Sustainability, mentoring and the future of greentech: An interview with We Do Solar’s Karolina Attspodina #StartUps - The Entrepreneurial Way with A.I.


Friday, September 9, 2022

Sustainability, mentoring and the future of greentech: An interview with We Do Solar’s Karolina Attspodina #StartUps


The energy crisis and sustainability are hot topics. As the cost of living crisis soars, energy prices continue to rise and questions about Europe’s energy supply and carbon emissions are brought to the fore, the move to clean energy sources couldn’t be more urgent.

Harnessing the power of the sun is one way Europe can move towards sustainable energy independence, and the solar tech world is quite literally hotting up. 

Founded in 2021 in Berlin, WeDoSolar is a smart balcony solar system that can save users up to 25% on electricity bills and reduces up to 600kg of CO2 yearly per household. It is self-installable and works from a normal power plug. The panels are lightweight and easy to clip onto a balcony railing with a single cable that comes out of the modules to plug into a wall socket

The founders, Ukrainian-born Karolina Attspodin and serial entrepreneur Qian Qin, wanted to make solar power accessible to anyone. As energy prices surged in Europe, WeDoSolar saw rapid growth, having secured more than 1500 orders in just one month. Their mission? To make Europe energy-independent, for the benefit of all for generations to come.

We had the chance to sit down with the inspiring founder and CEO behind the company, Karolina Attspodin, to discuss the startup’s mission to make a positive impact on the world through the power of climatetech and greentech.

What was the trigger that first got you into entrepreneurship? 

Honestly, moving to Berlin 10 years ago was lucky timing for me. Back then, there were only a few startups, and I was surrounded by young entrepreneurs raising crazy amounts of money for their businesses. This thriving, high-energy environment helped me believe in myself and understand that I could also be that successful one day once I had more experience under my belt.

I was able to learn a lot from those other entrepreneurs. I watched how they negotiated, handled mistakes and managed people. I believe anyone can learn to do pretty much anything, even without previous experience in the field, if they’re willing to learn. I aim to become the best on the market and am highly committed to doing whatever it takes to reach that goal.

Your entrepreneurial journey ranges from mobile product & marketing conferences to brands and pertains to many different verticals, can you tell us what lessons you learned along the way that helped define your career path and made you who you are today?

I started in performance marketing, learning what works for specific verticals. I then moved to the analytics side and gained an understanding of user behaviors (e.g., how much time you have to capture their attention, how to optimize offerings with data, etc.). At the time, I worked with some of the biggest startup unicorns. They allowed me to test my hypotheses and “fail fast” to see what worked, which was an invaluable experience.

From there, I moved to help companies make their product marketing more straightforward and attractive to the average consumer. Tech companies are prone to using fancy jargon and forgetting that these words can be intimidating to a lot of people, so I came in and made sure that all of their materials were easy to grasp.

All of these experiences gave me a perfect skill set to help greentech companies gain global traction, which is my primary focus now.

How did you meet your cofounder Qian Qin? What would you say is the main importance of networking in the startup scene? 

Qian and I met through a venture builder called 1.5 Ventures, which works exclusively with companies creating CO2-reducing products. We both have similar ideas about the usefulness of solar energy, so 1.5 Ventures put us together. I was initially sceptical because it’s hard to find the right business partner, but after a short time together, I saw that we have complementary skill sets and common goals.

My best advice is this: Don’t settle for someone who will “probably” be an okay partner. Keep networking and wait for the person who shares your values and goals. Otherwise, it won’t work. Think about it like dating: You have to take your time to find “the one.”

Considering your role as a mentor of female founders, what would your main practical advice be to women who are just starting their entrepreneurial journey?

First, never doubt yourself. The truth is, you’ll hear a lot of rejection, but the key is to remember that there are people who share your vision; you just have to find them. The best way to do that is with confidence, positivity and an unshakable belief in yourself. I say this often, but it’s true: The vibes we give off matter. The more you exude confidence and positivity, the more likely you are to draw confident, positive people to you.

Unfortunately, women in our generation didn’t have many strong role models that let them believe they could do anything. I’m happy to see this changing, and I’m excited that people of all genders are now finding this strength.

What was the idea behind the creation of FemTechClub? Can you give us some examples of how it is helping to elevate the female position in the European startup ecosystem? 

The goal was to give female founders confidence and support from other female leaders. I think it’s important for women to support each other, so we help these founders learn about marketing, sales, website building, KPI tracking and other foundational things to help them get started.

We had a lot of startups from different industries, so it was important to us to ensure that everyone had a strong digital presence and knew how to get the best collaborations and client leads no matter which industry they were in.

After having worked in such different areas, what got you into sustainability and greentech?

About five years ago, I met PlanA CEO Lubomila Jordanova at the TechOpenAir conference. She gave a powerful speech about climate change and the urgent need to take action that ended with her in tears. Her passion struck me, and I knew I had to do all I could to help her.

She’s the one who got me into sustainability, and since we met, I’ve shifted my focus entirely to greentech.

Renewable energy is a very hot topic right now given the energy crisis, what advice can you give to startups that are just starting to work in this space?

The most important advice I can give is to be patient. The energy industry is old-school and integrating anything new moves quite slowly. Stay on the path, and make sure you know precisely what real-world problem your company and product will solve. Your business should offer a solution that benefits both the climate and society overall.

One of WeDoSolar’s goals is to simplify access to a complex tech product, after all, solar can be used pretty much on most surfaces. Could you give us some examples that you use in your daily life that can save consumers money by going green?

Naturally, I’m a client of my own company and use my WeDoSolar setup on my balcony daily. It saves on my electricity bill and lowers my carbon footprint, which has a significant impact. My home also has solar blinds to further reduce our electricity consumption and CO2 emissions. I also like the idea of solar phone chargers, so you don’t need a power source to charge your phone while you’re out.

Can you name other energy-efficient technologies that are helping businesses and end users address the energy crisis and be sustainable in the long term?

The latest heating and cooling systems are far more energy-efficient and green than older models, which is excellent for lowering energy consumption and improving sustainability. High-efficiency appliances and smart lighting are also pretty new technologies that can help end users have a more sustainable lifestyle. As an example, switching to solar thermal panels for water heating purposes can lead to a significant reduction in your domestic carbon footprint reduction.

It seems that we’ve only just begun to scratch the tip of solartech’s potential, what would you say are the main trends that will come up in the near future?

I think there will be an influx of B2C products integrated into our daily lives beyond just solar. Building development will also become more sustainable and solar-optimized so that we can produce green energy locally.

In the future, I hope to see every household able to generate enough green energy to be independent of the larger energy grid. I’d also love to see more solar tech on the streets to potentially charge cars while driving along specific routes.

You are based in Berlin, one of Europe’s biggest startup hubs. What makes Berlin so special for startups and do you think it’ll stay that way for the future?

I think all entrepreneurial hubs are essential and creating products in many different global locations is better. However, Berlin is unique because it has a large expat community and a substantial number of investors, which places like Barcelona and Lisbon may lack. There are several huge corporations based in Germany that could become potential clients, and there’s a massive amount of funding available here.

Will Berlin keep being the main startup attraction? I’m not sure. It has been for the past ten years, but it’s becoming more expensive to live there compared to places like Lisbon, so I won’t be surprised if there is a shift in the future.

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September 9, 2022 at 11:34AM by (Raquel Sampaio), Khareem Sudlow