Palo Alto, Calif.
2009 revenue: $20,000
Estimated 2010 revenue: $100,000
In 2008, Peter Frykman, a mechanical engineering student at Stanford University, designed a small, portable laser-manufacturing system that could quickly and accurately punch holes in cheap plastic tubing to make affordable drip irrigation systems. In June 2008, he founded Driptech with $5,000 of his own money. The 26-year-old entrepreneur has raised $600,000 from grants, donations, and investors. Driptech's simplified systems, designed for farmers with plots smaller than one acre, do away with expensive parts. A kit for a one-acre farm can cost $300, a fraction of what many larger drip irrigation systems cost. "It targets a market segment that is not addressed by commercial drip irrigation," Frykman says. "It scales down to the needs of small farmers." The company—which has 10 employees in the U.S., China, and India—sold 200 systems to the Lingqiu County government in China's Shanxi Province. Frykman expects to fill orders for over 1,000 farms this year. While Driptech currently manufactures the systems in California, the company plans to set up local production lines near farms overseas by yearend in order to reduce operating and shipping costs.