Written by Madison Seeman
As consumers are becoming more and more environmentally conscious, SunWash Technologies is no exception. Beginning in a lab at Western University, their product blossomed from what COO Patrick Therrien calls an “afterthought”—a pretty handy one if I do say so myself. Their specialty polymer can be applied on any surface, and breaks down any organic material, such as bacteria, viruses, or residues, by simply turning on light. The light will activate the material and it then becomes self-cleaning (like I said—handy). By avoiding chemical sprays and disposable paper towels, this product can reduce the resources normally used in cleaning procedures.
Patrick, a Western Alumni, moved around the chemistry and technology industry after graduation before coming across Dr. Paul Charpentier and Dan Jenken. They had established the concept of the invention but it was still far from a finished product. The three of them had such good rapport that they joined forces and utilized their strength and skills to begin commercializing SunWash.
However, it was not without some bumps in the road. They first began by discussing their project with large coating manufacturers. Unfortunately, they all had the same response: “Its too early. Go develop it more, then come back to us.” But determination pushed them to the next step, as with many startups, and the team decided to create a spin-off company “with or without the help of larger manufacturers.”
SunWash is now emerging from the field study stage, but already has some promising opportunities. The product has met all of the industry standards and “even at an early stage, the results were excellent at the end of the day.” Patrick and his team were confident and knew “the technology really worked.” They were not alone in thinking this, as one of the researchers loved the product so much, they purchased it themselves! That must be one encouraging first sale. To Patrick, this product is “delivering a solution that the industry needs. And that’s rewarding.”
Patrick said the most surprising thing, looking back on his team’s journey was discovering how many other entrepreneurs were out there. It was comforting for him to know that “you’re not alone.” He also attributes a lot of his motivation to his great support network. His friends and family were always behind him and the company, in addition to the community support of London. Patrick learned that “London is very good for building a company,” as SunWash previously won the TechAlliance Innovation Award, and the Venture London award in the startup category.
Upon asking Patrick what advice he would give to aspiring entrepreneurs, he immediately replied, “you have to immerse yourself in it.” He encourages getting involved in anything and everything you can find. “People are free with ideas, you just have to ask.” The London entrepreneur community is full of people willing to share advice and their experiences.
SunWash’s future is shaping up to be a “bright” one with their innovative product. The startup plans on partnering with applicator companies with the idea of expanding to the food industry. Patrick admits “creating everything from scratch has its frustrations, but you can build it in the way you think is right.” SunWash dreams are big as they can envision their product in all different industries, from hotels to healthcare. “We want to coat the world.”
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