Entrepreneur Of The Year® US National Award winners
Gaurab Chakrabarti and Sean Hunt | Solugen
Gaurab Chakrabarti, Co-Founder, CEO
Sean Hunt, Co-Founder, CTO
A poker game would seem like an unlikely place for a conversation to inspire two scientists to launch a company that could transform chemicals manufacturing. Yet, when Dr. Gaurab Chakrabarti and Dr. Sean Hunt discovered they shared an interest in hydrogen peroxide production at a card game, they set the wheels in motion that led to the establishment of Solugen.
After the game, they combined their ideas and entered an entrepreneurship contest at MIT, which earned them second place and a $10,000 prize. They promptly invested the winnings in a proof-of-concept reactor with materials bought from a home improvement store. Within months, the reactor was producing hydrogen peroxide at a sharp discount, attracting their first customer.
Confident they held a winning hand, Chakrabarti and Hunt quit their full-time jobs and launched Solugen, which soon secured enough seed funding to build a prototype reactor and purchase an abandoned polyethylene wax plant in Houston. Several years later, they were ready to roll out their proprietary reactor, dubbed the Bioforge.
In designing the Bioforge, Chakrabarti and Hunt wanted to introduce a manufacturing process that would limit the negative environmental impact of chemicals manufacturing. For example, Solugen uses enzymes discovered in cancer cells and novel heterogenous metal catalyst technology research to manufacture molecules fit for industrial use with sustainably sourced organic feedstocks, such as corn syrup and recycled cardboard.
The Bioforge manufacturing process produces zero wastewater or emissions and attains dramatically higher yields compared with traditional petrochemical refineries. Solugen also relies on smaller chemical refineries, which are built closer to feedstocks and end markets, significantly reducing costs and transportation-related emissions and resulting in a more environmentally friendly process.
In the words of our judges
“A textbook startup launched by two partners with $10,000 in seed money that is revolutionizing the chemical refining industry. The innovation-driven company is tackling impactful, life-changing issues important to the planet.”