Sometimes you have to jump out of a bus to make it to the Forbes “30 under 30” party
Kyle Kornack was going to miss the party. For two hours one night last month he was trapped in a bus by a blizzard that had brought New York City to a frozen halt. Finally, he did something about it.
“The bus driver would not let us out, and things were getting kind of chaotic,” Kornack said. “People were getting very frustrated and yelling. And so I ended up opening the emergency window in the back, popping out of the bus, and walking down the highway to the subway.”
Kornack is not one to take things sitting down. His impulsive journey was in line with the spirit of this particular party. It was staged by Forbes to celebrate its annual “30 Under 30” lists of 600 young entrepreneurs, including six from Northeastern, who have exploited their ingenuity, ambition, and critical thinking skills to launch trailblazing enterprises.
Kornack and David Cooch were honored for co-founding Green Gas, a nonprofit that enables drivers to offset their carbon emissions by making donations to environmental causes at the gas pump.
Two gasoline dealers have recently renewed their commitments in Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Virginia to the Green Gas program, which enables users to donate an extra 10 cents per gallon to projects that can mitigate climate change. Grocery and drug stores routinely ask customers if they would like to make charitable donations; Green Gas is the first to do so at the pump, with the understanding that the noxious smell of gasoline helps inspire drivers to contribute.
“Around 74 percent of Americans are genuinely worried about climate change,” said Kornack. As a result, he added, every gas station becomes “a highly sympathetic venue for garnering donations for these projects to put the brakes on climate change.”
Kornack estimates that donations to Green Gas have already had the effect of removing pollutants from the atmosphere equivalent to 1 million miles driven on American roads. He was incited to help create Green Gas while enrolled in the environmental studies program at Northeastern.
“We studied the problems for four and a half years, and it was kind of depressing and awakening,” said Kornack, who graduated in 2013. “I threw up my hands and was like, OK, where are the solutions? What can we do about this?”
Forbes also recognized Northeastern graduates Tuan Ho, Joseph Alim, and Francisco Calderon for launching ScholarJet, which enables 50,000 students from underserved communities to compete for scholarships via skills challenges with potential employers. And Seven Siegel, a lecturer in the College of Arts, Media and Design, made the “30 Under 30” for directing Global Game Jam, an annual event that challenges people in more than 100 countries around the world to create a game in 48 hours.
At the Forbes party, Kornack and Cooch were able to network with other young entrepreneurs, reaffirming that they’re on the right track.
“We met a bunch of inspiring people,” Kornack said. “We’re getting ready to scale to the rest of the nation, and hopefully we can leverage the Forbes ‘30 under 30’ community to help accelerate that.”
This story was originally published in News@Northeastern on December 6, 2018.