WRITER: Lauren Goldstein,
A technology company supported by Arrowhead Center, the economic development and innovation hub at New Mexico State University, has been recognized by the New Mexico Small Business Assistance program as one of 10 success stories during its annual Innovation Celebration.
Earlier this month, Arrowhead Center co-hosted an NMSBA Innovation Celebration event to recognize Arrowhead client and NMSU engineering student Mariel Vargas Haddad and her business, Timer Glove. Timer Glove is a smart gym glove to help track workout characteristics including number of reps and rests between sets.
The NMSBA program utilizes researchers of Sandia National Laboratories and Los Alamos National Laboratory to assist small businesses overcome technical challenges. Arrowhead Center, as partner to the NMSBA program, utilizes the expertise of faculty and staff for the same purpose. Each year, the organization identifies the top 10 NMSBA companies to recognize their accomplishments after NMSBA assistance. This year, the Innovation Celebrations were hosted at those business owners’ home communities to help build connections with other local businesses and economic development officials.
Vargas’s entrepreneurial journey started during a 2014 Startup Weekend event, where initial feedback sparked her excitement to continue with her innovation. Vargas reached out to Griselda Martinez, director of Arrowhead’s NMSBA program, who connected her with the program and Associate Professor Jay Misra in the NMSU Department of Computer Science for further product advancement. Misra’s students, Vicente Ibarra and Gaurav Panwar, also joined this effort, and Martinez became Vargas’ guide and mentor.
Vargas’ progress in the entrepreneurship and commercialization pipeline continued in 2016 with her pitch at Arrowhead Center’s Aggie Shark Tank, a student business investment pitch event based on the popular TV show, where she secured two investments totaling $50,000. With this funding, Vargas hired programmers and designers to further develop her technology. In March of this year, she placed third and secured $15,000 in funding at a business plan competition hosted by University of New Mexico’s Anderson School of Management.
“My success story is all about good advising and good opportunities,” Vargas said. “If you have an idea or see an opportunity, the time is now.”
Another Arrowhead Center client who shared a success story at the celebration was Mike Lisk, whose entrepreneurship experience started when he and his wife bought a ranch in Lincoln County in 2005. With an idea for how to manage water on the large property, Lisk became an Arrowhead Technology Incubator client, where he worked with Zetdi Sloan. Sloan and Griselda Martinez connected him to the NMSBA, which he called a “conduit” and “shepherd for the whole process.” Lisk’s water management technology has been implemented in McKinley County and the Navajo Nation, where it has already had a direct economic impact.
Lisk said the more an entrepreneur stays engaged with development opportunities, the more opportunities will unfold. “NMSBA and Arrowhead Center are important storytellers in that process,” he said.
Among the attendees and speakers who turned out for the Innovation Celebration were Sandia National Labs NMSBA program leader Genaro Montoya and project manager John Martinez; Kim Sherwood and Wendy Rue, both project managers at Los Alamos National Labs; Kathy Hansen, director of Arrowhead Center; NM Rep. Joanne Ferrary; Las Cruces City Councilor Olga Pedroza; Sunland Park Mayor Javier Perea; Christine Logan with the New Mexico Economic Development Department; Jo Ann Garay, director of the Small Business Development Center at Doña Ana Community College; and Chris Dunn, program coordinator for Studio G, Arrowhead’s student business accelerator.
Sandia NMSBA Project Manager John Martinez encouraged innovators to apply for NMSBA assistance.
“It’s an accessible, one-page online application, not an encyclopedia of knowledge to root through,” he said. “The NMSBA locates experts, engineers, and labs to help the innovator achieve results.”
Last year, this program as a public-private partnership created more than 5,700 jobs and assisted businesses in all 33 counties in New Mexico, he added.
For more information on NMSBA, contact Griselda Martinez, director of NMSBA at Arrowhead Center, at 575-646-7096 or visit arrowheadcenter.nmsu.edu/nmsba.