Tag: Southwest Research Institute

Lessons of a First Time CEO at SA New Tech

Reporter with Silicon Hills News

Jay Miltor presents XYN Technologies, photo by Andrew Moore

Jay Miltor presents XYN Management, photo by Andrew Moore

At SA New Tech Tuesday, Pressable’s Founder Vid Luther shared tough lessons learned as a CEO.
Originally named ZippyKid, Pressable, a WordPress hosting startup, got a new name following an eight hour meeting, scheduled to last 30 minutes, in June with Rackspace Hosting founder Dirk Elmendorf and a few others. After much consideration, Luther decided that the “Kid” in ZippyKid targeted the wrong demographic and didn’t leave a professional and reliable impression.
Now named Pressable, the startup has changed its web layout and pricing to target a more professional demographic – namely other web developers. The rate is now $25 to manage up to five sites, instead of only one, so web developers can use Pressable on the backend for website stability, speed, and security on their client’s websites.
“Rather than us managing a client one by one, they manage clients and we make them look good,” Luther said.
Five days after the changes, Pressable began to see more customers sign up and has enjoyed a brisk signup rate ever since. To date, Pressable boasts more than $1 million in yearly revenue and has around 1,200 customers.
Luther also gave advice on what a CEO should, and should not, do to have a successful business.

  • Raise more money than you think you need.
  • Hire smart people and then get out of their way.
  • Have a mission, a vision, and a value proposition, and make sure your employees share them.
  • Learn to speak to investors, marketers, and non-technical employees in language that they will understand.
  • Be personable and smile! Your face is the face of the company.
  • Spend more money on things that generate revenue, like marketing.
  • Have confident body language.
  • How you think about your customers is how your employees will think about your customers.
  • Don’t make self deprecating jokes as a CEO, important listeners might not know you are joking.
  • Don’t use sarcastic humor as a CEO; new employees may take you seriously.
  • Don’t assume that you are 100 percent responsible for your employee’s livelihood; they should know what they are getting into with a startup.

In addition to Luther’s presentation, Michael Girdley touted his Codeup boot camp, XYN Management employee explained its statistics solution for hospitals organ transplants and a Southwest Research Institute engineer shared an open source robotics code.


Codeup is a nine week in-person web development boot camp that guarantees to either get their graduates a job or refunds half of their tuition. The boot camp was created by Entrepreneur Michael Girdley because, well, he “got mad”.
“I’m mad that our educational system is so broken,” Gridley said. “I’m mad that people like Vid and all my friends who run companies can’t hire good people. And then I was mad that I had all these friends that wanted to be programmers but kept failing. I also like teaching.”
Teaching oneself to be a programmer is difficult, and Girdley found that most people either did not know where to start or were unsure what to teach them.
The boot camp, which begins on Feb. 3, costs $7,985 and will cover Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP, and JavaScript. The classes will be from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Students will spend only 45 minutes to an hour in lecture each day and will devote the rest of the time to applying what they learned. Girdley has already received 50 applications and has accepted 17. His first class still has a few more spots left. To get more women involved in web development, Codeup is offering three half-off women’s scholarships.
There will be a Codeup info session at Geekdom on Thursday, Dec. 12.

XYN Management

Pronounced “Zen Management” and presented by COO Jay Miltor, XYN Management has created a cloud based application which helps hospital solid organ transplant programs keep up with their patient outcomes and predict what the outcome will be for future transplant procedures.
According to Miltor, all transplant centers in the United States get a report card twice a year which grades them on their transplant outcomes. This includes how many patients survived and how many kept a functional donated organ. If the hospital falls below standard, they must undergo a rigorous and expensive corrective action plan.
XYN Management has created a system that allows hospitals to keep up with their report cards in real time and predicts what future report cards will look like with statistical analysis. The system will also calculate the risk for a transplant based on a patient’s medical record.
The startup has been in business for a year and a half and has 15 current clients. Miltor says the company is profitable but is also looking for additional investments.
XYN Management is currently looking to hire a high level statistician (has a college degree in statistics) who can also code. Additionally, they need an interface designer, an Apex programmer, and a programmer.

