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Female Disruptors: Karolina Attspodina Of WeDoSolar On The Three Things You Need To Shake Up Your Industry

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

​​Listen: When I was younger, I did not understand that listening has a very magical superpower. Many people want to talk and tell you something about their business or about themselves and when you can listen and let them talk, it gives you the ability to adapt your thoughts and your sales pitch, especially when you are trying to sell to another business. Being able to listen gives you the advantage of being in the driver’s seat.

As a part of our series about women who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Karolina Attspodina.

Karolina Attspodina, CEO & Co-Founder at vertical solar solutions startup WeDoSolar, is a serial entrepreneur with over 12 years of experience in the Tech industry, business management, sales & marketing for hi-tech companies. Her background is in simplification of tech products and their expansion to new markets.

Karolina is a passionate supporter of sustainable green innovations that help fight climate change and pollution as well as make energy independence accessible to everyone.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

I always wanted to work in tech, and from early on, I knew I would be creating something special for this world. When I was small, I always took phones, radios, and even TV sets apart and then spent hours putting them all back together. I always wanted to create value with technology and wanted it to be impactful tech that helps our planet. The subject of sustainability came into my life around 5–6 years ago. Understanding that climate change is real and we must do something about it began to cross my mind more often.

I visited the climate change conference in Berlin about four years ago and met Lubomila Jordanova, CEO & Co-Founder of PlanA and Co-Founder of Greentech Alliance, whose speech about the frightening state of the planet and the threat of climate change had influenced my intention to explore this field in greater detail. It resulted in WeDoSolar launching in 2021.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

I create new ways and models for consumers to use technical products that they potentially never understood because it wasn’t within their competence range knowledge-wise. Disruption is when you make something so simple that it can be understood by a small child.

Let’s take my balcony solar business as an example. I have created a smart balcony solar set that can be used as a plug-and-play solution, and every single customer would receive a package in the mail and would install the system just like a DIY balcony sight protection. Such a concept saves us manpower and makes distribution growth highly scalable. The fact that you can plug a solar panel into a standard power socket and feed energy into the grid is also something that makes the process super easy for the end-user.

I also have a companion app that comes with the set and can tell you the level of energy generated and how much CO2 you have saved. Inside the app, there is an option to create a virtual power plant. This feature is especially loved by large corporate clients who are looking to reduce their CO2 locally. Employers can offer their employees our solar sets as part of an employee benefit program so that they can save money on their electricity bills, and they will receive carbon credits for their efforts. I think it’s a great example of a team effort in fighting climate change and a convenient way to track it.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I would say that the funniest mistakes were surely made at the very early stages of understanding what entrepreneurship is all about. I had set up a company incorrectly, so when I sold it, I paid so much tax it was no fun at all. These are the things that no one talks about, and when you are super fresh to the game, you have no idea what the right setup looks like. At the time, I went into the company as an individual without having a specific holding, and that was such a mistake. Let me just say that if you sell your company as an individual, you pay way more tax than if you had an investment holding, which reduces the taxes drastically. When I realized how much money I could have saved, the only thing I could do was laugh because no amount of crying would help at that point.

So, make sure you know what setup is the most beneficial for you from the very start.

We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

Ten years ago, when I just came to Germany, I was very fortunate to be surrounded by some of the early-stage entrepreneurs that now have multi-million companies and are known worldwide. I have to say that most of my mentors were men who showed me how to be persistent and that literally, anything is possible when you truly love what you do.

I was very good at sales and especially at building my network, and one of my really good friends explained that I could totally use this superpower to build my own business and that the worst thing that could happen was that I would fail, which is not a big deal, and I can always get another job. After giving it some thought, I realized that he was right: after all, I had never even created a CV because companies were craving to have me on their teams since they knew of the large client network that I brought to others.

In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?

Disruption comes in many shapes; it can be a brand-new business model or a more creative way of service. Disruptors are the ones who dare to take a risk and make something simply better, easier to use, more accessible, and more attractive for the market. At the moment, we still have so much potential for disruption. When thinking about our climate and how we consume, literally all the products on the market have to be replaced with more sustainable options that don’t harm our environment. From dishwashing soap to traceless packaging to food alternatives, there are so many options. Industries like education need way more disruption because the way kids learn these days and what they learn is super outdated and learning by doing is way more interesting for them. Basically, every industry needs to move forward into the future, and every entrepreneur has a lot of potential to create something powerful, creative, and, most importantly, sustainable. I don’t believe that some industries have no need for disruptive technologies; it might be scary for people to adapt to the new reality, but I have no doubt that at some point they will realize that it is for the better.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

​​Listen:

When I was younger, I did not understand that listening has a very magical superpower. Many people want to talk and tell you something about their business or about themselves and when you can listen and let them talk, it gives you the ability to adapt your thoughts and your sales pitch, especially when you are trying to sell to another business. Being able to listen gives you the advantage of being in the driver’s seat.

