Forbes selects 10 Stanford students and alumni in cleantech for "30 Under 30" lists
Forbes’ 2022 “30 Under 30” feature includes two current Stanford University students and eight recent alumni developing energy- and sustainability-related technologies. The 2022 list has the most Stanford students and alumni in cleantech since Forbes started its “30 Under 30” feature 10 years ago.
The magazine applauds auspicious achievements in 20 categories, from science to games. The new “30 Under 30 in Energy” group features Stanford student Folasade Ayoola, and alumni Jimmy Rojas, Ted McKlveen, Bav Roy and Peter Attia. In the “30 Under 30 in Social Impact” category, student James Kanoff was recognized for co-founding a non-profit organization that connects farms holding surplus produce to food banks. In the finance category, alumna Sami Tellatin was recognized for the start-up she co-founded, which automates the process for farmers to secure financing to purchase new agricultural technology. The manufacturing and industry group included the start-up of alumni Drake Hougo, Sean O'Bannon and Wyatt Pontius, which seeks to modernize industrial scrap recycling.
In energy, Ayoola was recognized as a co-founder of ElectricFish, which makes modular battery packs that can charge an electric vehicle enough to go 100 miles in just 10 minutes. These large battery packs, deployed at sites like gas stations and convenience stores, are charged with renewable power only. A significant ElectricFish presence could improve the reliability of a local electric grid, the founders say. Ayoola is a PhD student in Stanford’s Department of Energy Resources Engineering advised by Prof. Sally Benson. Forbes also recognized her co-founder, Anurag Kamal, MS '18 at Michigan Technological University, who earned a certificate in innovation and entrepreneurship from the Ignite program at Stanford's Graduate School of Business.
Both Rojas and the co-founders of the start-up Verne – McKlveen and Roy – are entrepreneurs seeking to enable the broad use of green hydrogen. More than 95 percent of commercial hydrogen today is produced from fossil fuels and is responsible for 2.5 percent of global emissions of carbon dioxide.
Rojas, PhD ’21 in mechanical engineering under Prof. Arun Majumdar, invented an electrolyzer that produces hydrogen from water and renewable electricity while eliminating the key drawbacks of today’s electrolyzer: the use of corrosive liquid electrolytes and expensive metallurgy. His start-up, EvolOH, aims to produce green hydrogen at a cost of $1 per kilogram, which is considered the price point for commercially viable green hydrogen. Forbes also recognized Rojas’ earlier development of a new propulsion system that extends the life of satellites. EvolOH won a grant from Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy foundation.
McKlveen, MBA ’21, and Roy, MBA ’21, co-founded Verne with David Jaramillo, a PhD student at U.C.–Berkeley also recognized by Forbes. The start-up is developing technology for trucks, ships and planes to operate with zero-emission hydrogen. The company is also developing a way to store high-density hydrogen on board that could double a large vehicle’s range. Verne has received funding from Breakthrough Energy, the National Science Foundation, Stanford, MIT and Caltech.
The fifth Stanford-affiliated honoree in energy, Attia, PhD ’19 in materials science, pioneered the use of machine learning to test new battery designs for longer lifetime, faster recharging, and other key objectives. He and his team at Stanford in the lab of Prof. William Chueh cut the testing process for new battery designs from almost two years to 16 days. They also created and made public the data used today in much battery research. Now at Tesla, Attia leads the company's efforts to diagnose and predict battery failure problems in Tesla’s own batteries and those of third-party suppliers.
Agriculture and recycling
Kanoff, a Stanford undergraduate recognized in the social impact category, co-founded The Farmlink Project with Aidan Reilly, BA ’21 from Brown University. Motivated by increased foodbank demand during the COVID-19 epidemic, the non-profit gets excess produce from farms to organizations that feed families in need. The heralded enterprise became a grassroots movement that spread to other universities. FarmLink has delivered 40 million meals across 47 states. And, because food waste goes to landfills where it produces methane, the organization’s work has avoided more than 20,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions. The co-founders were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor Service Award in April 2021.
In finance, Forbes recognized Tellatin, MS/MBA ’20, who co-founded FarmRaise with Albert Abedi, who attended Georgia Tech. Before Tellatin enrolled Stanford's Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment & Resources program, she worked at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, where she learned that farmers were slow to adopt new agricultural technologies due to burdensome processes for financing. FarmRaise automates farmers’ applications for federal grants and loans, slashing a three-hour application process to 17 minutes. Once secured, many of the new technologies make farms and ranches more sustainable and profitable through conservation, energy efficiency, production of renewable electricity, and reduction and removal of greenhouse gases.
In the manufacturing and industry category, Hougo, BA ’20, O'Bannon, BS ’20, and Pontius, BS/MS ’19, were honored for co-founding ReMatter. The start-up’s end-to-end software helps industrial scrap recyclers improve their operations, from purchasing and sales to inventory management and hauling dispatch. With sharpened operations ReMatter's clients can profitably recycle more scrap that would otherwise be discarded, avoiding associated contaminants into the environment. ReMatter has raised more than $2 million from venture investors.
A growing cleantech ecosystem at and around Stanford may help explain the record number of cleantech entrepreneurs this year. Three of the six ventures featured this year – Verne, FarmRaise and ReMatter – received Innovation Transfer Program grants from Stanford’s TomKat Center for Sustainable Energy early in their development. The founders of two of the start-ups – EvolOH and Verne – took the Precourt Institute for Energy course “Stanford Climate Ventures” to learn how to begin to commercialize their research. Ted McKlveen received funding from the Center for Social Innovation at Stanford's Graduate School of Business. Environmental ventures are a key focus of the center's awards.
Read Forbes’ 2021 "30 Under 30 in Energy" report here, or the entire “30 Under 30” feature here.