University of Connecticut alum Neal Magdefrau and his wife Michelle founded Electron Microscopy Innovative Technologies (EMIT) in 2014. The company provides long-term, daily, and hourly rentals of portable scanning electron microscopes (SEMs). Neal spoke with MetroHartford Alliance Content Manager Nan Price about the evolution of the company.

NAN PRICE: How would you describe yourself and the services your company provides?

NEAL MAGDEFRAU: I’m a scientist who provides potentially high-resolution equipment for customers that may not be able to purchase that type of high-tech equipment.

NAN: Have you always been entrepreneurial?

NEAL: I always had that drive to do my own thing. Growing up, my father owned his own accounting business, which is, of course, very different from what I’m doing. Before he passed away, he was the biggest motivator in helping me start the company. When I was questioning my business model, my father told me I should do it now or I was never going to do it. He was the one who gave me that last kick.

NAN: What experience do you bring to the business?

NEAL: Since I grew up in a family business environment, I’ve been able to use some of those lessons learned as I’m growing this venture.

I still work part time at United Technologies Research Center. I think working in a large corporation has taught me a lot of valuable technical skills. It’s also helped me realize that I want to do my own thing long term. I’m really self-motivated and I have a passion for bringing new technology to small- and medium-sized businesses and other entrepreneurs who are starting up but may not be able to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on equipment.

NAN: Let’s talk about your connection with Nerac.

NEAL: I became connected to Nerac through Mark Smith at Macroscopic Solutions. A few years ago, I came across his company from a UConn publication that had featured them. I reached out and we’ve kept in contact over the last few years. The more Mark and I talked, the more we recognized our strong business synergies.

Macroscopic Solutions offers an innovative optical imaging solution. EMIT provides imaging solutions using electron optics, so when people need a higher resolution system than he can currently offer, they may turn the type of service we provide.

Mark and I have no official partnership, we’re just starting to collaborate with each other. I just started renting some space at Nerac in an office right next to him so we can work together more closely.

In doing so, I became a member of the Nerac Venture Incubator community. Nerac President Kevin Bouley is very tapped into a lot of business growth resources, which has been helpful for me as I’m learning to utilize the resources we have here in Connecticut for entrepreneurs.

NAN: Who is your clientele and how are you marketing to them?

NEAL: Our clientele is basically anybody that does quality control or research and development or needs high-resolution analyzing. We rent our equipment to a range of industries including biotech companies, medical device companies, pharmaceutical companies, geologists, and materials scientists.

NAN: How are they finding you?

NEAL: I work closely with the U.S. distributor for the systems we rent out, so we get a lot of referrals through them. We also try to participate in local workshops, open houses, and trade shows. We reach a lot of clients via our online presence, through both social media and online searches.

NAN: Why do you feel Connecticut is a good place to launch and grow a business?

NEAL: I grew up in Connecticut. I’m a UConn alum. So, my preference is to keep my company in Connecticut and be part of kind of the revitalization that’s going on.

In terms of technology, I think Connecticut has a big opportunity to support some of the growth that’s happening in the Boston area as it expands into Connecticut. Connecticut has a lower cost of living and we have a highly educated workforce. Our schools and colleges consistently produce some well-educated students and there are many resources available here. So, I think it’s perfect timing for Connecticut to tap into that growth.

Learn more about Electron Microscopy Innovative Technologies (EMIT)