My background as an entrepreneur
My current challenges
IP Protection Getting the right IP lawyer, one with experience and expertise in the fire protection field and can help us navigate the patent process and can add value to the Claims section of a patent. Also, should the formula remain a company secret and centralize production (very cumbersome and a no-go with some customers) or do we license the technology with exclusive rights?
Licensing I am currently working with 4 companies on different industries and geographies. One in Dubai wants a fireproof epoxy to coat the exterior of their mega-scale projects. Do I protect the formula, give it to them and trust they will uphold our agreement?
R&D Most companies currently interested are willing to do some R&D on their part. At this point it would be wise to leave some room for expansion to do our own R&D and serve other markets as well. Not get boxed in with many exclusive licensing agreements.
Funding VCs want proof validated by 3rd parties. I produced videos and data to prove the concept for customers to accept as a first step. They will do their own validation which I can then share with VCs to finally get the funding required for R&D, IP and small scale manufacturing. This approach is taking a very long time and I am limited on what I can manufacture for customers, but it is what I am currently working on. Does this seem realistic? Is there a better way?
Actions I’ve taken so far
Took part in the BBC documentary that has brought in more attention
In the last 8 months I have seen increased inquiries by large companies both US and abroad. NDAs have been executed with the most promising companies (those that have a clear application for the technology and ask for samples).
Produced and sent samples for verification to LAPP in Germany, which they verified for their fire proof cabling applications and now want a large scale sample.
Produced video tests with temperature data of acrylic-based samples and sent to Dubai, Germany and a company in Ohio. All are interested in integrating this into their products.
Reached out to many IP lawyers and large firms, have seen some interest but no concrete reaction so far.
Validated BOEING's laser tests with our own at Georgiatech, plus the product's longevity was also validated after 18+ years in storage.
My future goals
My main objective is to get capital, set up a lab and develop patent applications to be able to commercialize the technology. I am not closed to the idea of an acquisition by a larger company.
Immediately - Develop stable formulations that would enable Thermashield to file for IP protection and secure customer's attention to license a range of products. Scope: Rent a small facility with basic equipment to source raw materials and produce small-scale samples. 3rd party a chemical expert to help develop several repeatable formulations. Contact or partner with a patent law firm to polish intellectual property and develop a plan to file. Conduct testing and media collection to share with future partners and investment companies. Upgrade our website and internet presence.
Deliverables: IP drafted A product portfolio that covers the priority product applications.
Mid term - Years 2 and 3 Objective: file for IP protection and expand. Scope: Polish several patent applications with feedback from partners and file for IP protection. Draft commercial agreements by exclusivity, geography, application, etc. Scale up production and acquire more advanced equipment such as an extruder, mixer, sieve, etc. Certify products to each market’s certification requirements(ISO, ASTM, UL, etc).
Deliverables: Patent Pending status Commercial agreements with 3 or more customers.
Years 4+ Grow the company and expand its product portfolio by penetrating other market segments.
My motivations to work with a mentor
I need advice to break through the current cycle, find someone I can trust to develop ideas and get more confidence in the company strategy.
Also, introducing Starlite into California circles for its evident applications in the state.
About my venture
Thermashield, LLC Started 2013
I am looking for help/advice Patenting, Developing, capitalizing the company and Licensing our product “Starlite”. Our startup is in the chemical field, specifically high temperature fire barriers. The technology was discovered 30 years ago but was never marketed or patented by its inventor, its performance is unique, my company has sole ownership of it and we are facing growing demand from companies around the world.
The BBC London made 2 documentaries on it, we feature heavily on the second part. Part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NzIjkvRI7To&list=PL2KEtU5wGx-F9mvBeJKT5TRLl2aWWmPdh
Part 2: The BBC London made 2 documentaries on it, we feature heavily on the second part: https://www.bbc.com/reel/video/p09g0qfv/the-wonder-material-that-protects-against-nuclear-blasts-
Advice on strategy would be greatly appreciated. We seem to be caught in a catch-22 with customers wanting product, us not being able to fulfil the demand because of lack of funds and IP protection, unable to reach potential investors because of lack of validation and not having the funds to do proper R&D and patent protection to fully validate the product's performance. I'm looking for ideas, recommendations on how to break through this cycle.
Most of the demand is for exterior cladding applications. I have already shot video proof with data, signed NDAs and sent out a few samples that have been verified to work by potential customers, who then naturally want to progress to the next step for which I need IP protection, trademarks and licensing agreements. According to a PhD in Berkeley, an application with strong demand is wildfire protection by integrating our technology into existing building products such as exterior siding, railings, trim, etc. This is something I'd like to explore given the threat of wildfires in California.
I have a status summary, a VC pitch and a business plan that I am happy to share if more information is wanted. Additionally, all details pertaining to the acquisition of the technology and company formation.
Thank you very much for your time, Rafael CEO
Countries of operation: United States of America