Sumreen Rattan’s love of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) started in childhood. Her father was a mechanical engineer and nurtured her interest in the field, taking her to work with him often, where she was first exposed to female engineers in leadership positions. From an early age, he knew Sumreen could achieve this too and encouraged her to pursue her passion.
Despite being one of just three women in her first-year engineering classes at Simon Fraser University (SFU), Sumreen was determined to succeed. She faced internal struggles, including impostor syndrome and grappling with the lack of diversity and representation for women in the field, especially women of colour, but over the course of her undergraduate degree, Sumreen’s confidence grew. She gained access to resources like the Coast Capital Savings Venture Connection Program, SFU’s early-stage start-up incubator, which helped her thrive.
An entrepreneur at heart, Sumreen is now a recent graduate of the Mechatronic Systems Engineering Program at SFU, as well as the co-founder and COO of Moment Energy, a start-up striving to provide greater access to renewable and reliable energy storage.
The company is giving electric vehicle batteries a second life by converting them to clean-energy storage units that can help remote and off-the-grid communities inexpensively transition to renewable energy, providing a much-needed solution to energy intermittency and redirecting those batteries away from landfills. “Solar energy can’t be generated when there is no sunshine,” Sumreen shares. “Our energy storage units solve this problem by storing renewable energy for users to access at any time.”
Moment Energy Co-founder & CTO, Gabriel Soares (left), and Lead Engineer, James Evans (right), installing their battery system in an off-grid environment
Sumreen and her Moment Energy co-founders - Gabriel Soares, Eddy Chiang, and Gurmesh Sidhu - met at SFU, finding common ground in their passion for clean energy and their experience creating SFU’s Electric Vehicle fleet (Team Phantom). Together, they were introduced to the Coast Capital Savings Venture Connection program through SFU’s entrepreneurship resources and, with the support of the program, established Moment Energy in 2019.
The Venture Connection program provides students like Sumreen and the Moment Energy team with the resources and opportunities they need to explore their passions. Through mentorship, training, networking and more, they receive invaluable guidance and support to explore their passions.
“Pursuing entrepreneurship versus full-time employment after graduation was an enormous risk,” Sumreen says. Without Venture Connection, Sumreen doesn’t know that she and her co-founders would have been able to take this path. As winners of the Social Impact Award at Venture Connection’s annual Venture Prize competition, Moment has gained legitimacy, experiencing an increase in exposure and awareness in the public, which has provided them with opportunities to make connections and build relationships that will contribute to their long-term success. The award also had a monetary prize, which has allowed them to keep operating and working while raising their first equity funding.
For Sumreen, one of the highlights of Venture Connection was the opportunity it provided her to attend events such as Pitch for the Purse, which brings together female entrepreneurs so they can share their business visions to secure the funding, community, and support they need for growth. “It was so inspiring to see where other women in the start-up community began and where they are now.”
Sumreen presenting at SFU Surrey’s Technology Entrepreneurship Event.
Now, Sumreen is excited to make her own mark as a female entrepreneur in STEM. She firmly believes that early education and representation are key to opening doors for women in the field and presenting these disciplines as viable career options. “With education and marketing or media that showcases women in the field, young girls will see people like themselves in these roles and know that it’s achievable,” Sumreen says. She hopes that, as a representative of women of colour in STEM, she too can encourage and inspire other women.
Sumreen’s passion for using technology and her skills as an engineer for “the greater good” fuel her vision for the future: to have Moment Energy recognized globally for repurposing EV batteries and to be a force for good in the world. “You can have a positive impact on the environment and a successful business. You don’t have to sacrifice one for the other.”