Natrion, Diamond Challenge 2019 Finalist

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With the rising concern for climate change and global warming, it’s incredibly inspiring to see young entrepreneurs find innovative solutions to these large scale environmental issues. High schoolers Alexander Kosyakov, Thomas Rouffiac, Austin Cohen, and Cynthia Chen are on the forefront of this push for sustainability, basing their revolutionary company Natrion on the premise that energy should be both renewable and cheap. Natrion develops new solid-state sodium-ion batteries that are optimized for large-scale energy storage applications and bring 24/7 reliability to new renewable power systems. This includes behind-the-meter applications as in residential or commercial settings or utility/power grid implementation. The versatility of Natrion’s battery is derived from its safe, long-lasting chemistry and cost-effective materials, giving Natrion the ability to provide more power for less money as battery size increases in comparison to conventional lithium-ion systems.

Natrion didn’t plan on joining the Diamond Challenge competition until very late in the game. In fact, as team member Alexander Kosyakov recalled, “My team and I put in our application at the last minute not knowing what we were getting into. It didn’t take long for us to realize that this would be one of the most valuable experiences our company has ever had.” And valuable it was. Despite any doubts they might have had at the beginning, Natrion went on to win 3rd place overall in the Business Innovation track at Diamond Challenge. Alexander reflects on his experience, remarking that: “Diamond Challenge was an absolute blast. Between the Baltimore preliminary round and the global Summit in Delaware, we had a lot of fun, learned a lot, and met a bunch of incredible people.”

Throughout the process of the Diamond Challenge competition, the team at Natrion learned a lot of valuable skills that would prove beneficial in the future. Thomas Rouffiac recounts specifically, “The program itself taught us a lot about how to present our product to a group of judges in an effective manner, something that will surely come in handy down the road.” The team also had guidance from their mentors, another important aspect of the Diamond Challenge experience that Thomas especially enjoyed: “We are also very thankful for the mentoring aspect of the Diamond Challenge. Our mentor, Rick Keller, was an invaluable asset and helped take our presentation to the next level.”

As for future plans, the Natrion team is looking to expand their operations and grow their business with the extra funding won at the Diamond Challenge competition. “Thanks to the $3,500 that Diamond Challenge will be giving us as part of our third place prize, we are one step closer to completing our seed fundraising round. My partner and I will be taking a gap year before college next year to continue growing our company using this money,” Alex explains. Thomas echoes his sentiments, stating: “The future for Natrion consists of building our full scale prototype and raising more capital for the prototype and patent fees. The money we won from Diamond Challenge will go a long way in helping us achieve our goals and the skills we have learnt from the program will certainly help us as we continue to raise more funds.”

For upcoming Diamond Challenge participants, Alexander shares some simple advice: “Do it! You will regret it if you don’t.” Thomas adds: “We would definitely recommend people apply for Diamond Challenge. You cannot fail by participating in the program, you can only grow your experience, knowledge and contacts.” We are extremely excited to see what kinds of other amazing products Natrion creates, and wish them all the best in their future endeavors!

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No matter where our Diamond Challenge alumni go, we are constantly amazed by how they continue to make an impact on the world for the better.

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About Horn Entrepreneurship

Horn Entrepreneurship serves as the University of Delaware’s creative engine for entrepreneurship education and advancement. Built and actively supported by successful entrepreneurs and thought leaders, Horn Entrepreneurship empowers aspiring innovators and entrepreneurs as they pursue new ideas for a better world.

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