News from the Ohio Venture Association meeting on May 9, 2008

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Keynote Address:

Flexible, Disposable Batteries Power Innovation in Emerging Applications

Gary Johnson
CEO, Thin Battery Technologies

Question: What do you get when you combine an environmentally friendly application that meets the needs of several emerging markets, with technology spun off from a Fortune 500 industry leader, all delivered at disruptively low production costs?

Answer: A potential entrepreneurial home run.

Speaking at OVA's May luncheon, Thin Battery Solutions CEO Gary Johnson explained how his company's disposable, low-cost, printable carbon-zinc batteries might just meet the demands of a huge and growing global market. "We're not using any exotic materials, which makes us both low-cost and an easily disposable product," Johnson noted. "But the secret sauce is how to make it printable at a very low cost."

The company, founded in 2002, is the result of a spinoff from Eveready Battery. Private investors, led by Cleveland-based Early Stage Partners, acquired the intellectual property, which included five years of research and development in the Eveready labs. The company has been working toward commercializing the proprietary process ever since. Three years ago, Thin Battery commenced limited production. The batteries are printed by subcontractors.

The target markets include such booming applications as smart cards, transdermal drug-delivery patches and RFID tags. The company also has a test project currently in production for a theme park, testing a wrist band that would help track customers around the park. Johnson passed around to the audience samples of the wafer-thin batteries, which are about the size of a credit card.

Johnson previously led Sawyer Research Products, a Cleveland-based international technology company, to a market-leading position. He holds a bachelors degree in electrical engineering and a master's in industrial administration from Purdue University.

The CEO admitted that the company has experienced some challenges in recruiting senior executive talent to Northeast Ohio. It identified two top industry performers, one in New York and another in Philadelphia, that it wanted to recruit. Neither was interested in relocating to Ohio, but the company hired them anyway, and both now work remotely.

To date, Thin Battery has raised $6.2 million in Series A funding. The organizational goal is simple: revenues of $100 million in five to seven years. Said Johnson: "We expect our gross margins will be in the realm of specialty chemicals--60% and higher."

More information:

Webcasts from the Meeting:

Click on the image below to view all four speakers.

Webcast produced by Mike Sutyak, The Entrepreneurial Learning Initiative.

Next Meeting:

June 13, 2008
Venture of the Year Award
Recognizing Whole Health Management

The Union Club
1211 Euclid Ave.
Cleveland, Ohio

See complete details and registration.

5-Minute Forums:

Inventor Designs Personal Power Generator

Tremont Electric has designed a personal power generator that can convert energy from a person walking or running into four watts of power, which can be used to power such devices as an iPod. "I'm using this device on a daily basis, by jogging and powering my iPod," said founder Aaron LeMieux.

Tremont Electric is seeking $300,000 to take the company to the revenue-generating phase.

For more information, contact Aaron LeMieux, at, call 440-821-1889, or go to

See complete presentation (PPT).

ICI Connects Power Substations to the Larger Network

Along with its strategic partner, Cisco Systems, Akron-based ICI Networks, LLC delivers Internet networking capacity services to the power substation market. Government mandates to better protect the nation's infrastructure are expected to create larger demand for these services.

For more information, contact Brian Casto, at, call 330-665-2928, or go to

AHRR Creates Emotionally Charged In-Store Experiences

American Hot Rod Racer allows children and their families to design, assemble, customize and race their own toy cars. It has a simple goal: to become the category killer in toy cars. It now has a single retail location. The company is in the process of raising $2.5 million to fund a number of additional locations.

For more information, contact Rick Maicki, at, call 216-269-5513, or go to

See complete presentation (PPS).

The 5-Minute Forum is an opportunity for business owners to make a 5-minute presentation at our monthly luncheon meeting for raising capital, identifying customers, establishing distribution, or recruiting management. See details.

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