Fuentek’s most recent mentions in the news
Writing on her consulting firm’s blog, Laura Schoppe, founder and president of Fuentek, LLC, provided a summary of some key ideas offered at UIDP’s recently held “U-I Engagement Outside Major Metropolitan Areas” workshop held at the University of Arkansas. She cited local economic development as a major theme among attendees, noting a common challenge of attracting and retaining good talent at the university, in the community, and at companies.
Fuentek, LLC, one of the world’s leading technology transfer consulting companies, is excited to announce Laura A. Schoppe, president, was elected as the new Board Chair for the AUTM Foundation. The AUTM Foundation creates awareness, builds relationships, and secures financial support for initiatives and programs that benefit AUTM and the profession of university technology management. “Laura Schoppe is the best person to guide the Foundation’s rapidly expanding work,” said Kelly Markey, AUTM Foundation’s executive director. “Her career aligns perfectly with the Foundation’s core initiatives—to educate, communicate, advocate and innovate.”
More than $150 billion in federal funding is invested in R&D annually in the United States. A key question is whether or not we are getting the maximum return on that investment. Right now, the answer is that we could do better.... I recently had the privilege of moderating a panel at the 2018 R&D 100 Conference that explored these issues in depth. The Tech Scout Relay Panel brought together a stellar cast representing a diverse range of interests, backgrounds and organizations to discuss the challenges that come with identifying, channeling and leveraging emerging technologies into business opportunities. Our panelists included Dr. Terry Russell, Managing Director of Interface Ventures; Laura A. Schoppe, President of Fuentek LLC; George Gibson, Director of Technology Scouting at Xerox Corporation; and Jack G. Abid, Registered Patent Attorney with Allen, Dyer, Doppelt & Gilchrist, P.A..
This article is the first in a series by Fuentek president Laura A. Schoppe on how bench researchers can gather and use market research-type data to inform their proposed R&D projects. Looking at what already exists reveals important information at the start of an R&D effort. The make-buy question is not a binary decision but rather a spectrum. Any idea or project virtually always has some aspect of “make,” since an existing solution is rarely a clear-cut, off-the-shelf “buy” for a different problem. The questions are: (1) How much of the project needs to start from scratch vs. leverage outside solutions? and (2) How much needs to be done solely in house vs. collaborating with someone else who is working on a similar problem in a noncompeting space? To help answer these questions, this article provides techniques for identifying who is working on the technologies that are relevant to a new R&D effort.
Technology Transfer Tactics (Published August 2018 by Technology Transfer Central)
Constructing the technology briefs used to market new innovations may seem like a simple enough task. Ideally, these are short write-ups designed to get the attention of interested suitors. But too many TTOs are failing to prioritize this basic but highly important function. As a result, promising technologies that really should have a shot at getting licensed may never get a look from potential licensees. “When you look at these technology databases … a lot of [the technology listings] are a single paragraph, and they may be abstracts which in most cases were taken from what the inventors wrote,” observes Laura Schoppe, the president and owner of Fuentek, a technology transfer consulting firm in Apex, NC. “[The TTOs] don’t even create a market description, so the listings are focused on what a technology does or how it was created as opposed to what the technology enables for industry.”
Technology Transfer Tactics (Published July 2018 by Technology Transfer Central)
Inventor recognition programs can excite and motivate faculty and other inventors to participate in the innovation ecosystem, says Laura Schoppe, MBA, MSE, president of the technology transfer consulting firm Fuentek LLC in Cary, NC. But it takes more than just a quick thank you lunch to have a significant impact. "When you have an awards event and do it well, it has a lot more meaning for inventors than you may realize," Schoppe says. "Everyone comes back from the event talking about how wonderful it was, and the people who didn’t attend ask, 'Why wasn’t I invited?' So it creates a conversation -- and a desire to be part of the party the next time."
In her recent blog post, Rebecca Stoughton, vice president of tech transfer services company Fuentek, offers tips to university tech transfer offices on how to make the best use of events to market their innovations to potential licensees and investors.
In her recent blog post, Fuentek consultant Danielle McCulloch tips off universities to ten signs that their tech transfer student internship program may need some retooling.
