Open navigation

About Us

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. These burgers are fresh-ground and grilled to order and accented by an infinitely personalizable variety of produce, seasonings, and sauces. And 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Arya Banait

Arya is a challenge-loving experimentalist with a passion for embedded systems, astrophysics and music. She enjoys poring over astrophysics textbooks, pondering theories about dark matter and quasars, practicing taekwondo, skydiving and playing the violin. She even designed and fabricated her own beautiful, kick-ass, electric violin.  She worked as a value engineer at Beckman Coulter Inc. and collaborated on a robotics project with Intuitive Surgical. Arya earned her MS in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford and a BS from University of Texas Arlington.

Taylor Nicholson

Taylor is constantly curious about how he can design a better world around him. Currently he is working on mastering the art (and science) of brewing. In his spare time, he uses his competitive drive to inspire the next generation of students by building robots with them for the FIRST Robotics Competition. Taylor joins Momentum from the Great White North where he earned his BS in Mechanical Engineering at Queen’s University. Previously, he developed products at VEX Robotics and has collaborated with PnuVax to develop novel process control devices.

Cam Bennett

As an embedded systems and mechatronics engineer, Cam loves moving electrons. His friends are quick to note his subtle and appropriate sense of humor. He once built a joystick and a 7-segment LED display. He also attended high school. He spends his spare time not writing his biography, allowing his teammates to shoulder the responsibility. Above all, Cam is an awesome teammate and a good sport.

Mike Perez

Mike Perez is a proud father, martial artist, and electric vehicle enthusiast. Before Momentum he worked in R&D at Tesla Motors for the powertrain team. His tooling, fixtures, and manufacturing processes can still be found on the manufacturing line at Tesla today. He can often be found in his garage building high powered electric vehicles, drones and motorcycles. Many of the skills he obtains were either self taught or acquired through working with master craftsman.

James Riley

James is a versatile engineer. He builds software, web applications, and user interfaces for monitoring, data management, analytics, and automated control in mechatronic systems. He studied mechanical and computer engineering as a masters student at Boston University, and math as an undergraduate at Middlebury College. Over the years James has worked at start-ups, consulting firms, an international energy tech corporations, development organizations in West Africa, and schools in Brooklyn. He likes designing algorithms, playing guitar, snowboarding, burgers, robots, and burger-robots.

Andy Stulc

Andy has a history of working collaboratively with both humans and robots. He started his career designing composite manufacturing robots for aerospace applications and more recently moved to San Francisco to join the startup community. He is a licensed PE with a BSME from the University of Notre Dame. On the weekends, you’ll find him exploring the mountains by foot, bike, and ski.

Paul Radcliffe

Paul Radcliffe creates software to serve his passion for food, music and active lifestyle. He created Dinner At My Place, an app for home chefs that became one of the top 10% most downloaded applications on the Android marketplace. At Amazon, he lead the development of Amazon MP3 (now Amazon Music), the first music store to sell music without digital rights management. He then led the platform team at MyFitnessPal, the leading app for nutrition and fitness tracking used by more than 165 million users. A native of the San Francisco Bay Area, he holds a B.S. in Computer Science from Cal State Sacramento.