our company

o v e r v i e w

Step Ahead Innovations, Inc. was formed in January 2012 after electrical engineer and serial entrepreneur James Clark grew tired of the challenges of maintaining healthy water for his fish. After experiencing significant fish loss – first in his backyard Koi pond and later in his built-in home aquarium – Jim decided there must be a less time consuming and more reliable way to monitor the health of his water.

Step Ahead Innovations is dedicated to developing innovative aquarium monitoring and management products and services that enable aquarium enthusiasts to maintain healthy fish and coral ecosystems and more fully enjoy their beautiful aquatic showpieces. The company is focused on deploying advanced technologies in fluorescence indicator science, ultra-sensitive optical measurement circuits, inductive power transmission, networked cloud computing, and mobile devices to reduce the stress and hassles of owning an aquarium or Koi pond.

The MindStream family of products will liberate salt and freshwater aquarium owners from the manual, unreliable, inaccurate, and error-prone practices of traditional dip test strips and liquid test kits. MindStream products replace manual intermittent testing with automated perpetual monitoring that is accurate, reliable, and stress free. Step Ahead Innovations endeavors to support important marine conservation efforts by significantly reducing fish and coral loss in the aquarium industry. By helping to maintain healthy tank ecosystems for marine life, we seek to decrease unnecessary and wasteful fish and coral replacement due to unbalanced water or catastrophic loss.

l e a d e r s h i p

Jim co-founded Step Ahead Innovations in January of 2012. He is a serial inventor and entrepreneur with expertise in electronics, wireless communications, and product development. Jim is responsible for leading Step Ahead Innovation’s core research and product development team. Jim co-founded MSL Electronics in the early 1980’s during high school. MSL developed and sold the world’s first interactive telephone interface environmental control and monitoring system. During his senior year at the University of Vermont while studying electrical engineering, Jim founded Lab Partners Associates, Inc., a company that went on to become the world’s largest manufacturer of wireless control products for the photography industry. Jim has 40 patents to his name, including seven so far for inventions in the MindStream monitor.
Brian has over 30 years experience in general/senior management roles with large multi-national corporations and small entrepreneurial start-ups. Brian joined Step Ahead Innovations as a business advisor in December of 2013 and initially focused on raising equity capital for the company. Prior to joining the company, Brian was Managing Director of Fieldstone Capital Partners. He has been COO of two Vermont companies and successfully launched operating divisions at Fidelity Investments and IDC. Brian began his career in computer manufacturing at Data General Corporation where he held numerous corporate and plant-level positions. Brian earned a master’s degree in business administration (MBA) and a bachelor’s degree in operations engineering – both from The University of Michigan.

George directs the company’s product development process and chemistry research initiatives. In addition, he advises on the company’s technology development strategy. Prior to joining the firm in the spring of 2018, George spent 24 years leading research & development teams at Thermo Fischer Scientific, a $20B global analytical instrument manufacturer. Earlier in his career, he held various technology development roles at Arthur D. Little, Inc. George’s keen sense of innovation has resulted in more than 15 patents and the release of 12 new product lines in monitoring, sensing, and detector systems. George earned a PhD in Physical Chemistry and a MS in Electro-Optics / Chemistry from Tufts University and BS degree in Chemistry from The University of Lowell.

Ryan has extensive experience starting up and leading customer service and account management organizations, including recent roles at Burlington Labs and Burton Snowboards. He has strong customer service process and systems expertise and recently evaluated, selected, implemented, and managed a new CRM system for Burlington Labs. He started his career in retail customer service and management roles with Dick’s Sporting Goods, Mountain Sports, Vans Footwear, and Avis Rent A Car. Ryan has a bachelor’s degree in marketing and over 10 years’ experience building and maintaining aquarium tank systems for himself and family and friends.

a d v i s o r s

Jamie Gallagher   Patent Attorney, Birchtree IP Law & Strategy PLLC

Larry Meier & Morgan Heller   Patent & Trademark Attorneys, Downs Rachlin Martin PLLC

Jeff Finkelstein & Mark Lyons   Hardware & Firmware Developers, Microprocessor Designs, Inc.

Afi Ahmadi   Corporate Counsel, Dinse, Knapp & McAndrew, P.C.

John Davis   Davis & Hodgdon Associates CPAs, PLC

b o a r d  o f  d i r e c t o r s

James Clark   Co-founder, Chief Innovation Officer

Brian Degen   Chief Executive Officer, Chief Financial Officer

Jon Wettstein   Managing Partner, Second Crack Ventures, LLC

TJ Whalen   Managing Partner, Second Crack Ventures, LLC

Daniel Tilipman   Managing Partner, Double Down Asset Management, LLC