Step Ahead Innovations, Inc. was formed in January 2012 after electrical engineer and serial entrepreneur James Clark grew tired of the challenges of maintaining healthy water for his fish. After experiencing significant fish loss Jim decided there must be a less time consuming and more reliable way to monitor the health of his water.
Using advanced fluorescence-based sensor and ultra-sensitive optical measurement technologies, Step Ahead Innovations is revolutionizing the way people see the water chemistry in their tanks. The MindStream Monitor enables new insights into the dynamic nature of reef chemistry and the complex inter-dependence of water parameters.
Our mission is to support reefers in conveniently, reliably, and accurately maintaining healthy fish and coral ecosystems so they may relax and more fully enjoy their beautiful aquatic showpieces.
Step Ahead Innovations endeavors to support important marine conservation efforts by significantly reducing fish and coral loss in the aquarium industry. By helping to maintain healthy tank ecosystems for marine life, we seek to decrease unnecessary and wasteful fish and coral replacement due to unbalanced water and catastrophic loss.
Jim co-founded Step Ahead Innovations in January of 2012. He is a serial inventor and entrepreneur with expertise in electronics, wireless communications, and product development. Jim is responsible for leading Step Ahead Innovation’s core research and product development team. Jim co-founded MSL Electronics in the early 1980’s during high school. MSL developed and sold the world’s first interactive telephone interface environmental control and monitoring system. During his senior year at the University of Vermont while studying electrical engineering, Jim founded Lab Partners Associates, Inc., a company that went on to become the world’s largest manufacturer of wireless control products for the photography industry. Jim has 40 patents to his name, including nine so far for inventions in the MindStream Monitor.
Brian has over 30 years experience in general/senior management roles with large multi-national corporations and small entrepreneurial start-ups. Brian joined Step Ahead Innovations as a business advisor in December of 2013 and initially focused on raising equity capital for the company. Prior to joining the company, Brian was Managing Director of Fieldstone Capital Partners. He has been COO of two Vermont companies and successfully launched operating divisions at Fidelity Investments and IDC. Brian began his career in computer manufacturing at Data General Corporation where he held numerous corporate and plant-level positions. Brian earned a master’s degree in business administration (MBA) and a bachelor’s degree in operations engineering – both from The University of Michigan.
George directs the company’s product development process and chemistry research initiatives. In addition, he advises on the company’s technology development strategy. Prior to joining the firm in the spring of 2018, George spent 24 years leading research & development teams at Thermo Fischer Scientific, a global analytical instrument manufacturer. Earlier in his career, he held various technology development roles at Arthur D. Little, Inc. George’s keen sense of innovation has resulted in more than 20 patents and the release of 12 new product lines in monitoring, sensing, and detector systems. George earned a PhD in Physical Chemistry and a MS in Electro-Optics / Chemistry from Tufts University and BS degree in Chemistry from The University of Lowell.
Don is the manufacturing manager and is responsible for production operations for the company. Prior to joining SAI in December 2018, Don worked at IBM for over 30 years in various manufacturing, development, and project management positions, bringing new generations of semiconductor products into manufacturing. Most recently, he was the manufacturing manager at LORD Corporation, leading their production team in the assembly and test of high-tech electronic sensors. Don has a Materials Science and Engineering degree from Cornell University and a Master's Certificate in Project Management from George Washington University.
Ryan has extensive experience starting up and leading customer service and account management organizations, including recent roles at Burlington Labs and Burton Snowboards. He has strong customer service process and systems expertise and recently evaluated, selected, implemented, and managed a new CRM system for Burlington Labs. He started his career in retail customer service and management roles with Dick’s Sporting Goods, Mountain Sports, Vans Footwear, and Avis Rent A Car. Ryan has a bachelor’s degree in marketing and over 10 years’ experience building and maintaining aquarium tank systems for himself and family and friends.
a d v i s o r s
Jamie Gallagher Patent Attorney, Birchtree IP Law & Strategy PLLC
Larry Meier & Morgan Heller Patent & Trademark Attorneys, Downs Rachlin Martin PLLC
Eli Moulton Corporate Counsel, The Moulton Law Group
John Davis Davis & Hodgdon Associates CPAs, PLC
b o a r d o f d i r e c t o r s
Brian Degen Chief Executive Officer, Chief Financial Officer
Jon Wettstein Managing Partner, Second Crack Ventures, LLC
TJ Whalen Managing Partner, Second Crack Ventures, LLC
Daniel Tilipman Managing Partner, Double Down Asset Management, LLC