Betting on Yourself: 5 Lessons to Get in the Game

1 min read
Jun 10, 2024 8:00:00 AM
Betting on Yourself: 5 Lessons to Get in the Game

What does it take to build a successful tech startup from the ground up? Craig Hunter, founder of Covalent Metrology, shares his insights on entrepreneurship, innovation, and overcoming challenges in this week’s podcast.

With the dual role of founder and CEO, you constantly face pressure to drive growth and stay ahead of the competition to satisfy your investors. Craig Hunter knows this struggle all too well. 

After a successful career at semiconductor giant Applied Materials, he embraced a “willingness to look dumb,” and founded his startup, Covalent Metrology. 

"It's the willingness to just say, I think there's something there."
Craig Hunter

Founder & CEO


After seeing an established player’s inferior offering, Craig bought an atomic force microscope with $350,000 of his own money to disrupt the traditional analytical services industry. Despite a lukewarm reception from VCs due to the industry's asset-heavy nature, he remained laser-focused on his vision of building an innovative lab services platform for small and medium-sized businesses.

The journey has not been easy. Craig quickly learned that the complexity of integrating new instruments, training employees, and servicing customers was far greater than anticipated. Cash flow was tight, and the path forward was unclear at times.

However, by adopting an entrepreneurial mindset and staying close to customers, Craig successfully delivered excellent service, built partnerships, and addressed unmet customer needs that were ignored by legacy players.

Key Takeaways:

  • Successful entrepreneurs balance vision with flexibility. 
  • Focus on excellent service and understanding customer needs.
  • Build an ecosystem of supportive partners and investors.
  • Maintain a learning mindset to spot opportunities for innovation.
  • Have the courage to challenge industry norms and old ways of thinking.

Today, Covalent Metrology is cash-flow positive and poised for growth, with a 24,000 sq ft lab and partnerships with top instrument providers. He struck deals with early adopters willing to try a new approach by showcasing their tools in Silicon Valley in Covalent’s lab.  

His advice for fellow executives? Have the courage to take smart risks. Hire for personality and grit, not just credentials. Most importantly, maintain curiosity and an open mind. 


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