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WASE is December's Featured Business of the Month

Mon, 17 December 2018

Thomas Fudge won a Shell LiveWIRE Smarter Future Award in January 2018 for his business, WASE.
Around the world there are 2.3 billion people with inadequate sanitation, leading to polluted water supplies and contaminated living areas. WASE is trying to solve this problem with a modular onsite wastewater treatment, where specially designed cells can treat 1000L of wastewater a day.
 
The cells can produce clean water for irrigation, recover nutrients to create fertilisers and generate biogas that can be used for cooking or to produce electricity. The treatment systems deployed will harness the untapped energy and nutrient source found in humanity’s waste which feeds into every aspect of the Water-Food-Energy nexus.
 
WASE was started by Thomas Fudge in 2017 during his MSc in Sustainability, Entrepreneurship and Design at Brunel University London and has seen rapid acceleration since its inception, with five competition wins and a small-scale pilot. Now with a core team of five and an initial large-scale pilot with a leading humanitarian agency secured, WASE are paving the way to a circular economy.
 
We sat down with Will Gambier, one of WASE’s co-founders to catch up and to see what's next for the business.
 
What was the inspiration behind WASE?
After seeing the needs for sanitation first-hand and finding that there is a complete lack of investment in this field, we are motivated to make a change. We want to provide sanitation and energy to all, because everyone deserves the dignity of a toilet. 
 
How did the team get into entrepreneurship? Did you always want to go into business for yourself? 
Thomas had always thought about setting up his own business, but his real desire was to work in the water and sanitation sector. Before starting his MSc he completed a year of work within this sector but wasn’t offered a job. After this, he decided to take matters into his own hands and founded WASE.
 
What challenges did you face when setting up the business?
The biggest challenges we faced when setting up WASE was access to funding and finding the right people for the team. The financial support is available to start-ups, but it is highly competitive and not easy to find. As for finding the right team members, it is important that any member of the WASE team shared the vision of the company and was willing to put in the work necessary to accomplish it. 
 
What is your biggest (or proudest) achievement with the business? 
Our proudest achievements are building a team that is dedicated to helping those in need and completing the construction of our first large-scale pilot, ready for installation in the new year.
 
You won a Shell LiveWIRE Award at the beginning of 2018, how have things changed for you since then?
Since our win in January 2018, our team has grown exponentially, we have won three other competitions (securing much needed funding) and secured our first large-scale pilot with a leading humanitarian agency, essentially our first customer.  
 
What’s next for WASE?
In the new year we will be installing our first large-scale pilot with a leading humanitarian agency, which, if successful, will pave the way to two further pilots, providing the much-needed research and development WASE requires before mass manufacture and global rollout.
 
What role do you think entrepreneurs will play in the transition to a low carbon society? 
We believe that entrepreneurs are essential in the transition to a low carbon society. The motivation of these people is what will drive a future of change. Responsible entrepreneurs should implement sustainability into every aspect of their business, as not only is this important for a successful business but providing a sustainable future is of the greatest importance.
 
What’s your approach to risk as an entrepreneur?
We must assess risk carefully. Being a start-up and trying to launch a product always has its risks but we recognise these and make sure we have in place the precautions that reduce risk as much as possible.
 
What’s the most important personality trait to have as an entrepreneur and why?
You must have real passion for what you are trying to accomplish, this is essential to push your idea to success. However, an entrepreneur must also be flexible, things will never go exactly how you want them to and it is up to you to make the best out of the situation and move forward.
 
If you could return to this time last year would you do anything differently?
If anything, we would have tried to get more people on board sooner, but we are happy with how we have progressed. This last year has been successful for WASE and we have made the best of the resources available to us.
 
What advice would you give to aspiring young entrepreneurs?
Be passionate and get as much advice as possible, even if it contradicts your ideas. It’s important to understand how other people perceive your innovation and how you can improve upon what you already have.
 
Got a Smart Idea for a Business? 
Do you have a smart business idea that will provide a solution to the world’s future transport, food, energy, or natural resource challenges, or make our urban environments cleaner and more sustainable places to work and live in? If so you can apply online now for funding!  

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