An Entrepreneur’s Journey: UH’s C-Voltaics Becomes Integricote

Houston—Three years ago, when I first met Seamus Curran, he was one of the pioneer entrepreneurs coming out of the University of Houston’s Energy Research Park.

His startup, C-Voltaics, produced a chemical solution that could stain-proof wood, carpets, and even your best white clothing from water, coffee, red wine, or other damaging substances. The company had begun a number of pilot programs with major manufacturers of carpets, glass, and tarps, which could lead to contracts. It was a promising start for a young company.

Today, the company has a new name: Integricote. And Curran has decided to market his product—SCHN, or Self-Cleaning Hydrophobic Nanocoating—to large lumberyards that cater to the residential construction market. “This was lower-hanging fruit,” he says. “There are so many kinds of fabrics and textiles: automotive, clothing.”

Wood interacts with SCHN the same way, he adds. “And this is easier and faster to bring to market.”

Integricote is the University of Houston’s first nanotech startup and a keystone of its efforts to boost Energy Research Park, a 700,000 square-foot development of 20 buildings that the university has turned into incubator space for startups that evolve from student or faculty research. UH takes an 8 percent equity stake and a percentage of royalties.

This past spring, Integricote signed its first distribution deal with Binford Supply, a fence manufacturer and supplier, and plans to ramp up production. Along the way to getting to that point, Curran says he’s gained a lot of practical experience about the entrepreneurial life, and about startup ideas that require major changes over time. He … Next Page »

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