Episode #8: Bringing Your Customers Into The Development Process Is A No-Brainer With Nick Ripplinger

The quickest and most efficient way to innovate on a product or service is to know your customers and acquire a genuine understanding of the problems they encounter on a daily basis. Customer-driven innovation is Nick Ripplinger’s guiding principle that drives his success in rapid innovation technology commercialization. Nick is the Founder and President of Battle Sight Technologies, a startup that finds ways to market innovative technologies that cater to the needs of warfighters, first responders, and emergency management professionals. Nick joins Betsy Westhafer and Tony Bodoh in today’s episode to talk about technology commercialization, customer-driven innovation, veteran entrepreneurship, the coronavirus pivot, success through strategic partnerships, and more. To Nick, bringing in customers to the development process is a no-brainer – a point that entrepreneurs from every business sphere should ponder upon.

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Bringing Your Customers Into The Development Process Is A No-Brainer With Nick Ripplinger

Violently Execute To Advance The Mission Of The Company

Our guest is Nick Ripplinger. He is the Founder of a startup called Battle Sight. Betsy, why don’t you tell us a little bit more about Nick?

Nick has been an entrepreneur for a few years with a post-military career. He had a phenomenal career. He was medically retired. I’m not sure what year that was. Nick is my eldest child. We’re going to have a great conversation with all things about entrepreneurs, technology commercialization, the changing market and when times call for a pivot and all kinds of things. I am excited to have my son, Nick Ripplinger, here.

Thank you.

Nick, as a starting point, why don’t you give us some background of your military career, your transition and how you ultimately ended up where you are?

I spent many years in the Army, mostly active duty and a little bit of time in the Reserves. I did a couple of combat deployments and rounded out my career working for NATO as the operations NCOIC or Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge for the European Command and NATO Protective Services Detachment. The transition was terrible. We had a beautiful plan that fell apart with the pregnancy of our first kid to force me back to work when I was saying, “I want go back to school.” From there, I worked at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in the defense contracting space. I went out to industry and then we formed Battle Sight in 2017.

Tell us more about Battle Sight.

Battle Sight is a rapid technology commercialization company focused on the warfighter, the first responder and emergency management professional. Our flagship product is a CrayTac IR, which is an infrared crayon in the invisible spectrum, but it looks like ChemLight or light stick through night vision goggles. From there, we’ve branched out to about six other product lines.

Tell us a little bit more specificity on what that means, technology commercialization company?

I would love to say that we’re a bunch of inventors coming up with the greatest ideas, but that’s not the case. We go out and source technology that was developed in academic labs, DOD research labs, private industry labs that have commercial viability. We bring them in-house, figuring out how to manufacture it and then commercialize it as quickly as possible. If we put that into a timeline, from our first license, it was November of 2017 and we got to revenue in March of 2018.

Until you’ve actually been in your customers’ shoes, it’s so hard to fully comprehend what they are telling you.CLICK TO TWEET

That’s rapid innovation.

That’s what we pride ourselves on is how fast we can move.

You’re not the inventors, but you are taking it to the market. You’re the innovators, but you’ve identified what technology do we think we can turn into a commercial product. There’s a whole lot of understanding who the customer would be. It’s one of these that we are interested in this show. Let’s take the first product, how did you come up with the idea that we can take this particular technology and turn it into essentially an infrared crayon?

This technology is brought to me by a mentor. That was a huge hurdle. As he was pitching this technology to me, I zoned out in the middle of the meeting. I started thinking of all the use cases that I would have personally used a product like this while I was in Iraq, Afghanistan or anywhere else in the world doing training missions. That’s where it clicked. I know for a fact there’s a market out here because I would have been the customer for this a few years ago.

What did that look like? Give us an example of an application where probably in that meeting you’re thinking about like, “I could have used it here or here.”

