Betting poor dairy farmers in developing countries would benefit from a cheap way to keep their milk cool, the four-year-old business designs, builds, and installs industrial refrigeration systems that run on solar or traditional power. Right now it's selling its $3,000 to $12,000 systems to dairy processors in India, with plans to expand in Southeast Asia in the near future, and eventually Africa and Latin America.
It has sold one system so far to a private dairy processor in Tamil Nadu in southeast India that collects and sells milk from villages. With Promethean's systems it can store milk for longer periods in remote locations, reducing farmers’ expenses. "We saw the opportunity to build a profitable business in India and at the same time do good," improving the market so individual dairy farmers could charge more for their milk, says co-founder Sam White.
Promethean took second place in MIT’s $100K Entrepreneurship Competition in 2007, has raised around $1 million from investors, and could have up to $1.5 million in revenue in 2012, according to White and co-founder Sorin Grama. In June, the National Science Foundation awarded Promethean a $150,000 Small Business Innovation Research grant to "optimize the efficiency of its cold-energy-storage battery," White says.