President and managing member of Dimien LLC, Brian Schultz, has spent much of the last decade working toward a goal.
That goal, to create “clean tech” chemical products that can be used in everyday life, is now within reach.
Schultz’s main product, E3 View, a window film which rejects heat when the weather is warm (saving on AC), and lets heat pass through when the temperature drops, is in the final stages of closing on a contract with a partner, in the hopes of hitting a test market by the end of 2018.
“At Dimien, we’re looking to introduce new chemicals that will improve existing technology,” Schultz noted. “All of our products are in clean tech, so they all reduce energy in some way or generate electricity.” He noted that there are two other products in development: a lubricant additive that is antiwear, which will eliminate the need to change the oil in your car; and a magnesium ion battery that improves energy storage.
Schultz’s brainchild is based out of the University at Buffalo, where the idea first took shape.
“I chose to go to the University at Buffalo to get my Ph.D. (in chemistry),” Schultz said. “While doing research at UB, I saw an opportunity to start a business, and that’s really where it all began.”
Throughout his time at the University at Buffalo, Schultz received several awards and grants through the National Science Foundation, Small Business Innovation Research, Panasci Competition, and NYSERDA, which further fueled his passion for chemistry.
Finding success quickly, Schultz knew he wanted to take his idea in a definitive direction that may have strayed from basic research. He decided from there to venture on his own.
“In chemistry, there’s fundamental research that occurs all the time, but that really wasn’t enough for me,” explained Schultz. “I was more about applied research and using my skills in chemistry to make products that impact people’s lives. My biggest motivator was to get out of that world and be closer to making finished products that made a difference.”
As the company began to take shape, Schultz found that, although he had many ideas, the business world was a whole different animal.
“As an entrepreneur, there are lots of little tiny bumps that you’re going to run into, and you have to take that into account,” Schultz noted. “If you’re remodeling a house, and you’re missing a screwdriver, you can just go to the store. With us, if we’re missing something, it may take a month to get what you need.
“Supply chain was very difficult,” he continued. “With chemical manufacturing, we’ve had some custom equipment where our PO delivery was three months and it ended up taking nine to get our PO filled. That kind of stuff for a startup can kill you. As a startup, you want to make things for people quickly, and that was the hard thing to realize--that real business operates on a very long time frame.”
Though Dimien has had to face some of the typical issues startups face, it has also received support from numerous outlets.
“We’ve been helped out by several academic partners. Working at the University at Buffalo facilities has been huge, and we have a good relationship with Texas A&M,” Schultz noted. “We’re also NY-BEST members because we have the aforementioned battery technology.”
As the company began working with these and several other partners in the actual development of products, it was important for Schultz to grow Dimien by building a strong team of employees.
“Right now, we have four employees, and they are all University at Buffalo graduates,” said Schultz. “My first goal is to attract local talent that is young, motivated, and fits the personality of Dimien, going forward.”
Shultz typically looks to hire recent graduates, preferably those who have participated in clubs or societies.
“We want people here that have taken the time to do things,” he said. “If you are willing to join a club, you show you are involved and you are motivated to get things done. That’s who we want.”
Schultz also wants to stay in Buffalo and become fully engrained in its entrepreneurial culture, because he has seen how far the city has come in a short period of time.
“I started this five years ago, and the entrepreneurial scene was a lot different (then),” he said. “The incubator that I’m at is full all of the time, which wasn’t the case when we first came here. I’ve been to a lot of different cities for different events, and Buffalo is pretty high on the list for an entrepreneurial scene, especially for the size of the city.”
Now that his company is gaining success in the chemical manufacturing world of Buffalo, Schultz noted a few important lessons that he has picked up along the way.
“If there is one thing I wish I focused on more when starting off as an entrepreneur, it would be writing and communications skills,” Schultz said. “You have to understand that you constantly sell yourself, sell your idea, and sell your company.”
He also noted that being proactive and opportunistic has been extremely beneficial.
“I rarely say no to opportunities,” he said. “In the beginning, you have to say yes to almost every opportunity, or up until a point that you have so many that you have to be selective. If you’re really serious about entrepreneurship, you need to take every opportunity you get. That is how you expand your network. If you make a one-on-one connection, at some point you can always go back to that, and it can help your company. My strategy is to really have strong one-on-one relationships, because you need a champion, someone on the inside that will have your back when you move forward with a customer segment or investment firm.”
When asked to reflect on where he is with his project, Schultz noted that there is a lot of work still to be done, but revels in the position he has put himself in as an entrepreneur.
“It’s awesome, I love running my own company,” Shultz said. “For all of the struggles of being an entrepreneur, there is nothing better than getting to a point where you’ve accomplished something you set out to do. I built a team of people, advisors, and resources, and turned a startup into a functioning company."