Forbes Dec. 3 released its ninth annual “30 Under 30” list, featuring the latest class of 600 young entrepreneurs, risk-takers and game changers who are redefining what it means to innovate and lead by example, including numerous Indian Americans.
Among the categories featured in the list included Energy, Science and Social Entrepreneurs, of which more than a dozen Indian American and South Asian Americans were recognized.
In the Energy category was Sandeep Ahuja, 28, co-founder of cove.tool; Aashay Arora, 28, co-founder of EnKoat; Anurag Panda, 29, team lead at GridEdge Solar; Rohit Kalyanpur, 22, founder of Optivolt Labs; Apoorv Sinha, 29, founder of Carbon Upcycling Technologies; and Naman Trivedi, 25, co-founder of WattBuy.
Cove.tool is a software product that helps customers discover more efficient ways to construct new buildings that will reduce both energy usage and cost. The customizable software platform uses algorithms that enable energy modeling with a high degree of granularity, optimizing for the best kind of roof, windows, HVAC, lighting and other building materials. Cove.tool is already being used by some of the nation’s largest architecture firms, Forbes said.
Arora and Matthew Aguayo have developed coatings impregnated with phase-change materials that insulate buildings. EnKoat's paints, plaster and stucco store and release heat at specific temperatures, which helps keep buildings cooler in summer and warmer in winter. EnKoat paint was recently put to use on a roof at Arizona State, the Forbes bio notes.
At MIT, Panda and Dane deQuilettes lead a research program called GridEdge Solar, focused on perovskite photovoltaic research, with specific focus on increasing energy access in rural India. The team consists of several MIT professors and 30 grad students and research scientists in chemistry, materials science, and engineering, the Forbes report said. They are developing light-weight, flexible perovskite solar panels which can be easily transported to remote locations and installed, aiming to reduce the cost of electricity. They have achieved perovskite efficiency of over 20%, discovering new ways of printing the solar materials at high speed, and reducing the end-of-life disposal risk of the solar panels, it added.
It sounds far-fetched — a portable solar system efficient enough to power machines like e-scooters, EV, and drones using just ambient light. But that’s what Optivolt Labs claims it’s developing. The company was founded by Rohit Kalyanpur, who was named a Thiel Fellow on the strength of his initial work conducted at the University of Illinois.
Corrosion is a constant plague for industrial facilities. Sinha's Carbon Upcycling Technologies has introduced a nanotech coating called AlphaCarbon, which protects materials like concrete against acids and corrosion. It's just one of Sinha's efforts to convert carbon dioxide into a range of solid nanoparticles, useful for all manner of materials. The AlphaCarbon coating is installed in over 250 locations across the U.S., including franchises of McDonald’s, Costco, and Walmart, according to the Forbes report.
WattBuy is an online marketplace where people can save money on electricity by choosing a cheaper provider. By switching to one of WattBuy’s partners, customers in states with deregulated electricity industries can save upwards of 40%. After working stints at Google, Box and at the White House Office of Science and Technology under Obama, Trivedi told Forbes, “I’ve come to believe that nudging citizens to make better decisions locally is a prerequisite to solving global problems like climate change.”
Science category honorees included Dakshita Khurana, 29, assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; and Siddharth Krishnan, 28, postdoctoral researcher at MIT.
Khurana’s research is aimed at developing new cryptographic techniques to make communications more secure by preventing coordinated attacks and designing systems that don't leak information, the Forbes report wrote.
Krishnan's work is aimed at developing wearable sensors and implantable devices for drug delivery. One innovation he's been a part of is integrating nanofilms of high-quality electronic materials into soft, stretchable sheets of rubber creating skin-like sensors that can detect a variety of health indicators after being applied to the skin like a temporary tattoo, the report said.
Among the Social Entrepreneurs were Samir Goel, 25, co-founder of Esusu Financial; Alwar Pillai, Abid Virani, both 29, co-founders of Fable Tech Labs; Samir Lakhani, 27, founder of Eco-Soap Bank; and Abhi Ramesh, 27, founder of Misfits Market.
Esusu helps users save money, access capital and build credit. In 2018, the fintech company debuted its peer-to-peer savings app on iOS and Android. The following year Goel and Wemimo Abbey launched a reporting platform to give renters credit for making monthly payments, a benefit historically reserved for homeowners. Esusu has served over 30,000 people, saving them over $20 million in interest rates, the Forbes report said.
People with disabilities are uniquely qualified to help companies meet their accessibility goals. Enter Fable, an online platform where digital teams can engage people with disabilities in research and on-demand user testing. In the past year, companies have used Fable to make voting, banking, learning and shopping more accessible, the report said.
Just 1 percent of households have access to soap in some parts of the developing world. Lakhani’s Eco-Soap is a soap recycling organization that pays disadvantaged women to collect leftover hotel soap and redistribute it to people in need.
Ramesh’s Misfits Market is a subscription service for "ugly" organic produce and is designed to break the cycle of food waste. The organization has helped rescue more than 10 million pounds of food since its 2018 inception, Forbes said.
Reports on who was named to the lists in other categories are being reported separately.