Leaders Of The Energy Transition – Ep #1
About the Episode: Whether you’re an industry professional, an aspiring entrepreneur, or simply curious about the energy transition, this podcast offers a unique opportunity to learn from the best in the field. Join us as we unlock the minds of these extraordinary leaders, unravel their success stories, and tap into their visions for a more sustainable future..
About KWOTA and the Expert: When it comes to the reuse and recycling of materials like paper and board, KWOTA supports material manufacturers. Using recyclable materials rather than virgin materials for production is a time-consuming and expensive procedure, despite the business’s best efforts. In this podcast, we will be having a conversation with Rain Vaana who’s the CEO and one of the Co-Founders of KWOTA.
Refer to the timestamps provided and click/tap the audio player’s time track above to listen.
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Company Related Questions:
» 00:31 | Can you start by giving a background on yourself and your company?
» 01:23 | What does your business do and what is your market position?
» 02:41 | What is one particular challenge you’ve come across/overcome as a business?
» 03:58 | What is one thing about your business/service offering that you think can withstand the test of time? What makes your business unique in that sense?
» 07:00 | What is your unique attribute that sets you aside from the competition?
Personal Experience Questions:
» 09:10 | Can you talk about a challenge that you have overcome within your career?
» 10:23 | When you were stepping down as CEO, was there any doubt in your mind about doing this start-up?
» 11:30 | How would you overcome these doubts when you were going through them?
» 13:34 | If you could give yourself advice 15-20 years ago, what would it be?
» 15:01 | Have you got anything to say for someone who’s looking to start a career in the energy transition or to step up?
Q: Can you start by giving a background on yourself and your company?
Rain Vaana: I’m the CEO and one of the co-founders of KWOTA. Before that, I worked for more than 15 years as a CEO for different international companies and my last job was with a Swedish family-owned recycling company called Raveen Celis, I was the CEO of Estonian and Latvian operations, and I was also part of their group operations in Scandinavia. We were operating in five different countries, handling more than 6 million tons of different types of materials and waste every year.
Q: What does your business do and what is your market position?
Rain Vaana: There are actually two major obstacles that our society is facing. One of these is Global Warming which is due to the excess of CO2 emission gases and the other different types of gases polluting our air, and the second obstacle is Material Scarcity. We are using a lot of resources but we don’t have any idea yet how to make it circular. KWOTA takes care of the CO2 emission part, we have a solution to support reducing CO2 emissions now. We also take care of the scarcity, we know how to make material production more circular.
Q: What is one particular challenge you’ve come across/overcome as a business?
Rain Vaana:The first challenge that everybody’s talking about, we hear a lot about this. You know we should do something about the emissions, we do, but what we should do is something with circularity. But eventually when you dive into this, and you start to speak with industries, and you start to look at the actual numbers. So how much we can do today? So, for example in material recovery or reusing of materials, we produce more than 100 billion tons of materials, and only 7.2% is circled back to production and this is getting worse every year. And the reason is quite simple. We don’t have the circular solutions on the market and the other part is here 2 emissions the same so that we have a long-term plan. We know about the Paris climate agreement; we know that we should do something. But if you look at the short-term actions, so they don’t help us closer to achieving the Paris climate agreement or avoiding global warming.
Q: What is one thing about your business/service offering that you think can withstand the test of time? What makes your business unique in that sense?
Rain Vaana: Imagine that we will always use materials, we will always consume goods, so it must be circular forever. So, KWOTA’s role there is sort of embedded already into this because when we want to make sure that we are becoming circular so for the next 50 years KWOTA services is needed because there somebody should incentivize these producers to be circular. Now, producers are not driven to be circular. Sometimes they are punished to be circular. But I want this business case, you know, you will be more successful when you are reusing materials. Customers will want to buy more of your products, you will earn CO2 emission savings when quota 70s on the market.
Q: What is your unique attribute that sets you aside from the competition?
Rain Vaana: One major problem that we are solving this is the increasing the amount of CO2 emissions and KWOTA will do everything we can to reduce these amounts, so there are many companies on the market that sort of offer the same service. There is a nature-based product and there is direct air capture. So, we are somewhere in between these so-called competitors, but, they are in the same market, and they are all solving the same problem. But what we do differently is two things. First, I haven’t discovered any other company now on the market focusing on the circularity of material recovery. So KWOTA’s uniqueness is about that. We are focusing on medieval increasing material recycling rates and therefore savings on emissions. That’s one thing, and the and the other part is that Effect when with some products on the market you could say that this will happen in 10 or 20 years with KWOTA. It will happen today as soon as the production company will switch from Virgin to recycling the reduction of CO2 emissions is immediate. So, you have the different products on the market, one that is immediate, this is KWOTA and then you have products also that will take effect in 20 years. Both are needed. They are totally different in their solution.
Q: Can you talk about a challenge that you have overcome within your career?
Rain Vaana: Stepping down from the CEO position of Big International Company and becoming a startup or so, is a huge transition. Because at first there were 2 founders and nobody else. But when you have worked more than 15 years as a CEO of international companies, so you get used to certain perks. You always have assistance. You always have these people around you that you are so good at delegating things to them. And finally, when we were founding KWOTA. There is nobody and that you would need to start from scratch, and this is a humbling experience, and you need to learn to sell again. The product you are developing because when you are CEO you usually say all the time that you are a sales guy and you’re promoting your company and so forth. But eventually when you become a startup, or you understand that that’s not true. So sometimes, yes, it’s good. Nice to speak with the other CEOs and tell them about your product. But in KWOTA on the startup level, you must do it every day, every minute
Q: When you were stepping down as CEO, was there any doubt in your mind about doing this start-up?
Rain Vaana: There are always people who have doubts and when you step down from something you are in that is such a comfortable place. You are known in society, Journalists are calling to have your opinion, You are invited to all these beautiful events and so forth. So, there is a lot of cushions around you and when you start to think about being a small entrepreneur at first, you know startups grow. But at first, you are very small. Then you have all these thoughts. Can I do it? Do I have what it takes to be entrepreneurial? Because this is like my first time. In ages to have my own company, so all the doubts in the world, and about your self-esteem when I’m stepping down, I’m not the CEO anymore. I’m sort of in a sense, nobody. And then you need to overcome this and find joy in different things than what you were used to.
Q: How would you overcome these doubts when you were going through them?
Rain Vaana: I think many people can relate to your no matter what changes you make in life. So, if there is a mission and you have a clear vision of where you want to go with this, then it’s much, much easier. It doesn’t make it very easy in general but at least when you have a mission and in a difficult moment you think OK, this is just a small step to overcome because, in the long run, I know what I want to achieve. So, the mission for us from day one was to accelerate material reuse.
Q: If you could give yourself advice 15-20 years ago, what would it be?
Rain Vaana: The same advice is making it count but at the same time don’t forget to enjoy life so work hard. Play hard that’s the way I like to live and there must be time to relax and there must be time to go crazy with work and start this is a great place because you can do both.
Q: Have you got anything to say for someone who’s looking to start a career in the energy transition or to step up?
Rain Vaana: I would like to emphasize that one is what you can do about your career and the other one the other thing is what you can do about the environment surrounding you. There are no obstacles, just be brave. It will hurt, especially at first. But if you have a great mission, it doesn’t matter. It will blow over and you will eventually enjoy life much, much more and the same with the environment. You know, we could say that hey, we still have time and let’s do something in the future. But actually, we’re talking about the survival of humanity if we don’t act now.
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