Washington: President Barack Obama celebrated his birthday in an unusual way by hosting the first-ever White House Demo Day where innovators from around the country, including three Indian-Americans, ‘demoed’ their individual stories.
“As a birthday treat to me, I thought I’d invite business leaders, investors, and government officials here for the first-ever White House Demo Day,” he said amid applause as he came to look at exhibits set up in the State Dining Room Tuesday.
“I think it’s fair to say that when I was eight, I would have been confused by that choice,” said Obama amid laughter.
“But now I think it’s really cool, and I am so grateful to have all of you participating.”
According to the White House, the Demo Day celebrated “the important role entrepreneurship plays in America’s economy.”
“Unlike a private-sector Demo Day, where entrepreneurs and startups pitch their ideas to funders, these innovators from around the country will ‘demo’ their individual stories,” it said.
Three Indian-Americans who showcased their projects were Privahini Bradoo of San Francisco, Suma Reddy of New York and Ann Marie Sastry of Ann Arbor, Michigan.
According to the White House Bradoo’s BlueOak project finds the treasure in trashed smartphones.
Every day, US consumers throw away enough cell phones to blanket 50 football fields.
To Bradoo, people might as well throw away their jewellery: one ton of cell phones contains as much gold as 70 tons of gold ore.
Seeing a business opportunity, Bradoo founded BlueOak, an electronics recycling firm that harvests the valuable precious metals out of old smart phones and TVs.
BlueOak is building low-cost and environmentally friendly refineries to recycle critical metals from e-waste. Their flagship refinery is located in Osceola, Arkansas.
Born in India, raised in Oman and New Zealand, and educated in Boston, Bradoo pulls from diverse life experiences to lead her company.
Reddy’s Waddle helps people discover extraordinary places through friends, the White House said.
Waddle is a mobile, friend-to-friend discovery platform to help find the best places to go by using friends’ ratings, reviews and recommendations.
Reddy, co-founder of Waddle, decided to go into tech over a year ago, with a goal to develop a fun and useful product that would allow friends to help each other discover great places to go.
She began developing her networks and skills by learning UX Design from New York’s The Flatiron School and becoming an NYC Co-Director of Lesbians Who Tech.
Sastry, a University of Michigan professor for 17 years, has developed the next-generation of low-cost batteries.
With over 25 years of experience and 120 scientific publications, Sastry decided to found her company after doing research for DARPA, the Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation, and other sponsors in government agencies and the private sector.
Her company Sakti is using materials science to develop the next generation of solid state lithium batteries that will power mobile phones, computers, and even cars.