While working as a pilot for an emergency medical service, Pete Paulin became interested in cryogenic tempering—a process by which tools, knives and other metals can be made more durable and efficient through exposure to extremely cold temperatures. Internet research and consultations with friends in the industry convinced Pete that there was a vast untapped market for these services. Wanting to take the lead in an exciting new industry, Pete contacted his local SCORE chapter to get the marketing advice he needed to reach his target audience.
Pete found the ideal contractor for his dream when he met SCORE Mentor Rupert Macphereson, a former marketing director of an agricultural company. Rupert was a kindred spirit. He realized immediately that Pete had a great idea; he just needed to convey it to the right people.
At Rupert's suggestion, Pete first targeted area industries and utilized an existing cryogenic firm's facilities. By offering free trials, Pete convinced customers that his process could reduce industrial tool expenses by 5 percent or more. In a matter of months, he was able to purchase equipment and offer cryogenic services on his own.
Another important "brick" was access to technical knowledge. Rupert introduced Pete to experts in the fields of electronics and metallurgy—a valuable conduit of information that would help take 300 Below beyond the industrial market. Before long, Pete's cryogenic treatment was improving the tone of musical instruments; reducing friction in engine parts; and making razor blades, plastics and even nylon hose last longer.
"SCORE helped me to fill in my house brick by brick," he says. "SCORE showed me how to identify markets and suppliers, understand management and accounting systems and develop a financial structure to secure working capital."
Pete never forgets that his success was due in large part to a dream, tenacity and help from SCORE. "Rupert and the other mentors helped me plan, set goals and evaluate results," he says. "They also offered a never-ending supply of moral support, which helped me survive the normal ups and downs of a start-up. When you sit across from an experienced person who's been down this road before, you get a clearer vision of what you need to do, and what you can accomplish."