You might be pitching an idea on a co-op term. You might be hustling to make that exam on time. Whatever you’re doing, sweat stains are an annoyance for many people - and a nuisance that should have been eradicated long ago, according to Chanakya Ramdev. The international student from India hopes to create a modern stain-free wardrobe. In fall 2015, Chanakya along with a small team received $25,000 from the Velocity Fund to launch their start-up, Sweat Free.
Sweat Free's technology is anything but ordinary. Made from bamboo-based fabrics and soft cotton material, it has advanced absorbing properties, which whisks sweat away, so you feel dry while avoiding stains.
The inspiration for Sweat Free came from Ramdev’s co-op experience in Hong Kong. The city, known for its high percentage of humidity, caused him a lot of frustration.
While I was there I had to dress formally, by the time I would arrive to work I would be drenched in sweat and the sweat stains would be with me throughout the day, so I tried different types of undershirts and deodorants but nothing worked, so that is when I said, let’s try to fix this.
Sweat Free’s team of seven students are working in the Velocity Science labs to reach a point where they can start working with manufacturers to advance the existing prototype and begin broader testing. Their current focus is on undergarments, but the goal is to be able to integrate the technology into all types of clothing.
Our aim is to make it from the best materials, and inspired by Prime Minister Trudeau, we are going for a gender-neutral company. It is a priority to have 50% of the team as female.
Chanakya aspires to appeal to a wide demographic and hopes that Justin Trudeau might wear Sweat Free garments. During Trudeau’s electoral campaign in October, he waited outside for three hours to get a 20-second interaction with the Prime Minister. The fourth-year Management Engineering student also seeks to match Trudeau’s gender-balanced cabinet policy with a gender-balanced company; Sweat Free will target men and women and incorporate both perspectives into their strategy.
As he was leaving the event, I dashed towards him. It was totally worth it, because I was able to show him the prototype and he was impressed. As a politician campaigning in the summer, visible sweat stains is not the image he would want to have.
Ramdev encourages students not to get discouraged by failure, pointing to the company's repeated attempts to get off the ground. The team of Nano Engineering and Nano Sciences students made two unsuccessful pitches for $5,000 in seed money before winning the $25,000. From there, Sweat Free developed a prototype, learning tips on management, pitching, and running a company from Velocity Start workshops.
To Ramdev, sweat stains are a problem that should have been solved decades ago.
46 years ago, Neil Armstrong landed on the Moon. That long ago there was technology that could get people to the Moon, yet here on Earth, we are still suffering from sweat stains. In the next ten years, I aim for no one in the world to have to suffer through this atrocity.
Sweat Free is now incorporated and in their final stages of filing a patent. The company is hoping to launch pre-sales for their product by the end of this month.
As a student and an entrepreneur, Chanakya keeps his stress in check by participating in yoga every day and working in numerous parts of UWaterloo student government. But he doesn't encourage students to just rest on their laurels either:
Hustle! No one deserves anything. You go out there and claim what is yours! Face fears everyday! Why? Because when you start facing fears then they start dying and you start growing. Then suddenly you get addicted to that growth.
Keep up with the Sweat Free product launch by following them on Twitter, Instagram: @sweatfreedotco or Facebook. Spoiler alert: There might even be a special discount for UWaterloo students.