipping and logistics.
Elijah says access to journals and magazines in the IEEE Xplore Digital Library is helping him keep up to date on advances in his field.
“We’ve also found that our customers like to know we have some association with IEEE, as many of them are engineers,” he says. He adds that because participants are allowed to use the Powered by IEEE logo on their website, it gives him credibility, which he says, “is especially important for a small company like us.”
Amogh Rajanna is new to the startup world. He primarily was a researcher in wireless communications technology until earlier this year, when he launched TFWireless Inc. in Burbank, Calif. The senior member is working to commercialize a physical-layer rateless codec technology, a forward error correction/channel coding, and automatic repeat request technology. It will make for a more reliable and less costly transmission of information bits between the transmitter and receiver in a wireless environment, Rajanna says. The technology can be used for both space communication and terrestrial wireless networks, he says.
Rajanna developed an earlier version of the technology in collaboration with colleagues at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where he was a visiting researcher in 2019 and 2020.
He says his startup has been awarded a U.S. National Science Foundation Small Business Technology Transfer Phase 1 grant for technology development in partnership with CalTech, which manages JPL.
He has used the Founder Office Hours program to get mentorship and guidance on how to launch a company as well as advice about the NSF grant from its seasoned entrepreneurs. He says he expects he soon will start using his subscription to the IEEE digital library to access its research and technical literature.
“I am completely new to entrepreneurship,” he says, “so services and tools from this initiative helps with developing business plans and preparing for fundraising from venture capital funds and angel investor groups.”
LIFE SCIENCES DATA RESEARCH
Joanne Wong launched SciosHub in 2020 to improve the data management, performance, and costs of conducting research in life sciences. The company’s flagship product is a software-as-a-service and informatics platform that automates and simplifies the back-end data-management process to enable researchers to just focus on data analysis. The startup is headquartered in Buffalo, N.Y., and has onboarded seven life sciences researchers and IT developers.
The IEEE member has worked for several large IT companies as well as startups during her career. At the IT startup Cancer Computer, a charitable organization that provides cancer researchers with free access to high-performance computational resources, she saw problems researchers and funders were having when working with large complex data sets.
“While both understand and embrace the inherent potential of big-data research, most are unaware of or undervalue the technical components,” she says. “These include the cost of software licenses and hiring experienced developers; the time it takes to adapt, develop and/or validate the software; and the post-data collection costs such as storage fees and server replacements.”
SciosHub’s platform centrally manages all the multiple data sources comprised of genetics, imaging, behavioral, biobank, etc, and other aspects of life sciences research activities thus allowing researchers to capture, curate, compute and collaborate their research data on a secured scalable cloud architecture.
Wong says the startup currently uses Amazon Web Services but as her company grows, she plans to use Freshworks and IEEE Dataport for open access data sets.
“As with any typical startup, SciosHub is keenly aware of cost control,” she says.
Wong is also a member of the IEEE Entrepreneurship committee and will be its 2022 chair.
“I liked what IEEE Entrepreneurship was doing so much that I wanted to be the chair and continue to grow its programs and outreach efforts,” she says.
To be eligible for the Powered by IEEE Program, an applicant must be an IEEE member who is CEO, founder, or senior manager of a startup. Also, the startup must have been launched within the past 10 years and employ a maximum of 50 people. You can apply for the program here.