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About Us

Founded in 2009 and holed up in the gritty part of San Francisco’s South of Market neighborhood, we’re a small collective of foodies and engineers with decades of robotics and restaurant experience. In the past five-plus years, we’ve solved many difficult engineering and manufacturing challenges, helped each other grow, and built some interesting intellectual property.

Our first device makes gourmet burgers from scratch with no human interaction. These burgers are fresh-ground and grilled to order and accented by an infinitely personalizable variety of produce, seasonings, and sauces. Serving a burger this great at such affordable prices would be impossible without culinary automation.

We’re building an engineering-focused group of analytic and creative individuals. The team consists of roboticists from institutions including Berkeley and Stanford and firms like Tesla and NASA as well as product managers with restaurant experience.

Momentum is advised by some of the top restaurant operators, culinary experts, roboticists, and designers, including the former Head of R&D at Fat Duck.

If you share our passion, please reach out:

Smart Creatives: we’re hiring — check out open roles.

The Insightful: reach out, share advice.

Early Adopters: join our mailing list to use our tech.

Want to learn more? Links galore (profiles, press coverage, etc):

We Are

We’re building an engineering-focused group of analytic and creative individuals. This team includes wonderful advisers, consultants, investors, interns, service professionals, and engineers. Presented below is the leadership of that group, people who live to help each other blossom.

Michael Balsamo

Above all Michael enjoys tackling challenging engineering problems. He joins Momentum from Tesla Motors, where he was the powertrain team’s lead transmission engineer, and his design set the quietness benchmark for EV transmissions. Prior to Tesla, he was a design engineer at GM.  In his free time Michael coaches Stanford’s yearlong design practicum course.  Michael is a licensed professional engineer and has an MS in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford and a BS in Mechanical Engineering from University of Pennsylvania, where he graduated cum laude.

Aaron Engel-Hall

Inventor, Dreamer, and Night-owl. A relentless tinkerer, Aaron is fascinated with the creative and pursues the yet unimagined. Before Momentum he worked in R&D as a product engineer at Acuity Brands. He holds an MS in Mechanical Engineering and a BS in Physics, both from Stanford, where he graduated with Distinction and participated in the prestigious Mayfield Fellowship.

Noe Esparza

Experimenter and embedded systems Guru.  Noe draws his inspiration from nature and prefers a cold beer while debugging. Noe is a generalist who’s better than most specialists. Before Momentum, he was a Systems Engineering Manager at Qbotix and holds a PhD, MS, and BS, in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford.

Steven Frehn

The uniqueness of products he has been involved with is fascinating: LED guitar necks, hexagonal solar panels, flywheel batteries and countless others. Relentless, tireless, and indomitable, Steven is the catalyst that makes Momentum alacritous. With six years of startup experience, moving quickly is all he knows and he pulls experience from small startups to large organizations like Tesla and NASA. All his know-how is backed by a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford.

Jeff C. Jensen

He is as likely to scribble theory on a whiteboard as he is to melt a circuit board and you’ll find him jumping out of airplanes and philosophizing over fine wine. Jeff has more than 15 years of engineering experience spanning software, information technology, mechatronics and embedded systems. He landed his first job in software engineering when he was a high school freshman and later worked for Cisco. He was also a Senior Product Manager at National Instruments. Jeff holds BS and MS degrees in Electrical Engineering & Computer Science from the University of California, Berkeley, where he serves as an instructional adviser in embedded and cyber-physical systems.

John (Jack) McDonald

Jack is able to recite every episode of “How it’s Made” by heart. He speaks in Delrin and always wins at craps. His career is filled with difficult prototype development and he holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering from University of California, Berkeley where he was both a Regent’s and Chancellor’s scholar.

Abigail Soong

An avid baker, aspiring yogi, and eager to learn at every turn. Abby is small girl but a large kickboxer. As an engineer, she is as comfortable in mechanical analysis as she is in coding bleeding-edge distributed embedded targets. She was also an engineer at Intuitive Surgical and received her MS and BS in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford.

