learn. launch. fly.

learn. launch. fly.


Mtech > Startup Hours

Free, open office hours for aspiring and current entrepreneurs (plus an awesome speaker after)

Next Startup Hours:
Wednesday, October 11, 2017, 4-6 p.m.
TAP Building, 387 Technology Drive, Room 1105, UMD

Get answers from experienced entrepreneurs and legal/business professionals on how to build a successful startup company. Receive free and impartial advice, brainstorm business strategies, investigate funding opportunities and learn about the vast resources available to entrepreneurs.

Startup Hours are typically held on the second Wednesday of each month. Dates for fall, 2017 include:

-- Wednesday, September 20, 2017
-- Wednesday, October 11, 2017
-- Wednesday, November 8, 2017


October Awesome Speaker: Bruce Jacob, Founder, Coil Guitar and Keystone Professor, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, UMD

Talk Title: Design in the Age of Innovation
Wednesday, October 11, 6-7 p.m.
Startup Shell, 387 Technology Drive, Room 1100, UMD

Dream. Design. That’s what Bruce Jacob did when he started Coil Guitar. He designed electronics that enabled musicians to toggle coils inside their guitars to produce a wider range of sound. He then designed new guitars for the electronics and had them manufactured. Anyone who can design a product can have it made now. The barriers are gone. Bruce will tell you how you can leverage the global economy to have your dream design manufactured in his Shell Talk.


In every era, manufacturing has been pushed to the fringes of society, away from living and communal spaces. Factories have been moved away from dense urban areas; manufacturing has been exported to the third world. On the other hand, design has never been pushed away; design has never been exported, except to the detriment of the exporter. Design is the core intellectual exercise that can define a company, an industry, a culture, a nation. Assuming you consider yourself an innovator, if you give design over to a third party, you have given away your reason for being—anything else you bring to the table can be bought; all else but design is a commodity.

One enabling trend today is manufacturing as a service, a phenomenon increasing in both visibility and popularity. One consequence of the Internet and the international competition it has enabled (e.g., Friedman 2005) is the number of plants offering custom manufacturing at wholesale prices. Manufacturing as a service significantly lowers barriers-to-entry, enabling start-ups with good design principles to compete with larger companies. It also allows established companies to focus more attention on technology innovation. In general, offloading manufacturing enables a company to spend less capital on infrastructure and less attention on manufacturing. Rather than exploiting these trends merely to cut costs, an organization can instead spend the freed capital and attention on R&D, innovation, and quality assurance, as these form the core intellectual value added that ultimately makes or breaks a company.

Pictured: Guitars designed by Jacob for his startup, Coil Guitars.


Bruce Jacob is a Keystone Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and former Director of Computer Engineering at the University of Maryland in College Park. He received the AB degree in mathematics from Harvard University in 1988 and the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in CSE from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor in 1995 and 1997, respectively. He holds several patents in the design of circuits for electric guitars and started a company around them. He also worked for two successful startup companies in the Boston area: Boston Technology and Priority Call Management. At Priority Call Management he was the initial system architect and chief engineer. He is a recipient of a U.S. National Science Foundation CAREER award for his work on DRAM, and he is the lead author of an absurdly large book on the topic of memory systems. His research interests include system architectures, memory systems, operating systems, and electric guitars.