Mastering business fundamentals for startup growth

With a doctorate in engineering from Case Western Reserve University, Simon Melikian knew a lot about building technology when he founded Recognition Robotics.

But he knew a lot less about building a business. So he came to GLIDE.

Watch Simon on WKYC“I probably would have failed otherwise,” says Melikian, founder, president and CEO of Recognition Robotics. “Maybe some people are born business savvy and can navigate the system, but not me.”

After launching his business in 2008, Melikian was challenged with selling his technology, which visually guides industrial robots. With only a working prototype, he began looking for investors but was quickly turned off by the demands of venture capitalists. He found a lifeline in GLIDE, which connected Melikian to the tools and resources he needed build his startup.

GLIDE co-directors Dennis Cocco and Cliff Reynolds recommended that the company pursue joint development, in which potential customers make a down payment on a product and the company uses the funding to commercialize it. By 2009, Melikian had enough money to commercialize a visual guidance system that could be incorporated into robots used in manufacturing. He has since been awarded more than 10 patents for his processes.

As Recognition Robotics became more successful, the company faced new challenges, including hiring employees and scaling for growth.

“When I hired my first employee, I really didn’t know how to hire,” Melikian says. “What do you offer as far as benefits, and what is the relationship between employee and employer?”

Once again, he turned to GLIDE for assistance, meeting regularly with his advisers to learn best practices in human resources and other key business areas.

“Coming from a purely technical background, it was not easy for me to understand employees,” he says. “It’s like rocket science. That is really important for a small business, because employee problems can literally kill a company.”

With GLIDE’s guidance on operating a business and dealing with employees, Melikian has Recognition Robotics on a growth track.

“During the first three years, I was on my own,” he says. “Now we have eight people, and with the strategy GLIDE worked out with me, we expect growth to be big.”

Watch Simon’s interview on WKYC.