Step Ahead Innovations, Inc. was formed in January, 2012 after electrical engineer and serial entrepreneur James Clark had grown 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 and thus increase enjoyment of the hobby.
Step Ahead Innovations is dedicated to developing and providing innovative aquarium monitoring products and online data 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™ system will liberate salt and freshwater aquarium owners from the manual, unreliable, and less accurate practices of using traditional dip test strips and liquid test kits. The MindStream monitor replaces 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
James ClarkCo-founder, Chief Innovation Officer
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.
Giuseppe Petrucci, PhD Co-founder, Senior Scientist, Professor of Chemistry at the University of Vermont
Giuseppe co-founded Step Ahead Innovations in January of 2012 and has over 30 years experience in chemical analysis. He researched & adapted the chemical sensor technology that is the basis for the company’s patented technology. Giuseppe is currently leading the company’s development of MindStream monitor and disc calibration methods and benchmarking system accuracy. His current university research is focused on developing innovative instruments and sensors for the analysis of atmospheric carbon-containing particles. Giuseppe was awarded the 2013 Research Investigator of the Year Award from IEEE, has published 57 peer-reviewed publications, and presented at over 40 national seminars and conferences. Giuseppe earned a PhD in analytical chemistry from the University of Florida and a bachelor of science degree from the University of Toronto.
Brian DegenChief Executive Officer, Chief Financial Officer
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.
Dan EastmanDirector of Manufacturing
Dan joined Step Ahead Innovations in September of 2015 and is responsible for building out the company’s manufacturing, supply chain, inventory control, and order fulfillment operations. He is also leading initiatives aimed at automating key steps in our manufacturing process. Dan is former president/co-owner of Eastman Benz, a contract electronics manufacturer. Prior to that, Dan was a Manufacturing Support Technician at BioTek and held previous positions as Development Technician, Applications Engineer, and Customer Service Engineer. Dan earned an Associate’s Degree in Electrical and Electronics Engineering Technology from Vermont Technical College and a Certificate in Leadership and Management from the University of Vermont.
a d v i s o r s
Jamie Gallagher Patent Attorney, Birchtree IP Law & Strategy PLLC
LarryMeier&MorganHeller Patent & Trademark Attorneys, Downs Rachlin Martin PLLC
JeffFinkelstein&MarkLyons Hardware & Firmware Developers, Microprocessor Designs, Inc.