Inspiration strikes in the most unlikely of places. For University of California, Irvine (UCI) student Aryan Ghanadan it struck at the West Oakland BART Station. “I was getting on the Megabus back to the Bay Area,” he recalls, “and I noticed two things: one, there was a huge tent city there, and two, there was a lot of plastic waste everywhere.”

With several courses on sustainability under his belt, Aryan was well aware that the global recycling system was not what it once was. With China no longer accepting recyclables, and a myriad of other issues plaguing the system, plastic waste was piling up in oceans and landfills.

Aryan recalls thinking, “What if we used this super durable, super abundant material that’s a problem and use it as the main building material to build affordable housing?” While he felt confident in his idea, Aryan knew that he would need additional help to bring his vision to life.

“I reached out to some of my friends in a club called Engineers for a Sustainable World,” he explains, “I pitched the idea and a bunch of them were into it.” From there, Bottle Built was born.

The group went on to form a startup team and compete in UCI’s New Venture Competition, a competition that encourages students to form teams, launch a startup, and compete for funding. This is where Aryan first got involved with the ANTrepreneur Center and its manager Jaune Odombrown.

Founded in 2014, UCI’s ANTrepreneur Center serves students with the mission of encouraging innovation and guiding burgeoning entrepreneurs through the process of launching their own ventures. By helping students focus their ideas, understand the process of starting a business, and develop their skills, the ANTrepreneur Center empowers UCI’s students to explore the world of entrepreneurship.

With the services offered by the ANTrepreneur Center, Aryan and his team were able to make it into the UCI’s Wayfinder program, a program that connects UC-affiliated startups with the resources and connections they need to grow. “Since then, I’ve been meeting with Jaune,” Aryan says, “He’s just been super helpful with crafting the pitch, helping us find funding, overall just a helpful dude.”

When asked how the ANTrepreneur Center made a difference in the development of Bottle Built, Aryan explains, “The center has a bunch of resources, and they’re here to help. They’ve just been super useful in terms of giving direction, and they have expertise that I didn’t have going into it”

Aryan also encourages other students to take advantage of the services, resources, and expertise coming out of the center. “I know a lot of students on this campus are trying to have their own side hustle or their own business, but they don’t go to the center,” he states, “It’s something that’s available to you on campus as a student. It’s not going to be available to you forever, so while it is available, make the most of it.”

While he acknowledges that the idea of starting your own business seems risky, Aryan contends that it doesn’t have to be. In Aryan’s eyes, the team at the ANTrepreneur Center offers the guidance and support students need to be successful. For anyone nervous about checking out the center, he emphasizes, “They’re just super friendly and super receptive. They’re very eager to help and guide you.”

With big plans for Bottle Built already in the works, Aryan is looking forward to what the future holds for him. As he continues to set the foundation for business success, there’s no doubt it will be brilliant.

If you are a UCI student Interested in kickstarting your entrepreneurial journey or learning more about the services offered by the ANTrepreneur Center, then visit their website here, or connect with Jaune directly at jodombro@uci.edu. You can also schedule an appointment by emailing the UCI ANTrepreneur Center at antrepreneur@uci.edu or filling out this form.

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