Patience:

This word kept coming up throughout the years. Sometimes it would be mentioned by my friends, sometimes by my co-workers, or even family members. At some point, I realized that patience can get you places and that some things in life require it. I even have the word tattooed on my arm to remind me to be patient in some situations.

Positivity:

Positive thinking is the key to success and it is very true that what you manifest is what you attract into your life. People can sense your mood and how your inner self is feeling and when you are optimistic in any given situation, something good will come out of it. I remember a very silly example of trying to get on a train which was overbooked. The lady in the ticket office kept telling me that there was no way to get on it. However I remained positive that I would be on that train no matter what. Just a few minutes later, a guy came in with two tickets and asked me if I was looking to buy one. You would think that the chances of that happening would be super small. However, out of all the people standing there he chose me and even gave me the ticket for free. So positivity and your vibe are very important and others read it on a subconscious level. People want to be associated with and are drawn to the positive.

We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?

If I take on a challenge, I will do absolutely everything in my power to be the best at what I do. With the current company, it’s vertical solar solutions for end users. I’m also planning a line of very interesting products that will be very easy to use and will have a very attractive offering. Looking for creative ways of distribution and partnerships will be the key to our success and I have only begun.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by ‘women disruptors’ that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?

A lot actually comes to my mind when we speak about women vs. men, especially how both sexes are perceived in conversations, deal negotiations, or partnerships. Even though we are all fighting for equality and hope that sexism will become history, it is still something that exists on a high scale. To give you an example, I personally don’t have a problem with my ego and sometimes, when speaking to a potential partner, I can see that the conversation is directed more towards my male business partner and not myself. I understand that for them it happens subconsciously, so instead of trying to break that door, in the future we would direct the conversation towards him because a contract is more important to us than proving that I should be the one speaking for the company.

Another example to cite would be some investors who doubt you even though you have a huge list of achievements and a wealth of experience. As I like to say, men still get evaluated on potential and women on proving that they can do it, no matter the experience.

Do you have a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us?

Yes, I have one podcast I absolutely adore and it is called P.S. Younger Self. It is made by a former corporate New Yorker and expat Chris Oh who became an entrepreneur after she moved to Europe. Chris speaks with inspirational business owners from around the globe and absolutely different verticals to understand how not to fear anything and live our most fulfilling life on our own terms. One of my favorite episodes is called “You don’t have to explain yourself.” We tend to always explain why we are late or why we could not answer an email that was due last week or any other example and she talks about why we don’t owe an explanation to anyone. I think in our personal life and in business we have to be very self-aware and sometimes even little things can make a difference. We all have some kind of life experiences that made us who we are today and it’s good to engage all facets of your mind and soul to be the most productive and creative and, most importantly, to not forget to be human and kind to everyone around.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

Peace and unity would be the answer — being Ukrainian-born and experiencing a war in my home country is very scary at the moment. I still have relatives and friends there who are fighting for their peace. The year is 2022 and we already have flying cars that will soon become a reality, but we still have geopolitical differences and wars around the world. I hate to see people suffering and especially children dying. Life is too beautiful and there should be no place for anger and aggression.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

An American filmmaker Ava DuVernay once said: “Ignore the glass ceiling and do your work. If you’re focusing on the glass ceiling, focusing on what you don’t have, focusing on the limitations, then you will be limited.” I really appreciate her advice as we have to work extremely hard to overcome bias-based obstacles on our career journey. Women’s entrepreneurship is not an exception. Ava really knows what she’s talking about: she was the first Black woman to win the Sundance Festival award, and her advice provides me with inspiration every time I feel like I am facing obstacles and limits.

How can our readers follow you online?

You can learn more about me and my projects on my LinkedIn and Twitter pages. I also have a Youtube channel where I share business insights.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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Candice Georgiadis

Candice Georgiadis

Candice Georgiadis is an active mother of three as well as a designer, founder, social media expert, and philanthropist.