Pushing the Green Agenda: An Interview with Nitu Goel | Founder at Truesun Energy Solutions

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StorySutra.in is an initiative to build a community of Entrepreneurs, Startups & Industry Stalwarts to celebrate success & to learn from shortfalls, and to Contribute, Inspire & Embellish Entrepreneurship by sharing their exciting Stories!

As a part of our initiative, we invited yet another passionate Womanpreneur Ms. Nitu Goel for an interview with us to understand more about her entrepreneurial journey. She is the Founder At Truesun Energy Solutions. Let’s learn more about her exciting journey, her background and her advice for our growing community! Dynamic, daring and a go-getter—these words are floating around the lady herself.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your journey, please;

I come from a beautiful town ‘Dehradun’. My childhood was spent in this peaceful city amongst forest, mountains and clean air. It drove my interest in environment and related issues.  After I completed Economics honours from Delhi University, I pursued MBA from Indian Institute of Forest Management – a one of its kind institute that prepares you to look at development and environmental issues from a professional lens.

I started my career with TERI (an organisation I still admire). TERI undertakes research and consulting on the whole range of issues around sustainability. Further, I assisted a fund and a few clean-tech companies to originate and develop clean energy projects with social impacts. I have also spent some time with a few start-ups and helped them in business development and growth strategy.

These roles gave me an opportunity to understand issues from various perspectives including research, consulting, investments and business operations. Things that excited me the most were the interventions that are self-sustainable and have a strong business case. I hold a strong belief that an issue can be best addressed when it has a sound economic rationale and feel convinced about ideas that are scalable and have a positive social/environmental impact.

This made me start Truesun Energy Solutions, an impact focused energy company that works towards increasing the adoption of clean energy with specific focus on solar.

Please provide a brief overview of your product & Services.

Truesun Energy is founded with a vision to escalate the adoption of solar energy with focus on distributed solar energy; both for rural and urban market.

For rooftop solar, we provide solutions right form site audit to commissioning along with financing & tech enabled monitoring support.  Our service model is more skewed towards CAPEX (where client pays for the upfront cost) as compared to OPEX. We are driven by impact  and in the rooftop sector our portfolio consist of  education institutes, religious places & Self-Help Groups as compared to large commercial and Industrial clients.

For energy access in rural areas we focus on need based decentralised solar products like solar kits, lanterns and other solar enabled products. Our programmes are based on feasibility analysis and success of our intervention rests on studying human behaviour and social patterns as drivers to change.

What inspired you to build the above Product & Service?

I have seen the solar rooftop sector closely – the sector has huge potential but suffers from inefficiencies, unprofessionalism and non-standardisation. Thus, to bridge this gap we created this line of business that undertakes work in an organised, transparent and standardised manner. Each of our projects follows defined protocols and standards with a high focus on monitoring and customer support.

As for rural energy, access to reliable electricity remains one of the most critical challenges that impede social and economic upliftment of communities across globe. Off grid solar intervention holds potential to address this challenge and provides opportunity to create innovative models to reach the last mile.

How did you find the industry / niche you are in?

I believe clean energy is impactful in addressing the issue of low carbon development along with overall focus on social and economic well-being. It’s a win-win option for the clients as they save on electricity bill and contributes positively to the environment.  A solar plant that generates 10 units of power per day (or 300 units monthly – average residential consumption) can save up to INR 2,000 on monthly electricity bill and also ~100 tonnes of CO2 emissions.

Team at Work

What is Your life Mantra?

Till you don’t try, you will only regret! So, at least give it a try!

The most challenging part of your journey till date and how did you Overcome those challenges?

One of the biggest challenges we have faced is the customer awareness and general know-how of the product. Solar Rooftop market has not yet matured to a need based market and demand push is required to scale up its adoption. Fundamentally, there is lack of awareness and understanding among people about the technology and a strong business case (including, cost saving, payback period and other benefits of investing in solar).

We have tried to address this problem by designing detailed FAQs, videos and successful examples (Both online and print media). We are also trying to partner with some large awareness projects (by development agencies) as service providers.

Do you face any challenges being a women entrepreneur?

Yes, I have faced the general perception that some people carry towards a working woman. At times people are less acceptable to work with an empowered woman who has ability to lead and delegate work efficiently. Given majority of site workers are male; some are not comfortable taking suggestions and guidance from a woman employer. I have adapted myself to ignore few of these things and take care of my safety and security in terms of time and location management.  

How are you managing your Life and work during Lockdown caused by COVID 19?

Honestly it’s been tough managing work with home chores and child responsibilities. In India, we currently don’t have sufficient infrastructure that allows work from home comfortably. New normal will need creating infrastructure that supports working from home and people to be more empathetic.

For now, I plan ahead for the next day, organise all activities and follow a discipline.

What is your source of motivation for the day when you wake up?

The fact that our products and services will lead us to be more self-reliant and that even in these times what’s keeping us connected is infact, electricity!

Money or Emotions, what comes first for you?

If emotions are well managed, especially in this lock-down, money will move along!

How do you Manage your stress?

I start and end my day with some basic breathing exercise and gratitude.

What according to you are keys to success?

A curious mind and perseverance.

What Online Apps/tools do you use the most and Why?

Linkedin, Webex Meetings, Zoom – for industry updates and for meetings and engagement with team and clients.

Your business Goals / plans for next 3 years?

We want to expand our product portfolio and diversify into hybrid with focus on storage technologies. We also want to work on solar interventions around primary health and livelihoods creation for communities.

Currently our operations are more concentrated in Maharashtra and we may like to explore other geographies.

Your advice for the Aspiring Entrepreneurs.

First think about the problem that you are addressing –spent more time defining the problem and solutions will flow. Not necessary that your ideas should be always unique but it should be scalable with competitive advantage.

In the light of current situations, risk weight on capital v/s ideas has changed significantly – so along with ideas rethink on targeted customers, revenue and cost models. Be futuristic while evaluating your idea!

Any words especially for women entrepreneurs?

I strongly suggest follow your instinct and passion. Women tend to exclude themselves from an opportunity – so don’t self-exclude– it’s only when we step-in, the challenges and opportunities flow in. Build in a robust home / child support system which will give mental peace and increase productivity at work.

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