The mission of One Scientific is to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable hydrogen.
Name: One Scientific, Inc.
Location: Johnson City, Tennessee
Product / Service Offering: Affordable onsite hydrogen from pure water
Co-founder Interviewed: Jon Barnwell
This article is part of our Business Startup Spotlight Series featuring entrepreneurs and their companies. We hope that these founders’ interviews will inspire and motivate you as you undertake your own entrepreneurial journey.
Tell us a little about yourself with a focus on what motivates you?
I am a third generation entrepreneur. Having grown up in the manufacturing industry, attention to detail was instilled in me at an early age. I am the type of guy who wants to know how the watch works rather than the time. When I was 6 or 7 years old, I once took my dad’s perfectly good motorcycle apart just to see “how it works”. It did not turn out too well for the motorcycle or me.
I believe most individuals want to be a part of something larger than oneself which is a huge motivator for me. The opportunity to make a positive impact in the lives of many people is a worthwhile cause that keeps me pushing forward.
When did you establish your company and where did the idea originate?
One Scientific was established in 2014, but the path to our work started in the mid-1970s by Founder, Inventor and CEO Michael Redwine. In a rather remarkable story, Michael drew his inspiration for the technology from a Biblical account of the prophet Elijah. According to the Bible, Elijah performed a miracle before the Israelites by calling upon God to send fire from the sky to consume a sacrifice placed on an altar drenched with water. This miracle inspired Michael to search for a catalyst that reacted with steam to generate hydrogen.
An apparatus to test this idea was built and the search for different catalyst configurations began. After many months of experimentation, success was realized and Magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) hydrogen generation was born. Magnetohydrodynamics is the study of the magnetic properties of electrically conducting fluids.
What need or needs does your company seek to fill for its customers?
The hydrogen supply chain is costly. Customers make large capital investments for onsite reforming that often go unutilized for many years. Distribution and logistics of hydrogen are energy intensive and expensive.
What is the one thing that sets your company apart from its competitors?
Six words set One Scientific apart from everyone else: Affordable onsite hydrogen from pure water.
What was the biggest challenge you faced while getting your company up and running, and how did you overcome it?
Building any startup from scratch is challenging. Building an advanced energy startup set on developing frontier technologies is outright insane.
Convincing investors that we were up to the challenge was no easy feat. To minimize investor risk, we setup Phase I with component development milestones, each one tied to a small capital raise. This strategy resulted in very tight budgets. We often ran on fumes, but it worked overall and helped to establish our credibility. Also during Phase I, we stayed very lean with only Michael and me relying on each other to do all of the work.
Are there resources you have utilized that other founders might find compelling or useful?
Yes, but too many to list. One that stands out is Donald Miller’s StoryBrand and implement as early as possible. In doing so, you will force yourself to discover the real unmet needs or pains in the market and truly understand what matters most to your customers.
What steps have you taken to secure funding for your company and what, if anything, would you do differently if you had to start over?
See above. We believe our financial strategy for Phase I had our investors’ best interests in hand and would use the same approach again.
Our financial strategy for Phase II requires a larger capital infusion from the investor community. To maximize shareholder value, we sought mentoring through an initiative by LaunchTN and the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council called the Energy Mentor Network. The program assists Tennessee advanced energy startups and entrepreneurs with strategic business, marketing, and financial guidance from experienced mentors.
What challenges, if any, are you grappling with?
The majority of our work focuses around high technology and advanced manufacturing. Developing a network of quality suppliers is paramount to our success. Unfortunately, quality standards in the United States are not what they used to be. Long lead times for component parts are especially a challenge because they extend our timeline to revenue.
What is the most helpful tip or “hack” you’ve ever learned, stumbled across, or been given?
I have a food hack. I love to eat fresh pomegranates. The seeds require so much work to get out that I usually end up destroying more of the fruit than I get to eat and end up making a mess. Toss the pomegranate tool in the trash and try this: Cut a pomegranate in half and hold in one hand with fruit side down, fingers spread apart, and over a bowl. Take any ordinary wooden spoon and just rapidly smack the outer shell. The seeds just break loose and fall through your fingers into the bowl. In seconds you can literally deseed the whole pomegranate.
Is there anything else you would like to share about your company?
The mission of One Scientific is to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable hydrogen. Our family of investors, advisors, engineers, business and financial professionals is committed to excellent stewardship over the technologies that God has entrusted to us.
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