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Meet Neil Gupta of Kinetic Analytics in Huntington Beach

Today we’d like to introduce you to Neil Gupta.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Neil. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
After receiving my master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from MIT, I worked for a variety of small aerospace startups for nearly 10 years. I then spent two years in a Science/Policy fellowship with the Defense Department in Washington DC and developed a broader understanding of the way policy gets made and the role of manufacturing and innovation in the US economy. When consulting as a structural engineer, a client approached me about designing prototype aircraft parts. I suggested my “company” could design and manufacture the parts for them as well. After the client agreed, I scrambled to hire a technician, acquire some rudimentary equipment and sublease some floor space in a warehouse. We’ve been fortunate to have grown steadily since then. I think having my own business is always something I’ve wanted to do. Working for small start-ups fueled my sense of adventure and desire to do it for myself, but also gave me insight into what it takes to build my own business.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
While running a small business gives me the flexibility to make my own schedule and spend more time with our two young children at the beginning and end of their days, it is far more work and hours than a “normal” job. The prototype works we do can be cyclical because not all clients continue past a few prototypes. You never know what the next project coming down the pipeline will be, which is both exciting and a source for concern. When people talk about keeping manufacturing in the US, they don’t always explain that this means increased automation of machinery, and higher-end niche products. These advanced US manufacturing businesses can be very capital intensive.

The high costs of employee salaries and state-of-the-art machines can be difficult to manage in terms of cash flow. I’m learning the limits of organic growth and the importance of developing a wide project base to normalize incoming revenue. As we move into higher value contracts I’m learning new lessons in contract writing, and the importance of leaning on talented professional employees who have been here before.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Kinetic Analytics story. Tell us more about the business.
Kinetic Analytics is at its heart a technology innovator. Our day-to-day operations tend toward helping clients create new, innovative composite products, such as aircraft, bicycles and a variety of other interesting things like nuclear detectors, robotic arms, and bionic legs.

Composites is still relatively unknown in industry and we help customers take the most advantage of the benefits of the material and to find the right manufacturing method for their stage of development. Most of our team members come from aerospace and while we help many companies design, analyze and produce their custom composite structures, we are also engaged in our own drone development programs.

We are a diverse group of engineers and technicians and as a small company we focus on communication and understanding the cross-domain effects. Each of our team leads has decades of experience and we make an effort to take each person’s knowledge base into account. This helps us produce well-engineered products that are easier to manufacture and can be produced quickly and accurately.

Part of our value proposition is our vertical integration. When customers come to us with a problem we bring all aspects of engineering to bear on a solution and we can do almost everything in house. This gives us control over the solution and enables us to meet tight deadlines.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
My wife turned me on to the NPR podcast, “How I Built This”. In every entrepreneur story they ask about the role of luck and no one has denied it. No matter how talented you are, luck, and timing can make or break you. However, the best explanation I have heard is that proper planning and good execution puts you in the right place to be able to take advantage of good luck when it comes. This has been true at a few distinct turns in our company history. It is also true that part of the ability to move on a lucky situation is due to the business intuition you might have. While I still often force myself to do sanity checks to make sure I’m making a logical decision, I’m also learning to trust my gut instinct as a means of making quick informed decisions when you don’t have a lot of time to detail all the options.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
I’m a dad to two young sons and as I get older I see the ways my childhood impacted my growth, and I’ve evolved a more nuanced respect for even the small ways my parents helped shape my character. From my father’s affable demeanor and the details of design he taught me to my mother’s discipline, focus and sense of fairness. Professionally, I’ve been fortunate to have learned from some of the brightest of the last great aerospace generation. Pat Gilliam, who created what became one of the key structural analysis codes and taught me about analysis… Martin Wade, the former Lotus Racecar design lead who taught me to cherish the details of design. Abe Karem who besides being one of the country’s best aircraft designers, also had a lifelong love for the creation of young dynamic teams. The people I’ve met through him have formed a cornerstone to my career.

Another key to a stable company is stability and support at home. My wife was brought up in an entrepreneurial household and worked as an independent contractor most of her career. She has been a strong supporter despite the ups and downs small business development entails.

On a day-to-day basis my team is what makes the company work. Everyone is a jack-of-all-trades, Ralph creates automated machines, orders materials and files papers. Both my composite shop lead (John Rogers) and Machine shop lead (Kevin Carpenter) have decades of experience in their fields which allows me to promote the business with the confidence that we can tackle complex challenges and have the skill to meet any new challenges.

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Image Credit:
Olaina Anderson

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