Alex Vardakostas

Alex is here to help. His two biggest priorities are taking time to dig into science textbooks and being a loyal friend. At Momentum, he gets to combine his love of technology with a deep understanding of the food industry. Prior to founding Momentum, Alex was an engineer at Semiconductor Technology Associates and a researcher of quantum computing algorithms at University of California, Santa Barbara where he earned a BS in physics. Before college, Alex grew up working in his parents’ restaurants.

Oshin Nazarian

Dog-lover, avid swing dancer, and aspiring human encyclopedia, Oshin is a true research scientist. He joins Momentum from sunny Santa Barbara, where he was part of the Postdoctoral Research Faculty in the Materials Science & Engineering department at UCSB. He is an expert in mechanics, composite materials, and computational analysis. Prior to Momentum, he was a Mechanical Engineer for Raytheon, and also served as a private consultant for start-up companies focused on consumer products. Oshin holds a PhD in Materials Science and a BS in Physics from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Carlon Lamont

Carlon has attention to detail in every aspect of life and an insatiable appetite for how things work and are made. He began his career in metal fabrication at the age of thirteen, making jewelry and welding art pieces to woodstoves, and advanced to prototyping for biomedical, semiconductor and aerospace industries. He is also a CTMAA Journeyman and certified by the state of California and United States Labor as a Journeyman Programmer and Setup Machinist.

Ali Rathore

Ali is a paradoxical combination of software expertise and humility. He is a passionate advocate for open-source, transparency and customer rights. A veteran of Sybase, Solyndra, and most recently Lead Architect at SAP, he is an expert in some of the most complex distributed database systems in the world. He also jams out on his guitar, authors a decentralized operating system, and studies the history of mathematics. Ali holds a BS in Electrical Engineering & Computer Science from UC Berkeley.

James Brinkman

James loves taking things apart to discover the secrets of how they work, ranging from windup watches to nuclear reactors. When not tinkering, he can be found exploring California with his family. He started his career as a nuclear mechanic in the US Navy, and joined Momentum to create and improve mechanical designs. He holds B.S degrees in Physics and Mechanical Engineering from Saint Cloud State University.

Anastasia Gamick

An enthusiastic facilitator, Anastasia enjoys making things happen. She listens to NPR, drinks black coffee and reads daily. Despite not being artistic, she has produced two plays in New York, and is always looking for a new play or musical to see. Anastasia also holds a BS in linguistics from UCLA. As Chief of Staff at Momentum Machines, she is here to do whatever needs doing and to make everyone else’s job easier!

Patrick Sherman

Always curious, Patrick constantly learns and tries new things. He teaches himself how to play keyboard, speak Spanish, rock climb and more. After completing a BS in mechanical engineering in his home state at the University of Missouri, he traveled west to California to complete his MS in mechanical engineering at Stanford. While there, he discovered a passion for mechatronics and embedded systems. Before joining Momentum, Patrick was an automation engineer in the Advanced Engineering Group at Flextronics.

David Bordow

A transcendent love for food and an engineering mind enable David to design wonderful edible experiences that satisfy latent human desires. Born and raised in Berkeley, California, David grew up surrounded by a rich food culture, and later worked as a professional cook in both Italy and the US, working at institutions like Chez Panisse. He has experience in design consulting and taught design and food at Stanford and the RCA in London. While completing the Masters Design Program at Stanford, David helped students learn to manufacture their dream products in the Product Realization Lab. Before Stanford, David earned a BS in mechanical engineering at UCLA, graduating cum laude.

Joanna Cohen

Joanna was initially drawn into a career in mechanical engineering by her love of roller coasters. While she hasn’t had a chance to build one yet, she has designed systems for a wide variety of industries including aerospace, mining, and precision agriculture. Previous projects include an in-situ iron ore spectrometer, a mini-LIDAR device, a table-top pipetting robot, and operations and testing of the Rock Abrasion Tools on the Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity. Joanna has always been fascinated by mechanisms and motion and is excited by the unique opportunity to combine that with her passion for food. Prior to joining Momentum, she led the development of the payload delivery system for X’s Project Wing. Joanna has an MS from MIT and a BS from Caltech, both in mechanical engineering.