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The Innovation Hub’s Lightbulb Moments blog presents: Alex Zelenski

Startup: GRNshift | Hub program: Hatch

Alex Zelenski headshot

About Alex and his startup, GRNshift

Alex has always been passionate about sustainable development, and it’s evident through his academic pursuit. Alex graduated with a Bachelor of Economics specializing in natural resources and the environment, and is currently pursuing a Master’s of Sustainable Energy Systems. He has spent most of his life traveling and has lived in 6 different countries, where he saw firsthand the range of social, political, and environmental issues in our world and how they are interconnected with one another. His upbringing exposed him to diversity and the desire to protect the quality of the natural world for the next generation. These experiences pushed Alex to create his own start-up, GRNshift, which aims to help create a sustainable future for our generation and generations to come.

GRNshift is an online marketplace that leverages AI systems to provide customers with tailored energy-efficient products and small-scale renewable technologies for their homes or businesses based on their needs and budget. His start-up delivers sustainable technology solutions to bridge the gap between incentives, providers, and users. The platform revolutionizes how sustainable technologies are accessed, understood, and adopted. GRNshift’s mission is to empower households and businesses to embrace sustainability by reducing their energy expenses and environmental footprint. GRNshift is committed to making sustainable living accessible by delivering comprehensive, insightful, and reliable solutions.

GRNshift’s Lightbulb Moment:

Lightbulb Moment stickerAlex’s passion for sustainable development grew deeper during his time as a program coordinator for the Innovation Hub. He was heavily involved in the Generation Changemaker and Changemaker programs which have a focus on social innovation and look through the lens of the UN SDGs. This role inspired him because as a coordinator, he helped cohorts of students turn their purposes into tangible community solutions.

Although he didn’t have one particular “eureka!” moment, Alex said his lightbulb moment happened within the window of one year: “I wanted to make sustainable living accessible and was able to identify a gap and approach through my academic studies and research”. Then, over the course of the winter break, Alex pulled his academic knowledge and readings together and merged his own ideas on top of that in order to come up with GRNshift. Taking his academic background on sustainable energy systems and his work experience with social innovation and the UN SDGs, his start-up GRNshift is aligned with achieving UN SDG 7 – “Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all”.

How has the Innovation Hub helped you in getting your business to the next step?

Alex thanks the Innovation Hub for providing him with countless opportunities to hone-in on a lot of skills that he otherwise wouldn’t get the chance to in a typical classroom setting, “the Hub helped hold me accountable and consistently pushed me to work on my business unlike any other organization or environment on campus”.

He also credits his coworkers at the Hub and his friends for being a support system in his entrepreneurial journey, “they have always given the time to listen and give feedback on my ideas and business”.

What would you say to a student who is interested in one of our programs?

Some words of wisdom that Alex would give to students is: “All the tools and resources you need to become the strongest version of yourself exist within the University, but you need to challenge yourself and put the effort into finding them”. Alex strongly believes that effort is the name of the game and if you put effort in, you will see noticeable differences between yourself and others around you. “This is one of the few places and times in your life where you are given the platform to pursue your passions and go for it. You’re given the time and space, so take advantage of the opportunities”.

To build confidence in a student who has an idea but doesn’t know if they should go for it, Alex says: “Seize the opportunity before you, the feeling of regret is far worse than the thrill of taking a chance. Don’t let the “what-if’s” of tomorrow rob you of your potential today”.

Favourite memory at the Innovation Hub?

Alex’s favourite memory at the Hub is when he became a Changemaker coordinator: “Having my first cohort of student entrepreneurs that I could guide and grow with was the first time I had peers close to my age, so growing with people as equals was exciting. Especially coming out of the pandemic, we had a few people in-person and a few online but it was nice to be surrounded with passionate people… everyone at the Hub wanted to create change”. During his time as a coordinator, Alex has been responsible for 6 cohorts of Changemaker students and 4 cohorts of Generation Changemaker (high-school) students!

We’d like to thank Alex for all of the hard-work he’s put into the Innovation Hub. The programs he’s worked on and the student entrepreneurs he’s connected with throughout his time at the Hub would not be where they are today without his help. Although he will be passing the torch to new program facilitators, you can still expect to see Alex around participating in Launch, delivering sessions, or judging at our pitch nights!

Want to learn more? Check out GRNshift below:

Carleton University Innovation Hub logoWritten by Monika Hutchings, Communications Coordinator at the Innovation Hub. If you would like your story to be edited, updated, or removed please email