Research Foundation News

December 12, 2019

Four Purdue entrepreneurs named to Forbes 2020 ‘30 Under 30’ list

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. and INDIANAPOLIS – Four Purdue Foundry entrepreneurs have been selected for Forbes’ magazine 2020 “30 Under 30” list of outstanding "innovators and trendsetters who are changing the world" and who are younger than 30.

Entrepreneurs from West Lafayette-based food company NutraMaize LLC and Indianapolis-based tech company Socio Labs Inc. are named to the list.

“It is a tremendous honor for these young entrepreneurs to be named to Forbes 30 Under 30, and this recognition is certainly well deserved,” said Greg Deason, senior vice president of entrepreneurship and place making for the Purdue Research Foundation. “Both NutraMaize and Socio have grown quickly and we anticipate that under their current leadership they will both continue to develop and expand. We are excited to see them take their ideas and make an impact.”

Evan Rocheford, co-founder and chief executive officer of NutraMaize LLC, is included in the Food & Drink category. NutraMaize produces and markets "Orange Corn" developed by Rocheford's father, Purdue University professor Torbert Rocheford. The corn contains significantly higher levels of antioxidant carotenoids and was originally developed to help areas in sub-Saharan Africa address vitamin A deficiencies.

“Making the list is a great honor, but I think what I’m more excited about is the attention it’s bringing to our mission,” Rocheford said. “This has really raised our profile and is giving us a much broader platform to tell our story and educate people about the benefits of Orange Corn.”

To date, NutraMaize has received more than $1 million in grants to further develop the corn for the U.S. market. The company’s Orange Corn product is available online through its website here: “Professor Torbert’s Orange Corn.”

Socio Labs Inc. expanded its presence from West Lafayette, Indiana, to Indianapolis in early 2019 and now has more than 60 employees. The company also has a site in Istanbul. The co-founders were named to the Forbes list under the Enterprise Technology category. They are Yarkin Sakucoglu, Joseph Watkins and Alihan Ozbayrak. The company has created a live event management software platform that counts Google, Microsoft, Pepsi and Comcast among its customers.

In July, Socio closed on a $6 million Series A round of funding that it said would be used to grow its staff and accelerate product development.

Socio also was named the top overall winner of Powderkeg's inaugural Indiana Breakout Tech Culture Awards.

This is the eighth year Forbes has published the list, which is made up of 20 categories, each of which has 30 honorees. Purdue innovators and entrepreneurs have made the list in the past. In 2015, Rebecca Kramer, adjunct assistant professor in the College of Engineering's School of Mechanical Engineering, and Ian Klein, Purdue alumnus of College of Science's Department of Chemistry and chief technology officer of Spero Renewables LLC, were named to the list. In 2017, three innovators Prahasith Veluvolu, Jacobi Petrucciani and Colton Voege, co-founders of Mimir, were named to the list. Forbes says each of the honorees went through a vetting process that included the publication's community of reporters and judges. Visit full Forbes "30 Under 30 2020" list by clicking here.

About Purdue Foundry

The Purdue Foundry is an entrepreneurship and commercialization hub in the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship in Purdue’s Discovery Park whose professionals help Purdue innovators create startups. Managed by the Purdue Research Foundation, the Purdue Foundry was co-named a top recipient at the 2016 Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities Designation and Awards Program by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities for its work in entrepreneurship. For more information about funding and investment opportunities in startups based on a Purdue innovation, contact the Purdue Foundry at

Writer: Cynthia Sequin, 


Greg Deason,

Evan Rocheford,

Yarkin Sakucoglu, 


Evan Rocheford stands in front of a greenhouse full of “Orange Corn” plants developed at Purdue University. (Purdue Research Foundation/Oren Darling) A publication-quality photo is available at

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