Pankaj Sinha comes from a poor province in India that, coincidentally, I have visited (Bihar). But he left a long time ago and came to the US, where he has been, until recently, working at Intel.
Now he’s the founder of a startup named Chemurja, which has already self-funded its first two prototypes of a fuel cell on a chip.
His company is in Phoenix, so he’s not the recipient of venture capital. In fact, he had the opportunity to take venture capital and turned it down, because the terms were so onerous that he would have been demotivated.
So with a small amount of private investment, he has taken the cheapest space he can find (true startup digs) and is working toward the next prototype. He figures once he has the data, he will be able to partner with the right people to bring his technology to market.
His mission is to develop and supply fuel cell stacks that make possible convenient and affordable portable
electric power for all geographies. His product is fuel cell stacks small enough to fit in ultraportable devices like smart phones, at a price the market can afford.
To run a device with his product will cost less than a penny an hour for the person in the developing world. And since that’s where he came from, he’s not smoking anything about the concept of affordability.
This is a company for which I hold out great hope, because I see a real product addressing a real market need, being devloped by an engineer who knows both the product and market, and has the professional credibility and connections to make it happen.
Will it be easy? Of course not. He’s at least an angel round away from his fabless manufacturing strategy. But if you look at his surroundings, he’s sure not burning through what resources he has at a very rapid rate.
Scoble asked recently how you can smell a good startup. That’s how.