From the Editor: In the Beginning …
Origin stories are almost always interesting. From the cosmic to the artistic to the romantic — “How did you two meet?” — knowing how something got its start can help us understand its present and, perhaps, get a bead on its future. Business ventures are the same way. Sometimes there’s a plan, sometimes there’s a dream, and sometimes there’s an aha moment that sets everything in motion.
As Valley News business writer John Lippman describes in this month’s cover story, Simbex co-founder Rick Greenwald’s aha moment came in 1991 while pursuing his doctorate in bioengineering at the University of Utah. After seeing some members of the U.S. Freestyle aerials team staring blankly into their beers at a party one night, and then later witnessing the skiers smack their heads on the snow during practice jumps, Greenwald set about exploring ways to measure those impacts with the hope that the data could help doctors and therapists prevent or treat head injuries.
Fast-forward to today: Greenwald leads Simbex, a Lebanon-based medical device company that has developed technology known as the Head Impact Telemetry System that allows coaches and trainers to measure and monitor the blows to the head suffered by their athletes. Further, the Army is incorporating similar technology (known as the Head Injury Dosimeter) into the helmets worn by soldiers.
There’s no way to measure how many brain injuries may have been avoided because of data provided by Simbex systems. But if just a small fraction of the millions of head impacts already measured would have led to serious injury, then Simbex has helped prevent a tremendous amount of human suffering — thanks, in part, to a few groggy skiers and an observant grad student.
For a very different collection of origin stories, I recommend this month’s Women and Business column, written by correspondent Jaimie Seaton. At a recent Hartford Area Chamber of Commerce breakfast event, several Vermont business owners who happen to be women talked about the challenges they faced starting their businesses. Kim Souza, owner of Revolution boutique in White River Junction, said she had a corporate job but left it to open a clothing store with “a big heart,” “wild expectations” and exactly “zero retail experience.” That was 15 years ago. Today, Revolution is a downtown cornerstone, and Souza is a regular participant in the town’s economic development efforts.
Peggy Allen, who owns Savage Hart Farm in White River Junction with her husband, Todd, is another corporate refugee — leaving her job in Chicago to start a sheep farm “having never even met a sheep.” Today, Savage Hart Farm products — yarn, meat, rugs — are sold in six retail outlets and at farmers markets. “We had these very different careers,” Allen told Seaton, “and jumped feet first into something we hadn’t done before.”
So that’s how it’s done. Aha!
— Ernie Kohlsaat