The American Dynamism 50

ABL Space

Harry O’Hanley spent four years as an engineer and manager at SpaceX before founding his own startup to build launch vehicles and launch systems. The company designs, fabricates, and manufactures all its integrated systems — including its small launch vehicle, RS1, and deployable ground system, GS0 — from its El Segundo headquarters. In addition, ABL has a facility in Long Beach and two test operations facilities in the Mojave Desert. After successfully completing pre-flight and fueling tests earlier this year, the company is scheduling its first-ever liftoff.

Anduril Industries

Anduril’s aerial and submersible autonomous systems can identify and track objects of interest to protect military bases, airports, and other critical infrastructure. (Cofounder Palmer Luckey named the defense company after a sword in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.) But since its founding five years ago, Anduril’s technology has expanded beyond surveillance towers to weapons like explosive drones, software for optionally manned fighting vehicles, autonomous systems for sea and air, and more. Since opening offices in Orange County, Washington, D.C., Seattle, Boston, and London, the company announced a new $60 million research facility in Atlanta this summer.

Apeel Sciences

Apeel created a natural, edible coating from discarded seeds, peels, and pulps that allows fruits and vegetables to last weeks without refrigeration. The product, which works by slowing water loss and oxidation, is currently FDA-approved in North America for avocados, organic apples, limes, and cucumbers (and in Europe for avocados, lemons, grapefruit, mandarins, oranges, and mangoes). In 2021, Apeel acquired ImpactVision, a provider of hyperspectral imaging tech, to better visualize and measure the freshness of produce. Currently, the company is working on new technology to protect fruits and vegetables from mold and preserve their peak nutrition post-harvest. Apeel was nominated for the 2022 Food Planet Prize for its efforts.

Applied Intuition

Applied Intuition’s software makes developing autonomous vehicles for agriculture, trucking, and the automotive industry faster and more efficient. Earlier this year, the company acquired Mechanical Simulation Corporation — maker of the vehicle simulation software CarSim — and hosted a congressional delegation at its Mountain View office to discuss how its technology can aid in defense autonomy programs. Though headquartered in Silicon Valley, Applied Intuition has offices around the world in LA, Detroit, Washington, D.C., Munich, Stockholm, Seoul, and Tokyo.

The Impact of Autonomous Vehicles on Traffic Flow In simulations, researchers see improvements when at least 20% of vehicles are autonomous.

Source: Carnegie Mellon University

Astranis

Legacy internet satellites are massive and costly, with limited service in areas with low density. To tackle this shortcoming, Astranis developed “MicroGEO” satellites — small, inexpensive satellites — that are designed to bring more rural parts of the world online. The company’s first mission, slated to launch within months, intends to triple the satellite internet capacity of Alaska. By 2030, Astranis aims to have more than 100 satellites in orbit.

Within the past two decades, the number of commercial satellites orbiting Earth has increased from 11 to more than 500.

Binti

  • Mission:
    Streamlining the adoption and foster care process with software
  • Industry:

    Education & Community
  • Headquarters:
    Oakland, California
  • Founders:
    Felicia Curcuru, Gabe Kopley
  • Funding:


  • Job Creation:


The process of adopting a foster child has traditionally been dominated by physical paperwork. As the aunt of two adopted children and a volunteer Court Appointed Special Advocate for foster youth in San Francisco, Binti cofounder Felicia Curcuru saw obvious opportunities for technology to streamline the system, both for potential foster parents and social workers. The app enables social workers to track background checks, record training hours, take case notes, and document home study evaluations online, allowing them to approve foster families more quickly and efficiently.

The Boring Company

The Boring Company believes that high-tech tunnels are the future of transportation. The Elon Musk-helmed company develops faster, less costly technology to bore underground for the purposes of transportation, utility, and freight. The electric-powered Prufrock II mining machine, introduced earlier this year, can tunnel at speeds of one mile per week. Though the vision of the Hyperloop — a low-pressure system of high-speed pods meant to catapult people between cities — is not yet a reality, the company has provided glimpses of progress. The Loop, a planned 29-mile wide tunnel network beneath Las Vegas, opened its first station (of a planned 55) this past summer.

