Amit Saraogi, CEO & Co-Founder Oorja Development Solutions India Private Limited

What would you recommend young entrepreneurs in Asia/Africa in the off-grid solar sector when they start to work: what is the most important skill or talent they need?

By Amit Saraogi, CEO & Co-Founder Oorja Development Solutions (India)

 

She/he needs to answer not just the “how” question but also the “why” in developing a creative product or service. By emphasizing on the “why” in business you can create a real value for your end user. In the start-up space there’s been a culture of solution or technology first, whereas we should be applying a more human-centered approach to designing products and services, i.e. first assessing and understanding the needs and pain points of the customer. You need to validate the solution by involving the user in decision making and integrate their inputs in refining the solution.

It is essential to articulate a clear vision or purpose, to keep the product simple and compelling and focus on core competency to provide a positive user experience. It is also vital that the co-founders have the same passion and long-term commitment to stay invested. The imperative of building a good team can’t be emphasized enough because it is the quality of human capital that ensures success more than technology, finance, business models, etc. You need to bring team members with the balanced mix of technical and functional skills, integrity, dedication and empathy.

When starting out it would be prudent to bootstrap, adopt a lean supply chain and keep operational costs low. Another key skill to have is stakeholder engagement and management and the ability to foster collaborations with other project developers, service providers and suppliers, to lay some strong foundations for a sustainable business.

 

Lastly, hard work and persistence pays off so don’t be afraid of failure and quit during difficult times. Reengineer, refocus, start afresh. Be aware of the big picture and overarching elements that make a project of this nature viable. Do not hesitate in learning from others and asking for feedback, as dovetailing can encourage a certain degree of incremental thought and help steer the initiative towards success.