How else did placing as a finalist impact Field Factors?
It’s about so much more than just the grant! The biggest value has been the boost for our team. Building a business from scratch is tough: it’s not easy, especially the first years when you hear ‘No’ a lot! It’s hard to go against the status quo and come up with new solutions. Having someone believe in us was affirmation that we’re going in the right direction, and a reason to believe even more in what we’re doing. Postcode Lotteries Green Challenge also resulted in a lot of media attention which is always good. In our field, public awareness is important: municipalities need to know about us, but also everyone using public spaces. The mentorship programme also came just at the right time - that perspective has been so useful. Specifically, we used the prize money to develop smart monitoring systems, equipping our systems with sensors for remote operation and control.
How has Coronavirus has impacted your start-up?
It’s been a big shock for us all. I'm an optimist, and so I want to believe that this situation will help us see things differently, especially in terms of business and sustainability. It's nonetheless difficult for entrepreneurs and young companies, because the economy has paralysed. Our projects are all longterm - they're linked to construction, for example, or new urban development projects. So I’m more concerned about the decisions being made now for the coming years. Another thing is building relationships: I’ve learnt that so much of what we do is about personal relationships, and people believing in what we’re doing. When we don’t have traditional ways to build relationships, I wonder what will happen?
Any advice for start-ups considering entering Postcode Lotteries Green Challenge next year?
Just do it! I didn’t believe we’d get so far, so just give it a try - it’s a nice process, and can have a great impact on your team. The boost it gives you as entrepreneurs is priceless! Timing is important: it’s not just a case of filling in an application form and seeing what happens; you need to know your story. That’s something that also makes the whole application process joyful. Make it compelling, make it personal, show your team and who you are - that’s what this challenge is all about. And if you get to become a finalist, make the most of the visibility, and take the moment to celebrate as a team. It’s so important!