As Central Florida’s community and economy continue to grow, so too does its population of brilliant young entrepreneurial, business, and communal leaders. Each year, Orlando Business Journal (OBJ) holds a ceremony to identify and honor forty of the region’s most outstanding community and business leaders under the age of 40. Aptly named OBJ’s “40 Under 40” Awards, recipients of this award are chosen and celebrated based on their significant achievements in business and community stewardship made over the 12-18 months prior. On Tuesday, September 24th, OBJ published their list of 2019’s “40 Under 40” award recipients.
It is with the highest honor and the utmost esteem that ecoSPEARS is extremely pleased to announce our CEO, President, and Co-Founder Sergie Albino as a recipient of a 2019 “40 Under 40” award from Orlando Business Journal!
Albino founded ecoSPEARS in 2017 with co-founder and business partner Raphael Ian Doromal, who was himself a 2014 “40 Under 40” honoree due to his entrepreneurial success and leadership achievements in Central Florida. Since founding ecoSPEARS, Albino has gone on to oversee the company’s Seed Round of capital raise which closed in January 2019 at $2 million. Albino’s leadership has also seen ecoSPEARS achieve numerous strategic partnerships, including those made with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), the Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund Innovative Technology Evaluation (EPA-SITE) Program, the United Nations’s Environmental Programme (UNEP) and Development Programme (UNDP), the West Atlanta Watershed Alliance (WAWA) in Atlanta, GA, as well as Black & Veatch – an engineering firm with over 100 years of experience, legacy, and industry expertise.
This past June, ecoSPEARS was selected as a one-of-one cohort for the award-winning Port of San Diego’s Blue Economy Incubator Program to deploy its namesake Sorbent Polymer Extraction And Remediation System (SPEARS) technology for a 2-year, $200,000 pilot demonstration. The program was approved by a unanimous vote of the Board of Port Commissioners and will showcase the efficacy of the SPEARS technology to remediate cancer-causing legacy toxins known as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) from contaminated sediments in the Port of San Diego.
Shortly thereafter, ecoSPEARS was selected as one of 7 companies (out of some 200 applicants) to participate in the first cohort of the Black & Veatch IgniteX Cleantech Accelerator program. The program has launched with the support of the Kansas City Economic Development Council’s LaunchKC initiative to build partnerships with small startup companies to create and foster innovative and sustainable technologies applicable to the engineering industry.
ecoSPEARS was also selected to participate in the latest cohort of the Cleantech Open (CTO) Accelerator – the world’s largest cleantech accelerator – this past summer. Since its inception in 2005, over two-thirds of CTO’s Accelerator alumni have raised over a collective $1.2 billion in external funding. CTO offers its cohort companies on-hands mentorship from seasoned business and industry professionals, cash prizes and potential investments to companies participating in its startup showcase, and “for-life” networking to investors and partners through the program.
Showing no signs of slowing down, ecoSPEARS was also recently announced as one of 100 semi-finalists for 2019’s Startup of the Year pitch competition through Albino’s continued leadership. As a former NASA Aerospace Engineer sub-contractor, Albino is no stranger to innovation or sustainability. His work on the International Space Station (ISS), Lunar Rover, and Space Shuttle Program (SSP) has aided the Space Agency’s research and development of sustainable potable water delivery systems for manned space missions. “Everything we design down here,” Albino says regarding NASA-developed technology, “has to work up there. If you want it to be truly sustainable, you also need to figure out how to get it back down here again in one piece and in working order.”
It was during his time at NASA that Albino met Dr. Jacqueline Quinn and fellow UCF Alum Dr. Phil Maloney, two co-inventors of the SPEARS technology and the latter of whom now serves as the Principal Scientist for ecoSPEARS. After several successful bench-scale and onsite field deployments of the SPEARS prototype, Albino returned to his MBA Alma Mater, the Rollins College Crummer Graduate School of Business, to discuss the potential of having entrepreneurship-inclined MBA students work on a potential business model for the SPEARS technology. The Entrepreneurial Scholarship of Distinction Program, spearheaded by Crummer’s Entrepreneur In Residence Dr. Peter McAlindon, helped lay the foundation for what would eventually become ecoSPEARS, culminating with Albino’s signing an exclusive license for the SPEARS technology from NASA-Kennedy Space Center’s Office of Technology Transfer in 2017.
Following obtaining the exclusive license for SPEARS, while still operating primarily out of the UCF Small Business Incubator office, Albino partnered with longtime family friend Raphael Ian Doromal – another of Orlando’s award-winning serial entrepreneurs – to refine the business model for ecoSPEARS and officially incorporate the company. The two co-founders then began searching for initial investors to their cleantech venture, finding visionary impact investors through Kirenaga Partners, LLC, and its two lead managing partners, David Scalzo and Terrance Berland.
Rally’s mission to “create positive social change by propelling qualified entrepreneurs to build their ideas into self-sustainable ventures” aligns perfectly with ecoSPEARS mission to protect human health, wildlife, and the environment by ushering in the carbonless future of environmental remediation.
Since participating in the 2017 cohort, Albino has been elected to serve on the Board of Directors for Rally. Albino’s place on the board has assisted Rally in identifying and offering consultancy, management, operational, financial, and networking assistance to Central Florida’s newest round of emerging social enterprises and startups.
“Everything we do [at ecoSPEARS] is to protect human health,” says Albino regarding the social and humanitarian impact of ecoSPEARS. “Our vision is a future where every human being has access to clean water, clean food, and clean air. This is a major part of why our place in the environmental remediation industry is so impactful. Plenty of people and companies before us have tried to blend cost-effectiveness and environmentally-friendly solutions, but none have truly succeeded – at least not at scale. This is why our forming partnerships is key. It’s a lofty goal to disrupt an old industry with a new, innovative solution. It’s even bolder to claim that you’re going to help the United Nations meet the Stockholm Convention’s goal of eliminating PCB waste worldwide by 2028. By forming these partnerships with agencies whose goals align with ours…it just makes sense.”
In May of 2018, Seminole County Government TV (SGTV) published a business profile on ecoSPEARS. In the segment, Albino stressed the importance of founding and headquartering ecoSPEARS in Central Florida, rather than his hometown of New York City or the cleantech hub of Silicon Valley. Albino’s sentiment of “live here, work here, play here” in the video segment echoes through the hearts of other Central Florida entrepreneurs and leaders who wish to give back to their local community. To drive home this point, Albino has hosted numerous volunteer beach cleanup events throughout Central Florida with ecoSPEARS since 2018. He also frequently offers his time as a volunteer at his children’s school, and currently teaches an MBA-level entrepreneurial course on Product and Technology Development as an Adjunct Professor at the Crummer Graduate School of Business.
About ecoSPEARS: At ecoSPEARS, we envision a world where every human being has access to clean food, clean water, and clean air. ecoSPEARS is committed to creating a better future by providing cost-effective, green solutions to usher in the carbonless future of environmental cleanup. To learn more about ecoSPEARS, please visit www.ecospears.com.