That’s been the fun part about it. The original use case was if you think about clearing a building, you kick in the front door and you go room by room and capture whoever needs to be captured. Once that whole building’s locked down, then you’d go back through and grab all the intel. Each step of the way you’re throwing traditional glow-sticks, ChemLights in each room as a way to communicate. If you kick in a building that you think has twenty rooms, you need 40 ChemLights to clear it. It turns out it has 50 rooms and you needed 100 ChemLights and you only had 60. You’re searching the same areas multiple times. Some areas aren’t getting searched at all.

It broke down the communication on those type of missions. You can go right on the wall and one CrayTac replaces about 1,000 ChemLights. If you have 10 to 12 people on a mission, all of a sudden, you’re carrying 10,000 to 12,000 ChemLights. You’re never going to run out. That was the primary use case, but we spend a lot of time out in the field with our customers. It’s amazing to me. We have the best customers in the world. They’re the smartest, brightest men and women in the world. They all have their own little unique twist on how they can use the CrayTac product for their specific missions.

What are some of the other creative applications you’ve seen for it that would have never occurred to you when you were bringing this to market?

The people in the military that I don’t think get nearly enough respect are the EOD, the bomb disposal guys. They’re taping it to their boot and using it. Every time they step, they’re putting a dot on the ground and using it to breadcrumb a way in to a potential IED or roadside bomb site should they have to send a robot or another guy with tools that they know the safe way that’s not going to set off the bomb. The medics are using it to treat a casualty under blackout conditions to write on the foreheads of when did they give morphine, what time did they put the tourniquet on. That way when they get back to the hospital, they can still capture all that without giving away their position using light.

Customer Driven Innovation: Battle Sight sources technology from research laboratories, figures out how to manufacture it, and commercializes it as quickly as possible.

Explain to us how the infrared spectrum piece of this works and why that’s important.

The infrared spectrum is right outside of the red spectrum in the light scale. It’s invisible to the naked eye. You can ride in a dark room and not be able to see anything, but with the use of night-vision goggles, it sees that infrared spectrum. Our product produces a light that is visible through the night-vision goggles.

Why does that matter?

“We win wars because we own the night,” that’s somebody else’s tag on that I wish I would’ve come up with. We do because we have such a technology superiority against most of our adversaries. We conduct missions at night where we can see and they can’t. That keeps that element of surprise. It’s a huge tactical advantage to be able to visually communicate in those low light and no light situations.

You were in this space. You’re a warfighter yourself. You have been on the frontlines. When this technology is presented to you, you get some ideas that come to mind. I thought it interesting because you alluded to it a little bit. You said, “We work with the smartest men and women in the world.” As you look at that, what were some of the things that you thought might work, but as you got to know your customer, you realized, “We’ve got to shift, we’ve got to pivot this?”

The first time we debuted the CrayTac product, we spent six months working between the license and on the development side of things. We’re about to launch our baby out to the world. Our baby’s the best-looking baby in the world. There’s nobody better than our baby. We take it out and we’re in a big conference with a ton of special operation forces guys. We showed them the product. We took them into a darkroom. We’ve got these amazing reactions and they come out of the darkroom. They’re like, “We love how your technology works the way it writes. All of that’s awesome. The way you packaged it, sucks.” All the wind comes out of our sales like, “Did we waste all of our personal money that we invested in this company for over six months to deliver a crappy product?” That was not our goal by any means.

During that time, the few people that commented on the packaging and how the physical function of the product, not the visual functions, we simply asked them, “Do you mind leaving us your email address? We’d love to bring you into the development cycle. We agree with you based of what you said that this is not going to work. If you liked the technology, we want to fix this and put this into an application that works for you. We’d love for you to be part of that development process.” Everybody said yes. As we’re recutting out designs and coming up with new ideas of how to manufacture this that meets their needs, we had 4 or 5 special operation forces. Their input directly impacted how we developed our product. That way, when round two came around, when we launched the product for commercial sales to the government, we were able to capture those sales because we had our customers there every step of the way during the development for the form, fit and function.

