UBC student suggests a new way to collect waste

By Iciar Fernandez

During his first year at UBC, Cole realized that the waste collection services on campus were quite inefficient. There was garbage everywhere. He came up with an idea to improve this service and he turned to eHub for guidance and advice about how to pitch his proposal to Building Operations and make his project a reality.

  • Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Cole Robertson, I’m a mechanical engineering student here at UBC. I’m originally from Edmonton, I decided to come out to Vancouver to see what opportunities are here.

  • What is your idea and how did you come up with it?

During my first year here at UBC, I noticed the way UBC handles (collects and manages) garbage was quite inefficient. I saw garbage everywhere and animals (birds, squirrels) picking at all this garbage. I came up with this idea to improve waste collection services.

I wasn’t too familiar with the services available on campus. So, I did some research and I was fortunate enough to meet Tahir, the eHub Coordinator. He recommended the Lean Launchpad program and walked me through all the resources available here at UBC for entrepreneurship. He explained that the main goal of the eHub program was to help students across any faculties with their entrepreneurial ideas. He also talked very highly of the RBC Get Seeded event.

  • Since then has your idea come to life or is it in the process of doing so?

Yes! We had a pilot project with Building Operations, and kind of worked together with them on a few pilot sites around UBC. And, another one was at the Nest loading space, and also at the Buchanan Building.

  • How did eHub help you get started?

It definitely helped with providing a structure and a framework. Business plans are very open and not necessarily a set strategy for success. I would say that through the sessions, we outlined a business plan, learnt how to get actual customer feedback, how to do a market research and, definitely we cleared out some of the mysteries of entrepreneurship. It definitely provided some insight into the keys to success.

I had started some ventures in high school, so I knew that entrepreneurship was something that I was geared towards, but again, it was me figuring things out by myself.

  • What are the three key things that you learnt from your experience?
  1. The importance of doing your market research and how to do it effectively.
  2. How to deal with obstacles.
  3. How to pitch an idea.
  • What advice can you give to other students with transformative ideas?

I would say that one of the best parts of eHub is that they offer a ‘starting out’ platform for people with entrepreneurial ideas. You don’t have to have a fine-tuned idea to start with. It can be just you thinking about things in a different light, how to improve something, etc.

Even if you don’t have a defined end goal at the beginning, you can take a first step and get your foot in the door. You don’t need a million-dollar idea right away.


Do you also have an idea and don’t know where to start? Do you want to know what other students at UBC are doing? Come to our RBC Get Seeded event on November 18, 2019 where 15 teams will present their ideas to win the seed money to fund their business. More information and tickets here.

For more information about how eHub can help you, check this website.

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