Home Back Issues October 2011 Trash to cash: Agilyx turns waste plastic into crude oil

Trash to cash: Agilyx turns waste plastic into crude oil

| Print |  Email
Articles - October 2011
Thursday, September 22, 2011
Article Index
Trash to cash: Agilyx turns waste plastic into crude oil
Page 2
Page 3
By Ben Jacklet
1011_Tactics_01
Agilyx co-founders Chris Ulum, left, and Kevin DeWhitt display sacks of plastic feedstock at the company's production facility. Agilyx has converted 2 million pounds of plastic into 250,000 gallons of crude oil. 
Photo by Katharine Kimball

One night several years ago, Chris Ulum was driving to the Oregon Coast with his 10-year-old daughter when she asked him to explain the project that had been keeping him so busy on evenings and weekends. “So I finally explained it to her,” he says, “and at 10 years old she completely grasped the business opportunity and the value proposition. You don’t have to convince anyone of our dependency on fossil crude oil and the merits of having a drop-in replacement for fossil crude. And if you can get that from a garbage stream that’s already being picked up and handled by someone, then it’s not hard to sell the supply demand aspect of the proposition. It just makes intuitive sense.”

By that point, Ulum’s business partner, chemist Kevin DeWhitt, had figured out the technical challenges involved in converting waste plastic to crude synthetic oil. But before DeWhitt could scale the concept to produce significant amounts of oil, he needed money, and to get money he needed a business plan. That was Ulum’s job: to turn a great idea with solid science behind it into a great business.

Ulum, a 48-year-old graduate of Oregon State University with an MBA from Duke University, met DeWhitt through a colleague at Sun Microsystems in November 2004. Their weekend and evening meetings grew more common throughout 2005 and ultimately convinced Ulum to take the plunge and leave his job to launch a startup. They originally called the business Plas2Fuel, and have since renamed it Agilyx (pronounced “Agile-ix”). Recession notwithstanding, they have raised more than $26 million and formed partnerships with key players in the oil and waste industries while building a 35-person company poised to grow into a market leader.

The first step was to prove that their system worked. They accomplished that fairly quickly, raising $300,000 in seed capital in April 2006, building a prototype system at an industrial property in Tigard and extracting their first batch of crude oil from waste plastic several months later. That quick success enabled them to raise more money on better terms.

 



 

Comments   

 
Sustainable   Business
0 #1 Right on!Sustainable Business 2011-10-04 14:31:34
What a terrific idea, good job guys. I'm a little unclear what position you are going for in the market (factory operator, technology leaser, refinery contract negotiator?) but I am sure you will figure it out.
Quote | Report to administrator
 

More Articles

How to boost web traffic

News
Thursday, April 10, 2014
BY JESSICA RIDGWAY  | OB WEB EDITOR

04.10.14 thumb seo-trafficSEMpdx hosted a workshop this week for entrepreneurs, website developers and others interested in search engine optimization (SEO).  Here are a few tips and tricks aimed at bumping up your search engine rankings.


Read more...

Workplace benefits

March 2014
Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Health care and vacations rule. That’s the consensus from our reader poll on workplace benefits that help retain and recruit employees.


Read more...

Wheel man

March 2014
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER

Les Schwab has put a premium on customer service since 1952, when legendary namesake Les Schwab founded the company with one store in Prineville. (Schwab died in 2007.) But if the corporate principles remain essentially the same, the world around this iconic Oregon business has changed dramatically.


Read more...

The 2014 100 Best Companies to Work for in Oregon

News
Friday, February 28, 2014

100best14logo ThumbnailThe 21st annual 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon list was announced Thursday night at an awards dinner at the Oregon Convention Center.


Read more...

Buy the book

News
Tuesday, March 25, 2014
2 03.25.14 thumb bookshopBY VIVIAN MCINERNY | OB BLOGGER

Oregon is home not only to many fine writers but also several accomplished small publishers.


Read more...

Small business sales go big

March 2014
Tuesday, February 25, 2014

BY BRANDON SAWYER

Sales of small businesses surged in 2013 according to the biggest Internet marketplace of such transactions, BizBuySell, increasing to 7,056 reported sales, a 24% increase over 2012, when they dropped 7%. Portland Metro sales tracked by the site grew 9% to 73, capping three years of solid growth. On top of that, Portland’s median sale price jumped 67% to $250K, versus just 13% to $180K nationally. Portland was one of just six metros tracked where the median sale price matched the median asking price, with sellers getting, on average, 92% of what they asked.

BTNMarch14 tableBTNMarch14 line


BTNMarch14 piePDXBTNMarch14 pieUSA


Read more...

The 2014 List: The Top 34 Medium Companies to Work, For in Oregon

March 2014
Thursday, February 27, 2014

100best14logoWebOur 100 Best Companies project turned 21 this year, so pop open the Champagne. Our latest survey gives us plenty to cheer.

 


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS