Welcome to our interview series where we speak with purpose-driven business owners and ecopreneurs from around the globe. Every few weeks, we’ll dive into their journeys, learn about their wins and challenges, and the resources they couldn’t do without.
Prepare to be inspired and learn something new!
Today’s guest is Mostafa Ashraf from Taqatak.
Please tell us a little bit about who you are, your background, and what you did before starting your own business.
I’m Mostafa Ashraf 26 years old with a degree in Electrical engineering specialized in Power electronics for Renewable energy. I have been working on my green startup since I was in my second year of my university degree. So I didn’t work somewhere else before that as a full time
What inspired you to create a purpose-driven company and how did you come up with the business idea?
Since I was 11 years old, I have been very passionate about power electronics design & renewable energy innovative applications. I have always designed simple projects related to this field like doing a homemade solar panel. Then after I started my second year at the university I found out that all students face one common problem which is their smartphones run out of charge. So from here I came up with my first product which is a solar smartphone charging station that has 9 lockers for students to leave their phones safely while they go to attend their lectures & come back taking it fully charged.
In your experience, what are the main challenges of starting and running a green business?
1- A large number of Investors believe green startups are not tackling real issues & even when we talk to investors, we have to double the effort in showing them that we are not only saving the planet but also generating income from our green tech.
2- Convincing Clients of how our product or service can really help them in reducing their carbon footprint. Moreover clients always fear trying a product or a service for the first time.
What is your business mission & purpose and why?
Locally manufacture innovative renewable energy solutions to merge between renewable energy & outdoor advertising sectors to provide people with free clean energy & Wi-Fi anywhere & anytime while providing our advertisers with targeted & interactive out-of-home advertising platforms to increase their reachability & profitability.
How does your work address societal and/or environmental issues?
There are 16 billion mobile devices worldwide around 7.2 billion are smartphones that need to be charged daily. Charging large numbers of smartphones using renewable energy will reduce the amount of CO2 injected daily in the earth’s atmosphere.
What are the most common mistakes you see green businesses make?
They really care about being green from the outside but how the product or service is really green is what most green businesses forget about.
What makes your business unique?
Around 32 billion USD are spent on billboards advertising but billboards are non targeted & non interactive so what we do is merge the renewable energy & outdoor advertising sectors to provide them with clean/green advertising that are interactive by giving free access to people in outdoor places free clean electricity to charge their smartphones & portable devices.
Is there anything that you do outside of your business that is driven by similar (sustainability) objectives?
I’m very keen on participating in events & conferences to raise the awareness that we don’t have any other option but to go green by 2030 otherwise we will not be living on this earth safely anymore.
In which area of your business are you struggling the most to reduce your environmental impact?
Logistics is the most struggling transportation of raw materials or finished products are transported by high emission vehicles which will take some time till we shift not only to electric but green electric vehicles.
How do you grow and scale your business, and what are the main growth constraints and opportunities?
Scaling my business is not an easy task till now but the main constraint is that we have to offer several business models to fulfill all potential client needs. On the other hand as we are getting closer to 2030 the demand for green alternatives is getting higher which is a huge opportunity for green businesses.
What green businesses/sectors do you see growing the fastest right now and/or will become mainstream within the next 10 years?
New types of green energy & green storage like green hydrogen & Salt batteries. These technologies are accelerating & have a huge amount of investments pumped in them to make mega scale projects.
In your opinion, what are the top skills necessary to be a successful eco-entrepreneur?
- Time Management.
- Money Management.
- Listening to your team & client needs.
Any “lessons learned” or advice you can share with aspiring or current green business owners?
Focusing on the tech or the technical side of the business alone is not enough but selling your product or service is more important which needs a lot of on ground experience that need to be gained. By either working for a company that sells products somehow related so you can understand the process of acquiring clients or having a consultant that can teach you the way of doing it.
What inspires you every day to wake up and keep going?
Doing what I love everyday with different challenges is what makes me want to wake up everyday & work on my startup & learning new things everyday is such mind blowing even if sometimes it’s learning the hard way.
Mostafa Ashraf, Taqatak.
Since I was 11 years old, I have been very passionate about power electronics design & renewable energy innovative applications to help people have free access to electrical energy anywhere & anytime by using 100% renewable energy. On the same side raising awareness of how small innovative solar off-grid solutions & reusing electronic materials can help massively in cutting carbon emissions & saving our planet. Starting Taqatak in 2015 when I was in the second year of my university degree to take the journey from there.
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