4 minutes with… Len Rand, CEO, xF Technologies

0e6c039Tell us about your company and it’s role in the Advanced Bioeconomy.

The Company produces a family of fuorate esters from biomass feedstock, including sugar, starch and cellulose, using a low cost thermo-chemical process. Uses include industrial solvents, plasticizers, coalescers as well as a fuel blend component for both diesel and gasoline.

Tell us about your role and what you are focused on in the next 12 months.

My main role is coordinating a very talented and experienced team of domain experts in chemistry, production, regulatory and sales. Additionally, I set and drive priorities and function as Chief Cheerleader to the community of partners, customers and regulatory agencies.

What do you feel are the most important milestones the industry must achieve in the next 5 years?  

In the next 5 years we need to continue to refine our production process and validate additional uses of our family of molecules. Achieving profitability would be another “really nice to have”.

If you could snap your fingers and change one thing about the Advanced Bioeconomy, what would you change? 

I really wish people would take a longer term view of the world.While oil prices go up and down (along with the chemicals and fuels made from a barrel of oil) the long term trend is up and the available supply trend is down. We need to develop and optimize renewable alternatives before we are in desperate need of them.

Of all the reasons that influenced you to join the Advanced Bioeconomy industry, what single reason stands out for you as still being compelling and important to you?  

The opportunity to produce non-toxic and renewable chemicals and fuels at cost where our investors and shareholders can make a lot of money is is a great and engaging challenge. To be able to do it with such a talented team is the icing on the cake!

Where are you from? 

Yonkers, NY

What was your undergraduate major in college, and where did you attend? Why did you choose that school and that pathway?

Physics, architecture and structural engineering (multiple degrees) from Renssalaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY. I am and always have been a techno-geek with an interest in business. As the oldest engineering university in the country (and one which offered me a full scholarship) RPI was a logical choice.

Who do you consider your mentors – could be personal, business, or just people you have read about and admire. What have you learned from them?

I have been fortunate to have many mentors over the years, including bosses, peers and direct reports. They have all influenced me in very positive and beneficial ways. My current mentor is our CTO, Aviad Cahana. Since I do not have an organic chemistry background, he has guided me through the learning curve in our ouridstry, as well as becoming a valued personal friend.

What’s the biggest lesson you ever learned during a period of adversity?  

I’ve learned three key things:

1. When you fall, get right back up or you HAVE failed

2. Things will always get better

3. “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” – Albert Einstein

What hobbies do you pursue, away from your work in the industry?

I love to fly and hold an Airline Transport Pilot licesne and have type ratings on multiple multi-engine jets. I also love to cook and have almost completed a culinary degree. Finally, I am addicted to long range bicycle rides.

What are 3 books you’d want to have with you, if you were stranded on a desert island

Any three well written books I haven’t read including fiction and nonfiction. If I’m going to be stranded for a long time they are, hopefully, long books.

What books or articles are on your reading list right now, or you just completed and really enjoyed?  

Turn Right at Machu Picchu

Robert Oppenheimer: American Prometheus

On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen (all about the science and chemistry of cooking)

What’s your favorite city or place to visit, for a holiday?

Any place new with an interesting history, landscape, architecture and/or cuisine.

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