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Mentorship yields tangible results for Ag-focused business

UNIBEST Corporation provides farmers, agribusinesses, and environmental managers with monitoring products to optimize crop management and evaluate environmental contamination. The relationship between PNNL and UNIBEST dates back to 2000 when the company first received technical support through the PNNL Economic Development Office's (EDO) Technology Assistance Program (TAP), along with informal entrepreneurial advice.

In 2010, a new president took the helm at UNIBEST and contacted the Laboratory for assistance through EDO's Mentor-Protégé Program (MPP) with two goals in mind: 1) transform the organization and its infrastructure to better meet customer demands and respond to new markets, and 2) find a CPA with direct knowledge of high tech small businesses.

Prior to working with the MPP-assigned mentor, UNIBEST had been participating in a series of academic studies to keep its patents and technology visible to colleges and universities. The objectives for the mentorship included a review of the company's business plan and refinement of its strategies, which helped them determine that a commercial approach would be more lucrative, especially when introducing new patents.

Based on the mentor's suggestions, UNIBEST developed and implemented a tactical marketing plan within the agricultural market focused on developing strategic relationships with key agricultural organizations. The decision to take a commercial approach resulted in additional marketing and commercialization partners such as Winfield Solutions-a Land O'Lakes Company.

UNIBEST's mentor also helped the company select a third-party accounting firm that has helped refine financial aspects of the company's business plan, resulting in reallocation of how dollars associated with new patents are applied within the organization.

UNIBEST credits advice received through the MPP for its success over the past year. Income from 2010 to 2011 increased by over 800%-growth UNIBEST attributes to the down selection of target markets and a fresh, focused approach to its business plan.

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