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How Passion Turned into $5K

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Being passionate about your problem space and solution is an overlooked aspect of creating a successful venture. Passion is a key motivational factor for Miraal Kabir and her venture, Safi. Miraal had firsthand learned about and seen MERS, a coronavirus with a 35% death rate and 5x reproduction rate that runs the risk of turning into a global pandemic. MERS spreads primarily through camels who transmit it to herders through the consumption of unpasteurized milk, and a vast majority of Kenyan herder households do not pasteurize their milk. This then inspired her to get a team together to create Safi, a cost-effective pasteurization tool that destroys harmful pathogens in milk through high temperatures and stirring 

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We spoke with the founder, Miraal, to get some advice on how the Safi team made it to the $5k finals!

Q: Why did you and your team decide to pitch for the Concept $5k? 

As university students with an entrepreneurial idea, it can be difficult and discouraging to bring your idea to life without having any money. We were really lucky to be students at the University of Waterloo since our school encourages students to showcase their innovative solutions through Concept. We were especially inclined to pitch for the Concept $5K when we saw that there was an extra grant for healthcare related pitches in the Spring 2021 term, something that SAFI fits into.  

Q: How did you prepare for your pitch?  

When we first came up with the idea of Safi, we made a really detailed pitch that outlined the problem we were trying to solve, our solution, and the different benefits it would bring. It took us weeks to create this detailed pitch but once we had it, we only had to adjust it for different competitions like Concept $5K. Creating this pitch makes you really clear on why your idea is needed and the value it can bring to others.  

Q: What have you/will you use the $5k for?  

So far, we have used our $5K for incorporating Safi as a Canadian nonprofit. This was very exciting for us as it means that we are now officially working for a real company! We also plan to use the remaining funds to create our first aluminum prototypes and use them to conduct a dry run in Kenya and Tanzania.  

Q: What are your long-term goals for Safi?  

In the long-term, we hope to use the data we gain from using Safi’s handles to show the benefits of pasteurizing milk. This will help us to lobby governments to make it mandatory to pasteurize milk. We do not want to create a dependency on our handle, but instead we want it to be a catalyst to make sure that everyone has access to safe milk by law.  

Q: Do you have any tips for those considering applying for the Concept $5k?  

The biggest tip I can give is to believe in your idea! There were so many times when we were filling out the $5K application that we thought we should give up because our idea wasn’t good enough. I would say keep persevering and believing in yourself because it’s amazing how far that can take you! 

To get in touch with Safi or to follow along their journey, check out their website. 

Inspired by Miraal and Safi? Well this could be you! Concept’s $5k Pitch applications for Fall 2021 are open until October 17th 2021. All students are welcome and encouraged to apply! 

Miraal will also be doing an Instagram takeover over at @concept.uw Friday October 15, 2021. So if you would like tips/have questions, be sure to ask them then!