…Wherein we learn about the consequences of a walk on Powell Street in San Francisco.
(Part I can be found here)
In 1993 our heroes realized that the CCD array with an ND film was inconvenient. With a significant investment in silicon sensor technology, the first multi-ring silicon detector was developed for LISST instruments. It had a 100:1 dynamic range of angles over which scattering was measured, so it was given the name LISST-100.
The LISST was deployed on the California shelf in the shelf sediment transport experiment, STRESS. This led to the first publication of the variability of size distribution of near-seabed suspended sediments in-situ through multiple events. The paper appeared in 1994 issue of Continental Shelf Research.
Enough scientific colleagues expressed the desire to purchase a LISST-100 for ocean research that at the end of 1994, a decision was made to incorporate. Chuck resonated with Yogi’s passion for the Sequoia tree and readily agreed to the name the company Sequoia Scientific, Inc. Also born at this time was idea of gifting Sequoia seedlings at conferences and over the years, several thousand of these seedlings have been planted worldwide. Still, it remained to secure initial funding for the company.
Yogi and Chuck wrote Sequoia’s first business plan while still at Northwest Research Associates. It described both the commercialization of a submersible particle size analyzer, and a Laser Doppler Velocimeter (LDV). The particle size analyzer was the LISST-100. The LDV technology ended up yielding to the lower cost acoustic Doppler velocimetry (ADV) that had just been developed in the early 1990’s. But as it turned out, the LISST-100 part of the business plan was enough to get Sequoia going!
While attending the annual conference of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco, California, Yogi found himself walking on Powell Street with Dr. Joe Kravitz, the Program Manager of the US Office of Naval Research who had funded development of the research LISST. Yogi asked “Joe, I am thinking of starting my own company. Would you be able to continue supporting my research from ONR?” Joe’s response was resounding, burned into Yogi’s memory “Well! Yog (he had chosen to drop the trailing i in Yogi’s name), if you don’t do it for your family, who the hell will?”. It was December 1994. Yogi and Chuck proceeded with incorporation of the company, Sequoia Scientific, Inc. in the State of Washington on the US West Coast.
In Part III we will learn about start-up accounting and get an interesting take on the value of a website.