SEMA’s Young Executives Network Launch Pad competition offers innovators, inventors, and entrepreneurs under the age of 40 an industry platform to showcase their business plan for marketing a new automotive product or service.
By Jason Catullo
Ian Lehn and his BOOSTane product were chosen as the winners of the 2014 SEMA Launch Pad competition held at last year's SEMA Show. The competition offers innovators, inventors and entrepreneurs under the age of 40 an industry platform to showcase their business plan for marketing a new automotive product or service. Finalists pitched their businesses to five industry leaders who selected the winner at the 2014 SEMA Show.
The Launch Pad is returning to the SEMA Show for 2015, and entries are due soon. To sign up for the 2015 competition, visit www.sema.org/launch-pad.
SEMA Member News recently interviewed Lehn to learn about the entire experience and the benefits of program.
BOOSTane is a premium octane concentrate that transforms regular pump fuel to anywhere from 94 octane all the way to 110 octane race-fuel equivalent.
SEMA Member News (SMN): What exposure has your company gained since competing in 2014’s SEMA Launch Pad?
Lehn: Our big focus since SEMA and the competition has been on marketing, which has been sort of a the missing link. Since the competition, one of the first items that went live was an article in Hot Rod magazine, which was incredible. We tracked it from day one and as far as website traffic and analytics, it’s been crazy. It’s definitely been a whirlwind.
SMN: Where did the BOOSTane concept come from?
Lehn: My concept came from a personal demand. We were doing a lot of racing, whether it was SPCA racing or powerboat racing. The difficulty we were having was obtaining and transporting race fuel. It came in bulky containers. Especially with powerboat racing, we needed hundreds of gallons of it, which we were transporting around in drums and drums. The transportation of the fuel was very dangerous, very expensive. So we started exploring some octane-boosting alternatives. Many of them didn’t work, and the ones that did had fatal defects. The engineers—a total of three of us at the time—put our heads together and solved some of these problems. It took us about four years before we had something that we could take to the marine market as a proof of concept and it just naturally progressed.
SMN: Did you make any notable relationships during the competition?
It’s hard not to find common ground with people who are young entrepreneurs and executives in the automotive aftermarket industry. For example, Sarah from Hybrid Haven on the stage said, “We’re having trouble stabilizing the fuel in our hybrid vehicles because they’re not burning through it fast enough. Would your product work?” And then Roger [Peterson, of MG Research] came up and said, “BOOSTane would slide right into this app. I’d be honored to have it.” It’s become this network for all of us.
SMN: How did SEMA Launch Pad impact the business?
Last year was our first year in the automotive aftermarket; we’re still in the first quarter and we’re already surpassing all of our sales from last year. I attribute that directly to all of my exposure from Launch Pad. We did a lot of marketing, but if I were to put a graph on it, the spikes came from the Launch Pad exposure.
For more information about YEN or the SEMA Launch Pad Competition for 2015, contact Bryan Harrison at email@example.com.