Hartford-based Envirowerks, LLC recently received a $15,000 grant for winning the second-place award at the Entrepreneur Innovation Awards.

Presented by CTNext, the Shark Tank-style Entrepreneur Innovation Awards events give Connecticut-based entrepreneurs a chance to pitch their innovative startups for a chance to win $10,000 in awards. The latest event took place in New Haven on January 19, 2018.

Envirowerks Founder and Lead Engineer Patrick Emerick told Innovation Destination Hartford Website Curator Nan Price about why he launched the startup and where he sees the future of the company.

NAN PRICE: Give us a little background. How did the company start?

PATRICK EMERICK: It started as an interesting side project based on something I saw in South America and later explored more on the internet—experimenters trying to make their cars more efficient with hydrogen injection.

It became an aspiring business after I read some research papers indicating hydrogen’s ability to improve diesel efficiency and realized the market potential of successfully applying that concept to large diesel engines.

NAN: When did you launch the startup?

PATRICK: We officially launched the company in 2009. It was a long process proving that a practical amount of hydrogen does in fact increase diesel combustion efficiency. Toward the end of 2013, I was reading some research articles, which inspired me to develop the methanol reformer technology we’re using today.

NAN: What makes your company innovative?

PATRICK: It’s the only system that makes large diesel engines more efficient by injecting hydrogen generated from windshield washer fluid. That uniqueness is reflected in a pending patent and a second patent I’m writing.

NAN: Your startup won an Entrepreneur Innovation Award in July 2014. How did you become involved with CTNext?

PATRICK: I saw an ad for the Entrepreneur Innovation Awards at the Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology (CCAT) and decided to apply. It’s a great way to get exposure, interact with others in the entrepreneurial community, and practice presenting. The award money wasn’t bad either, because it helped us make so much progress.

NAN: What has been your biggest challenge as a startup?

PATRICK: Everything of consequence is a challenge in a startup, so I try not to think of it that way. We look at the obstacles in accomplishing a goal and figure out the most effective path to achievement.

NAN: Aside from funding, what resources do you need most to move your company forward?

PATRICK: Primarily connections to customers. So, if there’s anyone out there reading this who operates large diesel-powered equipment, especially garbage trucks or city buses, let us know!

NAN: Where do you see your company in the next three to five years?

PATRICK: Our primary goal is to reduce diesel consumption and emissions on a larger scale through a manufacturing operation and a mobile network of installation and sales technicians who maintain relationships directly with our customers.

NAN: What would you say to other aspiring entrepreneurs or startup business owners?

PATRICK: Only make the plunge if you’re incredibly excited and driven by your business/product concept. It’s an emotionally taxing experience, but, at least for me, the high points and potential impact make it worth it.

Learn more about Envirowerks