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Technology Entrepreneurship Initiative

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Cbana Labs, Inc.

Where do you turn when a revolutionary $250 gizmo has too many target markets?

Craig Nickel of The Marco Company

Company: Cbana Labs, Inc.

Technology: Handheld Gas Sensing Systems

Tim Hoerr, who presently serves a number of high tech start-up companies including Cbana Labs located in the University of Illinois Research Park, ImmuVen, Dioxide Recycle and Diagnostic Photonics. He previously served as co-founder and CEO of iCyt, a rapidly growing bioscience technology firm recently acquired by a Fortune 100 company. In 2009, Tim received the Entrepreneurial Excellence in Management Award sponsored by the University of Illinois and Champaign County Economic Development Corporation.

Identify the most appropriate target markets for a newly developed, handheld gas-sensing device that provides on-site, immediate results. Because the device can potentially sense everything from narcotics and explosives to factory pollutants; because it can detect cancer indicators or an aircraft engine's gas flow; multiple markets needed to be researched to identify the "best fit" for initial introduction of the technology.

Contract for the services of an i5 Team* through Baylor's Technology Entrepreneurship Initiative (TEI).

Reports CEO Tim Hoerr, "After the i5 student teams turned in their research findings, we arrived at an about-face regarding one of the target markets we expected to be primary. The i5 Team identified major roadblocks that would be costly and slow sales to a crawl. They uncovered issues we had never considered. If we'd spent the entire $2,500 only to learn that, it would have been worth it. Yet there was much more."

Hoerr continues, "I found it extremely helpful to have a team doing that volume of research on our behalf. The quality of the information was terrific. They took on a real question we at Cbana Labs have to solve. There's no 100% correct answer or any guarantee that we'll select the right markets. But the i5 Program teams helped increase our odds of success."

"The students were sharp and engaged in the process," said Tim Hoerr. "They fully dissected each of the markets we wanted to investigate (law enforcement, industrial processing, healthcare) and provided very professional presentations. It was terrific to receive i5's data in a format that will help us think better and differently about our options. We're now equipped with tools to evaluate those opportunities. It was well worth our investment of time and money."

  • At the end of 2008, Tim Hoerr meets with TEI's director Dr. Greg Leman concerning the opportunity.
  • In a few weeks, TEI prepares and delivers a proposal to Cbana describing the project objective, scope and approach. Cbana accepts the proposal and is ready to go!
  • At the beginning of the 2009 spring semester, Hoerr arrives in Waco to give a presentation to the i5 Team and answer the students' specific questions.
  • Further queries and replies continue through phone calls and emails.
  • i5 Team launches its primary research project.
  • Final data and results are compiled by mid-April.
  • Hoerr returns to Waco at the end of April to receive the i5 research results and presentations.