Bright Machines

Bright Machines was founded in 2018 by industry veterans who saw a unique opportunity to leverage a software-first approach to transform manufacturing. Bright Machines can manufacture and inspect a variety of goods — from electronics to home appliances — using robotic cells. The robotic modules, which incorporate computer vision, machine learning, and 3D simulation, can be strung together to create entire assembly lines controlled by customizable software. These efficient micro-factories have the potential to significantly cut production and shipping costs, moving electronics manufacturing closer to home.

Commonwealth Fusion

As part of a team of researchers at MIT’s Plasma Science and Fusion Center, cofounders Martin Greenwald and Bob Mumgaard pioneered a superconductor technology that would make nuclear reactors faster and cheaper to build. The scientists spun this startup out of MIT in 2018 with the goal to build a compact fusion power plant and ultimately scale fusion energy. The company began construction on a 47-acre fusion energy campus in Devens, Massachusetts in 2021 and aims to have its demonstration plant up and running by 2025.

The average nuclear power plant produces 8,000 times more power than fossil fuels.

Two-thirds of states say nuclear energy will help take the place of fossil fuels.

Funding for nuclear fusion research more than doubled between 2021 and 2022, to $4.8 billion (a 139% increase).

Cover

  • Mission:
    Building high-quality, low-cost homes on a production line
  • Industry:

    Construction & Housing
  • Headquarters:
    Gardena, California
  • Founders:
    Jemuel Joseph, Alexis Xavier Rivas
  • Funding:


  • Job Creation:


After majoring in architecture at Cooper Union, Cover cofounders Alexis Rivas and Jemuel Joseph quickly came to see cost as the limiting factor in home building — from construction to customization. They launched Cover in 2014 with a novel approach to building prefab homes: production-line manufacturing inspired by the automotive industry, with customization enabled by software. Currently, the company designs, permits, manufactures, and installs backyard studios in LA, but they intend to expand into single-family homes and additional markets.

Less than 2% of homes in the U.S. are built in a factory.

Dexterity

Samir Menon developed simulation models for the human musculoskeletal system as a PhD student at Stanford. In 2017, along with fellow researchers from his robotics lab, he spun this startup out of his thesis. The company’s name refers to its deft robots, which can work alongside humans to pick products, move pallets, and pack boxes in warehouses. The company has partnered with food manufacturers, delivery giants, and heavy equipment manufacturers.

Divvy Homes

Cofounder Adena Hefets started Divvy in 2017 to help people like her parents, who wanted to buy a home but struggled to get approved for a mortgage. Divvy Homes’s rent-to-own model allows prospective homeowners to build up equity while they rent. Divvy purchases homes on behalf of customers — paying for inspections, closing costs, property taxes, and insurance — and offers a three-year lease. The customer pays 1 to 2% of the home’s value (which can go toward an eventual down payment) and monthly rent. After three years, the renter can either cash out or purchase the home. The company is now active in more than 20 cities.

Earnin

More than 60% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck. As a result, many people resort to payday loans, overdrafts, and high-interest credit cards to pay for expenses between paydays. Earnin aims to give users more financial control. The free app lets workers track and access the money they’ve already earned in real time, on a daily basis, without being constrained by the typical bi-weekly or semi-monthly payroll cycle. The app also offers additional services to bolster users’ financial health and avoid fees, like low account balance alerts.

Epirus

Epirus builds high-power microwave (HPM) weapons that create a “force field” to protect armed forces and civilians against threats. Its best-known technology to date, the Leonidas — named after King Leonidas of Sparta — is a directed energy system that uses HPM energy to disable electronic devices. Earlier this year, Epirus integrated its HPM phased array with the Stryker, the U.S. Army’s most reliable combat vehicle. Leonidas can quickly detect, track, and defeat both individual targets and swarming drones.

