Nearly 50% of all startups fail within the first 5 years, and those in the technology industry have the highest rate of failure in the United States. Those are daunting odds for even the brightest minds like Hicham Ghossein, CEO of the startup Endeavor Composites. But he’s not intimidated because he has a team of professional support, starting with IACMI – The Composites Institute.
“When my advisor in grad school, Dr. Uday Vaidya, was selected to be the Chief Technology Officer for IACMI, I followed him to Tennessee,” says Hicham. Hicham already had two masters from the University of Alabama at Birmingham—in Applied Physics and Materials Science & Engineering—before earning his PhD in Mechanics of Composites at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UT). “IACMI introduced me to projects that became part of my PhD research and provided letters of support which played an important role in winning a $450,000 fellowship from Innovation Crossroads. That’s how I became an entrepreneur,” Hicham adds. But as IACMI has found, it’s not starting a company that’s the hard part; it’s traversing the Innovation Valley of Death.
“There can be a wide gap between a great idea and a profitable product,” says Dale Brosius, Chief Commercialization Officer for IACMI. “When we convene, connect, and catalyze the composites ecosystem—including small and large companies, academia, and government labs—IACMI bridges that gap. Those connections can be the difference between success and failure.”