The CIE’s Favorite Books
National Read a Book Day is a time to celebrate our love for books and stories. In a world where 81% of us wish we had more time to read, […]Read More
As material engineering senior William Burns was passing time watching Youtube videos, he stumbled across one in particular that caught his attention. Burns watched as the man in the video threw his kitchen scraps into a bucket, and out crawled protein-rich bugs that he used to feed his chickens.
“I thought that it was the coolest idea – waste in and food out,” Burns said. “How can I make this into something larger?”
About one third of all food is thrown away, where it rots in landfills and produces methane which is very harmful to the environment, according to Burns.
The YouTube video he watched inspired him to solve that problem.
That is how his startup ENTEIN came to life. ENTEIN is utilizing food waste to grow insects as an affordable animal feed protein supplement.
At ENTEIN, Burns and his co-founder Cameron Yartz, a mechanical engineering senior, are repurposing wasted food through insects. Over 15 days, larvae eat the wasted food. Then, Burns and Yartz harvest the larvae and turn them into highly nutritious and protein-rich animal feed, they explained.
Burns met Yartz through their Introduction to Entrepreneurship (BUS 310) class and Customer Development (BUS 313) class. Although separate classes, their courses were conducted together. Over the course, they developed ENTEIN.
Burns and Yartz are both passionate about keeping the environment healthy and sustainable.
“Environmental damage is a problem that everyone will have to deal with at some point,” Yartz said. “It is not going to be one solution that solves this problem once and for all for everybody. It’s about making environmental choices in every area.”
Burns grew up in Northern Oregon where there has been a lot of clear-cutting, deforestation and pollution in the waterways, he said.
“I think moving forward, for our country and the world, we need to focus on sustainability or there won’t be anything left for our future generations,” Burns said.
The co-founders want to become more environmentally friendly by producing a product that reduces the amount of waste stream in landfills which harms the environment.
Feeling confident in ENTEIN, Burns pitched their idea at the Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship’s (CIE) Innovation Quest (iQ).
iQ is a competition that helps entrepreneurs develop their ideas into scalable companies by providing them with the necessary resources and funding.
ENTEIN competed and won the Environmental Impact Award, receiving $5,000 in prize money. The Environmental Impact Award is awarded to the team whose innovation focuses on environmentalism and sustainability.
Winning the environmental award validated the fact that their product is truly helpful for the environment, Burns explained.
iQ propelled Burns and Yartz to apply for the CIE Summer Accelerator, a 13-week program that provides entrepreneurs with $10,000 in funding, mentorship and other resources to launch a company.
ENTEIN was one of the eight teams accepted into the program.
As a mechanical engineering major, Yartz said he felt intimidated to join the Summer Accelerator because he thought he would not have business skills to offer his team. However, he soon realized that many people in the program are not business majors. Yartz’s advisors also quickly helped him understand the business world and language, he said.
“It’s been a joy to get involved in something outside of my comfort zone,” Yartz explained. “I feel like every time I sit down for a presentation or a lecture, I come away with immense knowledge.”
Burns said he appreciates the CIE for providing them with resources and mentors that are willing to help with different aspects of their business including finances and marketing.
“Any part of our business that we are having a little bit of trouble with, there is always someone to ask,” Burns said.
By the end of the Summer Accelerator, Burns and Yartz hope to sell their product at local stores so that it can get into the hands of people who want to contribute to a more sustainable future.
“The animal feed industry is one area that could use some change, and we believe that our solution is going to help improve environmental choices and make them accessible to all sorts of people,” Yartz said.
ENTEIN, along with the rest of the 2023 Summer Accelerator cohort, will pitch their startup and showcase their progress at Demo Day, on Sept. 8 at 4 p.m. at SLO Brew Rock. Tickets are available here.