Daniela Roeper was on the lookout for ideas. As a UBC Mechanical Engineering graduate in 2016, Daniela merged her love for clean energy and solving problems to enter into the world of entrepreneurship by starting a venture that aligns with her own values – Borealis Wind. Having engaged with e@UBC earlier in her journey, she eventually found her way to Waterloo, where she joined the Waterloo accelerator, Velocity. Following Velocity, Daniela joined Communitech’s Fierce Founders Bootcamp, and was then admitted to the Fierce Founders program for female founders. Achieving tremendous success in such a short amount of time didn’t stop Daniela to find time to give back to her alma mater. When speaking with Daniela, it was hard to miss her energy and passion for entrepreneurship and mentorship of future entrepreneurs. In our interview with Daniela, we got a bit of insight into her journey to date and where she is headed next.
1. Tell us about your journey from student to entrepreneur
My journey started as a co-op student. I was working for a wind farm and was analyzing their wind turbine data to determine their revenue losses to blade icing that winter. At the time, it was tedious data analysis but when I saw the result, I was shocked. They had lost $1 million in a single month because the wind farm was shut down 22 consecutive days due to ice buildup. I wanted to design a solution. For my fourth-year engineering design project I got a team together and we worked for 8 months designing a wind turbine blade de-icing system. We partnered with the wind farm that I had previously worked for, and they were impressed with our design and wanted to test our system in their wind turbines. Due to this positive feedback, we started reaching out to other wind farms and received similar responses. We decided to file a patent on our design and start Borealis Wind!
2. What is your company DNA?
Our goal is make improvements to renewable energy to remove barriers preventing us from switching to renewables. Climate change and the environment is something I care a lot about. Over 60% of GHG emissions come from conventional energy production, when instead we could be using renewable energy to reduce our GHG footprint.
3. As an early stage startup, what’s a piece of mentorship advice that you have received that has stuck with you?
I have two and I can’t choose!
A. You don’t HAVE to take the advice you’re given - it’s just advice and sometimes and you may know better because this is your company not someone else’s.
B. Your time is valuable – is something my favourite mentor has continuously told me. That’s something I didn’t realize as a young person and I went running around meeting all these people, going to all these events I had been invited to. But it’s important to consider the value of that meeting or event for you, and to determine if it’s worth your time.
3. What do you see as opportunity at UBC to continue to nurture entrepreneurs like yourself?
I would love to see more entrepreneurial projects in the 4th year engineering design projects. Not only does it make the project more exciting, it encourages a whole class of students to consider entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship is important to because the young people coming out of university are very capable, and have a lot more to offer than what they may end up doing at an entry level job.
About Borealis Wind:
Borealis Wind improves the reliability and power production of wind turbines through a de-icing system that can be retrofitted on the wind turbine to reduce downtime due to ice build up. Right now, when ice builds up on the wind turbine blades, the wind turbines are shut down. It’s not safe to operate them with ice build up, and operators wait for the ice to shed naturally which can take days or weeks (for lack of a better alternative). Icing results in $100M in annual revenue loss for Canadian wind farms and $3B in annual revenue loss worldwide. Borealis Wind designed a product that can be quickly installed on existing wind turbines to solve this problem www.borealiswind.com