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2013 Kentucky Small Business Winners Announced

Release Date: 
Monday, April 22, 2013
Release Number: 
Advisory Number: 
Michael Ashcraft


KENTUCKY – Dr. Mehdi Yazdanpanah, CEO and Founder of NaugaNeedles LLC, located in Louisville, KY, has been named the SBA 2013 Kentucky Small Business Person of the Year by the Kentucky District Office of the U.S. Small Business Administration. 


While working on his electrical engineering doctorate, Yazdanpanah discovered the technology to produce nanoneedles, tiny needle-like rods that are a fraction 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, Nauga­Needles LLC, in 2007.  NaugaNeedles’ devices are being used by over 150 research groups around the world.  The company holds two U.S. patents and has seven patents pending.   


Over the past few years, NaugaNeedles, LLC has received technology research grants from the federal government, the Kentucky Department of Commercialization and Innovation, a Vogt Award from the Community Foundation of Louisville and The Enterprise Corporation of Greater Louisville Inc. – The Metro Chamber of Commerce, and a Kauffman Entrepreneur Postdoctoral Fellowship from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.  


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 as well as several consultants, and Yazdanpanah envisions having 100 to 200 employees one day.  The company now exports to nine countries around the world and has averaged over 200% revenue growth over the past three years.     


SBA’s Kentucky District Office also honors Small Business Advocates each year, including Ms. Donna Smith, Owner of Donna J. Smith & Co. and Co-Owner of Stivers & Associates, PSC, as the 2013 Kentucky Financial Services Advocate of the Year; Ms. Dee Dee Harbut, Special Programs Director for the Kentucky SBDC Network, Lexington, as the 2013 Kentucky Minority Small Business Advocate of the Year; Ms. Patricia Krausman, Center Director, University of Kentucky SBDC, Elizabethtown, as the 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 the 2013 Kentucky Women Business Advocate of the Year


Kentucky winners are recognized at the “Kentucky Celebrates Small Businesses” event each spring at the State Capital in Frankfort along with the Kentucky SBDC Network's Pacesetters Award Winners.  This event is held at the Rotunda and the Governor's Mansion.


Small Business Person of the Year winners from 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Guam converge on Washington, D.C. every year, where one of them is selected as National Small Business Person of the Year during the SBA’s celebration of National Small Business Week.  Participants are also recognized for their involvement in disaster recovery, government contracting, and support for small businesses and entrepreneurship, with awards presented to SBA partners in financial and entrepreneurial development, including the year’s top SCORE Chapter, Small Business Development Center and Women’s Business Center.


A complete list of all award winners and SBA National Small Business Week events is available at