Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Long Jump: From GE to Startup

Not everyone is cut out to jump from one of the world's most-admired companies to a rapidly growing start-up, however promising it might be. But Tim Held did precisely that when he joined reXorce Thermionics, a JumpStart portfolio company, as Vice President of Engineering.

After earning a doctorate in mechanical and aerospace engineering from Princeton University in the mid-1990s, Dr. Held spent the next 13 years at GE Aviation - creators of America's first jet engine - designing world-class combustion systems. Still, he wanted something more. "I was at a point in my career where I wanted to contribute more directly to energy efficiency and the environment," he says. He remembers getting a call from a headhunter last year about an attractive job offer, which he ultimately turned down. "I told them that where I would fit better is with a company that's actually doing thermal energy. And sure enough, a couple months later, I got this call."

The call came from Akron-based reXorce, a company developing NASA technology that was once used to cool spacecraft, into devices that capture thermal energy for use in power generation. reXorce was rapidly growing and needed someone to lead its expanding engineering group, which included six professionals last summer but today comprises nearly a dozen.

"We were attracted to him by his experience managing large teams and by the fact that he had worked for GE, obviously a very reputable company," says Michael Gurin, co-founder, CEO and CTO of reXorce. Dr. Held spent three weeks talking with reXorce's leadership team and doing due diligence on its underlying technology. "I really liked their commitment to renewable energy and the environment, and I thought they also had the business sense to pull this off." He joined the company last October, relocating his family from the Cincinnati area.

His challenge for the year ahead is significant: he'll be overseeing the conversion of the company's heat engine prototype into a working, power-generating beta system for installation in actual industrial sites. It's a challenge for which he's been diligently preparing his entire career, and one that will reflect another milestone for reXorce as it continues its rapid growth.
--a newly published article from the latest JumpStart Connect e-letter (which you can subscribe to here). I've promised myself that in the new year, I'll remember to finally begin sharing more examples here of my corporate and institutional writing, wherever possible, in addition to the strictly journalistic stuff.


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