Aaron Crumm: A 10x Value Proposition and IP

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Adaptive Materials (AMI) makes fuel cells that provide a 10x improvement over battery power. Aaron Crumm, AMI's president, describes how the company started and how the company has protected its IP.

In this 8 minute segment (download iPod compatible, 41MB), Aaron Crumm lays out the value proposition for Adaptive Materials, Inc. (AMI). AMI makes fuel cells for the military and high-end electronics applications. Fuel cells typically provide ten times (10x) the energy per weight as batteries resulting in a substantial weight savings for users. AMI has developed a unique, patented process for making fuel cells with ceramics and propane. The use of ceramics grew out of Aaron's PhD work at University of Michigan.

In a manufacturing business, like AMI's, based on unique processes, patent or intellectual property (IP) protection is critical. Aaron views patents as the rite of entry to compete in the market. They allow him to negotiate with large firms that might otherwise swallow his markets. The protect his core business by providing road blocks to near competitors and a ring fence to keep them out.

In future segments, we will discuss AMI's manufacturing and distribution strategy.

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» IP Protection from Clarke Keranen

I really enjoyed the segment with Aaron Crumm discussing how he started his business Adaptive Materials Inc.. Of course, the fact that he holds a Phd. from U of M doesnt't hurt, but I can really respect him for using... Read More

2 Comments

I just discovered your blog and as a fellow Michigander, I LOVE it. Thanks!
Chris Angle on November 17, 2008 6:49 PM
This interview series is with Aaron Crumm; founder of Adaptive Materials. Adaptive Materials makes fuel cells for U.S. military soldiers. These fuel cells are able to keep the soldiers substantially lighter; weighing in at about two or three pounds compared to twenty or thirty pounds for that of its alternative. This is known as “true 10x” something of which Adaptive Materials is in constant pursuit. There are three aspects that Adaptive Materials looked for when first entering the market. The first, something which they can do well; they are very good at fuel cell production. The second, where is the best market; Adaptive Materials decided that the military sector would be best because they would be able to charge a higher price, compared to civilian sector, and still be cheaper that the competition. Third, what best fits with the capabilities of the small business; Aaron Crumm is a material scientist, they “don’t make things, they just make things better.” Combine this with Aaron’s previous education and this was a perfect market for Adaptive Materials. The last portion of the interview focused on IP, or intellectual property. Adaptive Materials owns significant patents on fuel cell technology. Aaron also discussed IP strategy; one should also patent all variations of the concept when getting a patent. This creates a fence around your idea that can not be changed slightly and marketed by another company. Another aspect of IP discussed is cross-license in which both parties are allowed to trespass on each other’s IP consensually so both parties benefit.

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