Meet the young innovators who are building the new world
This year’s ambitious innovators are making their mark in robotics, sustainable materials, manufacturing software and logistics.
Wwith the snafus supply chain in the spotlight and with legacy companies reorganizing their operations to integrate robotics and software, industrial innovation is getting its due and a growing amount of venture capital funding. This is reflected in the crop of entrepreneurs and innovators in the Manufacturing & Industry category of this year’s Forbes 30 Under 30 list. They set up businesses in robotics, freight, new materials, and manufacturing software.
Our star entrepreneurs, Levi Conlow and Robby Deziel make affordable electric bikes at Lectric eBikes. At the age of 22, Conlow convinced his father to invest $ 50,000 of his retirement savings in an affordable electric bike he was designing. Although its first iteration failed, Conlow revamped and created the $ 1,000 XP Lectric eBikes model, which he started selling in 2019. The Phoenix-based startup has now sold over 100,000 e-bikes and is on on track to record $ 85 million in revenue this year. âWe paid my old man back and he is now happy with the investment,â says Conlow.
Electric bikes aren’t the only product on the list that is more durable. Co-founder of Hazel Technologies Patrick flynn has developed sustainable packaging to extend the shelf life of fresh products and reduce food waste. As a lot of money flows into sustainable technologies, Hazel Technologies has raised a total of $ 92 million in venture capital funding.
During this time, Tim Almond, co-founder of Heartland Industries, designs hemp-infused plastic additives that are stronger, lighter, cheaper and more environmentally friendly than existing plastic products. And She Liu founded Eucalypso in 2018 to make bedding from eucalyptus fiber, which she says solves sleep problems like night sweats while being better for the planet.
Michelle Zhu, co-founder and CEO of Huue, is working to replace toxic chemical dyes, like indigo used in jeans, with biosynthetic alternatives. And David Heller, an MIT graduate and his C16 Biosciences co-founder are using biology to craft a sustainable, conflict-free alternative to palm oil with microbes. “Germs are the best (and the smallest) factories in the world,” says Heller, whose company has raised a total of $ 24 million in venture capital.
Industrial innovation was also a theme on this year’s list. In the field of manufacturing software, Adam Gluck and Matthew Lee co-founded Copia Automation to create industrial automation tools that can reduce downtime and streamline operations. The company has raised $ 16 million from Construct Capital, Lux Capital and others.
And in the materials, Anvesh Gurijala and Michael Segal, with their professor at Northeastern University, Randall Erb, they started Boston Materials to create new materials. Their first, called Z-axis fiber, is unlike any metal, polymer or composite and allows applications that include keeping electronics cool. âThe products, from electric vehicles to Tupperware containers, are all activated and limited by the materials we have,â says Gurijala. âI want to create new materials that allow us to make new and better products. “
Big Ideas, Big Dollars: Hazel Technologies raised $ 92 million to make sustainable packaging, while C16 Biosciences raised $ 24 million to make green palm oil with microbes.
Robotics is already shaking up our daily lives, a technological shift that will only accelerate in the years to come. Rajat bhageria launched Chef Robotics to automate food service. His nearly three-year-old company has raised nearly $ 8 million from Kleiner Perkins and others to bring processors into the kitchen to increase production, improve consistency, and minimize food waste.
Founders of logistics companies have also found their place on the list. Alfonso de los Rios founded Nowports, based in Monterey, Mexico, to be the data-driven operating system for Latin American logistics. And in the USA, Radin Rahimzadeh co-founded Fore Transit to find sustainable ways to move goods and people. The company’s aerodynamic kits improve truck efficiency, while its IoT devices track air quality measurements for vehicles in its network. During this time, Raymond Wang and Eugenio Donati co-founded AeroVect to provide autonomous driving systems for airport logistics vehicles to transform freight operations.
Finally, in the expanding field of space technology, Topher Haddad and Winston Tri launched Albedo Space to provide satellite imagery at nine times the resolution of what is currently available. The company, which has raised a $ 10 million funding round led by Initialized Capital, is preparing to launch its first batch of satellites in 2023.
To find the best in manufacturing and the industry, we, Alan Ohnsman, Elisabeth Brier and I combed through the hundreds of applications submitted online or generated by Forbes’ own report. We then narrowed the list down to around 55 outstanding finalists and sent them to our team of expert judges to help us pick the top 30.
This year our judges were Natan Linder, co-founder of manufacturing software startup Tulip and 3D printing company Formlabs; Tekedra Mawakana, co-CEO of the autonomous vehicle company Waymo; Carmichael Roberts, managing partner of venture capital firm Material Impact; and Sean Henri, Co-founder of Unicorn Warehousing and Logistics Stord and alumnus of the 2018 Under 30 List in Manufacturing and Industry.
We thank our judges and all who sent nominations for this year’s list. Check out the full list to get a first read of some of the most exciting things happening in the American industry.
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