Nathan C. Thompson
Electrical Engineering
Research & Invention

An entrepreneur at heart, Nathan C. Thompson launched his first business in high school with a successful venture to refurbish and resell pinball machines. His next step came in college, when he triumphed over the ultimate challenge of creating a successful business enterprise while taking a full load of engineering coursework. With tuition due and no high-paying jobs available, Thompson risked his last $500 to start Western Automation Laboratories from his sophomore college apartment.

Colleagues know Thompson as the quintessential, entrepreneurial risk-taker. His story is a classic case of grabbing an idea, finding a niche, and running with it regardless of obstacles or financial hazards. After graduating in 1983 from CU-Boulder with a bachelor's degree in electrical and computer engineering, Thompson continued to build his fledgling company with the help of several fellow CU-Boulder alumni.

He bootstrapped his own business financing, using no venture capital in the development and acquisitions of the company. His dedication and tenacity speak volumes about his success. The now 260-employee, $50-million-a-year, worldwide Spectra Logic Corp. delivers high-capacity automated tape libraries in association with industry partners. The Spectra Logic team's innovative research in tape libraries and software allows them to fill a niche market in need of customization. Fundamental company attributes include a keen focus on the customer and the flexibility to adapt to the dynamic technology industry. He attributes the company's 23-year survival to a commitment to continued innovation, research, and development.

Thompson stays connected with his alma mater, actively recruiting CU interns and new hires to Boulder-based Spectra Logic. He serves as a board member for the Robert H. and Beverly A. Deming Center for Entrepreneurship at CU-Boulder and participates as a guest lecturer in business and engineering, sharing his entrepreneurial experience and success as Spectra Logic founder and CEO.

He also is a board member of the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the Young Presidents Organization and the 1996 Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year. An accomplished pilot, Thompson flies a twin-engine Rockwell Turboprop. He lives in Boulder County with his wife, Dana, and their three children, Buck, Summerlyn, and Wyeth.