PolarPanel founders Christian Kladzyk, Viviane Nguyen, and Juan Pablo Pimienta made the Forbes 30 Under 30 List for 2019 in the Energy Category. The University of Houston Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship recent graduates founded the solar energy startup in May 2017 through a commercialization project and have been working on it ever since. Throughout the year they have been competing in competitions including winning 2nd Place at the MIT Clean Energy Prize, 3rd Place at the Department of Energy Cleantech University Prize, and competing in the Rice Business Plan Competition. To top off their successful year, PolarPanel adds Forbes Under 30 to the list.
Company President & CEO, Brad Cathcart said, “This level of recognition is incredibly validating for the work we’ve accomplished, but what I’ve found the most inspiring is the reaction from my team. We gave ourselves a half hour to celebrate before directing our attention back toward strategic planning and setting new milestones. This experience has highlighted their dedication, and has been deeply motivating for all of us.”
Forbes received over 15,000 applicants and PolarPanel was among the final 30 icons, entrepreneurs, and innovators chosen this year to represent the Energy industry.
Pimienta sees the news as motivation. “I feel very proud for the team, and motivated to keep moving forward and hopefully leave an impact on the world.”
“I never thought I’d make the list and I’m so humbled to be a part of this team. Not only is this an amazing accomplishment for us young entrepreneurs, but this proves that there is so much support around sustainability and alternative energy,” said Nguyen.
In its eighth year, the Under 30 list has honored over 5,000 industry trailblazers. This year’s demographics includes an average age of 26.8, average work hours a week of 66.7 hours, and 38.2% identifying as first generation. The process to finalize the list includes a three-step vetting process with a 4% acceptance rate.
“I remember seeing an old boss of mine had a plaque hanging in the hallway of the office for being 30 Under 30,” Kladzyk recalls. “I walked past it each day and thought about how special it must be to represent an entire generation. And here we are, doing just that and pushing towards more.”