Technology Transfer Tactics (Published May 2017 by Technology Transfer Central)
"Some of those [Lean Startup] concepts are very analogous to tech transfer, and if applied systematically can help improve the process as well," asserted Becky Stoughton, MBA, CLP, Vice President of Fuentek, LLC, who chaired a panel on the topic at the 2017AUTM Annual Meeting in Hollywood, FL.
Note: Becky Stoughton's blog post was also reprinted by Industrial Electronics Technology Transfer News (06/26/2017)
In her recent article, Rebecca Stoughton, vice president of technology transfer support firm Fuentek, discusses improving the quality of invention disclosures as a means of improving commercialization. "What makes an invention disclosure a high-quality invention disclosure?" she poses. "This is an interesting question that has nothing to do with the quality of the technology."
Rebecca Stoughton, a vice president at Fuentek, an Apex, NC-based consulting firm, blogs often about metrics and other areas of interest to TTOs. And she urges licensing professionals to consider both direct and indirect measures when charting their performance and success.
A recent blog post co-written by Laura Schoppe, president of consulting firm Fuentek, and Richard W. Chylla, PhD, executive director of MSU Technologies (Michigan State University's commercialization arm) spotlights a program at MSU that simplifies industry collaborations and offers compelling terms. The authors also discuss the factors that lead to positive, long-term corporate partnerships, and other factors that have the opposite effect.
Although there is a large gender gap in this industry, and thankfully a shrinking one at that, it's important to highlight women in the legal profession who are already in place doing great work in legal and innovation. To mark International Women's Day and to get an insight into what inspires them and the challenges they face in the industry itself, PatSnap sat down with Laura Schoppe, CEO of Fuentek, Sona Dalal, director of operations at Novel IP and Giulia Gasparin, legal counsel at Style.com.
In a recent blog post, Fuentek consultant Danielle McCulloch gives university tech transfer offices the lowdown on educating inventors about intellectual property. “It’s in a TTO’s interest” to educate their research faculty, McCulloch says, whether it’s in a classroom or through a user-friendly website. The simple reason, she adds, is that researchers with appropriate knowledge of IP law and protection are more likely to succeed than those without. McCulloch offers four pieces of advice to TTOs that aim to teach academics about IP.
A lawyer once told me, "I can get a patent on anything…" This is a misguided perspective. Just because you can get a patent doesn't mean you should, especially with the costs associated with patenting. Patent attorneys are concerned with their ability to secure the patent, so they will tell you whether or not they can get a patent issued. What they do not address (nor should it be expected of them) is whether the patent will lead to revenue generation or cost savings. If it does not, then only get a patent if it provides some strategic value to the organization….
n her recent blog post, Laura Schoppe, founder and president of tech transfer firm Fuentek, offers advice on how university tech transfer offices can prioritize their licensing prospects. "A large percentage of university and government technologies have niche applications, so it's a treat to have an innovation with broad market potential," says Schoppe. "So how do you identify the potential licensees? And which do you contact first?"
In her recent blog post, Danielle McCulloch, vice president of IP management and tech transfer consulting firm Fuentek LLC, offers advice on how to effectively market your technologies.
In her recent blog post for innovation commercialization consulting company Fuentek, vice president Rebecca Stoughton offers these insights on gap funding for tech transfer.
Performance metrics have long been a topic of hot debate among technology transfer professionals as TTOs try to find new and better ways to document their value. While TTOs still tally things like disclosures, patents and licenses, many offices are now going well beyond these traditional data points, in some cases utilizing more sophisticated approaches that aim to drive certain behaviors and ultimately capture the true contributions of a hard-working office.
...Other numbers that can give a more complete picture on start-ups include looking at how many of these companies have actually taken a product or service to market, notes Becky Stoughton, vice president at Fuentek. "Then track the sales and revenues at the company regardless of whether they come from licensed products or not," she says. "Once you have started a company, yes, one of the benefits to the TTO is hopefully at some point you will recoup some licensing revenue or equity depending on how the deal was structured…. But if you are doing [the start-up] for economic development reasons, simply the fact that the company is on the market, is selling and is getting revenues are important things to track."
Late last month Harvard University took the very unusual step of filing two infringement lawsuits against semiconductor manufacturers Micron and Global Foundries over their alleged infringement of two patents that are owned by the Ivy League institution.… Laura Schoppe of Fuentek, a consultancy that regularly advises tech transfer offices, declined to comment on the specifics of the Harvard case but, like Nag, emphasised that academic institutions need to consider more aggressive enforcement to encourage alleged infringers to take a licence.
