Pictured (r. to l.): Students Robert Doxey and Akex Atrachji.
Alex Atrachji wanted to find a solution for the 40 million tons of food wasted every year in the United States, so he created UtiliWaste Connect, LLC, and an associated app that connects, educates, and incentivizes consumers to divert their food waste for renewable energy generation. While engaging communities and people in their homes and businesses, UtiliWaste Connect also helps support New York State’s clean energy and zero-waste goals.
“I have always had an innate passion to help people and the environment. Growing up in a beach community and backpacking during the summers, I have always had a connection to the environment and sustainability,” said Atrachji, a Lido Beach, N.Y., native and a student in the Master of Science in Environmental Technology and Sustainability and Advanced Certificate in Energy Technology programs.
Under the guidance of Entrepreneurship and Technology Innovation Center (ETIC) Director Michael Nizich, Ph.D., Atrachji entered the Long Island regional New York State Business Plan Competition (NYSBPC). His plan for UtiliWaste Connect advanced to the state competition, where more than 100 student teams were invited to compete and pitch their business ideas.
“At the ETIC, we help talented and driven students challenge themselves to come up with world-changing ideas and then create business models that bring those ideas to life. Alex Atrachji is one of those students, and UtiliWaste Connect is one of those ideas,” said Nizich.
Atrachji, the current sole owner of UtiliWaste Connect, serves as project lead and facilitator. Through the resources offered by the ETIC, he was able to work with other students and outside advisors who helped develop the company and its technology. He received assistance from Robert Doxey, a junior majoring in computer science, who also has a student company at the ETIC called Dev Team One. Andy Jacobs of Gravitas Marketing, LLC, was brought on board by an ETIC outside consultant.
“Having the project advance to the state competition is extremely thrilling and a great opportunity. Having the validation of what we’ve been developing from concept to Phase I is an incredible sense of accomplishment and allows us to continue the focus on growing UtiliWaste Connect to its potential,” said Atrachji.
The virtual submission for the NYSBPC was on Friday, May 1. Winners will be announced on May 22, 2020.