Nov 17, 2015 - 2:00pm

Picture-Perfect Innovation


Photographer & Photo Editor

Innovation has always been key to opportunity. Trailblazers that think big and have a sharp focus are able to tackle huge problems and make a global impact.

Each year leading innovators participate in the Challenge Cup, an annual worldwide competition held by 1776, a D.C.-based incubator and seed fund. The event, which has been supported by the U.S. Chamber, identifies the most promising startups with the best ideas.

I hit the road to capture these entrepreneurs in action.

Weathercloud

Entrepreneur Duer Reeves

THE PROBLEM

Weather is perhaps the single most unknown variable impeding the free flow of commerce.

THE SOLUTION

Weathercloud crowdsources real-time weather data by installing tiny sensors on vehicles to capture, aggregate, and report road conditions to government and private industry. Sensors measure variables such as visibility and tire grip, potholes, and other dangerous road conditions.

THE STORY

As an executive at Sun Microsystems, Duer witnessed the rise of the Internet of Things. The Weathercloud idea was incubated during his participation in the Colorado Cleantech Fellows Institute Capstone project, based on research and development conducted by the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

AMPY 

Entrepreneurs Tejas Shastry (left), Alex Smith (middle), and Mike Geier
 

THE PROBLEM

Cellphones and mobile devices run out of power when you need them most.

THE SOLUTION

The AMPY MOVE is the world’s smallest wearable motion charger that transforms energy from motion into usable power. The device captures kinetic energy from movement and stores it for later use.

THE STORY

Tejas, Alex, and Mike met in a Northwestern University entrepreneurship class during their engineering Ph.D. program. The trio wanted to solve a problem that many people experience—running out of power at the worst times. They formed a company and engineered a solution to capture their own energy from daily activities to charge devices. 

HandUp

Entrepreneur Rose Broome
 

THE PROBLEM

About 3.5 million Americans experience homelessness each year, and 46 million live below the poverty line.

THE SOLUTION

HandUp.org donors contribute directly to the homeless and others experiencing poverty and send words of encouragement to create a stronger network of support. Donations are transparent and can be redeemed at some of the most well-respected social service organizations in the nation.

THE STORY

One cold evening while walking down the street in San Francisco, Rose passed a woman sleeping on the sidewalk. She decided in that moment to do one thing to make a difference. After attracting initial support, HandUp gained funding from some of Silicon Valley’s most experienced investors and has since expanded its community of giving across America.

Simply Grid, acquired by MOVE Systems

Entrepreneurs Mike Dubrovsky (left) and Jeffrey Hoffman

THE PROBLEM

Food trucks and street vendors in urban locales use electricity generated from propane, diesel, or gas generators, creating noise and added costs.

THE SOLUTION

Simply Grid, now with MOVE Systems, developed technology to enable food trucks and emergency vehicles access to street-level, self-service electricity via charging stations and in-wall outlets. Working with cities, the operation directs users to initiate service with their mobile phones, switch off their generators, and save energy costs.

THE STORY

Jeff and Mike saw a Mister Softee ice-cream truck running its generator while sitting next to an electrified lamppost and thought, “What is wrong with this picture?”

Please find more U.S. Chamber Quarterly Fall 2015 articles here.

About the Author

About the Author

Photographer & Photo Editor