Hub Spotlight: Pangea
Pangea is a reusable water bottle company dedicated to providing clean water to international travelers and outdoor enthusiasts. The bottle contains a powerful, user-friendly filtration mechanism to create potable water no matter where you are in the world. Pangea’s goal is to implement this into the first world with the intent of profits being used to fund third-world community bottles and filters.
Pangea was founded by University of Guelph undergraduate student, Tiana Bressan, and her friend, Gabby Rodriguez. Tiana and Gabby are two driven engineering students who share a passion for travelling and a deep desire to make the world a better place and improve life. They have been friends since high school, but their partnership in business started just six months ago. We recently had the pleasure of getting to know the inside scoop of their journey from friends to business partners and entrepreneurs!
How did you come up with Pangea?
After travelling and living in a developing country for three months, Tiana realized the one thing she took for granted everyday living in Canada was clean water. Her only options were to boil water or buy expensive non-reusable plastic water bottles. After visiting the Amazon rainforest, a world renowned wonder, she discovered this world wonder had been silently collecting pollution and that indiginous communities were suffering from unsafe water. This was when she realized that even though the lack of potable drinking water and amount of plastic water bottles were only a temporary problem for her, millions of people everyday don’t have access to safe water, let alone filtered tap water. There had to be another way.Similarly to Tiana's story, the co-founder of Pangea, Gabby, realized the need for potable water alternatives when she was visiting her relatives in Colombia, South America which is a region of the world where tap water is not potable. By understanding their living conditions, she realized that millions of people go everyday without appreciating safe, filtered tap water back home, and that there had to be a solution to improving the quality of water in all communities.Being from Sault Ste Marie, the two of them were friends in high school and always talked about starting a business with the right idea. When Tiana and Gabby realized they shared a common goal of providing clean water to every part of the world, they teamed up and Pangea was born. After talking with friends and mulling over how university engineering students could solve this problem, along came the idea. Pangea creates reusable water bottles with a built in filtration system capable of tackling all unsafe water so that no one has to suffer from waterborne illness, and plastic bottle pollution can become a thing of the past.
What motivated you to take the next step and apply to the Hub?
We knew that our idea was just the beginning of our journey and that we would need to be around like-minded individuals in order to learn the in-and-outs of business. As two engineering students with zero knowledge of business or how to make a business idea become a reality, we were seeking mentorship and guidance from entrepreneurs who had gone through the process of starting a business. We also wanted to understand how other university entrepreneurs were managing entrepreneurship alongside their academic studies. When asking friends and searching university resources, we came across the Hub, applied, and our idea took off from there.
What do you hope to get out of the Hub?
As we finish the Hub Incubator Program we have gained a clear picture of the next steps we should be taking for our business, which for us, is developing our prototype. Not only did the Hub provide a platform as a sounding board for constant feedback, it also built our business knowledge from ground up. We gained connections with mentors that will continue to play a role in our business, even after the Hub, as well as with other students going through the same process alongside us. The Hub isn’t competitive, it’s collaborative. As we received feedback openly, we were also challenged to give thoughtful feedback, providing us with a truly interactive and engaging learning experience.
Do you have any advice for someone with a business idea in mind, but are not sure what to do next?
We think that one of the hardest parts of entrepreneurship is self-motivation, it’s hard to feel like any progress is being made before your business is profitable. Which is why we would tell them to create small weekly goals. Initially they may feel inconsequential, but over time these small goals will lead to big accomplishments. Alongside this, take risks. Everyone in their lives will come across an idea that could change the world, entrepreneurs are just the ones who act on them. Coming from two engineers who are full of ideas but lack a business degree, our only regret is not jumping in this sooner.
Housed within the John F. Wood Centre for Business & Student Enterprise (Wood Centre), the Hub is a business incubator designed to support early-stage business ideas with high-potential, but unproven business models. The goal of the Hub is to provide University of Guelph students (undergraduate and graduate) and alumni the opportunity to build a successful business enterprise in a supportive learning environment.
The Hub has a tiered program that ensures a good mix of start-up companies at varying stages of growth. “Hub Start” is for ventures still getting their idea off the ground. These ventures typically have a great team and a great idea, but still have not demonstrated product-market fit with traction. “Hub Build” is for ventures with traction looking to refine their business model and/or scale.