Flexport

Recent supply chain breakdowns have highlighted long-standing inefficiencies in freight forwarding. It can take up to 20 different companies to move a single shipment to its destination, and most of those companies are still using manual processes and physical paperwork. Flexport cofounder Ryan Petersen became familiar with these challenges in his previous role running Import Genius, a business intelligence provider for global trade. With Flexport, he and his cofounders incorporate software into freight forwarding. The technology optimizes container packing and shipping and provides real-time delivery estimates. Earlier this year, Dave Clark, the longtime CEO of Worldwide Consumer at Amazon, became Flexport’s new CEO.

Flock Safety

Flock Safety’s advanced cameras capture photos of passing vehicles and run their license plates through a national crime database. The cameras can identify the color, make, and model of individual cars, as well as unique markings like bumper stickers. Beyond recovering stolen vehicles, the technology is useful in helping law enforcement officers flag cars associated with a range of other crimes, from property theft to Amber alerts. Where officers previously might have had to scroll through hours of footage, Flock’s license plate readers automatically create a searchable database. Though the technology is predominantly used by law enforcement today, the company aims to extend its service to schools, businesses, neighborhoods, and property managers.

Flow

  • Mission:
    Transforming the residential real estate market
  • Industry:

    Construction & Housing
  • Headquarters:
    Miami, Florida
  • Founder:
    Adam Neumann
  • Funding:


  • Job Creation:


The past three years have had a profound impact on the housing market, as many people moved away from traditional economic hubs. The residential real estate world has yet to catch up. Flow aims to address our new reality by reimagining the housing rental market.

Formic

  • Mission:
    Providing robotic labor on-demand, by subscription
  • Industry:

    Manufacturing & Robotics
  • Headquarters:
    Chicago, Illinois
  • Founders:
    Saman Farid, Misa Ilkhechi
  • Funding:


  • Job Creation:


After moving to Beijing with his family as a child, cofounder Saman Farid spent more than 15 years in China. The experience shaped his understanding of manufacturing, as well as his interest in robotics and AI. He and cofounder Miwa Ikhechi (formerly of Universal Robots) started their own company to democratize access to automation. Formic provides small and mid-sized American manufacturers with robots on demand, via subscription. The company handles the robots’ programming, installation, and maintenance; once the system is in place and fully operational, Formic’s customers — who span the metal fabrication, consumer goods, food and beverage, and logistics industries — pay by the hour.

Gecko Robotics

Gecko produces agile, remote-controlled inspection robots that check equipment for signs of degradation and gather detailed data. The technology is used to evaluate critical infrastructure for renewable power generation and the oil and gas industry. The company’s small-scale robots are outfitted with ultrasonic transducers, location sensors, lasers, and HD cameras to safely provide detailed inspection reports. Last year, for example, the company introduced the TOKA Flex, a wall-climbing robot capable of scaling piping at 30 feet a minute to better inspect tanks, boilers, scrubbers, and more.

Guild Education

Cofounders Rachel Carlson and Brittany Stich believe more employers should offer education as a benefit, financing debt-free learning for their workers. Their edtech marketplace connects employers with higher-ed institutions that offer online learning in subjects such as health care, IT, cryptosecurity, and ESL. Partnering with companies like Chipotle, the Walt Disney Company, Target, and Walmart, Guild presents employees with educational programs from accredited universities and offers additional benefits such as coaching and career development.

U.S. companies spend $177 billion a year on formal education.

Hadrian

  • Mission:
    Shoring up American manufacturing for the aerospace and defense industries
  • Industry:

    Manufacturing & Robotics
  • Headquarters:
    Hawthorne, California
  • Founder:
    Chris Power
  • Funding:


  • Job Creation:


Founder Chris Power wants to automate the aerospace supply chain. Historically, the aerospace industry has been reliant on a fractured ecosystem of metal part suppliers and hampered by legacy production methods. With Hadrian, Power aims to build automated manufacturing plants for the aerospace and defense industries. The company’s two factories in Hawthorne and Torrance, California produce parts for rockets, satellites, drones, jets, and more.

