Parveen Begum is the CEO of Solisco, a start-up company that launched in 2016 with a mission to inspire and support the emerging Electric Vehicle (EV) market with innovative solutions that harness the power of the sun.
Her EV journey began when she was headhunted to work for electric car maker Tesla, while working at luxury clothing brand Burberry. While she says her entrepreneurial journey has been testing she was recently awarded the Forbes ‘30 under 30’ European title for the category of Manufacturing and Industry.
What do you currently do at Solisco?
Being a CEO of a start-up business means you take on a handful of other roles. From leadership, to marketing, to sales and business development, not to mention the administration that comes with any venture too; I have been juggling through various tasks over the years. I must highlight that for many people this can become quite overwhelming but for me, this has certainly been my style of working. I like a challenge and I also thrive on high pressure. I enjoy the variety of work; being creative and innovative gives me the boost to then sit for hours working on technical and more demanding tasks
What was the inspiration behind your business?
My inspiration for Solisco first sprung from my love for electric cars! When I first started working at Tesla the company was still in its infancy. I learnt about EVs inside out and went through the roles of product specialist, to marketing and then eventually sales advisor, exceeding over five million pounds worth of sales in the few months of being appointed. Being involved in and witnessing Tesla grow to become trail blazers really gave me the ambition to start a business to support electromobility.
I started with a few ideas but many of them had already been done in some shape or form or didn’t feel original enough. Then, one day, having spoken to an early adopter of a Model S, who had built his own solar carport before taking delivery of his first electric car, inspired me to think about this type of infrastructure for those who were seeking renewable ways to power as opposed to relying on the grid which is a mix of all sorts of dirty fuels. It made sense to me that if I was on one hand championing the uptake of electric vehicles, then surely, I should be also seeking solutions that are as green as possible when it came to recharging.
Who do you admire?
That’s easy – Elon Musk! Of course I am biased as he was the CEO of the last company I worked for; but honestly, before my time at Tesla, I read about Elon; his previous ventures, struggles and how he overcame the challenges. I was so inspired that a single person could make such a difference and work towards such big goals that I put it in my mind that I would do my best to ace the four interviews that I had lined up ahead of me to become an employee of his organisation, and secondly, that I would work towards my own ‘big goals’ eventually.
I didn’t just want to be a single tiny battery cell in the chassis of the many thousands of other battery cells; I wanted to be a free-thinking, creative being who could be inspired by ideas and have the tenacity and courage to follow through with those ideas, to bring about positive change.
Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently?
I’m not one to look back and dwell or regret – I have a firm belief that everything that happens, happens for the best. Following my intuition has always served me well and there are many decisions that I’ve taken in life; which at the time, I was quite indecisive about, but later along the way, I’ve thanked myself for doing so as it lead me to so many great opportunities and life experiences.
Many of my friends at university, during my first year of studying for a Law degree, thought I was crazy when I told them I was dropping out. For them, I was wasting a fantastic opportunity of becoming a Solicitor or Barrister, – for me, I was wasting three more years of my life doing something I was not passionate about! And that terrified me. Instead I decided to take up a position as a Manager for Burberry and build on experience and a wealth of experience I gained. Which then lead me to the doors of my true passion; to be able to make a difference to the world I live in.
What defines your way of doing business?
In both of my experiences with selling EVs at Tesla and renewable charging at Solisco, the most important thing I’ve found is first and foremost – you must educate and inspire ideas. Without this, a customer can be sold many products or services, but really without the adequate knowledge, they won’t be able to get the entire benefits. Solisco has spent most of its early years creating the education and inspiring others; be it industry, government, or end users.
We participated in a lot of roundtable discussions to shape policy and regulation, as did we attend and often times present at summits and conferences around the world to provide thought leadership. Only now are we starting to get real traction with our products and services; having consulted with multi-million pound organisations and equally with local authorities and public entities; to carefully design and plan the infrastructure projects of the future.
What advice would you give to someone starting out?
My advice for anyone starting out in this particular industry of electromotility and clean technology is be prepared to learn and continue to learn as it is an ever evolving space. That’s what I love about it – from one day to the next, new ideas are being bought to the table, new innovations and plenty of room for new business. Once you realise you are playing a part in improving the future for the generations to come, for our planet, it gives you a sense of purpose and determination and this is what’s needed to create the change we require.
For anyone who is starting out in any business regardless of industry, my main advice is don’t wait until you are 100% ready to go for it – if you have an idea, and you are even 60% along the way – just run with it; you will be amazed that once you get started, a lot of things fall into place naturally. Oh, and another tip – get together with a group of “masterminds” on your ideas, as Napoleon Hill once suggested – you alone don’t need to be an expert in everything, but as long as you have key experts around the table, your mission should run smoothly! Good luck!