Being a passionate and successful entrepreneur has little to do with the trendiness of your sector or the sexiness of your product. Andrés Celave would know: for the past year, he’s been developing a digital marketplace for the refrigeration and air conditioning (RAC) sector: CoolTrack. Its aim is to cover the entire supply chain, from the manufacturer to the end user of RAC equipment and components.
As CoolTrack graduated from Bridge for Billions’ incubation program The Leap in February and won our pitch competition held in Madrid last June 2019, we asked Andrés a few questions on his journey as an entrepreneur.
Where did the idea for this project come from?
It came from our experience working with the RAC sector under the framework of the Montreal Protocol for the Protection of the Ozone Layer. The refrigerants used in RAC equipment may have a negative impact on the ozone layer, but also on climate change.
For this reason, the Montreal Protocol, which has been ratified by all countries in the world, tries to control the use of these substances and promotes the development of environmentally friendly new RAC technologies.
Usually, these actions are supported by regulations and policies from the governments with a rather punitive perspective (prohibition of certain refrigerants), and very little space is left for market-oriented approaches based on incentives. We thought that a digital tool like CoolTrack could fill that gap.
What is your goal?
The goal of CoolTrack is threefold: we seek to optimize the interaction and exchanges among the stakeholders of the RAC sector, we aim at making this market more transparent and we want to promote green technologies and green behaviors with purely market-based mechanisms.
You’re starting out your journey as an entrepreneur: what are the main challenges you have faced up until now?
We’re at an initial stage of the project, trying to define the MVP. So far, the main challenges have been related, first, to the full understanding of the RAC sector, to identify its needs and problems with regards to the Montreal Protocol regulation. And secondly, to the study of the digital tools that can be applied in a project like this. The complexity of both aspects and the difficulties to reach professionals and entities related to them have been the most important challenges so far.
You took part in the incubation program with Bridge for Billions: why? What were your main needs and expectations before starting the program?
We were looking for guidance in two dimensions: the definition of the product and that of the business strategy. We already had experience in the design and implementation of technical cooperation projects at the international level, and we had certain knowledge of the sector we’re targeting. However, we had no experience in creating and launching a start-up.
That’s why we thought that an incubation program would be the best way to start working on that. And in that regard, we had very good references about Bridge for Billions’ The Leap Program.
What would you say you gained from the experience?
A lot of things from a lot of points of view. Regarding the product, we managed to identify the key aspects we need to target in order to offer the best service to the market. Considering the strategy, we discovered the elements that will help us to move efficiently when trying to get clients and investors.
Focusing on the start-up, we recognized the main factors for its sustainability. And when it comes to us, the entrepreneurs, we can only say that we have enjoyed the experience, we have met some very interesting and valuable professionals and have enriched our heads, hearts and CVs.
In your experience, how important is it to have a good mentor on your side at the outset of your entrepreneurial adventure?
I would say it is crucial to count on the support of a good mentor that has solid knowledge on, at least, one of the main areas of the venture and that is committed to the project in a genuine way.
Not only because of the specific inputs that she or he can give during the incubation process, but also for the moral support, which is fundamental for any initiative of this type.
Finally, what are the 3 main things all entrepreneurs should have in mind when launching a project?
From my point of view, the entrepreneur should have a special link, I would say even an emotional one, to the area, sector or community the project will have an impact on. When the interest of launching a certain project is based on a personal concern about an observable problem, and not only based on the seek of money, that project will have much more chances to succeed, since it will be more prone to overcome the various barriers that will appear along the way.
Being that the base, a solid start-up team and an effective communication with the audience (potential clients and investors) are the necessary pillars for the project to be successful and sustainable.
Like Andres Celave, you’re looking for a program to help you work on your project and guide you through the next steps?