It goes to show how many different ways you can leverage your customers. You leveraged them in a way that they were able to help you with the use cases. You were able to leverage the customer input for the product design. I’m sure that through the course of all of this, you’ve gotten a lot of other ways that you’ve engaged with your customers in a way that helps you accelerate your progress.

That probably says the best. We do leverage our customers, but it’s not in a salesy, sleazy type of tactical way. It’s more in the innovation side of things, which then turn around and release an awesome product which leads to sales so that you don’t have to be salesy on. Our second product, our nightfall product line, we were doing a CrayTac demonstration in our shop, which is the crayon. It’s like, “Can you float this chemistry on water?” “I have no clue, but I’ve got water, beakers and chemicals. Let’s try it out.” We get a 5-gallon bucket, fill it up with water, mix up some of the chemicals in the crayon in liquid form and it floats on water. We observe it and it doesn’t last that long, but there’s enough of a proof of concept that there might be something there.

Entrepreneurs can leverage their customers for further innovation of products and services.CLICK TO TWEET

This all came back to the aircraft crash that happened with a Marine Corp Captain Jahmar Resilard. An F-35 hit a C-130 and both aircraft went down in the Sea of Japan. We were able to rescue all the C-130 pilots because it’s a big cargo plane. It was super easy to find. The pilot punched out of the Fighter, and the plane went about a hundred miles and they recovered Captain Jahmar Resilard at the eleven-hour mark. According to his Apple Watch, he passed away at the 9.5-hour mark. If we could have put out a signal that could have been detected from the air from a farther distance away, we could increase that chance of rescue over recovery. That’s 100% of a product that is in the process of commercialization that came directly from our customer’s needs. Without that engagement and without pulling them in on the CrayTac stuff, we would have never known about the problem. We had the solution sitting in our shop. We were able to use that customer to help us support a development contract with the Air Force.

You also had the opportunity to go field test that in Okinawa.

It was amazing. Okinawa is beautiful if you’ve never been. It was humbling to be out there and be on the same flight line where these planes took off that they’re solving the problem. We’ve been up in the air and hanging out at the back of the C-130 and understanding our customer’s challenges. We heard the stories, but until you’ve been in those shoes, it’s hard to comprehend what they were trying to tell us. The product exceeded all of our expectations, which also made it a fun trip.

One of the things that was interesting too is you were saying the reason that you can have these conversations and that your customers are willing to open up to you is because you’ve been there. Talk a little bit more about what that meant as a warfighter and what it means that you can go back and have these conversations.

Our military men and women get targeted for sales as soon as they get out of basic training. They’ve got a guaranteed government paycheck. They’ve got some fringe benefits that put money in their pocket as well. I feel like they’re always getting sold to and it’s the feel around the military culture. When you’re able to go in there, we’ve all been through the same basic training. We’ve been through some of the same schools. We live the same life. It breaks down those barriers that you can have an actual conversation where they aren’t skeptical of, “What are you trying to sell us? Is it a snake oil or is this something that’s going to impact our mission?” Every time I get deployed, I had a footlocker of gear that I never used because it didn’t meet what I needed on the missions. We’re never going to build a product that sits on a tough box. We want all of our products out there and being used and worked. When we explain that to the customers and we show them the product, it’s a natural conversation between siblings, almost. It is a brotherhood or sisterhood. Being the customer before being the salesperson, does break down all ton of those barriers for us.

Nick, I happen to know that in your physical location, you have a lot of salutes to the people you serve. You’ve got different military branch flags. You’ve got a piece of a fighter plane on your wall. You have a lot of things that show your commitment to your customers. Talk a little bit about your culture and how you implement your sentiment toward your brotherhood to the other people in your company.

There are millions of books probably written on this subject, but culture does start at the top. It’s my biggest fear as a CEO or entrepreneur is that we’re going to wreck this amazing culture that we built. It’s something that we spend time talking about. We spend a ton of time and energy making sure we keep it. We do have the flags of our customers up. We do have the American flag off a fighter jet hanging on our wall. When we were early on and we were starting to hire, “How do we make sure we keep this culture going?” We decided that we’re going to go with every step of the way we can, we’re hiring veterans, military family members or somehow affiliated to the military so they have that personal ownership in the mission. We’re 100% veteran-owned and military-affiliated employer. We have an Army mom. We have some veterans. We’ve got a military brat on the team. That whole team has bought into that mission because they’ve all been personally impacted by our end customers.

