Eric Kariuki has had an avid interest in science from a very young age. At the age of ten, he used to make briquettes from charcoal residue and sell it around his neighbourhood. He admits that when he was younger, he was more business oriented. Joining the Climate LaunchPad competition (CLP) reminded him of that fact. Now a Master’s of Science Bio-informatics student, he tells us of his journey through the CLP competition and how it aided him to crystallise the idea and birth of Aqua Ethanol, a concept aimed at producing bioethanol from water hyacinth in lakes using microbial systems (fungi).
How did you learn about CLP?
There was a forum held in JKUAT (Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology) a few years back. Dr. Edward Mungai was one of the key panelists speaking on financing for climate-friendly startups. The discussions piqued my interest. At the time I was thinking through what project to undertake as a requirement for my undergraduate program. During the Q&A session I engaged Dr. Mungai but due to the time constraint allocated to the program he requested if we could engage after. Through my interaction with him, I was able to share my passion for science and the idea I had (now Aqua Ethanol). He encouraged me to apply for CLP 2018 and I did.
In a nutshell, what is Aqua Ethanol all about?
Aqua Ethanol is an evolving concept aimed at producing bioethanol from water hyacinth in lakes using microbial systems (fungi). This will help in reducing the water hyacinth menace while producing cheaper, renewable fuel which will result in a reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHG) and reduce dependency on non-renewable fossil fuels.
How did joining CLP help you?
KCIC helped me a great deal through the CLP engagement. I realized how much I needed to start thinking and developing the business side of the concept I had at the time. Coming up with business elements in science is not natural for most scientists. It is an acquired skill at best. The applications were in the hundreds and only fifteen of us made it to the boot camp. We received training on different aspects of developing our concepts. One lesson that stood out to me, was the ‘Mom test”. How easily can your potential customers adopt the solution your business is offering without being coerced into it. I would say CLP was very instrumental in molding my business mind.
What is your piece of advice to anyone considering joining the CLP 2021 contest?
You are not too small. Don’t sit down and look at your concept or business as a fluff. Get in the ring, the rest will unfold with time. “When the start is small, the win is bigger.”
Have you registered for the 2021 CLP contest? Register HERE today.