Akita Innovations custom synthesizes novel materials and chemicals.
Akita develops and sells high-value materials for companies that want an edge on their competitors and government customers who have unique and demanding requirements. Its chemicals and materials include light-absorbing and emitting dyes, optical polymers and coatings, coating materials to provide desired permeation or wetting properties, and functionalized micro- and nanoparticles. They also provide consulting services and testing using their highly-experienced staff of chemists and materials scientists and well-equipped laboratories, and make custom chemicals and materials so customers do not have to develop these capabilities in-house.
Akita has been an NSIV member since 2013. The two founders, Larry Hancock and Larry Takiff, first met in 2004 when Takiff cold-called Larry H for a job. LarryH invited LarryT to give a talk at the Nomadics site he managed and the two started working together. In 2013, after a few acquisitions, the inevitable downsizing happened, so they “decided to start Akita …and figured we could do this by ourselves, basically recreating Nomadics or something like it.”
When asked “What’s the best and worst thing of running your own business”, LarryT replied, “The best is that we do what we want the way we want it (subject to the need for revenue of course!). The biggest struggle is that projects eventually end and we always need to add to the revenue pipeline, now that we need to keep the doors open and lights on and paychecks coming, without someone else responsible for all this.”
Since joining NSIV in 2013, Akita has demonstrated significant learning and change. “We’ve seen them grow from guys who talked about nothing but their cool chemistry to an executive team very focused on commercialization, strategy, and growth”, said Trish Fleming, Director of Mentoring at NSIV.
Akita has won a number of SBIR grants and was awarded a Phase I START grant from MassVentures. “We’ve learned a tremendous amount about marketing and business development in the past year,” said Takiff.
Inevitably when talking to a chemist, the question has to be asked – did you ever blow stuff up? Takiff replied, “I blew some stuff up in grad school, though always small and no one was hurt. Nitrogen (gas & liquid) is dangerous stuff!” For chemistry overall, “It’s fun to make new, useful stuff and there is always more to learn and things you don’t expect.”