EMTM InSITE
Vincent Natoli

“I have recommended the program to people who have an interest in business and technology, PhDs looking to get more of a business foundation and people that simply wanted to take their career in a different direction. It works for all of them.”


Vincent Natoli, PhD, EMTM'02
Founder and CEO
Stone Ridge Technology
Bel Air, MD

Vincent Natoli, PhD, EMTM’02

When he came to UPenn EMTM, Vincent already had an accomplished academic background, with an undergraduate degree in engineering and physics from MIT and a PhD in physics from the University of Illinois. He also had ten years of experience working as a staff physicist and scientific associate at ExxonMobil, creating computational simulations for quantum chemistry and reservoir simulation. Over the course of his career, however, he had developed some novel ideas for products and services that he wanted to develop further, but when he approached venture capitalists he was told, “You’re a physicist — you may have good ideas, but you can’t possibly run a company.” Vincent took the message to heart. “I said, okay, then, I’m getting a business degree.”

Why EMTM?

When Vincent heard about Penn EMTM’s technology management program, he saw it as the perfect way to build on his previous education while acquiring a new set of tools for working toward his entrepreneurial goals. Vincent was living in New Jersey at the time, and Penn was a short commute. With sponsorship from his employer, he began the program full time in 2000. “The spirit of the place was very contagious. I applied, got accepted and showed up. The decision, I soon found, was life-changing.”

Career Impact

Vincent’s memories of EMTM’s classroom experience are vivid. “As a physicist, I gravitated toward the quantitative classes like Decision Models and Finance, which were excellent and allowed us to use a quantitative approach to solving business problems. But even classes that I initially didn’t think would be as interesting for me, such as Organizational Behavior & Design, turned out to be much richer than I expected.”

A technology elective on semiconductors included a research paper on FPGA microchips, which gave Vincent the idea for directly programming the chips with numerical algorithms for high-performance computing. Working with two classmates, he created a business plan based on this concept and entered it into the Wharton Business Plan Competition and won third place. With the prize money, he launched Stone Ridge Technology. “The program helped me see forward to where technology was going. I realized that as CPU performance was saturating and the industry was moving toward multi-core architectures, there were opportunities for other types of technologies. Sure enough, that's what happened. Starting my own company allowed me to offer tools, products and services to help people make this transition.”

Vincent decided early on to eschew venture capital in Stone Ridge's early stages as bootstrapping the company’s growth would give him more flexibility. “As a scientist you don't learn much about venture capital. EMTM really equipped me with the expertise and demystified the whole process so I could think more strategically.”

Though it was several years before Vincent could focus on Stone Ridge Technology on a full-time basis, the onetime “garage enterprise” now has six full-time employees and does $1 million a year in sales. He has found that EMTM's resources have been invaluable throughout the company’s evolution. “As a new entrepreneur, I have lots of questions and I still turn to some of my EMTM classmates and professors for advice.” He also comes to campus to recruit new hires.

Though Vincent had already built a career on technical know-how, he credits EMTM with helping him strike out on his own and prove his doubters wrong. “I have recommended the program to people who have an interest in business and technology, PhDs looking to get more of a business foundation and people that simply wanted to take their career in a different direction. It works for all of them.”