What started out as a high school research project and a non-profit sustainability initiative, SOLBEN, Solutions in Bio-Energy, has grown into a multi-million dollar business, developing new technology and promoting social responsibility.
Founded by four Mexican students, SOLBEN is a perfect example of successful entrepreneurship and the use of innovative ideas to achieve a positive social impact. SOLBEN's success was recognized with the Intellius Entrepreneurship Award* 2011, where it was the first Mexican company to compete and was chosen amongst 50 companies created by international students. The company also won the Student Entrepreneur Award from the Mexican Stock Market, the VII Premio Santander a la Innovación Empresarial 2011 y 2013 (Business Innovation Award) and was awarded first place at the TIC Americas 2011 in the Entrepreneurial Spirit category.
Daniel Gómez Iñiguez, along with Mauricio Pareja, José Guillermo Colunga and Antonio López began to work together when they joined a Biodiesel Club at the Instituto Tecnológico de Monterrey. Through extensive research and study, the team was able to come up with an alternative technology to make biodiesel from nonfood products, such as vegetable oils and animal fats. In 2009, SOLBEN started out as a non-profit but within its first year of operation brought in over a million dollars in revenue. Today, SOLBEN has 15 employees and is rapidly expanding as not only a local, but also an international player and a pioneer in biodiesel technology. SOLBEN also offers products and services to help customers with the biodiesel production process, including oil plantation seeds, seed-hulling machines, training, and quality testing.
According to Daniel Gómez Iñiguez, the company's co-founder, SOLBEN's goal is to have a positive social effect and not to compete with the food production industry. The idea is to use second-generation cultivation in the rural areas of Mexico and process the resulting crop with the SOLBEN technology. "I think that private sector's social responsibility is an indicator that can determine the sustainability of a business in the long term. Rather than an expense, it is a benefit to the organization" – points out Mr. Gómez.
In 2011, Daniel Gómez Iñiguez, was named one of the Top Young Entrepreneurs by Inc.'s 30 under 30. In an interview, he told YABT that he is looking forward to future challenges and feels a responsibility to keep growing. Addressing young entrepreneurs and potential regional leaders, Mr. Gómez spoke words of encouragement and empowerment: "Youth must empower others, create leaders and not followers!"
SOLBEN's success and the ground-breaking methods of its founders is a great model for young people who are looking to bring their innovative ideas into today's market.