You’ve got this credibility from all different perspectives that you can apply to the situation. There’s something else that I sense in the conversation we’re having here. You’ve got this deep sense of humility and vulnerability. I noticed it in the stories that you’re sharing. You’ve talked a little bit about how things have changed from when you left the military and starting Battle Sight. There was a gap there of several years. The warfighters needed change and the missions were changed. How did you approach that like, “We’ve got the credibility, but we’ve got to learn. We’ve got to figure out where they’re at?”

A lot of that was done during that development of CrayTac is what laid that foundation for us. We thought we designed the greatest thing ever and then it sucked. We learned that when we could ask our customers for feedback and to be part of the development process, we’re like, “This is a no-brainer,” but I never hear anybody talking about it. Every time that we take on a development project or we’re looking at a new piece of technology, we go out and source those end users, our potential customers to be part of us during that development cycle. We’ve partnered with the Air Force and with several Army units. We are trying to source out their problems and try to go pair that with technology. We bring in those champions or stakeholders on the customer side to help do that development progress. I think having that customer in there is what allows us to move as quickly as possible or quickly as we do.

Customer Driven Innovation: Product innovation is most efficient when it comes directly from the customers’ needs.

I love that phrase, “Sourcing out the customer’s problems.” I’ve never heard that phrase before. That’s a lot of the lines of the work that we do with customer advisory boards is sourcing out those products, trying to get to the root of what their problems are. We’re in the throes of the Coronavirus crisis. You’ve done some pivoting as many companies have. Tell us a little bit about what you’ve done and what was your thought process to get you to the move you made?

When Coronavirus hits, we lose half of our staff that’s still on the payroll, but they were uncomfortable being out in public for their personal needs. We are fully supportive of that. We are not trying to put anybody at risk for Battle Sight. Our COO, Chris, and myself, we were sitting around our desk having an adult beverage or two trying to figure out what we’re going to do in this pandemic stage that we living in. We’re walking around our shop and we’re looking at, “What skillsets do we still have that are able to work? What assets do we have on our shop floor that we can put to work in? What industry connections do we have to pull something together?” With our CrayTac product, it’s a hot pour of wax that has a lot of automated pumps and everything else to fill these behind it. We got started thinking about hand sanitizer, “Who do we know in the hand sanitizer business?”

We call up our chemical supplier who’s right up the road and said, “Do you make hand sanitizers or could you get it for us?” At that time, they were also in the process of switching over their production to hand sanitizer. The stars aligned that we were able to get a source that wasn’t publicly known for hand sanitizer. We had the equipment and the labor to be able to fill them. We wanted to take it a step further. It’s crazy times for everybody. We sourced some bottles and we decided, “We’re going to be able to sell a third of these, cover our costs and keep our employees engaged.” That was our number one priority. “These other two-thirds that we have, let’s bottle it and donate it to first responders, the military and anybody who needs it who’s also potential customers.” It is self-serving and we’re flowing that out to our customers. They are the ones on the front lines, whether it’s a war, riots or pandemic.

How did that transition from CrayTac manufacturing to hand sanitizer bottle filling process? How did that go for you?

It was crazy because the first supply of hand sanitizers we have got sold out from underneath of us with a duffel bag of cash at the loading dock. That’s the crazy times that we live in. It turns out our equipment did not work with the hand sanitizer the way we thought it did. We went to Uline or Grainger or some supply store and we got manual pumps. We manually pumped about 1,200 gallons with manual vacuum pumps. We were able to move all the material we got and flood the market with well-over 1,000 bottles of freehand sanitizer for the first responders.

We’ve seen many companies being scrappy like that. This is the time to be scrappy.

