While exiting my last business (Langoor), I talked to some EOers about What Next? Mathew and I were discussing carbon and energy trading on the blockchain. A range of circumstances brought us an aligned opportunity. It was to invest in solar on the rooftop of a large multinational in India. We brought in our third partner, also from EO, Sudhakar. We raised capital for the said solar plant in 4 days. The IRR was greater than 15 per cent in INR; we wondered, why aren’t more people doing it? We discovered only large financial institutions were investing in renewable energy. Individual investors did not have access to this asset class with annuity returns.
Once our project was generating returns, we decided we wanted to make renewable energy accessible as an asset class. This will also speed up the deployment of renewables in emerging markets. Our model involves funding solar for commercial and industrial customers who can save money by spreading the cost of solar over 7 to 20 years. Investors generate a return by investing upfront and collecting returns over time.
The business, Distributed Energy (www.de.energy) was formed in 2019. We set out to fundraise a seed round for it. Two investors invested $1.35 million. The first investor, Ramez Naam, was a speaker at an EO event. He led an AngelList syndicate. The second was a fellow member who leads a sizeable African energy conglomerate.
Distributed Energy exists and is having a meaningful impact on the world. And this is #BecauseOfEO.
As entrepreneurs, we are the creators, the innovators, the risk-takers, and the engines that power growth and serve as a significant pillar of the economy. We are the dreamers who dedicate ourselves to a singular vision, often at the expense of balance, stability, and health, because we dare not only to believe - but to act. The odds of success are not in our favor when we start our endeavors. Many of us will fail — often, multiple times — but what defines us is our adaptability, resilience, creativity, and ability to bounce back. Like Rocky in Round 14 in the first iteration of the eponymous film series, we will surely take a beating. We may not win, but we will definitely get up to fight again. The song for that scene, Going the Distance, is an apt name for the challenges we face on a daily basis.
Author Nassim Nicholas Taleb wrote that there should be a statue dedicated to the entrepreneur in every town square for his contributions to job creation, societal advancement, and personal sacrifice in service of solving existing problems. It is a demanding role that we play, but also one of the most rewarding experiences one could ever imagine.
It can also be very lonely and isolating, as the problems we face regularly are myriad, constant and potentially existential. EO has provided me with the infrastructure, support, and learning to thrive in the face of this adversity. With the organization’s support, I not only dream bigger and act more decisively, I know that I am not alone in my desire to change the world, as well as myself. I have found my tribe and welcome potential members to do the same and join us in this wonderful journey together.
I am extremely grateful to EO for providing me with a unique learning platform that has transformed me personally and professionally. As Managing Partner/Founder of TWS Legal Consultants DMCC and TWS Corporate Services in DIFC specializing in setting up DIFC Foundations, being part of the EO community has enabled me to learn and grow as an entrepreneur dedicated to protecting expatriate families’ wealth and business interests; both now and for the future.
Today I own and successfully manage TWS Legal Consultants DMCC, handling all aspects of law ranging from DIFC Wills, Foundations, Matrimonial to Property matters and more. I am proud of this as a lawyer, but even more so, as a role model for my children. They are my inspirations in life. As a mother of three children, I am deeply passionate about helping expatriates secure their families and assets in the UAE.
One of EO’s most valuable and beneficial aspects for me has also been my Forum. The deep connections I have developed with my Forum over the years, the peer-to-peer learning and real-life experience sharing have been enriching and life-changing. I am very blessed to be a part of this exceptional community of dynamic entrepreneurs in the UAE. Today I can say I have evolved exponentially in my spiritual, personal and professional journey because of EO and am in a very happy place.
On a final note, while I am passionate about being an entrepreneur, lawyer, mother and wife, it takes more than a bit of juggling to bring perfection to my many roles. All these tasks are made easy by using two simple strategies — to make a mark and to leave behind a legacy.
Because of EO, I’ve never had an uninteresting answer to the question, “When was the last time you did something for the first time?” Being in EO, I have had many firsts and was motivated to create a bucket list. As I speak within my circles outside of EO, many people do not seem to think too much of it.
Because of EO, I have had the opportunity to travel to distant lands, experience amazing retreats, stand under natural waterfalls, go on hikes into the wilderness, and expose my vulnerability by doing things outside my comfort zone. And this is only on the front which does not involve my business. EO has challenged me and prompted me to become a better version of myself and to be true to my potential.
EO is a peer-to-peer learning organization in its true sense, wherein peers not only hold other peers accountable in a questioning manner, but in a manner where one shares his or her experience and nudges the other. They ask questions like: What’s holding you back? Why aren’t you doing things you always wanted to? Have you been too lazy or comfortable to take the first step?
On the business front, being a founder/ business owner/ entrepreneur is a tempting and enviable title for anyone viewing that position from the outside. But I can confirm this firsthand, that it’s not easy and extremely lonely at the top, whether it be your business or any challenge you seek to pursue that most others do not endeavor to perform.
EO has supported me for the last 12 years in offering a peer-to-peer sounding board which I commonly and anonymously refer to as my board of advisors. I get the opportunity to learn from the collective genius of 120 other business owners who find themselves lonely at the top. And learning from them about their experiences, challenges, and vulnerability not only reinforces my conviction but also reenergizes my dedication and prevents me from making the errors some of my peers have cautioned me about.
I must say that every professional, whether it be a doctor, a lawyer, an engineer, is continuously on the path of learning and undertakes refresher training from time to time. Somehow, entrepreneurs don’t seem to need this, which in my belief, is incorrect. EO provides me with the platform to stand out among other entrepreneurs who are not on the quest for learning.
Each year, I am presented with opportunities to sharpen my skills and refresh my learnings, whether on banking, cash flow, leadership, HR, or skills management. Or revisiting my strategy and ensuring it’s bulletproof by attending learning sessions by world-class professionals from educational institutes, overachieving veteran entrepreneurs, and the likes of several government officials who are mandated with devising strategies for the global economic landscape.
For those of you reading this who have not considered becoming members of EO, and if you are a business owner/ founder/ majority stakeholder, I strongly urge you to take this as your most important action point.