‘It is like a time machine. The competition helped us travel to our future.‘
A profile story on the ClimateLaunchpad 2020 global winner Cassetex
“Representing Bangladesh for the first time in this competition, and competing with more than 50 countries. We are humbled and mind blown to achieve this recognition. Not only have we won this prize, our team is also now part of the EIT Climate-KIC Accelerator Program, which will help us shape this business further.”
That was the message Cassetex posted on Facebook just minutes after becoming the global winners of the ClimateLaunchpad 2020 edition.
We got on Zoom for an interview with founder Gopal Kumar Mohoto.
First of all: congratulations again on winning! Can you tell us a bit more about your idea, about your business?
“Thank you. And of course I can tell you about Cassetex. It is a solar recharged battery swapping service that enables energy efficient last-mile transport. In Bangladesh alone we aim to implement more than 50,000 solar swapping stations to serve at least 250,000 battery electric vehicles.
Bangladesh has more than 1.5 million electric last-mile transport across the country. They have helped the country avoid harmful emissions in small cities and provide a sustainable source of income for many people. But these vehicles have become inefficient and a burden on the national electricity infrastructure. The lead-acid batteries are bulky, heavy, inefficient and have a short lifespan. The dangerous acids inside can leak. We considered using lithium battery, but that is an expensive solution. So we came up with the idea to charge the batteries with solar and use small batteries that can be swapped.
Cassetex will provide 100% solar powered battery swapping stations. Our service will increase the daily operating range of these vehicles, leading to growth in income. Our technology is very efficient due to lightweight batteries that require no maintenance. Customers will never have to repair or replace these batteries. They will only pay for the energy they use, through popular mobile financial services. By targeting 25% of the intended market, we hope to achieve profits of USD 11.2 million in 5 years.”
This was the first year our competition was organized in Bangladesh. What brought you to join?
“Well, one of my teammates tried to get into ClimateLaunchpad before, but it was not happening in our country. So this year was the first time in Bangladesh and we immediately applied. What attracted us was the fact that it was a competition where we could validate and prove our idea. We love competitions as a team, but this one is different from the other competitions, this is a business competition – it teaches you to actually build your company.
Our aim is to create something that can serve people, that can be profitable, and that can create a positive impact on the environment. The programme turned out to be a perfect match for those goals.”
As this year was a fully virtual experience, did you run into any problems?
“We did experience some trouble with the internet at times. One time was kind of crucial as one of my teammates lost his connection during the Q&A part after our pitch at the Regional Finals. But overall, it was a very good experience; I think there are many benefits to an online competition by saving time, money and CO2. “
“It teaches you to actually build your company. “
What have you learned along the way?
“We learned so much from our competitors and working with the other teams. One of the main things we were taught was how to express our entire business idea in 5 minutes and 9 slides. That was amazing. And as this was my first time ever in a global online event, I also learned a lot about how to work and be effective in such a virtual environment.
One of the key insights during Boot Camps came from our trainer Frans Nauta when he said: ‘This is not a business competition, we are building a community of start-ups.’ Together we can create global impact. We need to strengthen each other, support each other and make sure we all grow and scale our companies.
“Cassetex was an idea when we applied, and now it’s a real business model. We validated our assumptions.”
Another thing Frans taught me was that we are not here to make lots of money, acquire houses or cars; we’re here to make money for the company, to make the company bigger and to create positive impact on the environment. We need to focus on growing the company and our impact.”
How different is your start-up now? Can you tell us the before and after difference?
“Cassetex was an idea when we applied, and now it’s a real business model. We validated our assumptions. Not much changed, but we take everything we learned to get better – day by day. The main changes were not in our idea, but in our pitching sessions and business skills. We are much more clear in the way we present our idea now.”
How has ClimateLaunchpad helped you?
“When you are doing a start-up, everything is challenging. Joining ClimateLaunchpad was like a time machine; it helped us travel to our future. Where we are now, would have taken us 2 or 3 years without the program. Finding out how to go about building a company, how to find customers, to attract investors and to validate our business model. ClimateLaunchpad really accelerated that process for us, we were able to do all of that in less than 3 months.
I don’t just see it as a competition; I take it as a learning experience to shape our business. You may think your idea is great, but growing that idea into a great business is something else. ClimateLaunchpad can really help you do that. For us ClimateLaunchpad was a super-advanced business school program.
“Where we are now, would have taken us 2 or 3 years without the program.”
ClimateLaunchpad’s motto is ‘fixing climate change, one-start-up at a time’. I also think that start-ups need to work together and join forces to make a bigger impact. So not one at a time, but all together is how we will create real change. That’s why we are happy and proud to be part of this global community of green entrepreneurs.”
What was your experience after winning the Global Grand Final?
“All the social and media coverage has helped a lot. Right now, we are not reaching out to people, people are reaching out to us. We are getting emails from journalists and investors and technology companies. And also from the Climate-KIC community we see journalists and investors approaching us. It is mind blowing and humbling to be in this position. We will use this to grow and become better at what we do. As I said, everything is challenging when you’re building a start-up. But will not give up. Day by day things will get better and things will get easier.”
“I take it as a learning experience to shape our business.”
“Right now we are looking forward to the EIT Climate-KIC Accelerator program to kick off and we are preparing for that. In the meantime we are doing prototyping and we are talking to investors and technology companies. We are bringing all things together to grow our company.”
Where will Cassetex be in 5 years?
“We have big plans, we want to go beyond. We want to capture the entire Bangladesh market, we want to go to the global market. We will do it city-by-city, region-by-region. Cassetex is the most affordable and most environmentally friendly solution on offer, we want to spread that across the world to help fix climate change.
Want to know more? Watch The Global Grand Final pitch of Cassetex:
Tags: Bangladesh, cleantech, Global Grand Final