Do You Really Need a Degree? Here’s Why One Inventor Ditched School

For Global Entrepreneurship Week, FLARE is profiling boss Canadian women from diverse backgrounds who have one thing in common: they’re running their own shows. It’s estimated that female-run small- and medium-sized businesses have contributed $148 billion annually to the Canadian economy. That number is set to climb to $198 billion over the next decade, according to a report by RBC Economics. This is Eden Full Goh’s story

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EdenFullGoh

Eden Full Goh

THE PITCH: Eden Full Goh, 24, grew up in Calgary but wasn’t into the oil and gas industry that surrounded her. Instead, she was all about that renewable energy. For a high school science fair, she created the SunSaluter, a system that increases the efficiency of solar panels by enabling them to rotate and track the sun as it moves, gobbling up and storing all available energy without consuming any itself. Not only does the system convert rays into energy that can be used to provide electricity and clean drinking water, but it does so in a way that is 30 times less expensive to operate than traditional motorized solar panel rotators.

THE PROCESS: Full Goh enrolled in Princeton University to study mechanical engineering, but her high school science fair project was never far from her mind. “Tribes in Kenya and people living in rural villages in India who had heard about the project told me that they needed the SunSaluter, and that it was a matter of life and death—not to be dramatic, but it was—because without energy, they couldn’t see at night,” she says. University classes started to feel like a waste of her own energy, so after her first year at Princeton she applied for a Thiel Fellowship—founded by one of the most famous venture capitalists in the world, Peter Thiel—and scored its $100,000 award. The only catch: she’d need to leave school to go full time on her big idea.

(Photo: Courtesy of SunSaluter)

(Photo: Courtesy of SunSaluter)

THE FINAL PRODUCT: SunSaluter is now in 19 countries and counting. “I was never afraid to leave university because I could always go back if I wanted to,” says Full Goh. “I had a vision for how I wanted the world to be, and I knew I had to be the one to make that happen.”

All homepage illustrations by Assa Ariyoshi

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