Speaking the Language of Food, FluVently
Updated: Sep 21, 2020
Behind team FluVent is a startup in Turku - ExtraVerd, which was founded in 2018 by Nitin, Ksenia, and Mahdy.
‘’When we started ExtraVerd, we simply wanted to help the environment and apply the sustainable concepts to the problems we see around us. We had lots of ideas and wanted to expand our knowledge and get more experience by cooperating with other companies.’’ - Nitin stated. The company’s mission is to be engaged with environmental-related projects. They put the emphasis on biotech, foodtech, and cleantech. Since its establishment, ExtraVerd has worked with several firms, one outstanding project they worked with was with Valio in 2018.
Nitin has a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Åbo Akademi University. His knowledge also covers the fields of environmental technology. Nitin learns by doing more.
Ksenia’s background is also in biology. She is finishing her Ph.D. in Genetics and Evolution. Her general interests are animal and environmental conservation. She decided to found this startup based on these interests because she believed that she could solve real-life problems by applying her academic knowledge.
Mahdy is known as the ‘technical guy’ of the team. He worked in many startups before, and he also worked for big companies such as Oracle. His background is in business and technology, with a concentration on the technical side.
Islam joined the team as a technical intern in the beginning. Now he is working full-time in ExtraVerd as a developer. His motivation was straightforward; he didn’t want to waste food. He believed that together with ExtraVerd, he could create a harmonious combination of food and technology to tackle this problem.
ExtraVerd is familiar with Hackathons. The co-founders have been participating in numerous Hackathon events since 2017, one year before the establishment of the firm.
‘Remote work is our keyword’
Nitin discovered the Feeding the Future hackathon through a foodtech webinar. He then brought this event to the team’s attention. They quickly showed their interest in the concept and decided to participate. With Nitin and Ksenia in Turku, Islam in Istanbul, and Mahdy in Paris, the team had to come up with a joint working pattern.
Despite being experienced with hackathons; the team was slightly concerned as Feeding the Future was their first online Hackathon. Yet, on the other hand, it was more convenient for them because the members were mostly spread out. The team previously conceived a different business plan. However, after talking with the mentor and judges, they realized that the idea’s capacity is too immense for an SME like theirs. Therefore, everything was reconstructed into a smaller-scale solution that solves one specific problem. The solution that helped them win the first prize was actually adopted two days before the submission deadline (the winning presentation and video can be found at the end).
Looking back, Mahdy remembers himself being on a bike in the middle of Paris, suddenly surprised by a group call from the team popping up.
‘’Okay Mahdy we know you’re biking, but please listen carefully and at the same time do not die, okay? We need to come up with a brand new idea...’’ - The rest of the team tried to coordinate their meeting, while Mahdy was WFB (Working From Bike).
Their motivation for participating in challenge 1 wasn’t complicated. ExtraVerd saw a real-life problem and they thought they could help address it using their expertise.
The process, however, wasn’t at all smooth. Each person is unique and has their own working style. The high stakes of the competition got to the team members and there were disagreements and controversies that came up when one member didn’t agree with the work of another. “It’s normal, that’s how we’ve been working together.’’ - The team laughed, recalling some instances during the 48-hour hackathon. Nitin was responsible for dubbing the presentation video and for him, this part was truly tricky. The time limit for the presentation was 2 minutes, and content appearing after 2:00 would be cut off. When the presentation was 90% done and the team finished writing the script for the voice-over, it was already very late on Saturday night.
‘’I had an experience of staying up until 5/6 AM to complete a Hackathon presentation and I definitely didn’t want to do it again.’’ - Nitin then decided to go to sleep and wake up at 8:00 AM on Sunday to record. He recorded many different versions to get the best presentation where the recording and the visual video fitted perfectly under two minutes and had all the important points he needed to mention. ‘’We go big or we go home!’’ Winning the challenge was indeed FluVent’s initial and primary target.
The team enjoyed the event, not only because of their championship but also because of Remo, the main platform chosen for the Hackathon event. “We successfully engaged the candidates, organizers, the judges, mentors, and sponsors together. Remo, of course, doesn’t do better than an in-person event. However, by the way it functions, it truly gives people the feeling that we’re connected, which is what we all want at the end of the day.’’
The video performance of their solution can be reached here.