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The balancing act: Two graduate students run clean energy startup Swish

Co-founder Miswar Syed reflects how a challenging first winter in Canada reveals a business opportunity 

Student Founder Feature

Miswar Syed was exposed to the promise of clean energy technology early on in his life. Now he is building a career and company out of it. 

“I came across the problem of dust accumulation on solar panels during my time in Saudi Arabia and became interested in how it contributes to loss in efficiency and revenue.”  

Now, Miswar and his co-founder Amirhossein Boreiri, both graduate students, are making solar panel cleaning methods more affordable and sustainable. 

Swish is building a cost-effective product to clean solar panels without the use of freshwater and expensive cleaning robots. As a student researcher in renewable energy Miswar was able to gain experience early by publishing in research journals and interning at Fortune 500 companies and startups in the energy space. 

He came across Velocity on social media which was the catalyst for building his own company and ultimately inspiring him to pursue his graduate degree at the University of Waterloo. 

“Building a startup is already a daunting endeavour,” Miswar says. “But doing it just two months after arriving in a new country was particularly challenging.”  

His first winter in Canada in 2023 led to a revelation about how Swish’s technology could clean other natural substances off solar panels: snow. Its accumulation on solar panels is a major problem in colder countries such as Canada and now Swish’s product addresses both the dust and snow problem. 
Validating their startup idea amidst the rigors of graduate studies and the technical challenges of deep tech entrepreneurship is no small feat. However, with the guidance of Velocity advisors and the complementary skill sets of the co-founders, they remain steadfast in navigating these hurdles. 

Reflecting on the lessons he has learned so far, Miswar says it is important to adapt and network, and build a robust support network beyond professional advisors. 

“Swish would have remained just a dream without the amazing support from Velocity. The advisory and access to necessary equipment is just the beginning. We have also received grant money, access to a vibrant workspace, and invaluable connections to key people in the industry. The insightful sessions and roundtable discussions they host play a crucial role as well. Truly, Velocity is giving us every tool needed to bring our startup to life.” 

Miswar Syed, co-founder Swish

Swish aims to develop the world’s first dust- and snow-proof solar panels, with promising traction from users and beta prototypes and paid pilots in the works, all while balancing the various duties of graduate studies. 

Working on an idea of startup? Velocity helps University of Waterloo Students make a real-world impact.