I’m not sure if scrappy is the word I would use for that, to be honest with you. It’s not to make anybody else sound bad, but as entrepreneurs, CEOs or business leaders, we solve problems. There’s a massive problem going on out there. What resources or assets do we have that we can go out and solve a problem and add value to our community?

One thing I wanted to talk to you about is you won an innovation award a couple of years ago. In the process of winning that award, you talked a lot about the community effort that it took to get you where you are. Can you talk to our audience a little bit about how it takes a village to build a company and all of your strategic partnerships?

I’d love to say this was all me, but that’s not the case. I’ve only played a small fraction in the whole scale up of Battle Sight. We licensed the technology from the Air Force. That was the first strategic partner. We realized we had no clue what we were doing so we go back to the Air Force. We wrote the Air Force a contract to assist us in facilitating knowledge transfer. We started working with directly with the inventor to get that done. We realized that we still weren’t good at making this, so we wanted to go find a supplier who could produce our microcapsules for us. They happened to be up the road.

Asking customers for feedback and to be part of the development process is a no-brainer, but you never hear anybody talking about it.CLICK TO TWEET

They kicked off an internal development effort. We put some funding behind as part of their internal development, which is the game-changer for the success of Battle Sight. We then worked with a local contract manufacturer and brand development effort. With those people, we learned what we needed to learn and then brought the manufacturing back in-house. On the sales side, everything’s almost been word of mouth from our engagement with our customers and sending out samples. They tell their buddies and then we send them samples. This was grown organically on the sales side that way.

The whole process is something that we don’t get into a lot. You don’t see enough in business books and in podcasts. It’s all the people that get involved, the partnerships, the failure again and again, but with each step of that is learning something new. That’s the critical part, “Pull out, what can I do? What can I learn?” Going back to the story you were telling about the switch over to hand sanitizer. It was interesting the way you worded that. You said, “What can we do with the skills and equipment we have?” That strikes me as such a valid question for anyone to be looking at these days. It’s not only the physical, tangible stuff you’ve got.

What are the intangibles that you have? What are your processes in place? What is your knowledge, partnerships and relationship? You tapped into all of those things. Even though we focus on the customer a lot, sometimes it’s about, “How do you step back and look at yourself? How could we reinvent ourselves for an entirely new purpose and follow that through?” As part of that, what’s the mindset of an entrepreneur? From your perspective, what does it take to be an entrepreneur? What’s the mindset piece that you’ve got to be aware of because it could lead to failure?

One thing we talk about a lot at Battle Sight is we all leverage our military skills and our training. In my opinion, the many years I spent on the military is far more valuable than all the years I spent in high school, grade school, college, Master’s program. Number one, it is the refusing to fail.

In your perspective, what’s the mindset of the entrepreneur? What types of things do they need to be aware of that they leverage? What do they have to avoid so they don’t fail?

The biggest thing that we talk about the most in Battle Sight is we leverage our military background more than we do Master’s degrees, college degrees or anything like that. It’s that refusing to fail. It would have been easy when somebody told us our product sucked to say, “We’re done. This sucks. We can’t sell it,” but we refuse to fail. We kept moving forward and we pulled those customers in. Resilience is probably the number one thing. Things to avoid for failure is being humble and fully transparent with yourself of what you’re good and not good at. Surround yourself with people that can make up those shortcomings for you.

What is your favorite part of being the leader of an organization that serves the military?

They’re the experiences we get to go out and do. Flying in the back of C-130 over the Sea of Japan, overlooking the mountains of Okinawa was amazing. It is the time that we spent in the clubhouse doing the mission prep. It’s the time that we’re doing it, the mission debriefs. All of those are insights that we’re getting from our customers that we can potentially turn into a product. That product is going to solve one of their problems, which is the whole reason why we’re in business.

