Joshua Tarbutton and his Bravo Team pitched in on the production of recyclable protective shields for health care workers, essential as they care for patients suffering from COVID-19.
But Bravo Team, an engineering design consulting firm that comprises UNC Charlotte engineering students and alumni, has contracted with a number of businesses and entrepreneurs to design and build their products since its inception more than two years ago.
More than anything, Tarbutton, the company’s founder and an assistant professor in UNC Charlotte’s William States Lee College of Engineering, wants to help young people make their dreams come true.
“Some people are in the business to become millionaires,” said Tarbutton, who employs about 10 University students and alumni at Bravo. “We are in the business to make millionaires.”
Tarbutton, a licensed professional engineer and U.S. Army veteran, is building a company he would have liked to work for as a younger man. He seeks students, some who have sat in his classes, because he says, “They don’t know what’s not possible, and they’re willing to try and they’re willing to learn. That’s what makes it worth it to me.”
Bravo is an engineering design and product development company that provides inventors and engineering teams access to the necessary talent to support their projects. And the faces behind that talent are all UNC Charlotte students and alumni trained in the Lee College of Engineering.
Jordan Burch ’17, a mechanical design engineer, U.S. Army veteran and co-founder of Bravo Team, said a lot of the company’s clients are initially taken aback that young engineers are doing the work. But Burch said team members are capable of doing any task the client needs.
“We want to provide individual entrepreneurs with access to the engineering talent to make their ideas a reality,” Burch said. “A lot of times, they just don’t have that access.”
Tarbutton and Burch launched Bravo Team in January 2018 after consulting for Curtiss-Wright, a product manufacturer for the industrial and defense industries. The team initially worked out of a space in the PORTAL Building on campus but outgrew it.
From a new one-stop-shop workspace on Old Statesville Road, Bravo Team members have completed engineering design work for several businesses and entrepreneurs, including Stanley Black & Decker, Corning and Siemens.
When it comes to working with clients, Bravo Team can do it all--engineer the software and hardware, develop the product design and then fabricate it. “The idea is if we can take good enough care of the clients, if we can maintain enough capacity, we can invest some of the capacity to invent the products that we want to make,” Tarbutton said.
Bravo already has developed two products: a robot with Curtiss-Wright and the Bravo Walk dog collar, which redirects a dog’s attention when it’s pulling away from its owner, similar to the warning beep on an invisible fence.
“Our device has a beep, optional vibrate and then it does have a shock collar, but most dogs are so smart that they’re trained in the first walk,” Tarbutton said. Bravo hired a marketer to help them sell the dog collar.
Tarbutton said many of his employees took his classes—Burch was a member of his senior design team—or heard about Bravo via word of mouth. They share their individual skills and talents to get the job done.
Tarbutton fully owns the company, but his plan is for it to become an employee-owned business. The goal, he said, is to share and reinvest the wealth.