“The experience was fun, fast-paced and extremely focused on growth and learning,” Nishaant Saangavi said. He described the CDL experience as “life-changing” for his team, as it led them to secure two investors who participated in their recent funding round, and motivated them to launch their Halifax office and develop an East Coast team. EnergyX, which uses AI energy audits to help businesses and homeowners reduce their energy usage, also has operations in Toronto. 

“CDL is a perfect example of how collaboration between the private sector and academia is now one of the best routes to driving innovation. CDL is an embodiment of the start-up ecosystem and how instrumental start-ups are to solving real-world problems and creating impact.”

Nishaant Sangaavi, CEO of EnergyX Solutions

Salient Energy came into the program with a clear goal: meet with scientists who could validate their product. 

“We want to make fossil-fuel based energy generation obsolete,” Ryan Brown said. “Our ultimate goal is to make a real difference in the fight against climate change by enabling renewable energy to be the main source of electricity around the world.” To do that, they’re developing low-cost, high-efficiency zinc-ion batteries tailored for use in electrical grids. The zinc-ion chemistry Salient Energy is developing is cheaper, safer, and longer-lasting than lithium-ion batteries, making them more viable for widespread use. 

Brown said that this company specifically applied to the CDL-Atlantic program to connect with Prof. Jeff Dahn, a leading expert in the battery field who could evaluate their technology’s viability. “Since we’re developing really cutting-edge technology, one of the most important things we need to get is validation by experts,” he said. “[CDL] allowed us to get support from investors and partners, so that was the core of our strategy. CDL was the only program that could connect us with experts that could really qualify how our technology works.” 

The connections, network, and support they found in Halifax motivated the team to move there to continue building the business, Brown said. Since their CDL experience, Salient Energy has established a partnership and investor relationship with Shell. Brown said the company is also quite close to launching its battery solutions. 

Sangaavi expects EnergyX to continue growing as well, eventually opening a West Coast office and eyeing global expansion. To date, the company has digitized more than 500,000 energy audits in North America, which equate to more than 200m KWH in savings. Financially speaking, those savings total approximately $25 million, Sangaavi said.

For both companies, CDL was a transformative experience and an accelerant to continued success. Sangaavi advises that entrepreneurs who join future CDL programs be prepared for tough conversations and hard work, all in the service of making their startups stronger. 

“Be ready to get out of your comfort zone and be uncomfortable,” he said. “You will be challenged and pushed to continually grow and innovate and more importantly prove out your business model so that you can scale.”

Brown said it’s critical that founders choose the right CDL program for their companies. Knowing the top priority to be solved through CDL will help entrepreneurs identify the right team of mentors and experts to help their businesses flourish.

Applications for the Creative Destruction Lab 2019/20 Prime and Specialized streams are now open. The deadline to apply is August 12, 2019. To learn more about the CDL program, attend one of our Live Information Sessions.