By: Savannah Keitzer (senior, agricultural education and studies, communications option)

Name: Martin Gross

Title and Company: Founder and President, Gross-Wen Technologies

Major: Food Science and Technology & Agriculture Biosystems Engineering

Graduation Year: 2015

Hometown: Logan, Iowa

Three Tips on Entrepreneurship from Martin Gross

During his graduate work at Iowa State University, Martin Gross invented an algae technology — revolving algal biofilm (RAB) — with his major professor, Zhiyou Wen. This led to the creation of Gross-Wen Technologies which was founded based on the commercialization of his graduate research.

The system is designed to clean water by removing nitrogen and phosphorus by feeding it to algae which prevents it from reaching downstream water supplies. The result is a co-product that can be used to make bioplastics, fertilizer and biofuels.

The journey of an entrepreneur is one that takes knowledge, adaptability and persistence. Here are three tips from entrepreneur Martin Gross

Gain Insights

Starting a conversation with people who have been through the process of starting a business is one of the productive ways Gross continues to gather insights to help his business succeed. Gross credits the Iowa State University Startup Factory for his ability to start and grow a business. This 52-week course provides students with the tools to create a business based on the commercialization of research conducted on campus. The course also provides students with resources and access to a network of business mentors, advisers and counselors.

Adapt to Change

In the beginning Gross and Wen’s research was focused on creating a low-cost, effective way to grow algae for biofuels. Their research took a pivot and they designed a way to both treat water and create algae that can be used to make bioplastics, fertilizer and biofuels. Being adaptable led to success for Gross-Wen Technologies. As Gross reflects on the pivot, he determines being adaptable was best for his company. “There is an opportunity here. If not now, when?” said Gross.

Maintain Persistence

Persistence is a key factor that helped Gross overcome challenges. He remained positive and continued to move forward. There are a lot of moving parts in the business. He says some days things go well and help push the business forward, while other days there are challenges and setbacks.

Growing up in a family of entrepreneurs, Gross said he knew the risks associated with starting a business. “My wife did not grow up in a family of entrepreneurs. I was accustomed to the risk, while she was not. We came to the conclusion that the opportunity was there, and we were going to take it,” said Gross.

Gaining insights, being adaptable and maintaining persistence helped Gross become a successful entrepreneur. Discover more about Gross and his algae technology in this video interview with Kevin Kimle, director of the Iowa State University Agricultural Entrepreneurship Initiative.