“You have to have a healthy appetite for risk,” warns Garrett Young, Founder and President of Prism Projections, nestled in the small Iowa community of Sully but rapidly becoming recognized as the rock star of broadcast lighting. “We technical types want to distill every risk down to a number and study how best to manage it, but we must also realize that there are things you can’t control or understand and must be prepared to make changes in an instant when we discover we are wrong,” he observes, now six years out from the founding of a company leading the charge in fully realizing the potential of light emitting diode (LED) technology as it can be applied in lighting broadcast studios.
Now counting The Tonight Show with Jim Fallon along with Jimmy Kimmel Live, ESPN Sports Center, and the TODAY Show, to name a very few, among those sets lit by Prism Projection products, Young is well positioned to add his voice to a narrative describing the movement from idea, to start-up to large scale success. And he will do just that at the March edition of the Business Innovation Zone (BIZ) luncheon. Young will be interviewed by Mike Colwell, Executive Director of the BIZ, for the first half hour with the remainder of the hour given over to audience questions.
While risk and risk management will certainly be a topic of conversation, Young’s story is in many ways the quintessential entrepreneurial success story.
“It probably started twelve years ago working for a LED company in New Jersey”, he recalls of his growing interest in LED technology following on the heels of an earlier career path in plasma physics research. As CTO he could see an expanding potential to move into lighting, but the company was reluctant and so Young made a series of contacts including a partner who shared his vision, and was eventually led to Joe Crookham and Musco Lighting in Oskaloosa Iowa. Working for Musco for several years as Director of Optoelectronic Engineering, Young was also working in parallel to develop the technology that would become the foundation of Prism Projection.
Choosing to focus their efforts on the fixed set broadcast lighting market, he launched the company in 2008 with it now achieving a domination of the market while scoring the most coveted contracts.
“It’s been technology driven with an ever growing patient portfolio that began when LED’s were still a fledgling technology,” he explains of his success joking that “today everybody with a soldering iron and free space is trying to put something together.”
Of the companies Sully (Southeast of Newton) location, Young explains that once they had reached a critical mass of technology and ideas they were ready to find a location and the small rural town just up the road was both welcoming and replete with an empty building that would fit their needs. Rounding up mostly, but not entirely, Iowa investment capital and building slowly through the early years Prism Projection is now in the multi-million dollar annual sales realm with a global network of re-sellers and agents, while looking to double those sales numbers in the next few years as they move on to developing the next generation of lighting control systems to better utilize the improved lighting technology they have already introduced to the industry.
“Entrepreneurship is a powerful thing, and I think there are a lot of people considering it,” he says reflecting on likely conversations with Colwell. “I think I have a unique story about how I have moved through it, the challenges I’ve faced, and the tools I’ve employed.” Hoping to provide some measure of encouragement and reassurance Young invites Central Iowa Entrepreneurs to join him with their questions at the ready during the March BIZ luncheon.
$15 admission fee (includes lunch)
11: 30 a.m.
March 19th 2014
The Greater Des Moines Partnership
700 Locust St., Suite 100
Purchase your tickets at https://tikly.co/BusinessInnovationZone – Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities will be made if requested at least two weeks in advance. Contact the BIZ for details.
The BIZ’s mission is to connect entrepreneurial needs with qualified community and state resources and to provide guided professional and business direction. The BIZ helps entrepreneurs maximize their successes by helping them navigate resources, strengthen knowledge, improve skills, form strategic alliances and secure proper capitalization.