As a business school, our main objective is to enable learning. But as a practical business school, a very important objective is to also enable doing business – developing partnerships, collaborations and even forming new start-ups. And not just with colleagues, but with the expanded community, now counting over 600 members.
During a community event is how Iulia Dorobanțu, a student of our Fast Track Management Program (mini MBA) and Dinu Codescu, a student of our Master in Management met. They realised they have common visions for future businesses and their efforts were then combined into the Charger.ro start-up, that was financed in December 2022 with a 245,000 EUR investment.
We caught up with them to see what Charger.ro is about, what are their future plans and how are they using the know-how from the programs to build their business.
What is Charger and how was it born?
Iulia: Charger.ro is the first end-to-end online platform for smart & green devices. We are building the first integrating platform dedicated to green-tech products, from charging stations for electric and plug-in hybrid cars, to smart city solutions & photovoltaic systems. Charger.ro is bringing a 360-degree approach, from point 0 – through know-how and automated advisory – to matching our clients with funding options or, directly, with local installers & maintenance providers for solutions.
The idea of Charger.ro started from a need of our team. We have a background in architecture, interior design & urban regeneration, so, a somewhat technical background. But when it came to renewable energy or electrical charging solutions, we realised that we are stuck – we didn’t know what devices to recommend & implement in our projects, and it was altogether an extremely complicated process. A chaotic process that took a lot of time, with time and money lost for all parties involved, and where suppliers could not coordinate with each other.
So, we set out with the idea of creating a “place” that aggregates the solutions on the market and a service dedicated to the “green space” that does not depend on the background of the end customer.
What objective is Charger trying to achieve?
Iulia: For the moment, we are focusing on building a talented, strong & passionate team, while scaling up our portfolio of solution providers, the brand, and redesigning the platform. There are many people that joined our mission in the past months, from team members to advisors, collaborators & investors.
Our vision is to shape CE & South Europe’s green energy future by creating the biggest aggregating ecosystem that boosts access to still untapped energy resources through know-how & technology. As mentioned above, our main objective is to bring new technology & alternative devices, in an accessible way, to every individual, first on the Romanian market, and then furthermore.
Did you apply the know-how from the Fast Track Management Program in your day-to-day activity at Charger? How?
Iulia: Yes, of course. I think that the Fast Track Management Program came at the right moment for me. Because I have an academic background in architecture, getting in touch with topics, ideas & people was really good for me to confirm what I have learned by myself – from books or “asking around” for pieces of advice.
Also, because it came in the first months of building the startup, it was really nice & useful to be able to ask for advice both from “teachers” & colleagues, find out about new sources of information, books etc. & learn from past experiences of others. I think that every course had its own contribution, some may be on a shorter term than others, but all definitely brought up interesting debates & new thoughts to think about.
You work with one of our master graduates, Dinu Codescu. What is Dinu doing at Charger and how do you think your common context helped facilitate this collaboration?
Iulia: Dinu actually was our first employee, and he came into the team in the role of technical project manager. He assesses each client’s personal profile & technical context, while helping them choose the right device, and connecting them with the right device & provider at every step of the process.
He came while he was still a student, and at a moment when many things weren’t in place within the company, but with the desire & passion to learn & build together, and I believe that this was what facilitated this collaboration. I think that you have to really believe in a team of people & their crazy big idea, in order to stick around even when we had 0 clients & haven’t proved anything.
Also, I believe that his background in engineering, passion for the solutions in our portfolio, but also in entrepreneurship & building great projects contributed a lot to understanding our mission & joining the team in such an early stage.
Dinu, did you apply the know-how from your Master In Management Program in your day-to-day activity at Charger? How? What is your current role?
Dinu: The know-how from the Master in Management Program was the main aspect that brought me and the Charger.ro’s core team together. While I was a student, I decided to build my marketing final project paper on the Charger.ro roadmap. Hence, building a go-to market strategy and developing a clear market positioning of the company whilst researching the Romanian green-energy sector were the main aspects that made me believe in the project and come onboard.
I am currently holding the Project Manager role in which I combine my initial technical background of electrical & electronic engineering with the management skills accumulated in the Masters programme.
Iulia, what about your network from BISM, did you engage with them?
Iulia: I had the surprise to connect with people that I knew from before within the community, and new people as well. But, I have to say, that all are super enthusiastic & passionate about their work! Now that I think about it, I had the chance to engage both at a personal level, but also professionally, when it was needed. From good advice, to help, and actual discussions for collaboration, they all came in one form or another from the people within the network.
And, let’s not forget about the running team! Also, I believe that the most valuable engagement actually came within the community events, where people from different generations within the network connected & discussed in an interactive way.
What is your advice for entrepreneurs in the green space? What are the 3 dos and don’ts they should pay attention to?
I believe that the green space market & ecosystem is still forming, so I trust the fact that there is still a lot of space for innovation, new ideas & projects. As the “rules” are not yet set in place, my advice would be to pay attention & stay connected to what is happening around now, and to keep in mind an impact in the longer term. I think that this is the right time to make mistakes & try new things as the market creates its new rules & boundaries, and not really for making a perfect choice & product.
However, one thing that we should all pay attention to, though many times we forget about it, it’s the public sector, which will dictate, in my opinion, much of the decisions in the green space in the following months & years.