Hermeus

  • Mission:
    Building hypersonic aircraft for commercial flights and national security
  • Industry:

    Aviation & Space
  • Headquarters:
    Atlanta, Georgia
  • Founders:
    Glenn Case, AJ Piplica, Skyler Shuford, Michael Smayda
  • Funding:


  • Job Creation:


In partnership with the U.S. Air Force, NASA, and other government agencies, this 4-year-old startup is building a hypersonic aircraft capable of flying five times the speed of sound. Last year, Hermeus won a $60 million Air Force contract to begin flight testing, which is expected to begin in 2023. The current prototype — an autonomous, remotely piloted aircraft called Quarterhorse — is outfitted with a small, turbine-based combined cycle engine. If tests are successful, the company intends to scale up the engine to propel the world’s fastest commercial passenger plane.

Incredible Health

It’s estimated that we’ll face a shortage of more than 1 million nurses by the end of 2023. Cofounder Iman Abuzeid, a former medical doctor, recognized this looming labor crisis early on, even before the pandemic hit. Her platform provides a tailored marketplace for hospitals to hire full-time nurses. The company enables automated pre-screening and a structured, optimized interview process: employers apply to nurses, not the other way around. That technology has shortened the time it takes healthcare providers to hire permanent nurses to just two weeks, on average, down from the industry standard of 82 days. As of last year, Incredible Health had expanded the number of hospitals it partners with from 200 to 600.

Jetti Resources

  • Mission:
    Mining copper more cheaply and efficiently
  • Industry:

    Energy & Materials
  • Headquarters:
    Boulder, Colorado
  • Founders:
    Michael Outwin, Andrew Perlman
  • Funding:


  • Job Creation:


Copper demand is expected to double by 2035, but many existing copper mines are dwindling. The mineral will be essential in the transition to a low-carbon world. Jetti applies catalytic leaching technology to low-grade primary sulfides like chalcopyrite — the world’s most abundant copper mineral ore — in order to extract copper more cheaply, efficiently, and sustainably. Today, it’s estimated that 70% of the world’s remaining copper resources are trapped in low-grade chalcopyrite; Jetti is working to unlock those reserves.

KoBold Metals

  • Mission:
    Finding minerals with artificial intelligence
  • Industry:

    Energy & Materials
  • Headquarters:
    Berkeley, California
  • Founders:
    Josh Goldman, Kurt House, Jeff Jurinak
  • Funding:


  • Job Creation:


Traditionally, mining has been largely untouched by software. Mineral exploration is still a predominantly manual process in which geologists use heuristics to identify patterns in maps and subsurface data. As a result, searches are often inefficient and imprecise. Using statistical modeling, data aggregation, computer vision, and machine learning, KoBold is building a digital prospecting tool to unearth new sources of nickel, copper, cobalt, and lithium. These materials are essential for meeting the growing demand for electric vehicles, which is estimated to exceed 10 million by 2025.

Currently, China processes 50 to 70% of the world’s lithium and cobalt.

Last Energy

  • Mission:
    Accelerating nuclear power development
  • Industry:

    Energy & Materials
  • Headquarters:
    Washington, D.C.
  • Founder:
    Bret Kugelmass
  • Funding:


  • Job Creation:


Five years ago, Bret Kugelmass launched the Energy Impact Center, a climate-focused research institute specializing in accelerating the energy transition, with a focus on nuclear energy. In 2020, he spun out Last Energy, a startup that takes a novel approach to nuclear power development: innovate on the delivery model, not the proven nuclear technology. The company is a commercial developer of micro, modular, nuclear power plants, with a full-service delivery model to design, deliver, and operate nuclear power plants at scale.

Lilac Solutions

As more Americans transition from gas-powered cars to electric vehicles, there’s a growing demand for the manufacturing of the lithium batteries that power them. Lilac aims to unlock vast new lithium reserves by extracting them from brine — natural deposits of salt water. The company’s ion exchange technology is faster, more efficient, less costly, and less environmentally damaging than conventional methods. Last month, the U.S. Department of Energy awarded the company a $50 million grant to develop more domestic lithium projects.

Mark43

As a senior at Harvard, cofounder Scott Crouch was part of a startup team that built an information management system for law enforcement. That project formed the basis of Mark43, a cloud-based software company that aims to standardize and refine police response and incident reporting. Software features include a computer-aided dispatch program, a records management system designed to make written reports more accurate and compliant, and data analytics tools.

