The Company

Background

Sunfolding is a spinoff of Otherlab, an independent research & development laboratory. Sunfolding was founded by Leila Madrone (CEO) and Dr. Saul Griffith (Chairman).   Saul and Leila worked together at the MIT Media lab in the early 2000’s. Nearly a decade later, they found themselves in San Francisco both working on renewable energy endeavors and wondered how they could join forces to make an impact in solar energy.  

Instead of using expensive and complex Industrial Age-era machines to move solar panels, the question was: what if solar trackers were redesigned from the ground up, using advanced materials and mature mass-manufacturing to create a tracker that is low cost, low part count, and low maintenance? They were awarded a Transformational Energy Technology Project funding award by the DOE's Advanced Research Projects Division (ARPA-E) to explore some interesting answers to this basic question, which resulted in the patented actuator technology that drives Sunfolding's solar tracker today.


The Team

Leila Madrone
CEO & Co-Founder

Leila Madrone has 15 years of automation, robotics, and solar industry experience with a history of bringing innovative technology from concept to product in high-tech industries.  She has a BS and MEng from MIT in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science with a focus on robotics and mechatronics.  Past projects include novel instrumentation for biotech/genomics (product launched, company acquired), leading the commercialization of NASA robotics hardware (product launched, spun-out company in business since 2007), and embedded control, instrumentation, and system-level testing of a tracker-based solar technology (product launched).


Matthew Schneider
VP Product

Matt has over 15 years of product development and product strategy experience. Matt co-founded RayTracker in 2008, which was acquired by First Solar in 2011. At First Solar, Matt served as the Director of Global Product Development for PV Mounting Systems. His team delivered over 3GW ($600M) of trackers worldwide. Matt has spent his career creating value by determining strategic routes through complex stakeholder requirements. Matt's experience includes tenures at Microsoft and NASA and he holds degrees from St. Olaf College and Stanford University.


Gwen Rose
VP Business Development

Gwen Rose has more than a decade of operations and business development experience, responsible for budgets and business strategy on government and foundation funded renewable energy projects.  Prior to Sunfolding, Gwen was Director of Operations and Strategic Initiatives at Vote Solar.  She has worked on legislative campaigns and regulatory proceedings to establish community solar programs, net metering and interconnection rules, and solar-friendly rates via utility general rate cases in states across the country.


Aaron Thurlow
Head of Sales

Aaron brings to Sunfolding his nearly two decades of expertise in launching and selling new products, brands and technologies globally within the solar industry. At Sunfolding, Aaron leads the company's sales and commercialization efforts. Previously, Aaron was instrumental in the $350 million acquisition of solar module manufacturer Silevo by SolarCity, where he was Vice President of Global Sales and Marketing. Aaron was an executive at Stion, a leading thin-film solar manufacturer, and during his tenure participated in raising several hundred million dollars in funding, forging a partnership with TSMC and building a thin-film solar manufacturing plant in Mississippi. Aaron previously served as an executive committee board member on the California Solar Energy Industry Association (CalSEIA) and as a board member of national SEIA.


John Backer
Head of Supply Chain

John brings over 20 years of experience running operations at hardware companies in the automotive, solar, and semiconductor industries to the Sunfolding team. John directs Sunfolding’s supply chain strategy, working with suppliers at the executive level to control costs and develop logistics capabilities that accelerate material movement and ensure availability. John has held executive leadership positions at both startups and Fortune 500 companies including Mainstream Energy, Skyline Solar, and Applied Materials. His expertise spans new product introduction, supply chain development and management, manufacturing engineering, and logistics.


Saul Griffith
Chairman Of The Board & Co-Founder

Dr. Saul Griffith has multiple degrees in materials science and mechanical engineering and completed his PhD in Programmable Assembly and Self Replicating machines at MIT. He is the cofounder of numerous companies including Makani Power (acquired by Google) and Instructables (acquired by Autodesk.) Saul has been awarded numerous awards for invention including the National Inventors Hall of Fame, Collegiate Inventor's award, and the Lemelson-MIT Student prize. In 2007, the MacArthur Foundation awarded Saul a “genius” award, calling him a prodigy of invention in service of the world community.