Catching up with Mike Molaire, CEO of Molecular Glasses
by Jinelle Shengulette for Democrat and Chronicle
Five months ago, Mike Molaire and his team moved into Eastman Business Park to work on their new venture, Molecular Glasses.
The space is very familiar to Molaire, who spent a great deal of time on the same floor of the same building as a former 36-year Kodak employee.
“I know this space and what to expect. Things are a little bit different from when I was working there years ago, but it has all the things we need to make materials. We have a relatively small lab right now, but we have room to expand once we grow,” said Molaire, who left Kodak in 2010.
He started Molecular Glasses as a DBA in 2013 and incorporated the business last year. Molaire works alongside business partners and former Kodak colleagues Mark Juba and Dr. David Weiss.
The research and development group has developed organic light-emitting diode (OLED) materials that work like semiconductors and will eventually be used to manufacture lower-cost and higher-performance TVs, smartphones tablets, lighting devices and more.
Last year, Molecular Glasses was chosen to participate in a program called NEXUS-NY, sponsored by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and managed by High Tech Rochester.
The program provided much-needed financial support and the opportunity to conduct customer discoveries.
“We spent three months last year talking to potential customers, finding out what problems they have and making sure that we have a useful solution to their problems. You don’t want to find out two years from now that you have a solution no one wants,” said Molaire, 65.
We spoke recently with the CEO/founder, a Haiti native and current Penfield resident, about coming up with $500,000 in the next six months, making use of industry contacts and more.
On founding Molecular Glasses: “When I left Kodak, it was a very difficult time because the economy was very bad. I was surprised that I couldn’t find employment, even with all my skills, because the market was flooded. I started consulting and did that for a couple years. But I spent my life inventing, so I looked around to see where there was a need that I could make a contribution. I started looking at OLED and some of the problems they were having, and I thought I could find a solution. So I decided to try.”
Raising capital: “We’ve been able to raise close to $170-180K from grants, including the NEXUS program. We recently had a Department of Energy grant to make the devices using our materials and test them. That helped us get the data we need to start talking to customers. We are at a critical point right now where we need to get equipment in our lab, and we need to hire chemists. So we’re talking to a seed funding company here, and some of our potential customers have their own venture groups. We’re working very hard to secure additional $500,000 in the next two to three months.”
Finding potential customers: ”We’re using our contacts in the industry. OLED was invented at Kodak, and Kodak sold that business and a lot of the people dispersed across the globe. So we used that to get directly in contact with decision makers. We also participate in technical conferences and tradeshows. Last year, I gave a presentation at a tradeshow in Munich, Germany that deals with organic electronics and met a few people there. We already have at least four companies that have shown an interest in our materials.”
Forging forward: “We need to secure the financing we need to be able to make samples to supply to potential customers so they can evaluate them. Within the next six months, we want to have those samples delivered so that once the potential customer gets to see the material and test them themselves, we can move to the next phase of starting to get some agreement in place.”
For information: Molecular Glasses, 1667 Lake Ave., Rochester, NY 14615. Call (585) 210-2861 or go to www.molecularglasses.com.
Jinelle Shengulette is a Rochester-area freelance writer.
©2016 Democrat and Chronicle