OpenGov

Historically, the software for managing and analyzing government spending has been spotty at best. In 2012, amid a California budget crisis, Zachary Bookman and his cofounders launched a startup to transform the way governments visualize, analyze, collaborate on, budget, and allocate tax dollars. OpenGov is built exclusively for the budgeting, citizen services, procurement, and asset management needs of the public sector. Today, the company is used by more than 1,600 U.S. agencies of all sizes, including the state of West Virginia and the cities of Kansas City, Missouri; Providence, Rhode Island; and Minneapolis, Minnesota.

There are more than 90,000 different local, state, and federal organizations in the U.S. that spend in excess of $7 trillion annually.

Petra

  • Mission:
    Developing tunneling robots to bury utilities underground
  • Industry:

    Manufacturing & Robotics
  • Headquarters:
    San Francisco, California
  • Founders:
    Kim Abrams, Shivani Torres
  • Funding:


  • Job Creation:


Global energy demand is expected to increase 50% over the next 30 years, putting unprecedented strain on our national grid. Petra’s semi-autonomous tunneling robots are capable of burying critical utilities in previously impenetrable terrain. The boring machines are non-contact and can produce micro-tunnels ranging from 20 to 60 inches, cutting costs and improving the safety of undergrounding. By burying power lines and other utilities, the company aims to guard against weather-related damages and decrease wildfire risk. Last year, Petra completed a 20-foot demonstration tunnel through Sioux Quartzite, the hardest rock on Earth.

Propel

As a kid growing up in Kansas City, Jimmy Chen’s family sometimes struggled to make ends meet. After earning a degree from Stanford and working at Facebook, Chen wanted to apply technology to the often overlooked problems experienced by those in poverty. In 2014, he launched Propel, a free app that enables those on food stamps to easily check their balance from their phone. The app has since expanded to offer additional services, including budgeting tools and an account that can receive paychecks and other government benefits. More than 5 million Americans use Propel’s app each month.

Food insecurity reached a two-decade low in 2021 because of a pandemic-era expansion of government assistance for families and children.

Radiant

Doug Bernauer previously spent over a decade at SpaceX devising portable nuclear energy plans to sustain future colonies on Mars. His own company, Radiant, develops portable nuclear microreactors for military and commercial use on Earth, including hospitals, data centers, and military installations. This technology is a more efficient, easily transportable, and sustainable energy source than existing diesel systems and can operate anywhere, without the need for on-site water. The microreactors are assembled, fueled, and tested in Radiant’s California factory.

93: Number of nuclear reactors currently operating in the U.S., which provide roughly 20% of the country’s electricity (and about half of the nation’s carbon-free energy).

Redwood Materials

At Redwood Materials, metals recovered from old lithium-ion batteries, such as nickel, cobalt, lithium, and copper, are used to remanufacture anode and cathode components for domestic battery cell manufacturers. By recycling and refining the batteries on site at its Nevada facilities, Redwood condenses what is typically a 50,000-mile supply chain to a single location. So far, the company has partnered with battery makers, consumer retailers, and car manufacturers; most recently, it reached an agreement to recycle all end-of-life batteries from Volkswagen and Audi electric cars.

Demand for Lithium-ion Batteries is Projected to Grow More than 500% by 2030.

Source: Bloomberg

Recycling has the potential to reduce demand by approximately 25% for lithium, 35% for cobalt and nickel, and 55% for copper by 2040.

Relativity Space

Tim Ellis honed his rocket-building knowledge while working on 3D-printed components at Blue Origin. At Relativity Space, which he cofounded with Jordan Noone in 2015, he’s building the world’s largest 3D printing factory stocked with the biggest metal 3D printers in existence. The company uses AI, robotics, and 3D printing technology to streamline the rocket-building supply chain, necessitating 100 times fewer parts than traditional manufacturing processes. Earlier this year, Relativity announced the opening of a new 1-million-square-foot headquarters in Long Beach, California, the former site of a Boeing manufacturing plant. The company plans to launch Terran 1, the first entirely 3D printed rocket, by 2023.

93 acres: The size of Relativity Space’s Gensler-designed Long Beach headquarters, which houses the world’s largest 3D-printing factory.

