Last updateFri, 29 May 2020 1pm

Local entrepreneurs develop bio-oven prototype, will contend in Mexico City accelerator competition

In Norwegian, the word “peiskos” means the warmth by a fire. For a group of social entrepreneurs in Guadalajara, however, it is the name of an enterprise that has developed an innovative ecological oven.

pg24A group of six created a business plan for an oven prototype capable of converting water into fuel without using any biofuels. In effect, the product is a result of separating liquid molecules into hydrogen and oxygen.

All one has to do is pour water into the electrical input to make the machine run. With the current of the water serving as the conduit, the electrolyzed molecular separation process generates energy.

“We wanted to create a machine that allows users to create their own fuel,” said Davide Pallotta, one of the co-founders who is an Italian exchange student with a background in geography. “The burning of this kind of fuel doesn’t create any kind of emissions. It is not bad for humans or humanity.”

The primary use of the oven is for cooking. There are plenty of environment incentives, though, since it doesn’t require any biofuels or wood kindling to operate. This means there is no CO2 ever released. In terms of wattage, the capacity is still in the process of increasing.

“Our objective is to use ten watts in our model,” said Jose Castellanos, who leads innovation and research efforts for Peiskos. “Right now, we can make between two and five liters of hydrogen and two of oxygen. This is a lot because when the hydrogen combusts, it doubles.”

In other words, for every water molecule, the team can produce two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen.

What is the model based on?

Everything is inspired by the needs of society, according to the founders. Within the metro area, the group recently validated their product proposal by presenting the prototype to a “squatting” community on the outskirts of Zapopan called El Rehilete.

“There’s no better way to validate your business idea than directly validating it with the user,”  a recent social media post from Peiskos’ Instagram said about the visit. “To be able to speak and listen to the necessities of the people gets rid of any uncertainty and always brings many lessons.”

Around 500 families reportedly don’t have the legal permits to dwell in Rehilete, although many have lived there for the past decade. The government refuses to provide any services to the “illegal” town without any documents to prove land ownership.

“These communities have difficulties getting services like gas, lights or water,” said Edith Ibarra, who facilitates business operations for Peiskos. “Those distinctive factors shine a light on the type of vulnerable communities we want to work with.”

There are two business models that Peiskos has arranged to introduce the bio-oven to the public. Embracing a non-profit model on one side, the founders will either donate or sell the units at low rates to qualifying communities.

On the other hand, they intend to set up B2B (business to business) arrangements. Projected product value, range from 15,000 to 20,000 pesos.

Did someone mention a competition?

Just last month, the group also attended Talent Land’s “Startup Garden” at the Guadalajara Expo. Effective networking introduced them to the international non-profit organization, Enactus.

“Enactus empowers business students to make social projects to impact a lot of people,” said Castellanos.

At the convention, Enactus held a preliminary accelerator competition for social enterprises with high-impact projects. This was a collaboration with the University of Guadalajara. In the end, Peiskos competed and ultimately won the local round. Now, the group is qualifying for the national competition on June 9 in Mexico City.

Whoever succeeds in the capital will go to the Enactus World Cup in San Jose, California from September 16 to 18. Participants will participate in business development workshops led by industry experts and potential investors. To prepare for these big days, Pallotta said there is still much to accomplish before presenting to any panel.

“We’re working a lot, validating everything we have we have in communities and users to be ready for any question coming from judges,” said Pallotta. “On the other side, we’re still trying to reach strategic partners. Our most important objective right now is getting a contact at a research center.”

Further research and development in partnership with laboratories will ensure a product that’s not only high-impact but sustainable. While the long-term goal is ultimately mission-based, the founders also want to make the most of their utility.

“We’re looking to raise a million pesos to establish ourselves and give us an important push into research,” said Ibarra. “Research and continued experimentation are very important so we can launch our product with the biggest force.”  

Other members of Peiskos include engineer Cristina Villegas, industrial designer Citali Almaraz, and social psychologist Robin Cristian Muñoz Cordova, who leads community relations.

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