Meet the Breakthru 2017 Winners – WEnTech Solutions
In 2015 a friend approached Amir Akbari with a challenge.
“He needed help with a client – a municipal waste site, with 25 years of garbage,” explains Akbari. “They wanted to do something with that waste. They wanted to efficiently understand their options related to converting their waste into energy.”
Waste-to-energy is an evolving discipline that encompasses projects that convert garbage – municipal, agricultural, marine, or forestry-related waste – into useful products like heat, electricity, or even biochemicals.
“Waste-to-energy projects are run by consulting engineers, who are trained to evaluate a wide array of contributing variables before making a recommendation to a client on how to proceed,” says Akbari. “They can do that evaluation manually, or they can do it with the help of a software tool.”
The variables that must be considered for a waste-to-energy project are many: site election, environmental considerations, the local regulatory framework, technology options, financial scenarios, and more.
Akbari asked fellow UNB student and PhD candidate Farough Motasemi to join him in developing a software solution for their client, and it quickly became clear that they were creating a tool that would improve upon existing software in the market.
“In December we formed WEnTech Solutions Inc. Six months later we had a minimum viable product, and our first project was complete,” says Akbari.
The WEnTech system automates project workflow, drawing on proprietary databases to model waste-to-energy conversion solutions for clients over the short and long term.
“Our software reduces the amount of time to do this manual analysis by 90%,” explains Akbari. “This means our customers can take on more work without hiring people.”
WEnTech also offers customers a more holistic picture of their project.
“Right now you have to buy multiple products to get the same functionality we offer, and we’re much easier to use – requiring 10-15 data points to get started, compared to up to 250 with some competitive products,” says Akbari.
The team, now numbering four with the addition of Kevin Shiell and Kenneth Kent, is currently working on a second project and have others in negotiation.
“We are ready to scale up and hire more developers,” says Akbari. “We are looking to raise funds, and that’s how we came upon the Breakthru competition.”
Akbari says the timing was perfect.
“The Breakthru process has been great,” he says. “We have learned a lot, and enjoyed the coaching aspect of the competition.”