Ryan Olliges thought of his vision for Elevated materials as a freshman in the rocket propulsion lab at USC, seeing how much waste a single semester’s project brought about. In the United States, the aerospace industry throws away 10 million pounds of carbon fiber scrap each year. Carbon Fiber is designed to survive the harsh conditions of space, which means it is not biodegradable, but will pile up in landfills
With the help of Greg Autry, professor of entrepreneurship at USC and researcher of the space industry, 121C Boards was launched, a skateboard made of 100% recycled carbon fiber. Soon after, 121C grew into Elevated Materials, a business of collecting materials from local suppliers, pressing it into high quality flat sheets and then cutting the carbon sheets into customizable parts for various customers. The ultimate goal is sustainably reducing landfill waste. Since the company was founded, it has diverted close to 200,000 pounds of waste material,
In terms of competition, Elevated Materials stands out by having a lower price point owing to the fact that it uses recyclable materials. While the target markets are similar to competitors, Elevated Materials has a cost advantage allowing entry into markets where carbon fiber could not have previously penetrated due to cost issues. On the recycling side, while other companies do recycle carbon fiber, they usually do so at the expense of dissolving the resin. Elevated Materials gains a second competitive edge by keeping 100% of the value of carbon fiber.
Target Market: “When our businesses reaches maturity level with all of the carbon fiber scrap in the aerospace industry being reused, we estimate the market to be worth $300 million.” Says Olliges. “Our driving focus right now is to learn about the markets out there.”
Smartest Thing ever done: Launching products on kickstarter.
Worst Thing: Spending money on developing timeline to raise more investment money rather than divert resources to company profitability
“We also hired too many people resulting in a loss of sales.” Says Olliges “Now that we’ve gone a year without investment we’ve gone pretty frugal in what we buy, how we sell it and what our development cycles are.
Base of Operations: Los Angeles
Hiring: “We look for someone who’s drive, a self starter, and brings something to the table that I can’t do.” Says Olliges. “We also look for technical skills, eagerness to learn and someone who’s excited to be at work.”
Funding Level: Seed Round, Angel Investments, Family and Friends to a total of $1.3 Million.
Long Term Goals: Expanding nationwide to collect and sell carbon fiber from all over the country.
Role model: “It would be great to have Elon Musk on our team.” Says Olliges “He’s a great visionary, drives his company in the right direction, and is able to get a lot of performance out of his tam and that’s really respectable.”
Product: Compared to other materials, carbon fiber is five times lighter than steel, is not susceptible to corrosion or rust, has low thermal expansion when exposed to heat, and works well to block radio frequency waves and data.
The materials is has been designed for space flight and transport, it is the very same thing NASA’s rockets are made of. It can also be used in other industries ranging from robotics and drone technology to waterspouts and transportation.
Ryan Olliges: Founder, President, Majoring in Aerospace Engineer from the University of Southern California
Greg Autry: PhD, MBA, Co-founder Assistant Professor of Clinical Entrepreneurship at the University of Southern California, researcher on space entrepreneurship, commercial space economics and space policy, and served as White House liaison with NASA.
Jaysen Harris: Co-founder, Vice President, Tech Development