The Start

General Graphene is the seventh technology-based company sired by serial entrepreneur Vig Sherrill. The company was inspired by a technology pitch at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in 2014.
What if you discovered there was a new material that could – if it performed as advertised – change the world?
That’s graphene.  Or at least that’s graphene’s potential.  But potential doesn’t mean much unless you can actually realize it.
In 2014 Vig’s mind could not stop fixating on a singular problem: how do you commercialize a material that’s been stuck in a laboratory for over a decade?
The breakthrough: it’s not a science problem – it’s an engineering problem!
So the next step was obvious: you talk your long time friend and business confidante, Greg Erickson, into joining forces and to get this company really moving forward.
So you start with a great plan of solving this problem.
What could go wrong?
Well, it turns out A LOT could go wrong.
But there’s also something to be said for believing in yourself and thinking differently. (There is also something to be said for knowing you’d be bankrupt if you failed.)
We made some assumptions – and a few claims – that the VCs hated.  Our pitch went something like this:
We’re going to make a material you’ve never heard of that the scientific community says can’t be mass produced for markets that don’t exist – and we need $20MM.
So, maybe we didn’t think that one through. But we eventually raised what we needed – and got to work.
We weren’t right about everything – but we were right about some of the important things.
Turns out it really was an engineering problem. We identified the graphene problems we needed to solve:
  • Too expensive
  • Inconsistent quality
  • Batch production
Then we reverse engineered a solution.