Forbes Recognizes Bauer Alumnus

Casey McNeil Named to Forbes’ 2015 “30 Under 30” in Energy

Published on January 30, 2015

Casey McNeil

Casey McNeil (BBA ’14)

A recent Bauer College graduate is making a name for himself in the world of clean energy. Forbes has named Casey McNeil (BBA ’14) to its 2015 list of “30 Under 30” in energy.

McNeil, 25, has spent the last two years working on commercializing intellectual property developed on the University of Houston campus.

As a student in Bauer’s Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship, he was part of a business plan team that worked with UH researcher Allan Jacobson, the Robert A. Welch Chair of Science and director of the university’s Texas Center for Superconductivity, who created a technology that involved acquiring scrap e-waste and extracting rare earth elements (REEs) using a patented solvent.

The team built a business around Jacobson’s technology, called REEcycle, and made an impressive showing at national business plan competitions across the country. Upon graduation, McNeil transitioned into full-time CEO of REEcycle and now works with business partners (and fellow Bauer WCE alumni) Cassandra Hoang and Susan Tran to provide a sustainable, secure and less expensive supply of REEs for U.S.-based consumers, ranging from REE wholesalers to government stockpiling agencies.

The company has made a huge impression on energy industry leaders in a short amount of time, with McNeil earning praise for his leadership.

When it came time to compile its list of emerging professionals in energy, Forbes reached out to many, including the director of the First Look West (FLoW) Business Plan Competition, where McNeil and his REEcycle teammates took grand prize in 2013. She nominated McNeil, as did others from Bauer, UH and the Houston community.

“Making it on this list has always been something I wanted to achieve,” McNeil said. “But this is a great recognition of the work REEcycle has done as a company, not just my individual efforts.”

He added: “Because of my background working in technology prior to becoming an entrepreneur, I felt comfortable leading a team and everything aligned from there. My team worked very well together and we had support from WCE.”

In 2013, REEcycle successfully pitched their way through business plan competitions — including a three-award sweep at the Department of Energy’s National Clean Business Plan Competition — garnering $130,000 in non-equity safe cash and approximately $160,000 of in-kind prizes like legal services, software and web development, consulting and office space. REEcycle was then able to hire Chief Chemist Pradeep Samasekere and moved into the UH Energy Research Park in November 2014 to continue testing scalability of their pilot through September 2015.

“Even with all that we’ve already accomplished as a company, all of the support we’ve received that WCE and UH has extended to us, the benefits of me being named in Forbes are exponential,” McNeil said.

As one of the 600 millennials across 20 different industries that Forbes calls young game changers, McNeil has been granted access to a private social app exclusively for those on the list, which will help him network and promote growth for REEcycle. He said he was also contacted by the venture group owned by Shark Tank’s Barbara Corcoran to talk future investment opportunities.

“I’m excited to see where this will go,” McNeil said.