15. Tesla NanoCoatings

Founder: Todd Hawkins (CEO)
Launched: 2012
Headquarters: Massillon, Ohio
Funding: $4.5 million

Todd Hawkins, founder and CEO of Tesla NanoCoatings
Source: Tesla NanoCoatings
Todd Hawkins, founder and CEO of Tesla NanoCoatings

Tesla NanoCoatings (no connection to Elon Musk's Tesla cars) provides a corrosion-resistant coating for steel that can be applied like paint — with a roller, brush or spray system. What makes it different than any other product on the market, claims founder and CEO Todd Hawkins, is that its product — Teslan — is stronger than diamonds and more resilient than traditional steel primers. And because Teslan is a two-coat system versus the traditional three-coat system that has traditionally been used to protect steel from corrosion, the company claims it reduces maintenance costs for customers by 33 percent.

Teslan is made with fullerene carbon nanotubes, one of the stiffest and strongest fibers around. These nanotubes are tiny, molecular-size tubes that form into ropelike structures that make them tough but flexible. Even after a surface is covered in Teslan, it can be formed and shaped without losing any of its anti-corrosive features. Companies in the oil and gas, trucking, agriculture and construction industries are using Teslan.

Founder Todd Hawkins, who has a background in petroleum engineering and geology, was president and owner of GeoTech Chemical in Tallmadge, Ohio, prior to starting Tesla NanoCoatings in 2012. He also held senior-level jobs at Lockheed Martin Tactical Defense Systems. So far, the company has raised $4.5 million from investors, including the East Central Technology Angel Fund.

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