Fifteen Yale affiliates were selected last month for Forbes Magazine’s 2018 “30 under 30” lists, which recognize the accomplishments of 600 people in 20 industries.
The list celebrates young entrepreneurs, visionaries and business people who have achieved impressive feats at an especially young age. This year, four Yale-affiliated honorees — Chris Rim ’17, Ethan Novek, Sam Teicher ’12 FES ’15, and Travis Whitfill SPH ’14 — spoke to the News about their success. All four agreed that the University was highly influential in their professional development.
Rim, the chief executive officer of Command Education Group, which aims to give students from all backgrounds access to higher education, said he came up with the idea for the company in his sophomore dorm room in Morse College.
“My classmates at Yale, even some that I didn’t know personally, helped create the initial logo and website,” Rim said. “I eventually moved off campus and just ran with it.”
According to Rim, who was recognized for his work in the education industry, Command Education Group uses emotional quotient data to provide students a competitive advantage in college admissions. And the company’s business model is as ambitious as its mission: For every paying student, the company gives one free ride to a low-income student.
Rim explained that the award was a great honor because it underscores the importance of his company’s work. The group aims to open seven new offices in the coming years.
Novek, who was awarded the honor in the energy industry, is a Yale research fellow and is currently taking a gap year before joining the class of 2022. With the help of Yale professor Menachem Elimelech, Novek founded Innovator Energy, a company that has created the first carbon dioxide capture technology powered by low-temperature waste heat given off by power plants. According to Novek, the technology takes diluted carbon dioxide given off as waste and turns it into pure, marketable CO2.
“There is an $8 billion market for pure CO2,” Novek said. “And, there is no molecule that humans produce more of than carbon dioxide. My technology could help turn waste from power plants into an additional revenue stream.”
While honored to have received the award, Novek said that “achieving benchmarks, not winning awards is how I prefer to judge success.”
Whitfall, who was recognized in the health care category, is the co-founder of Azitra, a company focused on developing a new class of therapeutics that use recombinant microbes to treat skin conditions. Whitfall and his team have engineered several strains of bacteria, each able to fight a specific skin conditions.
According to Whitfall, the team will test the therapeutics in clinical trials starting next year. If all goes well, the products should hit the market in the next five to six years.
Whitfill, who founded Azitra while at Yale, credits the University for fostering an environment conducive to collaboration.
“The Yale spirit encourages work outside of your own school and encourages students with different areas of interest to work together,” he said. “The spirit, environment and resources available to me were incredibly useful.”
Teicher, who was recognized in the social entrepreneur category, was inspired to found his company, Coral Vita, during a gap year he spent in Mauritius working to bring the country’s coral reefs back to life. Along with his partner, Gator Halpern FES ’15, he founded the company, which focuses on restoring reef beds, and raised $1 million for its operations.
Teicher credits Yale’s schools of Management and Forestry & Environmental Sciences, the Yale Entrepreneurial Institute and his family for giving him guidance and support throughout the process of starting and growing the company.
“One of the most important experiences I had was the opportunity to get away from school and live with the people whose lives were being affected by dying coral reefs,” he said. “I was living with the people I was trying to help.”
Forbes released its first “30 under 30” list in 2011.
Skakel McCooey | firstname.lastname@example.org