A new Cedar Valley-based company is hoping to bring sustainable, safe access to electricity to those who need it most.
The company, Terraoak, has created a patented smokeless cookstove that is able to convert heat energy into electricity and output it through a USB outlet.
The company’s CEO and co-founder, Max Chinnah grew up in Nigeria before receiving a scholarship allowing him to attend Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa.
Before graduating from Wartburg, Chinnah attended the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) and walked away inspired and with the drive to be an entrepreneur.
“When I attended the conference the one thing that was really eye opening for me was being exposed to a group of likeminded individuals, peers and students that were pursuing their own ideas,” Chinnah said.
Chinnah and his partner, Godwin Attigah, who is from Ghana, have already received a utility patent for their stove and have beta tested the product in Ghana, proving the technology works under harsh conditions.
Terraoak is one of two companies so far to have received funding from the Red Cedar Seed Fund, a new fund focused on early-stage companies in the Cedar Valley.
“That funding has been incredibly instrumental for getting us to this juncture,” Chinnah said. “It went towards figuring out the next iteration of our prototype and getting us to a manufacturable product.”
Before Terraoak enters the international market, the two plan to launch in the U.S. camping market to prove viability and start driving revenue.
Eventually, they plan to sell the product in their home countries and other third world countries.
Right now, they are looking to gather feedback from camping and outdoor enthusiasts before launching a Kickstarter campaign later this summer.
Red Cedar launches seed fund to invest in Cedar Valley startups -Feb. 6, 2019