Originally posted in philanthropyage.org dated January 21, 2016
Taka Solutions, an energy services company, has won the Gulf region round of The Venture, a global competition targeting startups with a social purpose.
Up against four other regional finalists the company, which installs technology in existing buildings to save energy and money, won out thanks to a proven business model and the potential to scale up significantly. The company takes a cut only from the financial savings its work generates; it believes the opportunity exists to reduce the world’s energy usage by 20 per cent, simply by making better use of existing technologies to control energy usage and thus help mitigate climate change.
“One of our strongest points is that we have a robust team, a robust business model, some traction in the market and tangible results that are very measurable,” said Charles Blaschke, managing director of Taka Solutions of his company’s victory. “I think the judges liked to see that the company was real, could deliver, has succeeded and is scalable.”
Now in its second year, The Venture finds candidates through a series of regional competition rounds – including in the GCC – and culminates in a global final in New York. As the Gulf’s winner, Taka Solutions will take part in an intensive accelerator week, hosted at Oxford University by the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship, in March. There, the company will benefit from advice, insight and mentoring from expert entrepreneurs and business leaders. In July Taka Solutions will represent the Gulf region in the final, where it will compete for a share of The Venture’s $1m fund.
“We’ve been pedal to the metal for two years now,” said Chris Burkhardt, operations director for Taka Solutions. “Everyday there is something to do, everyday there is something new to prepare for. There are so many things we skipped and so many things we need to learn as well, so maybe [the accelerator week] will give us a chance to catch up, learn some of the intricacies of business and to deploy them to make ourselves better.”
Each finalist had to show how their fledgling company benefits society, and explain how it helps to solve a problem. Assessed across five criteria – purpose, viability, scalability, practicality and credentials – all finalists had to present themselves and their business and then stand up to being grilled by The Venture’s judging panel.
“There were pretty clear criteria that we were judging against,” said Soushiant Zanganehpour, global advisor for The Venture and member of the GCC judging panel. “The finalists all had great stage presence and were passionate about their ideas, but I think what made Taka Solutions more competitive than others was that they had a very solid business. They demonstrated it could produce a lot of social impact that was quantifiable and that they could produce it at scale.”