Thank You MA*

May 31, 2010

 Thanks to several local leaders in the New England startup community, June is being celebrated as Innovation Month in New England.  Rather than being abstract about the many unique ways that our ecosystem nurtures startups, I thought I’d give a direct example of my previous company, which I’m not sure could have been born and raised anywhere else.

Brontes Technologies was based on research led by Dr. Janos Rohaly and Professor Douglas Hart out of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at MIT.  The investigators were among the first research teams to be funded by the Deshpande Center at MIT, which was created by local entrepreneurial guru Desh Deshpande out of a desire to fill the gap between academic research and commercialization. 

The company was born when two repeat entrepreneurs (Micah Rosenbloom and Eric Paley), both of whom came to Massachusetts to go to business school at Harvard, met the principal investigators at a MIT 50K Competition team-building mixer.  After initial tension resulting from speaking different languages (engineering and business), the team began to collaborate well due to the clear benefits of everyone bringing different disciplines to our preparation for two business plan competitions.  The team further gained confidence in each other after being named runner up at the MIT 50K and HBS Business Plan Competitions.  The team also received help from the Venture Mentoring Service at MIT and Professors Bill Sahlman, Joe Lassiter, Rebecca Henderson and Felda Hardymon at HBS.  Additionally Brontes got exposure and candid feedback by twice participating in the MIT Enterprise Forum (Concept and Startup Clinics). 

The company was originally financed by a true angel investor who based his decision completely on trust.  That angel was David Frankel, a business school classmate of mine and Micah’s and now our partner at Founder Collective.  Without David’s trust in us, Brontes would never have existed.  Angel financing was critical as it took the venture industry a bit of time to appreciate our quirky market.  That appreciation came first from Jeff Bussgang at Flybridge Capital Partners, whom I initially met in Professor Bill Sahlman’s Entrepreneurial Finance Class at HBS.  Jeff and I built a one year relationship in which he gave us feedback and coaching and got to know our team and mission well enough to make a bet on us.  Together we rallied two other local and outstanding venture capitalists, Ted Dintersmith of Charles River Ventures and James Nahirny of Bain Capital to help fund the company.  We also added two local independent board members, Kelsey Wirth the Founder of Align Technologies and Gerard Moufflet an investor with deep ties in our industry, who both provided enormous value to the company. 

We built a team of 32 extraordinary engineers, executives, and clinical specialists with deep experience in hardware, software, optics, computer vision, medical devices, dentistry and rapid manufacturing.  We relied on local vendors for additional optics design (Innovations In Optics) and industrial design (Manta) capabilities.  Early endorsements, industry insights and market validation came from Dean Bruce Donoff of Harvard School of Dental Medicine and Doctor Gerard Kugel of Tufts University School of Dental Medicine. 

It takes a great ecosystem to build a company.  There are few places in the world that Brontes Technologies could have been born and built. Thank you Massachusetts.  

 

*This blog has 27 links; all of which are to Massachusetts-based individuals and institutions that contributed to making Brontes Technologies a success.  

 

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