It's a long way from the depths of space to a tennis court, but Larry Kuznetz has started a business that bridges those miles.
Drawing on 15 years of experience as a National Aeronautics and Space Administration scientist, Kuznetz has founded Techni-Clothes Systems Inc., a privately held, New York Citybased firm that makes products to cool and heat the human body.
Techni-Clothes's product line includes headbands, visors, and athletic caps with a lightweight coolant gel cartridge developed from technology used in astronauts' space suits.
Kuznetz has found another terrestrial use for the cartridges: He places them in the safety helmets used by workers in steel mills, mines, and other locations that can't be effectively cooled or air-conditioned. His products are designed with function as well as fashion in mind.
Kuznetz, his mother, and his brother (now vice-president) started Techni-Clothes with $25,000. They are currently seeking funds from Japanese investors, a medical group, and a venture capital firm. They've recently signed a licensing agreement with a sportswear company.
Kuznetz, 39, a PhD. in biological engineering and exercise physiology, also has degrees in industrial engineering and engineering management. His goal, he says, is to bring space-age technology to the consumer.
Being in business for himself is not exactly the easiest way to meet his goal, Kuznetz admits. "You spend a heck of a lot less time being a creator, and more time doing day-to-day things," he says. Indeed, Kuznetz credits any success he may have to his NASA background.
On the other hand, Kuznetz is not blind to the benefits of entrepreneurship. NASA is a bureaucracy, he says. "And a bureaucracy takes forever to get things done."