… In the 2013-14 school year alone, universities executed nearly 6,900 licenses or options with industry. For the Triangle, N.C. State University, Duke University and UNC–Chapel Hill did not play a prominent role in that kind of activity. That's despite the universities lassoing billions of dollars in research funding from state and federal governments…. "Our universities are among the best in the nation at attracting research dollars, and yet our licensing and innovation on the back end does not equate," says Laura Schoppe, founder and president of Fuentek, which provides intellectual property management consulting services.
Feedback from prospective customers is golden when you're thinking of trying something new — say, getting a startup off the ground, offering a new product (or service), or breaking into a new market. A great way to obtain this feedback is through one-on-one discussions. Whether these are formal interviews or informal conversations, here's how to obtain the most useful feedback to guide your business decisions.
Laura Schoppe was born in Princeton, New Jersey, where her father attended graduate school, but her story actually starts years earlier. In the 1940s, her father's family fled Spain during the Franco dictatorship, and then later her family emigrated from Argentina to the United States because of political persecution during the Peron dictatorship in the 1960s. She is the only American-born out of her family, and her parents made her speak Spanish in the house because they didn't want her and her siblings to lose their heritage. "I hated this," Schoppe says now. "But now I can't thank my parents enough. I know it was tough on them, but I am so thankful to be bilingual."
Laura Schoppe, an expert in technology transfer, says, "It costs upwards of $20,000 to get a United States patent (mostly lawyer fees to write a strong patent) and over $100,000 for international coverage. Getting a patent just so you can say you have one is not likely to be cost effective. Additionally, a business should look at what they intend to do with the patent, its potential impact."
Innovative organizations have long recognized the value of collaboration between well-matched partners. University and government labs can make particularly appealing partners, as they often have unique capabilities, expertise, and intellectual property (IP) portfolios. Indeed, as Parson describes in a 2013 journal article, a number of large pharmaceutical companies have formed long-term collaborations with universities focused on early-stage research. Other industries are following suit, seeking to access university and government resources to feed innovation.
Technology Transfer Tactics (Published October 2015 by Technology Transfer Central)
[In] July a judge ordered USC to return the database to UC-San Diego, which maintained control of the government funding. Details of the case remain murky, but that outcome seems generally in line with standard academic practice, suggests Becky Stoughton, MBA, CLP, vice president of Fuentek LLC in Apex, NC. "Transferring ownership of the results of research (such as a database) that happened prior to the researcher's employment with the new university would be very atypical."
In her recent blog post, Danielle McCulloch, vice president at tech transfer firm Fuentek, offers six key components of licensing negotiations that are sometimes forgotten by tech transfer professionals:
Laura Schoppe, founder and president of tech transfer consulting company Fuentek LLC, argues that having a centralized tech transfer office (TTO) makes for a stronger university. According to Schoppe, TTOs face enough challenges as it is; one challenge that can be avoided relates to the office's structure. "Centralization, coordination, and even consolidation of TTOs can go a long way toward making commercialization of university innovations more effective," says Schoppe.
In her recent blog post, Danielle McCulloch, vice president of tech transfer consulting firm Fuentek, advises TTOs on the benefits of conducting a regular review of their entire IP portfolios. "Technology transfer offices need to see the forestand the trees," McCulloch writes. "TTOs have to evaluate each innovation individually, but they also need to consider its strategic value relative to other IP in the portfolio."
In her recent blog post, Rebecca Stoughton, vice president at tech transfer firm Fuentek, argues that the principles of the lean start-up can also be applied to university tech transfer offices.… "Time and again, when we [at Fuentek] have conducted market research and gathered competitive intelligence on a technology, we've gained insights about what the market really needs in order to be interested in that technology," says Stoughton. "…This feedback — which can be used by the inventor to improve the technology to better meet the market's needs — maps nicely to the [Lean Startup] build-measure-learn feedback loop."
They're amazing. I'm an aerospace engineer and I'm impressed every time I see what these kids have done with these robots.… They learn math, science, they also do programming, they have to do marketing, they have to write a business plan. It's multifunctional, it's great.… They're getting not just the help from the mentors, but they're getting exposed to different types of careers, which is part of what we're trying to do… inspire them to think about these careers that they otherwise wouldn't even know about.… It's so inspiring. I spend the whole day doing the judging, but come 5:00 I'm more energetic than I was at 8 a.m.
