So I graduate from the University of Florida (with honors) on a Saturday. The following Monday, I start at Hercules Defense Electronics Systems in Clearwater, Florida. No time to tour Europe and take some time to decompress. BYW, if you never heard of Hercules other than mythology, Hercules got bought out by Alliant Techsystems, a pretty big Department of Defense contractor.
When I started working at Hercules, my first job a brand new engineer, it’s all roses.The Gulf War was won, George H. Bush is in office and the defense contracts are looking solid. Then Clinton gets elected and the defense funding dries up and I figure I better look for a job in the commercial industry before I get “right-sized”.
Through a college buddy, the power of networking, I got an interview at Motorola. Motorola was beddy beddy good to me. I learned so much there. It was like a 13 year long boot camp. I had a new manager almost every six months. I learned from the good and the bad. I was promoted 6 times in 13 years. Though not a record, pretty impressive. I made some great friends and I mentored a lot of great young talent.
I also was granted six patents that Motorola owns, darn pre-employment contracts. The inventions never made it to production but I learned a great deal about intellectual property. I was a member of a virtual patent review committee where on-line I would review patent disclosures submitted by fellow Motorola employees. I would do prior art searches and make recommendation to the legal department whether or not a patent application should be pursued. I reviewed hundreds of ideas, some dumb as dirt, some that were pretty clever and actually patentable.
While at Motorola, my wife encouraged me to pursue a Masters degree. It’s a good thing I did it then before my son was born. I got my MBA in two years (full time classes and working full time) and at the same time we bought a house and totally renovated it. Young and stupid. By the way, I graduated with high honors. Thank you Karen for believing in me and giving me the push I needed, I love you.
Then, in the summer of 2007, I was down-sized. The writing was on the wall. But I took it HARD. Thankfully, we were able to sell our house in Ft. Lauderdale for a 200% profit before the housing market went through a meltdown.
I started with Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications in RTP, NC at the end of the summer of 2007. Sony Ericsson was picking up market share that Motorola was loosing. I went from one sinking ship to another. After 13 months at Sony Ericsson, I was laid off … again (that’s the déjà vu part). If my dog died and my truck broke down it would sound like a county song.
This time I took it much better. I was out of work for five months and I spent a lot of time on the mountain top seeking God. We have a mountain, notice I say a mountain, called Occoneechee Mountain. It’s the highest point in Orange county NC at 867 feet. I just needed direction. I realized that I stopped setting goals. I achieved most of the professional goals I set early in my career. I went to graduate school, I was a manager and I had 6 issued patents (OK, the goal was 10). I stopped dreaming and stopped growing.
Through a series of events I started looking at developing some ideas I had cooking in the back of my mind and started making plans to take them to market. Since I knew how to run a 3-D CAD program, I got a SolidWorks license so I could design my products and make SLA prototypes. I have a lot of experience with plastic injection molding so a lot of my designs are designed with that in mind. I also started to learn Adobe Illustrator so I can create the graphics and packaging artwork to communicate my patent pending designs to potential licensees or business partners.
I set up a LLC which was a no brainer. I can’t figure out why the legal form filing services are so popular. My next step is to apply for provisional patent applications for the products where it makes sense.I want to see if I can get some companies interested in licensing some of my designs. For others I may launch out on my own and sell through my company.
So that is me in a pretty big nutshell. The story is not over, we’ve only just begun.
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