Across The Board

Profile of Virtual Ink Corp.
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This story appears in the June 2000 issue of Startups. 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."

Edition: July 2017

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