On Food Waste and Relevance of Privacy: Noonies Nominee Paran Sonthalia by@psonthalia

On Food Waste and Relevance of Privacy: Noonies Nominee Paran Sonthalia

Paran Sonthalia is nominated for a 2021 Noonies award. She is the CEO of DeWaste, a company that analyzes food waste using computer vision. She says she's most excited about advances in computer vision because accuracy of models is getting better every day. She also shares her thoughts on the future of the tech industry and the challenges it faces in the industry. She's nominated in the following categories: Computer Vision, Startup Lessons and Startups of the Year, and Startup Lessons.
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Paran Sonthalia HackerNoon profile picture

Paran Sonthalia

Senior at UC Berkeley CEO of DeWaste Eagle Scout Huge car guy Training for endurance events YouTube: Xcelerate


Hey Hackers! I’m Paran Sonthalia and I’m the CEO @ DeWaste.


First of all, a huge thank you to the HackerNoon community and staff for nominating me/us] for a 2021 Noonies award! [I’ve/We’ve been] nominated in the following categories please do check out these award pages and vote:


  1. HackerNoon Contributor of the Year - Computer Vision: https://noonies.tech/award/2021-hackernoon-contributor-of-the-year-computer-vision
  2. HackerNoon Contributor of the Year - Startup Lessons: https://noonies.tech/award/2021-hackernoon-contributor-of-the-year-startup-lessons
  3. HackerNoon Contributor of the Year - Startups of the Year: https://noonies.tech/award/2021-hackernoon-contributor-of-the-year-startups-of-the-year


As a someone in the food waste industry, I believe that the most exciting technology of the present is computer vision because it can be used to analyze so much data that we don’t need humans to manually look at. Learn more about my thoughts and opinions on computer vision and my journey in the tech industry via the interview below.


1. What do you do and why do you do it? (tell us your story)

I’m the Co-Founder and CEO of DeWaste and we work on reducing food waste in all dining institutions. We realized that so much food gets wasted simply because food institution managers don’t know what their customers want and it’s too expensive to find out. We do this in a very affordable way using computer vision in an effort to reduce the amount of food that ends up in the trash.

2. Tell us more about the things you create/write/manage/build!

DeWaste is a system that consists of a camera that automatically takes photos of food and then on the backend we analyze all of those photos to figure out what food is being thrown away. Then using this raw data, we come up with predictions on why this food is being thrown away and what can be done to reduce this food waste.

3. How did you end up on your current career path? Do you like it?

This just sort of ended up falling into my lap as I was in the dining hall at UC Berkeley and saw so much food being wasted. I knew that I had to do something about it and tackled this problem at Cal Hacks with my cofounder.

4. What tech are you most excited or passionate about right now and why?

I’m most excited about advances in computer vision because the accuracy of models is getting better every day. This makes our data analysis more and more accurate because we can be more confident in the suggestions that we are providing.

5. What tech are you most worried about right now and why?

Privacy is a bigger and bigger concern every day. Personally I’m not as paranoid about all the reasons that most people are worried but the parts where personal data is used to purposefully racially divide our communities is very worrying.

6. If we gave you 10 million dollars to invest in something today, what would you invest in and why?

If not DeWaste, I’d invest this into companies working on space travel. I think there is a lot left to explore in space and we really have no idea what’s out there. The possibilities once we know what’s out there are endless because the Earth is nothing but a speck in the grand scheme of the uni/multiverse.

7. What are you currently learning?

I’m currently studying computer science and data science at UC Berkeley. Outside of class I spend my time learning about advances in computing and learning about the latest innovation in automotive tech.

8. What’s the best advice you’ve ever given someone?

Be passionate about what you’re building. If you don’t care about the problem that you’re solving then you’ll never succeed. The passion in solving the problem is what will get you through the tough times because there will be tough times.

9. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Hardware is hard. Michael Seibel from Y Combinator told us this when we were building our own hardware and encouraged us to find a different way. This is when we repurposed cheap Android phones to be our cameras instead of trying to build a camera system using Raspberry Pis.



About HackerNoon’s 2021 Noonie Awards

The annual Noonie Awards celebrate the best and brightest of the tech industry, bringing together all who are making the Internet and the world of tech what it is today. Please be sure to check out our award categories, nominate, and vote for the people and companies who you think are making the biggest impact on the tech industry today.


The 2021 Noonies are sponsored by: bybit, Dottech Domains, and Avast. Thank you so much to these sponsors who are helping us celebrate the accomplishments of all our nominees.

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