Across The Board

Profile of Virtual Ink Corp.
This story first appeared in the June 2000 issue of Startups. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

For those eager to put in 23 hours a day to develop the newest groundbreaking technology, remember: It's easier when you're single. "It's not exactly the life for the newlywed," jokes Yonald Chery, founder and chief technology officer of Boston start-up Virtual Ink Corp. Not only did the 33-year-old get hitched last summer-just when the company had begun ramping up production of its premiere product, a compact, mobile device called Mimio that's used to record information written or drawn on a whiteboard and save it on your PC-he's still working on his doctorate in VLSI CAD (microchip reliability analysis) from MIT.

Chery's wife "intensely" wants him to finish his dissertation. But when this is your calling-as the engineering buff has known since he attended an entrepreneurship in engineering seminar his freshman year in college-putting business on hold is not an option. And since founding the company three years ago as a frustrated teaching assistant who spent too much time rescuing students with incorrectly transcribed whiteboard notes, he's thankful he didn't.

"From an engineering background, [bringing Mimio to market] is very much in line with what I hoped to do in terms of affecting people's lives and applying technology for the good of humanity," says Chery. And he did it with only $10,000 earned after placing first runner-up in MIT's Sloane School of Management 1997 50K Entrepreneurship Competition, where he networked with potential investors and invited them to pay a visit to his dorm room "office."

With sales thousands of times greater than what they were at launch, Virtual Ink and its 100-plus employees are thriving. He still has over 20 patents pending, and recruiting is difficult, but take it from Chery: "There's no wrong way to do things, except that your team needs to communicate well."

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