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Incubating a New Business in Brooklyn

Within New Lab, a large business-startup incubator in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, Michael Eaton (Botswana, UWC Atlantic, Cornell ’18) is working for Voltaic Systems. It’s a young company that develops small-scale solar panels “for weird and wonderful projects and products,” he says, “like bird tracking and agriculture.”

“It’s a small company, like 12 people. I primarily do design engineering and manufacturing, but all kinds of stuff; it’s a lot of project management. I wanted to be in New Lab because I just love the idea of being around all these products and people that have genuine intention for their company. I find the people I work with and interact with here are honest about their intentions, and what they’re trying to do — solve problems, follow their passions.”

In his junior year at Cornell, Michael started Iko Systems, a company that created and marketed high-quality small hydroponic systems for growing food at home. He served as CEO for a time, but later passed on the firm to his co-founders, who moved it from Ithaca, N.Y. to Massachusetts and entered the marijuana business.

Outside his current work, Michael is passionate about urban design, especially bringing nature into the built environment, and about birding. “I’m a member of the New York City Audubon Society,” he says. “Wherever I go, I take my binoculars.

“Sidewalks should have a strip for greenery, where animals can live and birds can thrive,” he says. “I’m also pretty passionate about New York. I love Brooklyn.”