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Michael Hart founded Sierra Energy in California with the idea of producing iron more efficiently. But he soon found out that his new technology was even better at cleanly converting waste into energy.
Today, he’s leveraging this new discovery, along with a new mentoring relationship through Startup America, to do what our nation’s startups do best: create jobs.
“We started with something small and narrow but realized that the impact is global,” he said.
With the help of efforts like the Entrepreneurial Mentor Corps Pilot Program, Sierra Energy has grown quickly from an idea to a full-scale business. They have 14 employees, and they expect to hire 20 more in 2012 as they work to build a new facility. In addition, their business plan envisions hundreds more well-paid U.S. jobs in the coming years.
The mentor corps is a joint initiative of the U.S. Small Business Administration, Department of Energy, and Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy. Sierra Energy is working with the Nevada Institute for Renewable Energy Commercialization, a clean energy jobs accelerator competitively selected to work with early-stage companies and match them with experienced mentors.
NIREC’s mentors gave Hart “real-world” advice and introduced him to potential investors, distributors and technological partners. They also helped Sierra Energy decide whether the company itself should manufacture and sell its product, or license the manufacturing out to other companies.
Supporting America’s startups by providing them with tools they need – like mentoring – is crucial to helping us out-compete and out-innovate the rest of the world. Let’s keep finding new great ideas from people entrepreneurs like Michael Hart who can create good American jobs while improving our environment at the same time.