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Dr. Stephen A. Di Biase served as the Chief Executive Officer of Laser Applications Technology (LAT) LLC and as currently President of Premier Insights, LLC. He is an entrepreneur, building businesses and capabilities from emerging technology.  In leading LAT, Dr. Di Biase developed the business model and go to market strategies for introducing a disruptive technology for labeling produce.  With Premier Insights, Dr. Di Biase teaches leaders how to become more innovative by making innovation a discipline they can refine.

During his 40 year career, Dr. Di Biase has become accomplished in using innovation to create value in a global commercial setting.  He has over 20 patents, mentored technical professionals, and taught innovation and human resource management in both corporate and university settings. He has guest lectured at several academic institutions and has authored books, patents and corporate publications. 

Dr. Di Biase graduated from The Pennsylvania State University and sits on the Science Advisory Board for The Pennsylvania State University. He is also a retired member of the Board of Trustees for the Mt. Union College, and has served on the Board of Directors of the Industrial Research Institute, a leading experienced based innovation management association.

Prior to joining JohnsonDiversey, Dr. Di Biase spent 26 years with the Lubrizol Corporation, where he held a variety of leadership positions, including general management roles and those with profit and loss responsibility for emerging businesses derived from technology platforms.  These global assignments often involved business development from strategy conception to execution managing teams of Sales, Marketing, and Business Development professionals.

Prior to accepting the assignment in business development Dr. Di Biase was the Vice President – Research, Development, and Engineering where he was responsible for the global technical and scientific leadership for a centralized R&D function comprising of 700 professionals, an operating budget of $120+ million, and a capital budget of $10+ million. 

In this role Dr. Di Biase fostered innovation and delivered results using processes such as stage gates, project and portfolio management, 6-Sigma, and advanced statistics while introducing a variety of IT based tools such as data mining and predictive modeling.

Dr. Di Biase has served as chairman of The Lubrizol Foundation Scholarship Committee, Chairman of the Northeastern Ohio Section of the American Chemical Society, Board member of the Cleveland Area Research Directors (CARD) and in The Boy Scouts of America where he served in a variety of posts.   Dr. Di Biase has been honored by The Pennsylvania State University College of Science with its 2007 Distinguished Alumni Award and serves as an adjunct professor at Benedictine University in Naperville IL.






Food for Thought

CEO Strategies for the High Technology Startup

Stephen Di Biase

CEO Strategies for the Technology-Based Startup

A successful technology-driven, or product-driven, new venture combines a value-driven orientation, an organization capable of delivering that value, and a supportive executive leadership team. Less visible, but equally critical, is a culture that enables replication of the initial successes. All of these factors are required for the new venture since risks are inherently higher as supported by five-year failure rates.

The customer’s priorities, objectives, and values are key to any value proposition and must be approached as absolutes over the short term. The value proposition must contain targets, frames of reference and points of differentiation, enabled by the appropriate support structure. Together these three dynamic descriptions, once aligned, create an actionable plan yielding win-win economic outcomes. Within the value proposition three specific points of reference exist: preferred, differentiated and entry. For the venture based on a new-to-the-world and/or market offering a bias for value to the “lead user” is helpful in catalyzing market adoption even though these users may not be large customers in their own right.

Beyond the value proposition, the organization must be capable of delivering on the value promised. This requires the CEO and executive team to build and maintain an organization committed to implementing and continuously improving seven clearly proven and critical parameters:

  1. Place the customer at the epicenter of the business model.
  2. Focus on solutions that anticipate customer needs.
  3. Learn from competitors, but stay faithful to your vision.
  4. Create an authentic learning organization.
  5. Harness the intellect of every employee.
  6. Create a performance-driven culture.
  7. Prepare the organization for change, especially drastic change that can be common with new ventures.

Finally, but equally important, is developing a leadership mantra that is sound and grounded in past experiences, while focused on the future knowledge-worker economy. Seven specific leadership characteristics, which have borne the test of time, are proven to drive effective performance and yield sustainable results are:

  1. Integrity – Keep your word, don’t play favorites, and tell the truth.
  2. Vision – Explain why the team’s activities are important.
  3. Competence – Demonstrate skill in some aspect of business.
  4. Decisiveness – Make sound, defensible decisions in a timely fashion.
  5. Humility – Acknowledge that you don’t know everything.
  6. Persistence – Don’t give up easily, but know when to manage your losses.
  7. Team building and maintenance – Show that “It’s all about the people.”

Although a new enterprise has the highest probability of success when it effectively combines value to the customer with an organization capable of delivering that value and has a leadership team that exhibits these proven characteristics, clearly tools and processes also are necessary. These include meaningful strategies, sufficient resources, insightful metrics, and a bias for delivering results in a predictable manner. However, tools and processes still require the aforementioned prerequisites to optimize the chances of success.