EMBA Student Team Places Second In Nevada Governor’s Cup
The Donald W. Reynolds Nevada Governor’s Cup business plan competition encourages Nevada university students to act on their talents and ideas. Two EMBA students in the 2012 Cohort did just that. Denis Phares and Sean Nichols worked with team member Justin Ferranto (working toward a Ph.D. in Engineering, UNR ) and advisor, Matt Westfield to create Dragonfly Energy, a Reno-based lithium ion battery technology company. Their business plan earned them 2nd place in this prestigious event. For more information on the competition, visit the Nevada Governor’s Cup website at http://nvgovernorscup.org/. Pictured left to right: Sean Nichols (COO), Denis Phares (President and CEO), and teammate Justin Ferranto (VP of Engineering).
Dragonfly Energy began as an idea to reduce the manufacturing costs of Lithium ion batteries. The motivation was to break the cost barriers to greater incorporation of renewable energy sources, like solar and wind. Denis Phares, who also holds a Ph.D. from Caltech and originally developed the idea, recruited Justin Ferranto to help establish a laboratory in Reno and to prove the process. After a patent was filed, Denis and Justin recruited Sean Nichols (Denis’s EMBA classmate) to help launch the company with a focus on gaining the capital needed to establish a prototype manufacturing unit.
As the three began the market research phase and to explore a potential customer base, there appeared to be large underserved markets that could benefit significantly from Li-ion batteries now. As a result, Dragonfly Energy has already initiated sales of standard and custom Li-ion battery packs, and are building the brand, while simultaneously pursuing the groundbreaking technology. This model is unique for tech startups, but it garnered the attention of the competition judges.