When we see great entrepreneurship in action, we want to share.
Kent Faith, pilot, entrepreneur, and founder and CEO of SpectrumFX, follows the classic model of successful entrepreneurship — with some unique sizzle all his own.
SpectrumFX markets Firebane®, a fire suppression agent that suppresses all spectrums of fires, which SpectrumFX provides in its LIFE (Lithium Fire Extinguishing) kits to the civil aviation and other commercial markets.
Here are some lessons from Kent’s playbook:
- An elevator pitch that really lights a fire under investor audiences – “I coat my hands arms with Firebane™, SpectrumFX’s fire suppression agent that suppresses all spectrums of fires and then use an 1,800-degree blowtorch from elbow to wrist without the tiniest burn.”
- Deep knowledge of the industry and its problems – “I picked an area that I know and had contacts in.” Kent has been a commercial airline pilot for more than 20 years. He has lived and breathed the risks of cabin fires at 35,000 feet.
- Licensed IP with unique properties – “We would be the only molten metal fire agent on a plane.” Firebane® can suppress lithium ion battery fires in seconds. It is non-toxic, safe to humans, and approved by the EPA as a Halon replacement
- Eyes-wide-open market segmentation to apply limited resources to a doable application with large scalable potential – “The threat and danger of fire is everywhere. People all over the world need this.” To gain traction and optimize resources and expertise, SpectrumFX is laser-focusing on the challenge of lithium ion battery fires in the passenger and flight control areas of jets. As the market for smart phones, tablets, and laptops continues to expand, there can be thousands of lithium ion batteries on a single flight. The firm has prioritized for the future fire risks in cargo holds, on automotive racetracks, in oil fields and data centers.
- Find an early adopter customer to demonstrate the business model and provide real product feedback. “We decided it was best to find a sponsoring airline. They’ve helped with multiple meetings and multiple demonstrations and have been outspoken about safety and led us numerous groups and associations worldwide.”
- Connect with current trends and familiar technologies to help customers position and identify with your solution more quickly – The LIFE kit supplements Halon, which is already used on planes with a rapid-to-market improvement. Firebane® is a green, biodegradable agent addressing people’s growing concerns about the ecological effects of chemicals.
- SpectrumFX has received two purchase orders from paying customers. The company intends to direct a Technology Business Finance Program (TBFP) award toward its early business development milestones.
- Be realistic about how long regulatory responses and approvals can take – “We are working to get the FAA on board. They have a job to do, but it is time consuming and can slow everyone down.” Most industries deal with one or more regulatory agencies. As a pilot, Kent recognizes the important role of the FAA. As an entrepreneur, he builds extra time into his plan.
- Early stage CEOs leads sales and market development – “If you can’t sell it, you don’t have it.” Kent, who grew up with a father who sold life insurance, calls on customers. He makes presentations to influential domestic and international associations, such as the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and Airlines for America (A4A), the nation’s largest airlines trade association, and National Air Carrier Association (NACA), a trade association of sixteen smaller carriers. “We created a PowerPoint, sent it to Hong Kong and made a sale off of that.”
- Build a multi-phase, multi-year product development plan – While SpectrumFX gains customer experience and early revenue with its LIFE kit, Kent is working on future plans that may include a Firebane® fire extinguisher to potentially replace Halon entirely in plane cabins and a standalone solution for cargo areas on planes and ships.|
- Use the help that’s out there for entrepreneurs – “Right now we are engaging with OSU-Tulsa’s Helmerich Research Center to develop IP for the fire extinguishing and cargo delivery systems. We are talking with OCAST to get some engineering students as interns. We’ve used i2E’s venture services and participated as a (Donald W. Reynolds) Governor’s Cup company.” The SpectrumFX team won first place in 2012’s graduate division.