Meet Theodore Kalmbach, who officially joined BNNano as the Chief Strategy Officer in September 2020. Earlier in his career, Theodore worked as a strategy consultant for Accenture in Germany within the automative and energy sectors. He then worked for a DoD think tank before spending over a decade as a diplomat for the U.S. Department of State. Theodore had postings in Afghanistan, the Philippines, and Austria along with parts of Africa and the Middle East. So, he has an understanding of how and where BNNano’s technology can be of greatest use in support of national security.
Co-founded by Steve Wilcenski and Jason Taylor (CEO and CTO respectively) BNNano is one of the few organizations with a commercially viable manufacturing process for Boron Nitride Nanotubes.
From the start, they set the tone for the company culture of dedication, transparency, and passion for all that BNNano can achieve.
BNNano has actively engaged and spoken to a wide variety of groups locally, nationally, and internationally not only to familiarize customers with the company’s products but also to the various industries it serves. Because the NanoBarbs™ can do so much, multiple industries inherently benefit.
Path Breaking Products
As for the journey of BNNano, the vision from inception was to create a novel technology directly tied to an identified market need. The focus was on needs over wants and has remained lean throughout BNNano’s expansion. The organization started with the financial support of a couple of angels and true friends and family. The first two years were focused on the creation of the NanoBarbs™ technology.
Since then, new product lines have steadily been introduced to the market. Currently, the organization has three product lines;
NanoBarb™ Powder – BNNano sells a proprietary morphology of Boron Nitride Nanotubes that is branded as the NanoBarb™. The NanoBarb™ is a Boron Nitride Nanotube that is cladded on the exterior surface with hexagonal boron nitride nanoparticles. This unique morphology has an irregular surface that limits and increases matrix interface interactions.
Compounded NanoBarb™ Plastics and Polymers – These materials are supplied in either filament form for Additive Manufacturing or Chips for Injection Molding and other processes. The materials include PolyCarbonate, PEEK, PEKK, Nylon, Polyester, and Ultem. These plastics and polymers are enhanced with our NanoBarbs™.
NanoBarb™ Aluminium – Aluminium enhanced with BNNano’s NanoBarbs™. NanoBarb™ aluminum can be supplied in 2 forms. 1) as a pellet to be added to molten aluminum during the alloying process. 2) In aluminum ingot form. Theodore and the whole team of BNNano have created a product that provides significant improvements in a wide variety of materials – and BNNano is the only Boron Nitride nanotube company that can produce at a large scale. For example, it already has produced more Boron Nitride nanotubes than everyone else in the history of the material combined. It goes back to BNNano’s founding principle of creating something with direct market use.
Challenges for a New Company
Theodore believes, one of the main challenges of any new company is funding. BNNano is honored by the early investments from true friends and family just a year ago raised more than $1 million on Netcapital. BNNano is the first company in North Carolina to crowdsource $1 million.
With funding, comes the challenge (and opportunity) to allocate wisely across the business. Since BNNano’s focus has always been on needs over wants, this allocation came naturally. The company’s product can be used in so many different industries, which in itself creates both opportunities (in the form of new business) and challenges in the form of retaining focus on key product lines. These are good problems to have and BNNano’s team is enjoying the process.
Building Long term Relationships
According to Theodore, every customer has their own set of unique engineering and business challenges. Theodore and the entire team of BNNano see it as their responsibility to not only provide expert guidance on their technology but to do their best to put themselves in the shoes of their customers, in terms of desired use cases for their products. The better BNNano’s team understands what the customers need and want, the more prolific BNNano’s technology can be for them.
Theodore says, “Everyone on the BNNano team has come from larger organizations. Beyond the engineering creativity associated with a new company, a major draw for all of us was to work with people we admire, in an organization the pride itself on professionalism and care for all team members.” He adds, “With all that our product can do and the market share that we believe we can carve out, motivation has not been a problem since inception.”
Bright Future Ahead
Theodore sees a bright future for BNNano. The organization has bought on top talent, it has product lines that are solving the hard problems across aerospace, defense, additive manufacturing, and many other areas. The company also has strategic partnerships with top institutions and advisors.