Solar food dehydrator battles food waste

kinosol

“I came to Iowa State with an interest in development. I’ve always had a passion for helping others and I love to travel,” Mikayla Sullivan says. A senior double-majoring in global resource systems and administration in agriculture with a minor in political science, Sullivan combined her interests into one unique business venture: KinoSol.

KinoSol is a company and a product – one Sullivan helped co-found alongside other student entrepreneurs Elise Kendall, Ella Gehrke, and Clayton Mooney.

“KinoSol is a social-good startup focused on saving energy and decreasing post-harvest loss in developing countries,” Sullivan said. e team created a mobile, solar-powered food dehydrator for fruits, vegetables, insects, and grains that will increase food preservation and is currently being sold worldwide.

Yet, how does an Iowa State student go from cramming for tests to selling an invention around the globe? It’s the unique Iowa State student experience – one full of hands-on opportunities to succeed.

The KinoSol team was one of the first groups to participate in CYstarters, a 10-week summer student accelerator launched in 2016 by the Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship for students or recent graduates to focus on their startup ideas. “CYstarters is the only accelerator program for students I have ever heard about that provides funding, housing, and mentoring to help get your idea off the ground,” Sullivan said.

Within the past year, Sullivan has also traveled to Ireland to attend a startup conference and to Thailand to complete needs assessments focused on food security.

Before KinoSol, Sullivan needed the space to truly pursue her passions. “Receiving scholarship support provided me the opportunity to spend my time figuring out what I’m passionate about. I could spend time in clubs, travel for internships, and hone my business skills instead of having to seek out a job in order to cover tuition,” she said.

“Starting a business while still in college is something most people don’t do, or don’t always understand. Life becomes a balancing act between the business and school, and many times I have to sacrifice extra social time in order to keep working on KinoSol. But knowing I could leave a big impact on the world puts a lot of things into perspective for me.”

If it weren’t for scholarship support in the earlier years of Sullivan’s college career, KinoSol may have never come to fruition. But because of the opportunities and support offered to her as a student, she can look ahead to tackling one of the biggest challenges to date: world hunger.

Student support – including scholarship funding and global opportunities – is one of the three main aspirations of the Forever True, For Iowa State campaign. To learn more about the campaign vision or how to get involved, visit www.ForeverTrueISU.com.


This article was originally published in VISIONS magazine. To receive the full issue delivered to your mailbox four times per year, become a member of the ISU Alumni Association.

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