The McCrory administration put together an all-star list of leaders in venture funding, technology and university R&D to form its "Moving Forward on the Innovation Triangle" plan. And the proposal outlined by Gov. Pat McCrory on Friday shows considerable promise, obviously reflecting the talent on the panel.… [It's] an impressive group. DeSimone and Jablokov are successful entrepreneurs. LeVert and [Fuentek's Laura] Schoppe make their living finding ways to evolve R&D into business. Lomax has a strong record of achievement at NCSU. Thorp, Cambier and Mumma know VC inside-out. If this plan can unravel the Gordian Knot that is tech transfer, the Triangle and the entire state will continue to grow as a hub of innovation.
According to Laura Schoppe, founder and president of Fuentek, LLC, university tech transfer offices should be measuring several areas that most have only scratched the surface of. Yet she contends that these metrics are of greater importance than the common focus on start-ups. Specifically, Schoppe points to three major metrics TTOs should focus on that “will have a much bigger impact on the local economy than most start-ups because they lead to hiring more staff that are high-salary jobs.”
Many companies perceive barriers to engaging in licensing with universities and government laboratories. Looking past the reasons for these perceptions – whether real or based on commonly held misconceptions – one can readily see that licensing university or government innovations is by no means impossible; nor is it overly expensive.... Given the potential for success, it is helpful to tackle the process of licensing university and government innovations strategically and efficiently by following some best practices.
In her recent blog post, Danielle McCulloch, a senior tech transfer consultant for Fuentek, offers advice for university tech transfer offices (TTOs) that aim to educate students and professors about their role in protecting IP and engaging in tech transfer. “There are scientists and engineers currently in the work force who could use this training,” writes McCulloch. “And technology transfer offices can help. In fact, it’s a TTO’s interest to provide it.”
In this ~5-minute interview, Laura Schoppe discusses her career trajectory, her leap to technology transfer, the momentum to start Fuentek, and advice for women in STEM careers.
After beginning her career as an aerospace engineer and working in the defense industry, Laura navigated several career transitions before taking the leap to becoming an entrepreneur. Here she shares her story of going from employee to employer, creating one of the first virtual companies, and finding that “different can be good.”
According to Laura Schoppe, founder and President of tech transfer specialist Fuentek, not knowing how much money the auction generated makes it particularly difficult to judge whether it was a success. Here’s her full take on it:...
Research from UC Berkeley found that corporate-sponsored inventions at the University of California system over 15 years generated more patents and licenses - two benchmarks of innovation - than did those solely backed by the federal government, the traditional and largest source of funds. It's little surprise that industry-supported research produces more patents, said Laura Schoppe of Fuentek, a technology-transfer consulting company. Companies enter research deals with a sense of what the end result might be, whereas the government funds nuts-and-bolts work unattached to any particular use. "The problems that industry brings tend to have roots in a need," Schoppe said. "There's a reason they're doing it."
Big pharmaceutical companies traditionally poured a lot of money into internal scientific research, said Laura Schoppe of Fuentek, a consulting service that helps universities, government labs and companies bring technology to market. But in the wake of the economic downturn, they are "trying to leverage other people taking that early-stage risk - and then, once it's a little bit more proven, they come in and buy it or augment it," she said.
The region also boasts non-university-affiliated incubators, like Rock Health and Y Combinator, but universities remain the dominant hubs of innovation, said Laura Schoppe of Fuentek, a consulting service that helps universities, government labs and companies bring technology to market. Bay Area universities in particular are "in a position to help their startups get through that gap," she said.
“Every university has its areas of focus. You want your panel to reflect those core competencies,” says Laura Schoppe, MBA, MSE, RTTP, president of the Apex, NC-based intellectual property management and tech transfer consulting firm Fuentek LLC. “So if pharmaceuticals and chemistry, for example, are your two hot areas, you need to recruit panel members in those areas.”
Having external expert advisory panels available to offer free advice on patenting and commercialization issues is an attractive concept, but such panels may not be sustainable long-term for many technology transfer offices, says Laura Schoppe, MBA, MSE, RTTP, president of the Apex, NC-based intellectual property (IP) management and tech transfer consulting firm Fuentek LLC.
