Brad Treat is an entrepreneur and educator with significant experience launching and leading startups, especially those with a technical underpinning. As both an instructor for UNY I-Corps Node’s regional courses and an adjunct instructor for I-Corps Teams, Treat leverages his expertise as a startup founder. SightSpeed, one of three companies he has founded, sold for $30 million to Logitech.
Additionally, Treat dedicates his time to mentoring new and aspiring entrepreneurs. He is an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Cornell University, Rev: Ithaca Startup Works, and the Southern Tier Startup Alliance, where he also serves as the program director. In addition to these mentorship roles, Treat teaches entrepreneurship at Cornell University and Ithaca College.
We connected with Treat to learn out more about his time as an I-Corps instructor and insights for new entrepreneurs.
Q: What motivated you to become an I-Corps instructor?
Brad Treat: As someone who regularly worked with technologists looking at the path toward commercialization, the I-Corps program formalized and streamlined the process. I was able to be much more efficient in helping more entrepreneurs using the I-Corps approach.
Q: What one piece of advice do you have for new entrepreneurs?
BT: Focus on the needs of the customer. Great businesses understand their customers so well because they understand their underlying motivations.
Q: Of the startup teams you have instructed, are there any success stories that come to mind? Where is/are those team(s) now?
BT: Harvey Tian, a Cornell alumnus (PhD, MEng) and founder of Inso Biosciences, completed an I-Corps regional course that I taught a few years ago. According to Tian, that regional course helped him pivot what the biotech startup was doing and sent them down a new path with a customer-needs focus. With this new focus, Inso Bio has secured paying customers, been accepted to an incubator, and secured over $300K in non-dilutive grants. Most recently, they closed $2.275 million in financing.
Q: After learning about so many different customer markets, can you share a market or customer problem that still requires a solution/has great demand?
BT: Batteries and energy storage. There is so much demand and promise for it, but this industry in particular is especially secretive and difficult to understand.