- Scott Phillips
- May 17, 2015
- alternative fuel containers, arpa-e, customer discovery, dan radomski, Dillon Fuerth, entrepreneurship, evidence-based entrepreneurship, I-Corps, jonathan fay, Market Discovery Challenge, Next Energy, NSF, Product market Fit, the searchlite, university of michigan, value proposition
Last week, Visha Krishnan and Scott Phillips from The SearchLite had the opportunity to participate as Industry Mentors to a startup team at the I-Corps Energy & Transportation Training Program held at Next Energy in Detroit, MI. This is the second year of this event. Due to it’s success, this year the program was sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF), U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E), Clean Eenrgy Trust, Midwest Energ Accelerator and Pure Michigan. The program is based on evidence-based entrepreneurship which is the same principles which The SearchLite’s Market Discovery Challenges.
I-Corps™ Energy and Transportation is a customized curriculum to help teams of participating researchers discover the commercial potential of their technology, build a business model, and garner insights from leaders in the energy and transportation industries. This is the second year in a row that Next Energy has teamed up with the CFE I-Corps Program, a program offered by the University of Michigan Center for Entrepreneurship. CFE I-Corps is a region-wide program designed to foster, grow and nurture an innovation ecosystem. Through partnerships between the National Science Foundation (NSF), Michigan universities, Midwestern universities, Michigan SmartZones, and venture capital and entrepreneurial communities, the program has created an opportunity for teams throughout the state and region to turn technology into commercial opportunities.
Jonathan Fay, Clay Phillips and Dan Radomski led the Trasportation Track of the I-Corps Program. As the primary instructors, they gave constant feedback to the teams regarding their value propositions, target customers and other aspects of their business model hypothesis.
Visha, Scott and the The SearchLite had the privilege of working with Alternative Fuel Containers, LLC (AFC). AFC is developing Natural Gas storage tanks for a range of motor vehicles that will minimize refuelling time and maximize miles driven per tank. The AFC tank design uses MOF (metal organic framework) adsorbent to capture Natural Gas at the molecular level. This means an AFC tank will store an amount of fuel comparable to CNG technology but without the limitations of tank shape, compression costs and safety concerns. Visha and Scott enjoyed working closely with Dillon Fuerth and Joong Lee. Dillon is the Business Unit Manager, is responsible for guiding the company from proof-of-concept to commercialization. Joong is the Development Manager, is creating alternative natural gas tank systems using technologies developed by framergy Inc. and Texas A&M University.