Opportunity knocks for laser and electro-optics entrepreneurs

Working for someone else--whether in industry, academia, or even the government--often prompts dreams of starting your own business and being the boss. No matter if your goal is to provide superior service or design a better mousetrap, being an entrepreneur can be an attractive idea. Our high-technology industry is rife with opportunities for those willing to gamble on leaving a secure (or not so secure) corporate environment to take the plunge into entrepreneurship.

Opportunity knocks for laser and electro-optics entrepreneurs

Heather W. Messenger

Executive Editor

Working for someone else--whether in industry, academia, or even the government--often prompts dreams of starting your own business and being the boss. No matter if your goal is to provide superior service or design a better mousetrap, being an entrepreneur can be an attractive idea. Our high-technology industry is rife with opportunities for those willing to gamble on leaving a secure (or not so secure) corporate environment to take the plunge into entrepreneurship.

More than 2100 companies are listed in the 1995 Laser Focus World Buyers Guide. Yes, some are large companies, with hundreds of employees, but there are many more small companies, with only a handful of employees. Certainly, some big companies started small, and others are government contractors that probably grew large because of bureaucratic sprawl. But what is common to all private enterprise is someone who--either alone or with a partner or two--saw the need for a particular product or service and decided to start a company to bring a dream to reality.

Beginning in this issue, Milton Chang, a well-known entrepreneur in the electro-optics industry, shares his experience in launching and running high-technology businesses. His monthly "Business Engineering" series (see p. 61) will cover many aspects of bringing a laser and/or electro-optics business to fruition. We hope these articles will be useful to people toying with the idea of striking out on their own and to others already working in partnerships or small businesses. Today, even large organizations often hold groups within various divisions accountable for performing as "small businesses."

Several other articles were written by entrepreneurial authors. D. O. M. Associates developed a novel diode-based spectrometer (see p. 75). Picometrix was spun out of the Center for Ultrafast Optical Science at the University of Michigan to commercialize its experience in high-speed optical devices and measurements (see p. 141). Alenka Associates performs optical engineering; optical engineer Marija Scholl explains the control of stray light in infrared systems (see p. 133). These few examples illustrate how dreams and imagination can be translated into real opportunities.

EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD

Thomas Baer, Biometric Imaging; Dan Botez, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Phili¥Brierley, Pike Technologies; Jean Bulabois, CNRS, France; H. John Caulfield, Alabama A&M in Normal; G. J. Dixon, CREOL; Thomas Giallorenzi, Naval Research Laboratory; David C. Hanna, Southampton University, England; Lewis M. Holmes, American Institute of Physics; Bruce S. Hudson, University of Oregon; Ralph R. Jacobs, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory; Anthony Johnson, AT&T Bell Laboratories; Chinlon Lin, Bellcore; Gerard A. Mourou, University of Michigan; Masahiro Joe Nagasawa, TEM Co. Ltd., Tokyo, Japan; Dili¥K. Paul, Comsat Laboratories; Harvey Pollicove, University of Rochester; Leonard E. Ravich, Boxford, MA; Ralph A. Rotolante, Vicon Infrared; M. Ya. Schelev, General Physics Institute, Moscow, Russia; Robert R. Shannon, University of Arizona; James J. Snyder, Blue Sky Research; Orazio Svelto, Polytechnic Institute of Milan, Italy; Dinsheng Wang, Academia Sinica, Beijing, China; Colin E. Webb, Oxford University, England; Ahmed Zewail, California Institute of Technology; Joseph van Zwaren, Ministry of Science & Technology, Israel.

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