BC Grads Take Innovation Tips From a Beetle With NBD Nano

NBD Nano

Innovation is key to the constant evolution of our society—or so say Miguel Galvez and Deckard Sorensen, the co-founders of NBD Nano.

Galvez and Sorensen, both Boston College ’12, shared that it was at BC that the idea and growth of their company began. NBD Nano specializes in surface wettability products through the use of various coatings and additives. Galvez and Sorensen were both biology majors, and in their studies they encountered the Namib Desert beetle. The beetle, which is small and round with spindly legs and a bumpy, shining black shell, has the unique ability to alternate between hydrophobic and hydrophilic regimes. Inspired by this advanced trait, Galvez and Sorensen aimed to produce products that mimicked properties of the beetle’s back.

“This particular beetle can hold up to 12 percent of its weight in water, while alternating the properties of the surface of its back, something that we kept in mind as we developed our technology,” Sorensen said.

Once the idea was born, Galvez and Sorensen immediately immersed themselves in finding opportunities to further develop what would later become NBD Nano. The perfect opportunity arose in the spring with the Shea Center’s annual Venture Competition. The duo entered and was accepted into the first round as one of the five companies selected. Each company was given $1,000 and three months to develop their product and compose a 10-minute pitch to a panel of judges consisting of executives and entrepreneurs from the Boston area. With an immense amount of dedication and hours spent adjusting specifics, Galvez and Sorensen snatched first prize, which included $10,000 that went directly to the development of NBD Nano. Now located in Brighton in a 4,400 square-foot office and lab space, the startup has been operating for five years.

“There has been a lot of change in the last five years as innovation develops,” Galvez said.

While NBD Nano is constantly evolving its technology and working on new materials, right now the majority of its focus centers around three major products: fingerprint coding for glass, water-repellent glass, and water-repellent plastic additives.

In a typical day, the company starts off with product development meetings geared toward its specific products. The work of the startup also relies heavily on the collaboration of the scientists with whom Galvez and Sorensen work closely with each week. Together, the team figures out and manages what technology must be modified or prepared for customers in the coming days. As of now, the Brighton office retains 10 employees, along with two additional part-time employees in South Korea. Despite being a relatively new company, NBD Nano already has strong connections in North America, Asia, and Europe—showing its versatility all over the world.

And although NBD Nano has met impressive success as it has grown over the past years, Sorensen and NBD Nano made the Forbes 30 Under 30 List in 2015, the company has faced challenges just like many other startups.

“One of the biggest challenges with entering this market has been competing with others to work for large companies, while at the same time differentiating our product from everyone else’s,” Galvez said.

The duo has also faced quite a few other obstacles while building its company. Having come straight out of college and immediately founding their own startup, management skills were something that Galvez and Sorensen had to learn in the moment, growing from experience as issues arose. Another challenge was hiring employees. Galvez and Sorensen originally searched for candidates with Ph.D.s and other similar qualifications.

As Galvez and Sorensen look toward the future, and toward the direction that NBD Nano is heading in, they are optimistic. The duo hopes that NBD Nano will further establish its reach in the marketplace, while still continuing to increase revenue. They emphasized that the first few years very much revolved around research and finding the best market fit. Now having done so, opportunities for branching out are much more attainable, especially with a hopefully increased staff.

“Now that we’ve had some time to settle in, we are really seeing a lot of traction in product integration in some of the larger Fortune 500 companies which is really exciting,” Sorenson said.

Galvez and Sorensen’s story truly hits home with BC’s philosophy. They grew an idea that they developed on campus through hard work and persistence, have established themselves as a market force. Looking back, Galvez and Sorensen are most thankful for BC’s commitment to entrepreneurship, and the school’s ability to aid students in pursuing their interests.

In his attempt to give back, Galvez is now the co-chair of the BC Technology and Entrepreneurial Council, serving as a resource for current BC students as they develop their own ideas. As ideas and innovation continue to evolve throughout the world, Galvez and Sorensen hope to be apart of this change through their work with NBD Nano.

Featured Image Courtesy of NBD Nano