In this case study, we delve into the entrepreneurial journey of Riccardo Lener, a third-year BEng (Hons) Energy and Environmental Engineering student at Edinburgh Napier University. Riccardo's passion for sustainability and his desire to enable better-informed decisions led him to establish his own startup called Riserva. With a focus on integrating environmental management, community inclusion, and education, Riserva develops innovative digital solutions to address the implications of human activities on ecosystems.
Supported by the Bright Red Triangle (BRT) team, Riccardo navigates the challenges of entrepreneurship and strives to create a lasting impact.
Could you let us know your name and the course you are studying at Edinburgh Napier University?
My name is Riccardo Lener and I am a third year BEng (Hons) Energy and Environmental Engineering student at Edinburgh Napier University.
Could you please tell us a bit about your startup?
In October 2022 I founded a company, called Riserva, inspiring to the word’s original meaning: land protected and managed for the sustainable preservation of the ecosystem within it.
This is exactly what we’ve been working hard towards in the last several months, developing innovative digital solutions integrating environmental management, community inclusion, and education.
Currently, we’re focused on an Environmental Assessment Platform, EnvOS, providing holistic data-driven solutions around the implication of human activities on the ecosystem; with the scope to enable governments and organizations make better informed and integrated decisions around the sustainability of a project.
How did you come up with the idea of your startup and why did you approach the Bright Red Triangle team for support?
During my experience with the United Nations, involved in a “Sustainable Supply-Chain Management” internship in summer 2022, I was inspired by the different skills and practices learned regarding Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).
I wanted to therefore apply these towards enabling better sustainable and informed decisions, in an easier and more tangible manner surrounding industrial operations; followed by extensive research of the several inefficiencies regarding current EIA processes.
At the end of the summer, I approached an American start-up, Rebyld venture studio, to whom I proposed and pitched this idea, where a successful partnership was achieved. Now our team is composed of young and experienced industry professionals, inspired to pursue Riserva’s vision.
At the start of the 2022/2023 academic year, I have been introduced to the Bright Red Triangle staff, whom environment clearly displayed ambition and innovation. I therefore took part in some of their events and kept in touch with some members of staff who were always available and happy to help.
How did Bright Red Triangle support to upscale your startup?
Apart from the useful events and workshops held at BRT, I personally mainly reached out for business advice regarding presenting and pitching. If you start your own business, you will come to see how being able to effectively pitch, thus sell, your idea to a board of judges or investors, is of fundamental importance if you need funding to start and grow your company.
After not being successful in the first occasion of the Bright Red Sparks pitching competition, through revising and adjusting my presentation, I won the competition held in April 2023.
Do you think Edinburgh Napier University encourages its students to build their own startup and become entrepreneurs?
Within the university, at least in my campus at Merchiston, I personally didn’t hear about BRT until I was talking to a professor about my idea. He then referred me to BRT and from then I’ve been in touch with the staff and different other people met in the various workshops.
Edinburgh Napier University has been providing students involved in their own entrepreneurial journey with the resources necessary, as to help them make the first step and grow their ideas to something concrete and exciting.
Would you recommend entrepreneurial minded students to build startups through the support of BRT team?
If students have a project or business idea in mind, or if they just want to know more about the entrepreneurial journey, then I would strongly recommend reaching out to the BRT team. From different workshops and events to a designated location to work on projects and get advice, BRT offers a lot of help and insight, together with a friendly and motivating environment.
How did your course prepare you to build your startup? What skills did you acquire that you’ve put to use?
I strongly believe pursuing an engineering degree opens many other different doors, not only related to engineering. This is because the various modules taught throughout the years really set up a skillset that will allow you to manage not only mathematical related problems, but also other tasks and challenges faced in other disciplines and environments. From problem solving, critical thinking, data analysis, to teamwork, time management, and creativity.
These are skills that I have personally developed, together more in-depth energy and environmental related knowledge, such as material selection and renewable energy, which I have been applying to my extracurricular projects, such as Riserva.
Who from your course supported you on your journey with your startup?
All of the different professors I have reached out to from my course, but also other sections in the University, demonstrated kind availability and gave me valuable advice. Additionally of course, talking to friends and colleagues is a great way to get diverse perspectives and suggestions.
What is your future plan with your startup?
My startup was founded with the purpose and vision to allow governments, organizations, and companies to make better decisions surrounding the sustainability of their projects; with a data-driven approach that enables better understanding of human impacts while reducing the mitigation and environmental management costs.
As of now we’ve been gaining a lot of interest from academics and industry professionals, and having finished with our product’s MVP, we’re in talks with potential partners and clients interested in the development of the platform EnvOS.
Furthermore, we are also starting to work on a very exciting educational platform that will renovate how environmental management and sustainability is integrated into university modules and degrees.