Laura Schoppe, founder and president of the IP management company Fuentek LLC, recently posted an article for tech transfer offices on the pros, cons, and challenges of using an external advisory board. These boards can provide TTOs with valuable insights on specific industries and “market-fit,” she says, but Schoppe stresses that external advisory boards should not be relied on too heavily.
“I think it’s a great idea,” adds Laura A. Schoppe, MBA, MSE, RTTP, president of tech transfer consulting firm Fuentek LLC. “People talk about it, but actual implementation can be a bit difficult.” She says she knows of instances where “prolific inventors have been in and out a couple of times,” but adds that they probably used sabbatical or some other sort of leave.
“It is unusual,” says Laura Schoppe, president of Apex-based Fuentek, which consults with universities and companies on projects like this.… Especially as federal and state research contracts shrink with all federal spending, this kind of relationship could be the wave of the future, she adds. Schoppe says the deal makes sense as universities must turn to private industries to keep their research programs chugging along.… “Once you have that relationship, the ability to multiply it is much easier,” she says. “Instead of having to hunt and peck for (grants) here or there.”
The Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center will host Lab2Launch, a one-day commercialization training event for university researchers and high-tech entrepreneurs… Laura Schoppe and Danielle McCulloch of Fuentek LLC will lead the training. Fuentek specializes in intellectual property management and technology transfer services.
This is a typical complaint of companies, notes Laura Schoppe, the president and owner of Fuentek LLC, an Apex, NC-based firm that works with both public and private entities to advance technologies. However, she has not found that to be the case. “Licensing deals are usually anywhere from fractions of a percent to maybe 5%,” she says. “You don’t see university licenses at 10% or 20%. Those are corporate licenses, so my experience has not been that universities are gouging companies.”
Laura Schoppe cut her teeth far from the quiet street in Apex where she now lives and works. “After graduating from college, I worked in the defense industry doing missile-plume intelligence as part of the Star Wars program,” she says of her time tracking faint disturbances in the sky half a globe away. Now she’s president of Fuentek LLC, where she and a stable of nine employees and 21 consultants turn clients’ ideas into moneymaking products and businesses.
The America Invents Act is the most sweeping piece of patent-related legislation in a generation.... Meanwhile, universities are dealing with shrinking public funds for their myriad research projects. Triangle Business Journal discussed these two issues with Laura Schoppe. Schoppe's consulting firm, Fuentek LLC in Apex, specializes in technology transfer, particularly for research universities and government agencies.
Laura Schoppe’s small business gets about half of its revenue from contracts with the federal government. It’s at risk of losing a chunk of that money in 2013. Schoppe and thousands of other small companies with federal contracts are watching to see if Congress will stop a mandatory $109 billion in federal budget cuts scheduled to take effect Jan. 2 in what’s being called sequestration. Plans for the cuts were triggered by the failure of Washington lawmakers to strike a budget deal that would begin chipping away at the U.S. deficit.
Moving innovation from research labs into the mainstream of U.S. economy has always been the goal of the technology transfer community. Recently, tech transfer has received increased attention, with the hope that it can drive business development that is essential for the economic recovery in the United States. Since his term began, President Obama has emphasized furthering innovation to help build our economy. More recently, a series of presidential memos and pending legislation have put increasing pressure on tech transfer offices (TTOs) to accelerate technology commercialization to drive job growth and enhance the vitality of local and regional business environments. At the same time, many TTOs are facing budget constraints due to the economic downturn. As TTOs are being asked to do more with fewer resources, many consider using interns to help achieve their objective.
Laura A. Schoppe, president and founder of tech transfer consulting firm Fuentek, LLC, recently posted an article about Startup Act 2.0, the revised version of a bill that's been making its way through the U.S. Congress and which has raised the ire of tech transfer leaders over its "free agency" provisions promoting faculty control over the commercialization of their research.
On May 22nd, Sens. Moran and Warner were joined by Sens. Rubio and Coons in introducing Startup Act 2.0, a revised version of legislation proposed last December that contained questionable provisions to allow university professors to choose their own agents to help transfer their technology rather than be tied to their home university's technology transfer office (TTO)—the so-called free agency provision.
