Business Development

David Karohl

David Karohl is a director of business development for a small nanotechnology company. He earned both a master's degree in chemical engineering and later an M.B.A. David began his career in technology transfer and chemical production, then moved to engineering, and finally moved to the business side of technology.

What you need to succeed in this field

  • Broad technical knowledge
  • Communication—speaking, writing, and listening
  • Teamwork
  • Ability to conduct thorough and accurate analyses
  • Problem solving abilities, including the ability to define the problem

David's job is to generate sales of products, in both the near and long term. He prepares presentations and product marketing materials to educate potential customers, and speaks about the company's technology at conferences, trade shows, and exhibitions. He calls or calls on new prospects, provides initial technical support, talks to development partners, and negotiates terms of deals in progress. David also analyzes sales data and technical results from customers, and monitors other companies to ensure that his prices and offerings are competitive.

David enjoys the variety of marketing work. He works with different kinds of people (including research and development staff, management, senior management, and marketing managers) as well as many different companies. He conducts both technical and business analyses, in addition to keeping up with developments in the technology.

Career Path

After graduating from college, David joined an international chemical and pharmaceutical group. He was posted to the company's site in Belgium to learn about a particular technology that had been developed there. David's assignment was to learn the production process and process engineering, and develop any new technology necessary for implementation of this technology in the United States. Upon his return, David became lead process engineer, responsible for building the plant to utilize this process.

Over time, David became responsible for more product lines, as well as company projects, budgeting, distribution and market support equipment, and the plants' environmental systems.

David had always been interested in the commercial side of technology, and had taken economics and marketing classes while in college and graduate school. After several years, David's company had an opening in the marketing and business development of highly technical products, and David switched to the business side of the company.

In 1999 David went back to business school full time, to broaden and deepen his non-technical skills. While in school, he remained active in the chemistry community and followed the nanotechnology (e.g., buckyball and buckytube) developments. David developed contacts within that community, and upon graduation joined the nanotechnology company as it was staffing up to transition from its academic roots into a profit-focused startup. He is now one of three directors of business development, each responsible for developing markets for specific types of products.

"In nanotechnology, the true revolution is just beginning. Materials are always limiting, so expanded materials properties lead to better existing products and enable brand new products. We are building an international business around 'the defining polymer of the 21st century.'"