For milk pasteurization start-up Safi, 2023 changed everything

Thursday, December 21, 2023

For Safi, a milk pasteurization start-up, 2023 was the year their dreams became reality.

In May, the Math Innovation office helped sponsor Safi’s three computer science/business student founders — Miraal Kabir, Daria Margarit, and Martin Turuta — to travel to Rwanda and pitch their hand-held milk pasteurization device to local dairy farmers. Safi aims to make milk pasteurization both cheap and accessible, thereby dramatically reducing the transmission of milk-borne diseases.

Their trip was a resounding success, but major challenges were still ahead.

photo of Miraal Kabir, Martin Turuta and local dairy farmers

Miraal Kabir (centre) and Martin Turuta (right) explain their product to local dairy farmers.

Asking for help

The team spent their summer testing and refining their milk pasteurization device. They were on campus almost every day, using the Engineering Machine Shop and the Velocity Digital and Science spaces to finetune components and detect possible design flaws. In the process, they also encountered a major disappointment: they would not be able to manufacture the devices in Rwanda as originally planned. 

“I think we were naïve at the beginning about how incredibly complicated and hard this was going to be,” Daria Margarit said.

The process was particularly challenging because none of them had an engineering background.  

“I was really optimistic about what we could do by ourselves,” Martin Turuta said. “But the more we asked for help, the more experts and professionals helped us. A huge example is Graeme Adair at the Machine shop. We spent three months trying to build our product on our own, then we talked to him and within a week or two we had something ready for production.”

This humbling process paid off. By the end of the summer, they had a product they were comfortable bringing with them when they returned to Africa — and something they were excited to enter in that August’s American Society of Mechanical Engineers Innovation Showcase.

Learn more about Safi, Math Innovation and Velocity.

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