Solar Roadways fundraiser nets more than $2M

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Scott and Julie Brusaw pose for a photo after meeting famous scientist and professor Bill Nye, middle, in Washington, D.C.

SANDPOINT - It was a crazy week for Scott and Julie Brusaw of Solar Roadways.

Not only did the tech startup's Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign roll to a close midnight Saturday at $2,200,961 - more than twice the $1 million goal established at the beginning of the campaign - they also were invited to attend the first Maker Faire at the White House in Washington, D.C. An event honoring innovators, inventors and entrepreneurs, the Maker Faire allowed the Brusaws to meet Bill Nye, famous for his PBS program "Bill Nye The Science Guy," and hear an address from President Barack Obama.

According to Scott Brusaw, the invitation arrived relatively late as White House staffers planned the Maker Faire. Once they caught wind of the international sensation caused by the Solar Roadways crowdfunding campaign, however, they asked the business founders to attend. With so much work on the crowdfunding campaign and business on their plate, the Brusaws initially hesitated accepting the invitation, but Indiegogo officials convinced them to go.

They flew out Tuesday night and attended the event the next morning. Nye proved quite busy, but the Brusaws had time to thank him for inspiring their daughter's scientific curiosity and invite him to Idaho. Obama, meanwhile, had to leave immediately following his speech to hold a press conference on the Iraq crisis. All in all, Brusaw said it was a whirlwind trip.

"It's pretty bad when you get to go to the nation's capital and there's not even time for sightseeing," he added.

Nevertheless, it was important to get back to Idaho and back to work as the Indiegogo campaign reached its final hours of fundraising. A big push over the last 24 hours brought thousands of additional dollars into the Solar Roadways campaign, which attracted donations from all 50 states and 165 different countries. The money will be used to hire a team of engineers covering a broad range of specialties. This team will work to solve any potential problems that may arise as Solar Roadways fine-tunes its first commercial product, which Brusaw hopes to have available by the end of the year.

Following a couple days of much-needed rest, the Brusaws will begin the process of hiring their initial team. They've already found office space at the Panhandle State Bank building located on Church Street, making Solar Roadways the latest downtown business to set up shop. With clients like the city of Sandpoint, the Sandpoint Airport and the local Amtrak station already lining up and countless more individuals and organizations expressing interest, the coming year could be big for Solar Roadways.

"To know that people from 165 different countries have contributed to this - it's such a humbling thought," Brusaw said.

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