Growing up a math prodigy in his home country of Colombia, Antony Diaz enjoyed finding simple solutions for complex problems. Since emigrating to Montreal and learning two new languages in the past five years, he has found ever increasing problems to apply this logic to. His most recent solution is the Uvolt watch, a solar-powered wristwatch with a detachable battery you can use to charge your phone.
“When I was in Colombia, my passion had always been solving problems,” Diaz told MTLinTECH. “I participated in math competitions, I even had the pleasure of representing my country. But what I love about math is finding a simple solution to a complex problem. Since then, I’ve seen that you can apply the same concepts of solving problems to real life. So what I tried to do with the Uvolt watch, what I want to do as an entrepreneur, is to find the simple solution to a complex problem that can also make a positive impact on people’s lives.”
Diaz emigrated to Canada five years ago with his family. They spoke neither French nor English, and he had to take language classes before he could enroll in École secondaire Saint-Luc and continue his education. It was there that he had the idea to create a cellular charger based on thermal energy.
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“When I was in high school, I had the idea to use my body energy to charge my phone. And that was the beginning of Uvolt. At the very beginning it was complicated because first my teacher didn’t understand me, and secondly I didn’t have the research. but that didn’t stop me. One of my best friends started to work with me, we took an online course, and six months later we came back to school with a functional energy charger prototype.”
Antony and his friend started participating in competitions, winning awards, and gaining recognition. But when his friend decided to pursue other interests, he found a new business partner in Marc-Antoine Bonin, who he met at an event for the Young Chamber of Commerce of Montreal. Together, they founded Uvolt.
“We have the same vision for what we want to achieve in the future. So we started working together. After that we started looking for more passionate people who want to bring this mission to life. At this point, I’m lucky to have a team of eight people.”
In February of this year, Diaz and his partner also launched an ambassador program with the goal of using energy as a concept for bringing positive impact in the community. They currently have 15 people from different universities working with them. The first proposition is the Uvolt watch.
“The Uvolt watch is a watch that harvests solar energy. It has an internal battery that you can take out and plug into your phone when you need to charge it. So we use the concept of solar energy to bring the solar energy into your hands. One, to solve your problem of a dead phone, and second to show you that you need to change your routine to integrate renewable energy, to start to make a change. ”
A Kickstarter campaign kicked off on March 29th of this year with a goal of $100,000 USD. The goal was met within a week. As of this writing, the campaign is at over $111,000 and there are still 14 days to go.
“When we reached the goal, we showed that people are interested in the product. We decided to increase the number of people who can order the Uvolt watch at $99, which is the minimum price we can make it for. We decided to be more inclusive, to get people from countries where it’s more complicated to buy this kind of gadget.”
Diaz is quick to thank the Montreal ecosystem, which welcomed and encouraged him right from the beginning.
“That’s particularly one of the things that makes me love Montreal: the community. The way we collaborate to help each other grow. It’s not as a competition but a cooperation in the sense that we cooperate and grow together. So for me, the ecosystem, the accelerators, they opened doors, no matter my age or educational background. I was very grateful for that.”
Have you read the rest of the Entrepreneurs under 25 series?
Retinad’s Samuel F. Poirier and Anthony Guay – January 11
Wizrd’s Rory Bokser and David Kleiman – January 12
Ambo Technology’s Pascal Leblanc – January 19
LaPresse3D’s Omar Ayesh – January 24
Community Art’s Gary Parker – February 9
stay22’s Hamed Al-Khabaz – February 10
YUMiBOX’s Zoey Li – February 25