Fish Feed for the Future

Daria Zahaleanu, a Class of 2020 computer engineering major, co-founded and scaled up a school project into a startup that recently won funding from the Danish Venture Cup’s annual National Startup Competition.

During a class project focusing on providing sustainable alternatives to fish feed, Zahaleanu learned that with the growing demand for aquaculture production of fish caused by overfishing, fish feed is a big concern for farmers. 

The two main ingredients of traditional fish feed, fish meal and soybeans, are further exacerbating environmental degradation. Fish meal comes from bycatch from fisheries, thus contributing directly to overfishing while the production of soybeans contributes to land deforestation and is grown largely in monocultures.

I often look back at my undergraduate years and think of how the courses I took and the experiences I gained helped to shape me today. My advice for undergraduates who are looking to venture into creating their own business is not to be afraid to take classes and work on projects outside of their major, such as various startAD initiatives.

Daria Zahaleanu, Class of 2020

Her NYUAD project aimed at solving this unsustainable practice, which accounts for up to ninety percent of the carbon dioxide emissions from traditional land-based aquaculture.

The school project scaled quickly into a startup called AQfeed where Zahaleanu is now one of the six co-founders. Her multitude of skills as a co-founder were developed thanks to the liberal arts education at NYUAD.