Our Founding Story

We hate planning our day around charging our phone. It seems as if our days are physically restricted by the distance to the nearest wall outlet just so that we can stay connected. There needs to be a better way..

We want to redefine what it means to charge your phone. We realized early on that there is so much unused energy hitting our phones throughout the day that could be harnessed to power our devices. Over three years ago, Rohit, our Founder, started tinkering with the idea of a solar charging solution. After setting some iPods on fire, frying multiple batteries, hundreds of iterations, and three years of research, we were able to finalize our circuitry and develop Particle, an extremely efficient solar battery iPhone case.

The University has an incredible ecosystem that has further helped us in the mission of bringing our product to the market. Our team has adjusted our curriculum to take Technology Entrepreneurship classes to become further involved in this ecosystem. Optivolt Labs has also won three different university start up competitions, bringing home prizes and grant money to help grow our company. We are also one of the few startups selected to participate in the iVenture Accelerator startup incubator!

Our Team

 

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Rohit Kalyanpur: Co-f

ounder, CEO

Rohit is a rising Sophomore studying Computer Engineering at the University of Illinois. He took part in a hands on engineering internship at Johns Hopkins University during the summer of his sophomore year of high school and used this knowledge to build the first prototype of Particle. After building the prototype, he cold called and networked with overseas manufacturers in the solar, battery, optics, and phone case industries to produce the product. With the product developed, he stepped foot on the University of Illinois campus with the mission to grow the company through the University's Start-Up Pitch competitions and entrepreneurial network.

Rohit also conducted computer science research at the University of Southern California in the field of Big Data and programmed a healthcare app for cancer patients that was administered in USC’s Keck School of medicine. Rohit also qualified for the International level of the DECA Business Plan Competition in his Senior year of High school. 

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Paul Couston: 

Co-founder, COO

Paul studies Industrial Engineering at The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and has also been closely involved in the startup culture on the UIUC campus. He received a certificate from the TEC in Technology Commercialization and is also certified in Lean manufacturing. Paul made it to the finals in the past COZAD competition with his past venture Flower Power Energy and has design and manufacturing skills through past ventures. Paul also served as president of the Student Sustainability Committee, where he actively managed the nation's largest student green fund of over 10 million dollars. These skills makes him a great addition to the team in managing the company’s design work and financials while also accelerating the company's growth through the right connections at UIUC.

Our Partners