SPIE CEO Interview Series with Leslie Kimerling

Leslie Kimerling SPIE CEO Interview SeriesLaunched in October 2020, SPIE’s CEO Interview Series focuses on how CEOs are weathering the COVID-19 crisis and what they are doing to overcome the accompanying business challenges the pandemic has created. The advice shared provides an invaluable tool for other CEOs navigating these difficult times.

Leslie Kimerling, CEO and Co-Founder of Double Helix Optics, kicked off the series. Part of Luminate’s first cohort and recipient of $1M in follow-on funding at Luminate Finals 2018, Double Helix Optics delivers unrivaled nano-scale 3D imaging and sensing.

Evan Nisselson, General Partner and Founder at LDV Capital, interviewed Leslie about her business, the changes she has faced, and what the future looks like for Double Helix. Watch Leslie’s interview here.

Some key takeaways from Leslie for other founders and CEOs:

  • Technology can take a long time to come to fruition. As an entrepreneur, never give up!
  • When you hear “no,” it doesn’t necessarily mean “never;” it means “not now.” Just keep moving forward.
  • Initial visions for your technology can change drastically when going from research to commercialization. Find the core value proposition that makes your technology able to be replicated, produced, and accessible for all of your customers.
  • Take time to learn from your customers and how they are using your technology. They may have different uses than what you originally envisioned.
  • Going from proof of concept to volume manufacturing depends on supply chain management, which can be challenging in times such as these. Research local resources that may be a good fit.
  • Make the most of technology to share information, and make your meetings with your teams and customers very specific and productive. Acknowledging each other’s personal lives during this time is vital to learn how to create both space and boundaries in this new normal.
  • Leverage and continue to build your network for personal and professional growth before challenges and uncertainties arise.
  • As the CEO, your team is still depending on you, no matter what you also may be going through. As Brene Brown teaches in her podcast “Daring to Lead,” we need to embrace our own vulnerabilities and weave them into the courageous parts of our lives. That combination will make us much more effective leaders.