Saildrone

Founder Richard Jenkins spent 10 years chasing the land speed record for wind-powered vehicles, which he finally broke in 2009. His experience in wing technology — which he later patented — formed the basis of Saildrone’s fleet when he founded the company in 2014. The wind- and solar-powered vehicles collect real-time, high-resolution ocean data and use proprietary software to translate it into intelligence for climate, mapping, and maritime security. Saildrone’s vehicles have sailed more than 800,000 nautical miles to date.

Seso

  • Mission:
    Providing farms with software to recruit, qualify, and train agricultural workers
  • Industry:

    Agriculture, Labor
  • Headquarters:
    San Francisco, California
  • Founders:
    Michael Guirguis, Jordan Taylor
  • Funding:


  • Job Creation:


The pandemic compounded widespread labor shortages on farms. It’s something Seso’s cofounders understand firsthand: Jordan Taylor grew up working on his family’s farm in Montana, while Michael Guirguis’s family operates a farm in Central California. But the process of legally hiring farm workers has traditionally been mired in paperwork. Seso aims to streamline the H-2A visa application process, which allows migrants to get legally protected work status on farms, and make it easier for farmers to find and hire those workers. The company’s services include H-2A visa automation, a database of qualified workers, transportation and consulate management, and digitized documentation for farmers to maintain compliance.

The U.S. Department of Labor issued more than 250,000 H-2A visas in 2021, up from fewer than 60,000 a decade earlier.

Shield AI

Cofounded by Brandon Tseng, a former Navy SEAL, the company aims to develop advanced AI and hardware capable of powering government aircraft, drones, ships, and submarines. Shield’s “Hivemind” AI pilot can function autonomously — without GPS or communications — to protect service members and civilians. The technology is tested in what Shield refers to as the “defense metaverse,” a combination of synthetic environments, real physics simulations, and human-machine tactics. Since 2018, Shield’s Hivemind technology has taken part in real-world missions ranging from room clearance to penetrating air defense systems.

Shift

  • Mission:
    Providing upskilling programs and a career marketplace for military members
  • Industry:

    Labor
  • Headquarters:
    San Francisco, California
  • Founder:
    Mike Slagh
  • Funding:


  • Job Creation:


Former Navy bomb-disposal officer Mike Slagh founded Shift to help former military members like himself transition into the civilian workforce. The tech platform uses proprietary algorithms to analyze military skills and experiences and match candidates with jobs in the private sector. In addition, Shift provides on-the-job tech training in fields ranging from AI and cybersecurity to logistics. In 2020, the company became one of the first to receive the U.S. Air Force’s Strategic Fund Increase award, which allowed it to grow its industry immersion program and expand into tech markets beyond Silicon Valley.

Skydio

Skydio’s cofounders met at MIT while working on an award-winning autonomous flight research program. Adam and Abraham went on to found Google’s Project Wing, which explored drone-based delivery. With Skydio, the founders envisioned an autonomous, camera-equipped drone agile enough to assist in complex environments, including rescue missions and accident scenes, war zones, and infrastructure projects. Most recently, Skydio offered free support for safety and enterprise customers during Hurricane Ian, providing a 24/7 emergency hotline and overnight replacements for damaged drones.

Solugen

The chemicals industry is the third-largest contributor to the world’s carbon emissions. Physician-scientist Gaurab Chakrabarti and his cofounder, engineer Sean Hunt, aim to change that. From a bioforge in Houston — the first carbon-negative molecule factory — Solugen wants to decarbonize the chemicals industry. The company creates custom enzymes that convert inexpensive feedstock into valuable chemicals, rather than using petroleum and natural gas. The applications, which include strengthening concrete, treating water, and improving the efficiency of fertilizer, are wide-ranging.

SpaceX

SpaceX’s 20-year history is distinguished by a slew of private aerospace firsts. In year 10, the company claimed the first commercial spacecraft to deliver cargo to and from the International Space Station (ISS). In 2020, it became the first private company to take humans to the ISS as well. And to date, it remains the only private company capable of returning a spacecraft from low-Earth orbit. Between its build facility in Hawthorne, California, and its rocket development facility in McGregor, Texas, the company is working on the next generation of reusable launch vehicles, designed to carry humans to Mars.

