Title : Rising Star: Julien Constant of Aguasol Life
Date : 8 March 2017
Each month, The LOWdown sits down with one of the rising stars of the European startup and entrepreneur community. This month, we catch up with Julien Constant of Aguasol Life, a Spanish startup developing portable solar-power water purification systems for rural communities.
LOW: Why did you set up your company?
We wanted to focus on small and low tech solutions that would have a practical impact for helping rural communities be more resilient to environment & climate change concerns.
LOW: When did you set up your business, and how long did it take?
We set it up in July 2016 in Seville. It took one month. and the registration processes went very smooth thanks to some good early advice.
LOW: Where did you source funding to set up your business?
I first sourced private and family funding, followed by business angels and the support of allied manufacturers.
LOW: Were there any EU, national, regional or local business support services, programmes or funding initiatives that helped you set up or grow?
Actually we are currently looking for capital ventures in target markets such as Latin America, or European fund-raisers or distributors, international banks and specific providers.
LOW: With hindsight, which would have been the single most valuable skill to have before setting up your business?
Determination and resourcefulness.
LOW: What is the single best piece of advice you have received along the way?
Be patient, never surrender or give up, do not get emotionally attached to your product, and work on concept and services.
LOW: Who or what are you inspired by?
I am inspired by the sharing economy and those SME entrepreneurs, such as the team at Blablacar, who have succeeded in making their concept a reality.
LOW: What is the USP that distinguishes your product or service from its competitors?
We design portable water purification systems for small rural communities, enabling them to take control of their drinking water supply and have long-term access to safe, clean water. We seek NGO or local partners to keep the basic knowledge and know-how as accessible as possible.
LOW: How would you describe your progress so far? Are there any significant challenges you have had to overcome?
We had very good local business connections, but we are facing financial concerns from our customers abroad. Lack of access to capital pushes us to innovate; we are currently seeking "microwdfunding" and financial partners for leasing.
LOW: How are you planning to grow your business?
In a very short term, we will have a pilot experimentation in Peru and Colombia, boosting the trust capital of the new brand "AGUASOL LIFE".
LOW: If you were in charge of the government ministry for SMEs and start-ups, what would be the three most important changes you would make to help them grow?
1/ Easier Access to capital, marketing and technical design.
2/ Incentives for large companies to finance and support the business development of startups in that sector.
3/ International cooperation such as Protolab+bizlab that the Airbus group created within a sole EU legal framework, supported by banking leverage tools.
LOW The best thing about being an entrepreneur is…?
To get to know and meet so many people from different sectors. Relationships are life.
LOW: What do you see as the key trends/disruptors for 2017 relevant to entrepreneurs?
Key trends: The digital transformation of retail commerce. Disruptor: Blockchain within the financial services sector.
LOW: If you could go back to when you were about to start your company and give yourself a single message or piece of advice, what would it be?
Cheer up, it is just the beginning of a great collective story. "Welcome to the Aguasol Life Galaxy."Return to The LOWdown
Get in touch with Julien and Aguasol at @AquasolLife