Aug. 25, 2022

#83: Tom Tyrrell (Great Lakes Biomimicry)

Tom Tyrrell — founder and Chairman of Great Lakes Biomimicry & co-founder of Segmint — on the power of biomimicry and harnessing the intelligence found in nature’s 3.8 billion years of R&D (asking questions nature has already found the answers to)

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Our conversation today is with Tom Tyrrell, Founder and Chairman of Great Lakes Biomimicry, an entrepreneurial 501(c)(3) organization (recently having merged with the Ohio Aerospace Institute) with a mission to create conditions for innovation through biomimicry, focused on assisting organizations explore new opportunities, solve problems and drive sustainability.

Biomimicry, which we’ll explore in much more detail in our conversation, seeks to drive this innovation by harnessing the intelligence found in nature’s 3.8 billion years of R&D — asking questions nature has already found the answers to — for example questions like how does nature manage structural forces, sense motion and temperature, manage temperature, change shape, coordinate, optimize material and energy? how does nature evolve to survive; adapt to changing conditions; be locally attuned and responsive; be resource efficient; employ life-friendly chemistry?

Prior to founding Great Lakes Biomimicry, Tom was a co-founder and chairman of Segmint, a Northeast-Ohio-based startup and provider of data analytics-driven marketing technology (acquired by Alkami in April 2022).

He was a Co-Founder, Senior Advisor, and Director of Glengary, which combined a network of support services with investment capital.

Tom’s thirty-three-year career prior, all in the metals industry, included significant turnaround, M&A, and IPO experience, with responsibility for four start-ups, restarts, or consolidations ranging from $250M – $1.5B in sales, partnering directly with investment firms including Primus Venture Partners, PNC Equity Management, Warburg Pincus and The Blackstone Group.  In 1988 he was awarded Inc. Magazine’s Entrepreneur of the Year (EOY) award for Business and Industry and, in 1989, was selected as an entrepreneur of the year finalist for the restart and operation of the American Steel & Wire Company.

Since moving to the Cleveland area in 1986, Tom has spent virtually all his spare time engaged with the three E’s – Education, Environment, and Entrepreneurism – all focused on enhancing Northeast-Ohio's regional economic development. He has actively supported both undergraduate and graduate-level entrepreneurial programs at midwestern colleges and universities as a trustee of Elmhurst College, Baldwin-Wallace College, and Lorain County Community College where he is also a member of the GLIDE Innovation Fund Board and served on the NorTech Board of Trustees, the Youngstown Business Incubator Board, and the Akron Archangels. He also was a trustee of the Ohio & Erie Canalway Association, the oversight board for the federally funded Ohio & Erie National Heritage Canalway. Tom has been involved with the Canalway since 1988, is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Conservancy of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, was the Founding Chair of the Trails Forever Endowment Leadership Initiative for the Conservancy and a former trustee of the Cleveland Zoological Society.

This was easily one of my favorite discussions to date covering a wide range of topics and the full breadth of tom’s experience — I hope you all enjoy my conversation with Tom Tyrrell!


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