Laura Schoppe, president of Fuentek, a consulting company in North Carolina that works with university technology licensing offices to commercialize research, and whose company would likely benefit from the bill's passage, said she opposes the policy because of the logistical problems it creates. "Good or bad, there are some serious implementation questions that have not been addressed," she said. Schoppe also sits on AUTM's governing board.
That’s the part of the bill that has Laura Schoppe, president of tech transfer company Fuentek, and some of her colleagues skeptical. “Our concern is the practicality of implementation,” she says. “UNC, larger universities, they are overburdened just by the technology they have.” The bill doesn’t address how institutions would prioritize licensing. “Are they going to go offline from one of their own technologies and devote resources to the Pembroke one?,” she asks, adding that licensing outside technologies would bring about even more problems. “They’ll get less a piece of the pie than they would if it was their own technology, and it could damage the relationship with their own faculty.”
On behalf of the AUTM Board, I'd like to thank Laura Schoppe, AUTM VP for Strategic Alliances for the incredible amount of personal/volunteer time and effort she provided to make the GTP a reality. The idea for the GTP first arose after AUTM surveyed members. We asked how AUTM could help you achieve success, and the vast majority of you responded by asking us to help you do deals. The Board made this a priority, decided that a website to connect our members with industry would serve this need, and the idea for the GTP was born. Turning that idea into a free member benefit and valuable resource took a tremendous amount of time and effort, and we couldn't have done it without Laura and the help of the AUTM GTP Task Force.
"Crowdsourcing" is a trendy term these days, and like all trends, has its positive and negative aspects. Although trendy terms tend to take on several meanings, the ones I'm referring to are web-based systems where organizations with a technical need (seekers) can post their problem (challenge) and allow "the crowd" (solvers) to offer up their ideas for a solution.... [C]rowdsourcing may provide a low-cost means for your startup to get its technology (or need) "out there" in the hopes that someone looking for (or offering) a technical solution will find your posting and connect with you. However, crowdsourcing comes with a cost and can have significant limitations.
Laura Schoppe, whose company Fuentek works with federal agencies and labs in technology transfer, said government lab commercialization efforts are “not well funded.” One result, she stressed, is that the commercialization pipeline of government discoveries “is not full.” Schoppe called for streamlining of commercialization and standardization of language so government labs and the private sector can be on the same page. She complained that the labs “don’t communicate” with each other.
It’s a Friday afternoon in North Carolina and Laura Schoppe, president of Fuentek, LLC, is sitting in her virtual office with her two dogs. She’s in a great mood and has reason to be. Her technology transfer firm, which she started almost 10 years ago, has exceeded expectations, in spite of the economic downturn.
As a Hispanic woman running a business in a mostly male-dominated industry (high-tech business-to-business), I think I have the advantage in that I am more easily remembered when I attend networking functions or marketing meetings; a dozen women at a meeting of 500 naval officers and government contractors tend to stand out. Being remembered makes it easier for me to follow up to secure new business. However, if I were unable to present our business offering intelligently and professionally, this trait would backfire, and I would be remembered instead as the person who did not impress them.
Schoppe explains: "The crash hit endowments for private universities. State funds got whacked. State universities had to give money back in some cases."… Schoppe says that although the economic crisis has made everyone realise they need to do more with less, it doesn't have to mean that technology transfer suffers. Indeed, as the economy slowly recovers, universities can benefit from the government's continued support, while larger corporations are returning to tech transfer as a means of compensating for reductions in their own research budgets. "There's been a culture shift," Schoppe says.… Good processes for identifying the best technologies in a university's portfolio are vital. She says: "Managing the portfolio proactively is important-many universities are reactive. They should be more proactive about determining which technologies are the most important. Most of them have too much clutter on their desks, but often people in universities find it hard to let go of things they've been working on, even if they're going nowhere."
There's no longer anything novel about the way Laura Schoppe does her job. Each workday, she goes upstairs to her office above the garage of her rural North Carolina home. And surrounded by her two dogs, Zoey and Bella, she runs a multimillion-dollar company called Fuentek that helps its clients commercialize new technology.
You don’t need bricks and mortar to bring home the bacon. That’s a lesson embodied by Fuentek, a consulting firm founded by president and owner Laura Schoppe in 2001. Using everyday technology – instant messages, telephones and e-mail – and a database she designed herself, the mechanical and aerospace engineer has built a virtual company with very real annual revenue of more than $2 million.