Steve Judd’s story could begin at many points, but for this article, let’s start in 2007 when drought—like conditions hit North Carolina and wells throughout his town of Hillsborough began to run dry.
It seemed silly that well owners couldn’t track the water levels in their wells without bulky tapes The engineer by trade and entrepreneur by experience started tinkering in a barn on his property, eventually designing an early Internet of Things device, a small machine that measures the sound waves within the well to determine the height of the water.
XXX is as unassuming as they get. He lives on a farm in Hillsborough
He’s always been involved in innovation. After earning his undergraduate degree in X at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, we entered a PhD program in plasma physics and worked on a project for the department of energy that was eventually discontinued. He went on to work for Draper Labs doing missile guidance research—he made sure nuclear missiles could fly through an atomic war, survive and still perform their function. Thankfully, his missiles have never been used in battle.
He left in 1987 when the government began to slash the defense budget and he hoped for a more pleasant mission. He had a young family and hoped to move to place good for raising kids and appealing for his career. Within a year, he he’d learned of an opportunity at a plastic manufacturing company, which made trade show displays, garbage can lids, playground slides nad dash panels for Caterpillar. It was located in Raleigh. He and his wife bought a share of the company to help the founders get out of debt. A year later, he inherited the entire company.
He built Advanced Plastoform over the next 10 years and eventually sold it to focus on several Internet companies he’d founded or dreamt up in recent years. There was Asset Depot, a reseller of industrial equipment, which he eventually built to 100 people. There was a storefront for bringing items to sell on eBay and You’ve Got Tshirts, which let customers upload photos that could be printed on tshirts and shipped to doors.
Asset Depot had raised $10 million and was nearing the close of a B round in 2001 when the bubble burst.
“All of the money dried up and we had a pretty huge payroll,” he said. “That was the closest I’ve come to being a paper billionare.”
He turned his attention to Applied Medical Products, which he started with a friend back in 1997 and stayed passively involved developing products. He consulted for Air Clean Products, helping to design fume hoods. And in 2007, he