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A conversation with Nivatha Balendra

January 24, 2019 By: Barry Chong

What is your company trying to do?

At Dispersa Inc., we’re developing a solution for the oil and gas industry, a sector that often uses expensive and toxic methods of remediating oil contamination sites. Our technology will harness the power of oil-degrading bacteria to create an effective alternative that is novel, 100 per cent biodegradable and cost-effective.

Now that you’re a finalist, you have about two years ahead of you to develop your tech. How would you describe the first few months of this challenge?

The early goings have been really exciting. I’ve been working towards this goal for a long time, so it’s surreal to think I’m building a company and developing my tech right now.

I’ve been spending time learning about the business side of things — from the administrative tasks to figuring out finances to structuring the company — it’s new territory for me, which is challenging but also rewarding.

What has surprised you the most so far?

We often don’t hear about the challenges entrepreneurs face as they start building their companies, but it’s one of the most important decision-making moments for any business. I feel that there are a lot of intricacies involved in establishing a startup, most of which I’m learning as I go. I founded my company just before the challenge, so I’ve been focusing more on developing a solid foundation and working upwards. Being a part of this great cohort really helps me navigate through these steps — not to mention the amazing team of MaRS advisors providing us with helpful resources.

What are you hoping to achieve over the next few months?

First, I’m looking forward to tying up my research paper. It focuses on identifying the properties of the novel oil-degrading bacteria that I discovered. I’m also excited to be moving into a new lab space dedicated to developing the research and technology behind Dispersa.

What is your New Year’s resolution?

Just to keep learning new things and expanding my horizons.