TriboTEX Smart-Coating Nanotechnology Startup
The Story Behind The Story
TriboTEX, BTE Bootcamp 2016 Alumni and Palouse Challenge Winner, is a “clean-tech startup specializing in nano-structured coatings,” with products ranging from application in cars, wind turbines, gun barrels, and more. TriboTEX was founded by Dr. Pavlo Rudenko, with origins in graduate research, gradually building to receive funding from research funding agencies such as the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy via the Hydropower Research Foundation, and NASA.
The TriboTEX team enjoyed the fast pace of BTE Bootcamp, and the opportunities to learn alongside their colleagues about business strategies, sales, negotiation, and “the art of the pitch.” Learn more about this fabulous team in their interview below:
Q: Tell us about TriboTEX. Who are you, and what is your business/product?
TriboTEX is a clean-tech startup specializing in nano-structured coatings. The coatings are engineered to enhance lubrication and provide regenerative effects for mechanical parts during normal operation. Our automotive end user product, called CarBoss, is formulated for use in passenger vehicles and comes in an easy to use syringe. After dispersion into the oil compartment the product forms a thin film coating around the engine components to reduce friction. The coating adds a finite thickness to compensate for accumulated wear, effectively reversing it. As a result older vehicles return to near new fuel efficiency, compression, and emission profiles. While automotive applications are easy to understand the real value is industrial, military and power generating applications where repair without downtime and longevity boost is a highly desired technology.
Q: How did your business begin?
Founded in Pullman, Washington by Dr. Pavlo Rudenko, the company CTO. TriboTEX organically grew from graduate research into a local company. Initially traction was achieved through various business plan competitions and obtained funding from research funding agencies including the National Science Foundation (NSF), Department of Energy via Hydropower Research foundation as well as NASA. TriboTEX has now grown to develop a range of products for automotive and industrial applications. We even offer specialty treatment for firearm barrels aimed at gun enthusiast called AccuDure.
Q: Why did you decide to attend BTE Bootcamp?
Palouse Knowledge Corridor is an extreme combination of huge knowledge potential as well as academic resources accumulated within WSU, U of I, and local technology companies. All this combined with a small town atmosphere where community support is at highest level possible. For us sharing our progress with the community and learning about resources available locally was the most important reason to attend.
Q: What was your experience with attending BTE Bootcamp?
The BTE Bootcamp was a very fast paced and enjoyable week. We appreciated the opportunity to learn with our colleagues about evaluating ideas and their potential to become a viable business opportunity, bootstrapping strategies for startups, market analysis, sales and negotiation, and the art of the pitch. It was enlightening to find out about the variety resources available for startups, right here, on the Palouse. The different speakers brought valuable hands on experience and helped our startup network with many talented professionals. We discussed many ideas on how to take our startup to the next level particularly in the area or marketing and sales. Due to the mentorship of the BTE Bootcamp team, our team is more comfortable pitching to clients and closing deals.
Q: You won the Palouse Challenge. What did that mean for your business?
The Palouse Challenge was a very thought provoking exercise. Feedback from the first round of presentations provided insightful points that shaped our final pitch to the judge’s panel. Winning the competition was a moment of validation for the changes we incorporated into our presentation. The Palouse Challenge also generated some local media attention for TriboTEX.
Q: How has your business changed/grown since BTE Bootcamp?
Since the BTE Bootcamp our business has changed in two ways: we have built a larger network of connections and we have started to gain more exposure through conferences, events, and trade shows. We connected with several lubricant related businesses on the East Coast for testing our nano-materials in combination with their products, generating exceptional results. The exposure we received at bootcamp resulted in a local newspaper feature. Local publicity has been beneficial for forming relationships with mechanics and fleets in the greater Palouse area. We have continued to expand the network of people that are using our product and have begun selling thru local mechanic shops. We also met several agricultural companies at the Palouse Empire Fair that expressed interest in using our products and offering it for resale.
Q: What is your biggest take-away from BTE Bootcamp?
Our biggest take away from BTE Bootcamp came from the sales and marketing speakers. We also enjoyed seeing our own progress through the Bootcamp workshops culminated into our successful pitch to VC investors at final round.
Q: What are your near-future and long-term goals with TriboTEX?
Our near-future goal with TriboTEX is to launch a successful crowd funding campaign on Kickstarter and to attend more trade shows. For a long-term goal we would like to have our product in each and every mechanical device ranging from wind turbines to small engines and electric and non-electric cars to make them more efficient and lasting.