Stord

Stord’s cloud-based logistics platform endeavors to ease businesses’ supply chain snags, from port to porch. Since launching in 2015, the B2C and B2B service has focused on addressing pain points across fulfillment and shipping. More recently, the company introduced a spate of new offerings to its supply chain service, such as drayage and temperature-controlled warehousing. With more than 1,000 warehouse facilities across the country, Stord has partnered with companies ranging from Coca-Cola Co. to Dollar General.

Supermove

  • Mission:
    Digitizing the moving business
  • Industry:

    Transportation & Logistics
  • Headquarters:
    San Francisco, California
  • Founders:
    Wonjun Jeong, Mark Miyashita
  • Funding:


  • Job Creation:


Engineers Wonjun Jeong and Mark Miyashita embedded with a California-based moving company for weeks to observe pain points and inefficiencies, both for movers and customers. Then they launched Supermove, a startup created to digitize the drudgery of moving. The company offers a suite of apps for moving companies to streamline their business, including converting leads, communicating with moving crews and customers, tracking their trucks with Uber-like GPS, calculating costs (both pre-move estimates and day-of digital bills that account for expenses like drive time, materials, and taxes), forecasting warehouse capacity, processing payments, and more.

Taranis

Taranis combines high-precision imaging with computer vision and machine learning to alert farmers to crop threats like insects, disease, weeds, and nutrient deficiencies. The company deploys fleets of drones to scout crops and capture leaf-level, high-resolution photos. Then Taranis’s AI platform — trained on a crop dataset containing over 200 million data points — analyzes the images to produce real-time insights for farmers. Though the company was originally founded in Tel Aviv, it established its new 6,000-square-foot global headquarters in Indiana in 2021.

The drone software market is projected to grow from $5.1 billion in 2022 to $11.2 billion by 2027.

Traba

  • Mission:
    Filling businesses’ open shifts with vetted workers in warehousing, distribution, and event staffing
  • Industry:

    Labor
  • Headquarters:
    Miami, Florida
  • Founders:
    Akshay Buddiga, Mike Shebat
  • Funding:


  • Job Creation:


After working as a warehouse manager in Illinois, Mike Shebat became convinced his job was ripe for disruption. Worker turnover in warehouses tops 40%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and a recent Instawork survey found that more than 70% of warehouse operators reported being short-staffed. In 2021 — following a subsequent stint at Uber — Shebat cofounded Traba, an automated platform for staffing workers in warehouses, distribution centers, and event venues. The tech does away with much of the manual processes that have long plagued light industrial work: contractors can search shifts online, track their time and invoicing via app, and receive ratings and reviews.

Vannevar Labs

  • Mission:
    Applying AI, machine learning, and natural language processing to critical national security problems
  • Industry:

    GovTech
  • Headquarters:
    Palo Alto, California
  • Founders:
    Brett Granberg, Nini Moorhead
  • Funding:


  • Job Creation:


After working as a counterterrorism officer in the intelligence community for seven years, Nini Moorhead was familiar with the red tape involved in attempting to adopt new technologies. Her cofounder, Brett Granberg, was a former intelligence investor who had worked with the CIA, NSA, and the Department of Defense. The pair recognized the value in building a better tech platform in the interest of national security. Vannevar Decrypt, their first product, incorporates natural language processing and computer vision to translate and interpret foreign language text and generate counterterrorism insights.

Varda Space Industries

  • Mission:
    Manufacturing materials that are useful on Earth from production facilities in space
  • Industry:

    Aviation & Space
  • Headquarters:
    El Segundo, California
  • Founders:
    Delian Asparouhov, Will Bruey
  • Funding:


  • Job Creation:


The microgravity in space — the condition of weightlessness — presents new opportunities for manufacturing. Cofounded by a SpaceX alum in 2020, Varda is pursuing newly scalable methods for producing materials in space, with potential applications in pharmaceuticals, hypersonic testing, and fiber optics. In advance of the company’s inaugural mission, anticipated in 2023, Varda signed a pair of Space Act Agreements with NASA earlier this year to gain access to critical heatshield technologies and atmosphere reentry data. The company recently moved into a new 61,000-square-foot headquarters in El Segundo, which gives them the capability to produce between six to eight flights a year.

