In this week’s startup spotlight we would like to direct your attention to the work of Rick Mineo, the CEO of Swabbot Solutions, LLC. and a founder in the 17th cohort of our RIoT Accelerator Program.

Swabbot Solutions works In the realm of cleaning validation, or the methodology used to assure that a cleaning process removes chemical and microbial residues of the active, inactive or detergent ingredients of a product manufactured in a piece of equipment. Historically, reaching inaccessible areas like vessels and confined spaces has posed challenges for safety and accuracy. Enter Swabbot, a solution that addresses these issues while prioritizing safety and precision. Spearheaded by Rick Mineo with his background in consulting and engineering for life sciences, his journey from conception to funding underscores a commitment to understanding the core challenges in this space and innovating beyond conventional solutions. In this week’s “Startup Spotlight” we delve into the story behind Swabbot Solutions, LLC. and its potential to reshape industry standards.

Rick was inspired to start this business from his personal experiences in seeing how companies in the life sciences industry were swabbing large manufacturing vessels. Watching someone swab with a 10-foot pole in a large vessel brought up inefficiency and safety concerns. Putting a Q-Tip sized tip on the end of the 10-foot pole and trying to swab about a 2×2 inch square made Rick question if there was a better way. You wouldn’t try to clean your kid’s ear with a Q-tip from 10 feet away would you? Rick didn’t think so either. He was surprised by the fact that this space was largely untouched. This realization motivated Mineo to pursue patent protection for his innovative approach to swabbing. His product promises efficiency, accuracy and above all, safety.

The biggest challenges he faced in his entrepreneurial process were in the designing of the tank access system as well as securing funding, as many founders face. He overcame these issues through standard iterative process and proof of concept studies with engineering students and then moving from there. Once he proved that his swabbing process could be done, Mineo moved into the next phase for Swabbot Solutions – engaging with beta customers before focusing on raising capital to scale the business.

In terms of mentors in the early phase of his startup, Rick mentioned that a number of professors were advising him from a design point of view. As production neared, he sought guidance from former colleagues for business perspectives. He focused on thinking about how he could structure the business and how his venture would get investors. One mentor that came on to his team is always asking the question, how can we continue to position our company to get funding? External support and guidance from every facet of a company can play a pivotal role in driving the direction of a company, especially in the early stages of starting one up.

Rick leaves us with a last piece of advice – take your time to understand the broader problem you are working to solve and do not focus on one solution. You have to keep trying, adapt to things that don’t go your way and be ready to pivot. Without that broader understanding of the issue you are trying to solve, you may be unable to adapt and continue to move through your process. But never give up.