Featured Founder: Oren Milstein of StemRad
Welcome to our Featured Founder series, where you’ll meet startup founders from Tampa-St. Petersburg who are building and scaling their ventures to solve some of the world’s greatest challenges. We interviewed Oren Milstein, Co-Founder and CEO of StemRad, a developer and manufacturer of personal protective equipment (PPE) for radiation.
What were you doing previously and what inspired you to launch your company?
I was in the last stages of my postdoctoral studies in San Diego. While I was fascinated with the basic science I was involved in, I felt like I had something practical to contribute. Then, in 2011, the tsunami struck Japan and caused devastation of the nuclear reactor complex in Fukushima. That was my call to action.
What pain point is your company solving? What gets you excited to go to work every day?
We are solving one of the most considerable threats on human health in the modern age. Radiation is in proliferation mode, be it for energy, medicine or for military purposes. We have solutions that mitigate that threat, while also enabling surprising outcomes, like human space exploration into deep space, where radiation is also a concern. I'm excited to make a change I can see and feel.
Name the biggest challenge you faced in the process of launching the company. How did you overcome it?
My biggest challenge was my fear. Can I make something nobody else has? Will I be able to raise funds without a business background?
Where do you see your company headed next?
Well, we are already headed to places I couldn't have imagined only three years ago- we are going to the International Space Station this summer and around the Moon in 2020. Besides that, we are now entering the medical field with an outstanding solution for doctors operating in cath labs. All this while continuing to expand our sales into the first responder/nuclear energy market.
Give us a tactical piece of advice that you'd share with another founder just starting out.
If you think the world needs your solution, never give up. It will be very hard but, as Gandhi said, "first they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win"