Bennu.ai is an AI robotics company with a focus on creating sustainable solutions. We spoke to Jonathan Feldstein, the CEO behind Bennu.ai, about the company’s vision, how they’re connecting with customers and acting as environmental advocates, with support from the Venture Builder Incubator and the University of Edinburgh.
I have an engineering background and am currently doing a PhD in AI at the University of Edinburgh. While I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit, I had no intention of starting a business right now. I told myself: I'm not going to start a startup, I'm going to focus on my PhD. But when I was contacted by the managerial school at the University about a startup idea involving intelligent bins, I agreed to consult - and everything grew from there.
Our first product is a SmartBin that sorts waste automatically, reducing contamination and ensuring that as much waste is recycled as possible. Designed for places with a lot of footfall – travel hubs, shopping centres, museums and so on – our technology increases recycling rates for the organisations who own those spaces, reducing their carbon footprint and saving them money. Sustainability should not come at a cost - otherwise we'll never get to net zero.
Everything we do is data. We collected data to develop our material detection algorithm. We will provide our customers with data on how to improve their waste management system. And once we grow large enough and have data from different cities and locations around Europe, I believe we can provide politicians and decision makers with data on how to improve recycling at a national scale.
I really love working with young and passionate people. I’ve also always wanted to have a job description that evolves with me, one that changes and grows and increases in complexity, and a startup is a way to achieve that. Finally, creating a more sustainable future for our society is a huge motivation.
There are three main strands to success for me. As a leader, it’s in nurturing a creative team that is always growing and developing. For our vision, it’s making an impact that reduces carbon footprints. For the business, it’s about how many customers we can reach and the impact we can have. We don't see ourselves as a waste management company, but as an AI robotics company, and so our success will include developing a variety of other solutions alongside our SmartBin.
The financial support, the ability to connect to like-minded entrepreneurs and also the mentoring opportunities that come from the Incubator have all been very helpful.
Soon we will be developing the next iteration of our product, manufacturing a couple of SmartBins and trialling these in working airports in the next year. Once these trials are complete, we will aim for a first round of investment.