The number of patents with “microgravity” in the title or abstract spiked from 21 in 2000 to 155 in 2020.

Wonderschool

CEO and cofounder Chris Bennett’s goal is to build the largest network of quality early education programs in the country; his company already supports more than 25,000 childcare programs in over a dozen cities. The software platform enables providers to launch schools or daycares in their own homes and provides assistance with operations, licensing, accounting, marketing, and curriculum building. More recently, the company has focused on partnerships with state and local governments. Earlier this year, for example, the company teamed up with Nevada’s Division of Welfare and Supportive Services to help more than 100 new providers launch childcare businesses.

51%: Percentage of Americans that live in “childcare deserts” without a sufficient supply of licensed childcare providers.

Workrise

Prior to launching their company in 2014, cofounders Xuan and Michael amassed over a decade of experience in the energy industry as engineers, investors, analysts, and consultants. While the pair initially focused their workforce management platform on those in the oil and gas industry, the pressures of the pandemic propelled their expansion into additional sectors, including wind, solar, construction, and defense. In the near term, Workrise aims to grow its retraining and upskilling programs and further expand: it currently has more than 20 physical offices across the country.

Zipline

Zipline’s fixed-wing autonomous drones first launched in 2016 to deliver blood to hospitals across Rwanda; more recently, their fleet distributed over a million Covid-19 vaccines across Ghana. Over the course of the pandemic, the company made new inroads into the U.S., delivering prescriptions and over-the-counter medications in Salt Lake City, Utah, personal protective gear and medical supplies in North Carolina, and health and wellness products from Walmart in Arkansas. Today, the company estimates it makes a new drone delivery somewhere in the world every four minutes.

American Dynamism 50 Founders With Prior Government Experience

  • Zachary Bookman, OpenGov
    Advisor to U.S. Army General H.R. McMaster on the Anti‑Corruption Task Force, ISAF; law clerk on the U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

  • Glenn Case, Hermeus
    Thermo-fluid analysis engineer, NASA

  • Joseph Chen, Anduril
    Paratrooper, U.S. Army National Guard

  • Martin Greenwald, Commonwealth Fusion
    Chairman, Federal Advisory Committee for Fusion Energy Sciences, U.S. Department of Energy

  • Tim Ellis, Relativity Space
    National Space Council Users Advisory Group, The White House

  • Jordan Noone, Relativity Space
    U.S. Speaker’s Program, U.S. Department of State

  • Michael Guirguis, Seso
    Employment policy, National Economic Council

  • Brittany Stich, Guild Education
    White House fellow

  • Sean Hunt, Solugen
    Fuel cell engineer, U.S. Navy

  • Grant Verstandig, Epirus
    Research fellow, National Institutes of Health and National Cancer Institute

  • Mike Slagh, Shift
    Bomb disposal officer, U.S. Navy

  • Nini Moorhead, Vannevar Labs
    Counterterrorism Analyst, United States Department of Defense, Office of the Director of National Intelligence

  • Brandon Tseng, Shield AI
    SEAL, U.S. Navy

The American Dynamism 50: How We Selected the Companies Featured

The American Dynamism 50 highlights compelling companies supporting the national interest in the fields of agtech, aviation and space, defense and public safety, education, energy and materials, govtech, housing, labor, manufacturing and robotics, and transportation. Bio- and health-focused companies are not included. (Read more about our investments in those areas here). This project is meant to represent the breadth of technologies advancing American innovation. The list is ordered alphabetically — not ranked — and is not exhaustive.

To be considered for this project, companies must be private, U.S.-based, and VC-funded. Those selected were based on a variety of factors, including mission, momentum, historical funding (via PitchBook), and estimated job creation (via LinkedIn). Companies were not chosen based solely on company size or funding. After finalists were selected, a panel of 30 leaders in government and business from outside a16z were asked to weigh in and provide consensus.

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