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[B-SIDE Podcast] How thinking small can lead to something big

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Carvey Ehren R. Maigue, an electrical engineering student at Mapua University, invented a plastic-like material that makes renewable energy from rotting fruits and vegetables. His invention won the first James Dyson Award for Sustainability in 2020, beating a record 1,800 entries from around the world. And now he’s fielding inquiries from electric car manufacturers who are interested in his technology.

Mr. Maigue’s story is about persistence. He first joined the James Dyson Award in 2018 and didn’t even make it past the national level.

In this episode of B-Side, he talks to BusinessWorld reporter Patricia B. Mirasol about his company, AuREUS System Technology, and the commercial applications of his invention: aside from powering electric cars, his technology can be used for window and wall solutions and e-textiles.

“AuREUS is not just an invention, not just a business, but an ecosystem that can positively impact different sectors,” said Mr. Maigue. “You do not need to solve a problem for the world. [Your solution] can be for a person that, for you, means the world.”

TAKEAWAYS

Your own mindset can be the biggest roadblock.

According to Mr. Maigue, there is a notion that that inventions made in the Philippines will be wasted, overlooked, or underappreciated. 

“We have to overcome that thinking,” he said. “Even though we are in the Philippines, we do have the talent and caliber to compete and be recognized globally.” 

‘You can think small and come up with something big.’

When Mr. Maigue spoke to students in Cagayan de Oro, one of the pressing questions involved the struggle in finding what to invent. “The task is a bit daunting,” he said. “There are many solutions and many problems: what can you offer? What should you do?”

He suggested finding a problem of a person close to you: what are they struggling with? In farming, are there any tools that might improve what they’re doing? In the kitchen, are there things that might make their work more efficient? There are simple things that are often overlooked, but which can be the starting point to create something better.

“Inventing is a very long process. If the inspiration is something for the benefit of a person very close to you, then that’s already a great motivation to carry on and move forward,” he said. “You can think small and come up with something big.” 

Don’t fall in love with your product, fall in love with solving the problem.

Mr. Maigue shared the three principles he learned from his inventor journey:

1. Do not box yourself to a specific industry, as inspiration can come from other fields.

“One of my inspirations came from something I saw in a pub. Had I boxed myself in, I wouldn’t have been able to converge different inspirations to create what I created.”

2. Inventing is not a 9-to-5 career but a 24/7 lifestyle.

“There’s this disconnect that—if you want to invent something—you either need a stable job, or else pursue the path of an inventor in the hopes of hitting the jackpot eventually,” he said. “You can be a baker or a musician: be open to the ideas that pop up, and create something new from there.”

3. Self-acceptance is part of the journey. Acknowledging defects and imperfections will allow you to make things better.

“By accepting your flaws and your invention’s flaws, you can remove the bias of being in love with your invention. Be in love [instead] with solving the problem you want your invention to solve.” 

This B-Side episode was recorded remotely on Dec. 16, 2020. Produced by Nina M. DiazPaolo L. Lopez, and Sam L. Marcelo.

Follow us on Spotify BusinessWorld B-Side

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