One of the things I’ve been interested in your story is that it’s always about being there with the customer. You’re discovering things while you’re side-by-side with them. As I look at most other companies, they don’t seem to get out there and be with their customers side-by-side. The only story, and this comes out of the Dayton Cincinnati area, is the P&G story of the Swiffer on how they sat in homes and videotaped most often women, but they were cleaning their homes. That’s how they discovered, “Why don’t we put a wet wipe on the bottom of a stick and turn that into a product?” It’s from being there that they get these insights. Talk a little bit more if you can about the essence that you think matters for companies. If they don’t get out there with their customer, how likely are they to succeed?

Customer Driven Innovation: Entrepreneurs solve problems. They look at their assets and processes and how these can be used to solve problems and add value to the community.

I don’t think if you’re engaging your customers, you have any chances of success. There might be some oddballs here and there. All of our great ideas that aren’t our great ideas have all came from sitting in those team rooms and having those conversations. This is what makes Battle Sight somewhat unique. I feel like every company can do is breaking down those barriers with our customers, having them feel comfortable enough to tell us, “This is a real problem for us. Here are the real results. Is there anything you can do for it?” Sitting around, brainstorm back in napkin type development concepts that we can go back and execute on.

The execution is the other part. In that story with P&G, it’s great that they identified, “We put a wet wipe on the bottom of the stick.” That’s only half the problem. The other half of the problem is going out and executing and putting the wet wipe on the bottom of the stick and then going out and selling it. There’s a phrase that we use, stolen from the military, is violently executed at Battle Sight. “Every day we’re going to make progress and we’re going to move that ball forward.” Sometimes it’s a football field, sometimes it’s only a yard, but every day of showing up, violently executing and advancing the mission of the company.

Nick, I knew that you do a lot in your community. On the show, we like to give our guests a chance to do a shout-out to different organizations that you’re involved in. Tell us a little bit about your community give back.

I’ve lived south of Dayton, Ohio. Our shop is in Dayton, Ohio. The Dayton community has been phenomenal to Battle Sight. We all feel a sense of obligation not to screw up Battle Sight so we can keep being an economic driver in the community and how we can give back. We do a lot with veterans because that’s a way for us to recruit. It’s the right thing to do in my mind. We also do a lot of work with the Red Cross. This hand sanitizer deal, we were giving it away to the first responders out there on the front lines. Through an organization, the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce is the generation date and program, which is helping breed the next leaders of the community. I know I’m tied to Dayton for the rest of my life. This is my home. This is where I want to plant my flag. I want to make sure the next great entrepreneurs and business leaders in the community have resources and everything they need to be successful and keep Dayton being the great community that it is.

Nick, thank you so much. This has been a phenomenal interview. For us, being able to understand how you go through rapid innovation and take that idea that someone else has had and bring that to market has been fascinating. It comes back to listening to the customer and being humble enough to hear what they have to say. Also, to look at their problem and find that solution however that’s going to come about. Thank you for being with us.

Every company should break down barriers with their customers and get them actively involved in product development.CLICK TO TWEET

Thank you. I appreciate it. It’s been a blast.

I love this interview with Nick because from my perspective, he has lived that mindset of the entrepreneur, although he didn’t come about it traditionally. He started in the military and was there for many years. He got this whole idea of resilience and there’s no failure. There’s always a way to move forward. That mindset is what a good entrepreneur has and it was instilled in him by the military.

On a personal note, Nick is my son and we talk every day about business. I had learned so much from him and his military experience. I feel like I’ve gotten the secondhand benefit of his military time. I’ve learned so much about persistence and busting through brick walls. I’ve had the chance to see the behind the scenes of Battle Sight from day one to where they are now. They met a tremendous amount of challenges. As an entrepreneur, you always have to have that mindset that you’ll figure it out. Whenever I do have the chance to talk with Nick and if there’s a challenge, I always say the same thing. It’s always with the same mantra like, “You always figure it out.”

He always figures it out. That’s such a great quality for an entrepreneur and something that I’ve gotten great value from. I also like how he talked about using the customers in a way that helps with product development. That’s such an important concept. It’s something that we do in the customer advisory boards, but to think about it in terms of people out in the field on the battlefront, it’s an interesting example. No matter who your customers are, you can get their input on your product development and the packaging and all of those kinds of things. I thought it was an interesting way to look at customer engagement.

