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Startup Open 'GEW 50' Entrepreneur Discusses 'Silver Innovators,' Passion for Solving Problems

Jessica Wray Bradner | January 21, 2016
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At 68, Dr. David Pensak, a Delaware-native, is enjoying his retirement by developing innovative solutions to common problems.

And creating a new startup company every year since 2011.

Pensak is a 2015 Startup Open “GEW 50” finalist for his latest endeavor, CateringStone. CateringStone is a thermal consistency system designed to keep food hot or cold in serving dishes, on buffet tables and throughout transportation for four to six hours.

The Startup Open “GEW 50” are some of the most promising startups announced during Global Entrepreneurship Week. These startups are chosen from hundreds of applicants from around the world. In 2015, there were more than 800 startup applicants from almost 90 countries.

Pensak stumbled into the Startup Open competition in 2011 by happy accident, and said he wasn’t sure where he originally discovered the competition. In 2011 he submitted his startup, Vaporiety, and became a “GEW 50” finalists for the first time. He has since been a part of the “GEW 50” class every year he has submitted an application. 

“The Startup Open program gets people to ask questions,” he said. “Last year I got an email from a young woman in Italy who had read my book and seen what I was doing through the Startup Open competition, and said I had been an inspiration for her. I had a grin on my face so big I thought my cheeks were going to split.”

The Startup Open was the first startup contest Pensak ever entered. He said he is having a wonderful time participating in the competition and meeting new people.

Pensak said he enjoys working with innovators who have experience – those entrepreneurs who are either retired or experienced in their field and looking to make a difference – or who he calls “silver innovators.” He said he often gets frustrated when he hears that those most likely to be successful entrepreneurs are only those in the young, “20-somethings” generation.

“To me, the world is like a jigsaw puzzle, and every year, you pick up a few new pieces,” Pensak said. “As you get older, you have a larger number of puzzle pieces in your pocket you can use.”

But for those who want to make a difference, he said, or who have an idea to change the world, they should start now.

“We’ve all believed to make any difference, it takes a thousand years. But with all of the technology we have now, you can do something today that makes a difference,” he said. “Why sit back and just do cross-word puzzles when you can save lives.”

Pensak is also the author of Innovators for Underdogs, and heads Pensak Technologies. His other startup endeavors include GaussWear, HemoStable and UbiquiShield. All of his startups have been part of the “GEW 50” finals. He has a PhD in organic chemistry and computer technology from Harvard University. He retired in 2004 from DuPont as the company’s chief computer scientist. 

On entrepreneurship, Pensak said it’s important not to let fear stop you – whether that’s fear of the unknown or fear of failure.

“We need to get people to believe in themselves. To challenge their basic assumptions.”

Photo Credit: Mark Lyndersay, lyndersaydigital.com

Jessica Wray Bradner
Jessica is a former multimedia journalist with a background in print and online media. At the Global Entrepreneurship Network, she creates daily... About the Author