AquaHacking alum Naysan Saran, ’16, serves as judge in BC AquaHacking Challenge Final

By Mélissa Dick
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Naysan Saran, co-founder and CEO of CANN Forecast based in Montreal, QC, and alum of the 2016 AquaHacking Challenge (United for the St-Lawrence River), was part of the judging panel for the virtual BC AquaHacking Challenge Final on June 26, 2020, hosted by the regional AquaHacking partner, the Okanagan Basin Water Board (OBWB)

Who would have believed that a competitor in the Final event in the 2016 Challenge was to be seated on the other side of the table as a judge today?

“I’ve had the honour to serve as a judge in a few competitions during the last couple of years, but never thought that I would be on the other side of the AquaHacking Competition. AquaHacking is the reason we launched CANN Forecast in 2016 — it opened the door for so many opportunities and was a game changer both for me, my co-founder Nico, and now our team at CANN Forecast.” said Naysan.

Even though she said she was nervous at the beginning of the Final event, she was really pleased by the experience.

“At first, when asked to be a judge at the BC Final, I wasn’t sure how much value I would be able to add, given the very high level of expertise of the jury. Then, I realized that there actually was something that I could bring to the table: for the past 3 years, we have been working hard to bring a 100% AquaHacking-originated idea to life and managed to turn it into a viable business. Since we have been through the ups and downs of having an early-stage startup and turning it into a company, I could leverage the fact that this experience is very fresh in my mind to give some guidance to the teams who are preparing to start the same journey this year,” said Naysan.

“I was very impressed by the overall level of professionalism that the teams put into their final pitches and prototypes. We won the 2016 edition, but the level keeps getting better every year, which is amazing,” said Naysan.

The BC AquaHacking Challenge organizers are very grateful for the entire judging panel for the Final event, which included, other than Naysan from CANN Forecast and AquaHacking alumn:

  • Mike Gerbis, CEO of GLOBE Series and The Delphi Group
  • Merrell-Ann Phare, Canadian Commissioner at the International Joint Commission
  • Rahgwa Gopal, President and CEO of Innovate BC
  • Paul O’Callaghan, Founder and CEO of BlueTech Research and Director of Brave Blue World

To learn more about this amazing panel of judges, the BC competition finalists, and the BC AquaHacking Challenge in general, check out the Final event program and full event video recording. To see the outcomes of the competition, please see the media release.

We continue to engage AquaHacking Alumni in current AquaHacking events such as this — thanks very much to Naysan for being involved in this way.