He does a lot of B2G, Business to Government sales. His true consumers are the warfighters, the first responders and the person on the front lines. While he is listening to who he needs to listen to from the purchasing side and all of that, his focus is clearly on the end consumer. That helps him avoid some of the other obstacles in the path and the contracting side of things in that because they need the product. They want the product on the front lines and so it gets there. One of the things you said to him, “You’ll figure it out.” That could come across as trite and as dismissive. Honestly, in his case, because he keeps going back to the customer, that’s why he can always figure it out. I was struck because a lot of the work that I do in the customer experience from the ground up is listening to customer feedback. Also, helping companies look at it from the perspective of what are the problems your customers having in life, not only with your product.

In fact, let’s set that aside for a moment. Let’s look at what’s going on in their lives. This is what Nick does all the time. This is why they can pivot from, “We’ve got product A. How do we use that for product B, C and D?” That’s a key to success here is to understand the big picture of your customer. The more you’re with your customer, side-by-side with them, looking out the back of a C-130. That’s telling as far as how he understands what’s going on in their life. It’s important for any company. Anyone reading this, take some notes about that. What is it you could do to be side-by-side with your customer? How can you get out there in the field with them? This goes beyond customer journey mapping in the boardroom. You’ve got to be out there with them in their lives and in their businesses. Understand what’s going on so that you can find problems and then source the solution.

The other thing too that touches my heart about this is that veteran entrepreneurial spirit. Nick wrote a book called Front Line Leadership: Applying Military Strategies to Everyday Business. In that book, he has experiences that he had in the military and the lessons he learned through those experiences and how those same lessons apply in business. That’s a good lesson for all of us that no matter what your experiences are, you look for what you’re going to learn from them and then, “How can I now apply that in my business?” It is a good lesson for all of us and to be reminded of that. We hope you enjoyed it and got a lot of value out of reading Nick’s story about Battle Sight Technologies. We look forward to seeing you in the next episode. Thanks for being here.

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About Nick Ripplinger

Nick Ripplinger is Founder and President of Battle Sight Technologies. Nick is a former US Army soldier and Operations NCOIC. He was chosen as the top non-commissioned officer (of 50) to report all significant actions to Commanding Officer of Multinational Forces – Iraq. Following an inclusive interview process, Nick was selected to provide transportation and security to senior Commanding Officer in Europe. He successfully completed twenty-five months of duty in Iraq, safely returning all members of Army squad to USA. He also supervised and maintained Army squads in battle-ready condition, both in the USA and while deployed overseas and conducted force protection assessments.

Upon honorable discharge from the Army, Nick went on to work at Wright Patterson Air Force Base as Administer to the Special Access Program where he oversaw the process to obtain or upgrade personnel security clearances. He gained in-depth knowledge of JPAS, eQIP, JFAN’s, and DD Form 254, conducted travel briefings and debriefings, and administered the Operations Security Program. He went on to work at several military contracting organizations including MacAuly Brown, Orbital ATK, and Integrity Applications Incorporated as CPSO/FSO/CEO Liaison and Facility Security Manager.

Nick is the best-selling author of Front Line Leadership – Applying Military Strategies to Everyday Business and Front-Line Leadership – Journal. He also founded Front Line Leadership LLC, a leadership training and development company. As a Service Disabled Veteran, Nick dedicates his personal time and resources to assist veterans in transition by leveraging their military skills in the business world.

Nick’s leadership was recognized with the Soin Award for Innovation and the St. Joseph University’s Veteran Entrepreneur Award. He has appeared in Inc. Magazine, the Dayton Business Journal, the Dayton Daily News and as a featured speaker at Early Risers, Wright State University, University of Dayton, and Wounded Warrior Project events. Nick holds an MBA from Keller Graduate School of Management and a BS in Technical Management.

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