#RoadToSuccess : An Interview with the winners of IESS22 Team Solar Efficient

In the most recent episode of our #RoadToSuccess series, we had the pleasure to interview this year’s winner of the International Entrepreneurship Summer School (IESS): Team Solar Efficient. The team consists of Dipanjan Rout and Kartikey Bhandari, who are currently completing their bachelor’s degree in Data Science at IIT Madras, as well as Debdatta Dey and Aakash Bedre who have a background in physics from BITS Pilani.

After receiving the invitation for the IESS 2022, Debdatta contacted his two friends with a similar affinity towards entrepreneurship, Dipanjan and Kartikey, and convinced them to join him in the one-week start-up bootcamp. They were complemented by Askash during the team formation event.

The multidisciplinary nature of their educational background was a major driver of the development and ultimately the success of their winning idea. In doing so, Solar Efficient addressed a prevalent problem which has yet to be resolved in their home country of India. Parts of India are blessed with a proportionally high number of sun hours each year, which provides them with the opportunity to generate a sustainable form of energy by using solar panels. These require constant cleaning and maintenance to achieve the highest efficiency. However, due to the depletion of ground water, the government in India is implementing stringent measures to prevent the wet cleaning of solar panels. Therefore, Team Solar Efficient is working on an Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence based tech ecosystem for increasing the yield of solar panels by combining maintenance and dry-cleaning with data analytics. Their aim is to closely monitor the changes in solar panels to detect possible inefficiencies and faults. In doing so, they are potentially able to save billions of gallons of fresh water in the process through their innovative dry-cleaning service.

Why are you interested in becoming an entrepreneur and founding a business?

„We are interested in solving some of the world’s biggest problems with our innovative approach. Our team is extremely passionate about learning and through our creativity and unconventional thinking we want to create an impact outside a typical 9-5 job.”

What were your expectations coming into the IESS?

„We, as a team, always backed each other. We learnt a lot from the International Entrepreneurship Summer School, including key topics such as: sustainable startup ecosystems, efficient marketing, impact and success metrics, determining the viability of our product and how to approach funding opportunities and networking.“

What did the process of ideation look like?

„The ideation process was amazing! We worked for 10 hours doing R&D and market research to develop and rethink various aspects of our idea with the input from our mentors. This gave us real insights about the needs and the demands of our consumer and their expectations for our product. “

What were some of the key takeaways and benefits from this years IESS?

“We learned to break down the problem into various phases and obtained in depth knowledge on the various parameters and modules involved in the ideation stage. We also received insights on the current ongoings in the market as well as the perspective of the VC’s and how they choose to invest in the company. IESS gave us the confidence to work on our idea and proceed towards building a much better prototype. We learnt a lot from professors, CEOs, VCs and other distinguished people from around the world.„

What were some challenges you faced during the IESS?

„We faced many challenges. For example, while conducting surveys, it took a while to convince people about our mission. Planning the business model was equally challenging. However, using data analytics to prove the efficiency [of our product] was one of our key hardships. We had to brainstorm a lot before coming up with a USP for our model.“

Would you recommend the IESS to other aspiring entrepreneurs?

“Definitely, we would recommend IESS to aspiring entrepreneurs who need to back their ability and have the hunger to do something to solve some of the biggest problems [of today]. IESS is a platform to back your passion and talent.“

Will you continue to pursue your entrepreneurial journey?

“Dipanjan and Kartikey are keen on working with data scientists and young entrepreneurs to solve some of the challenges. In a few years, they are keen to found their own startup ventures and contribute towards the country’s economy. Debdatta is inclined towards a career in physics, which would be interdisciplinary. Through his ventures and research work, he aims to address issues such as poverty, lack of education, or sustainability which are being faced by the people of India. Aakash is inclined towards research in various interesting parts in physics and in the future he aims to discover a new phenomenon which will enhance human knowledge.“

Team Solar Efficient is keen to replicate their success in this year IESS by joining the Entrepreneurship Hub Incubation Program and are thrilled by the idea of possibly starting a business in Germany in the long term. However, in the meantime, their focus lays on obtaining their respective degrees in their home country of India, before transforming their innovative idea into a successful venture.

We are grateful for the hard work and dedication displayed by all participating teams in this year’s IESS, which helped make it an unforgettable experience. Additionally, we would like to thank all mentors and members of the jury, who were able to provide the participants with valuables insights and experiences.