The Kentucky District Office of the U.S. Small Business Administration, in conjunction with the Kentucky SBDC, celebrated Small Business Week at the State Capitol on May 22. SBA award winners from Kentucky were recognized, as were Kentucky SBDC Business Pacesetters, which focuses on outstanding businesses operating in and contributing to Kentucky’s economy.
Dr. Mehdi Yazdanpanah, CEO and Founder of NaugaNeedles LLC, Louisville, KY, was named the SBA 2013 Kentucky Small Business Person of the Year by SBA. While working on his electrical engineering doctorate, Dr. Yazdanpanah discovered the technology to produce nanoneedles, tiny needle-like rods about 1/1,000th of the thickness of a human hair. These miniature wires, which reflect light, conduct electricity and resist corrosion, can be used in biomedical applications, sensors, tools for semiconductor manufacturers and other applications.
Dr. Yazdanpanah trademarked the product and formed his company, Nauga¬Needles LLC, in 2007, and the company’s devices are being used by over 150 research groups around the world. Nauga¬Needles holds two U.S. patents and has seven patents pending. The firm now exports to nine countries around the world and has averaged over 200% revenue growth over the past three years.
Creating good-paying jobs is his main goal. “I got a Ph.D. not to get a job but to create jobs,” said Dr. Yazdanpanah. NaugaNeedles now has 10 employees, and Yazdanpanah envisions having 100 to 200 employees one day.
SBA’s Kentucky District Office also honored four Small Business Advocates at the ceremony, including Ms. Donna Smith, Owner of Donna J. Smith & Co. as the 2013 Kentucky Financial Services Advocate of the Year; Ms. Dee Dee Harbut, Special Programs Director for the Kentucky SBDC Network, Lexington, as 2013 Kentucky Minority Small Business Advocate of the Year; Ms. Patricia Krausman, Center Director, University of Kentucky SBDC, Elizabethtown, as 2013 Kentucky Veteran Small Business Advocate of the Year; and Ms. Joyce Green, Owner, Jordan Hill Farms and Karizma LLC and one of the founders of Business Babes Society, Richmond, as 2013 Kentucky Women Business Advocate of the Year.