Mike Outwin, 29
Co-founder, director and CEO
Life Story: Curiosity defines Mike Outwin. It brought the New England native to Vancouver in 2013 to learn how to extract valuable metals from low-grade ores and mining waste, and to build a company that could do it. Outwin had no background in mining, having earned a BA in international business and management from Pennsylvania’s Dickinson College in 2010. After graduation he worked in San Francisco for GreatPoint Ventures, a venture capital firm. Outwin’s job was to look for difficult problems, identify technologies to solve them and fund companies to commercialize those technologies. He spent his days reading scientific papers, talking to scientists and sponsoring promising research. Normally he’d let others run the companies GreatPoint funded.
That is, until he came across some work being done at UBC by materials engineering professors Ed Asselin and Dave Dixon to unlock copper from abundant but hard-to-process ores. He launched Jetti with GreatPoint colleague Andrew Perlman in 2014, knowing he had to be its first CEO. “I had looked at so many opportunities at GreatPoint,” Outwin explains. “We never had a company and a problem that resonated so much with investors.”
The Bottom Line: Jetti has raised $24 million in funding and secured grants including a $300,000 Ignite Award from the BC Innovation Council. It is working with 10 copper producers to deploy its technology at mines in North and South America.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Know what you don’t know.
Your favourite book is…
Two Years Before the Mast by Henry Richard Dana Jr. It was written in 1840. He had just graduated from Harvard, in Boston. He decides to get on a sailing ship, go around South America, and up and down the California coast for two years.
Who is your role model or mentor?
Andrew Perlman [co-founder of GreatPoint Ventures], Ray Lane [former Oracle Corp. president and Silicon Valley tech and finance guru] and Ken Pickering, who is one of my board members.
What’s your biggest regret?
I wish I had started meditating sooner.
A little-known fact about you is…
I’m a backwoods trout fisherman. There’s probably nowhere that’s more of a sanctuary for me than a little stream or brook, in the middle of the woods, on a sunny morning.