Southwest Research Institute’s ROS industrial software

Southwest Research Institute Sr. Research Engineer Shaun Edwards presented the ROS industrial software – open source software for industrial robotics programming.
Edwards is working to create a community for the software and hopes someone will be able to create a breakthrough in the industrial robotics industry. A robotics programmer, Edwards is frustrated with the current state of industry technology which has been largely resistant to change and has been lagging behind other robotic applications with 10-year-old technology. Edwards hopes more users will build up the software base and ultimately be a resource for SWRI, opening the door for greater robotics possibilities in the industrial area.
“They build up the code base. People actually give software back to the ROS industrial program. Then we can leverage that,” Edwards said.
In a demonstration of the software, Edwards showed how it can identify visible objects such as a bag on the floor. He hopes that one day industrial robots will be able to look at and interact with objects intelligently.

SwRI Leads Open Source Consortium for Robot Makers

Editor’s Note: Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio is a nonprofit research and engineering organization with more than 3,000 employees and revenue of $581 million last year. It’s one of the gems of San Antonio’s technology community. You can read more about the organization here. They do work for companies and government agencies and they have more than 4,000 projects open at any time.

By Michael Girdley
Special Contributor to Silicon Hills News

Southwest Research Institute’s Robotic Operating System – Industrial, known as ROS-I by Michael Girdley

The software systems that control big industrial robots on manufacturing lines have long been closed, proprietary and often written from scratch.
A new initiative from Southwest Research Institute’s (SwRI) Robotics and Automation engineering group called “Robot Operating System – Industrial or ROS-I” aims to change that: SwRI recently announced the formation of a consortium of robot manufacturers, integrators and others interested in cooperating on ROS-I.

ROS-I is based on the Robot Operating System led by Willow Garage in Menlo Park, CA. ROS was introduced about 5 years ago and has since spread like wildfire through the research community.
In cooperation with Motoman of Japan, a manufacturer of industrial robots, SwRI Senior Research Engineer Shaun Edwards spent a year at Willow Garage learning ROS and developing the basis for ROS-I for industrial application.
While the controllers running the proprietary software that come with the industrial robots from vendors like Motoman or Panasonic do a great job with basic tasks like moving to fixed points or applying a weld, they are lacking in the more complex problem solving that ROS does well. ROS-I leverages those strengths to excel at the hard problems involved in operating a robot like path planning or image recognition. For example, most efficient path planning is a difficult problem when you’re dealing with three dimensional spaces, confined operating spaces and a robot with six or seven degrees of movement.
The hope from SwRI is for a win for all the parties involved in the consortium. For robot manufacturers and consulting companies, they can see new applications of their product. For example, the first initiative from SwRI is around bin-picking, where a robot has a mixed set of objects to choose from and visually picks the one needed.
The open source robotics consortium effort is currently taking applications and hopes to have its first meeting early next year. For more information, please visit the SWRI site.

About Michael Girdley: He’s an entrepreneur, budding technology investor, reformed programmer and author, part-time Crossfit instructor and writer living in Southtown San Antonio. He can be reached at Michael@girdley.com and his personal website is Girdley.com.

Two San Antonio Researchers Get Seed Funding

Two San Antonio researchers have received $200,000 in seed stage funding to study new methods to optimize drug release.
Kelly Nash, assistant in the UTSA Department of Physics and Astronomy, and Dr. Benjamin Furman, a research engineering in Southwest Research Institute’s Chemistry and Chemical Engineering Division will use the funding to study “Photoresponsive Polymeric Composites Utilizing UV-Light Harvesting from Upconverting Nanoplatelets.”
Their project will focus on hydrogels for applications in drug release.
This is the third project to be funded under Connect, a collaborative program fostering research between Southwest Research Institute and UTSA.
“Drs. Nash and Furman’s Connect proposal will have tremendous value not only to industry and the university but to the nation,” Jim Massaro, assistant vice president for Research Development said in a news release.

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