Gunel Aghabayli, Co-founder of CO2Catalyser startup, Ph.D. candidate at the University of Edinburgh, School of Engineering, Institute for Energy Systems.
GUNEL, TELL US ABOUT CO2CATALYSER PLEASE. HOW DOES YOUR PROJECT MAKES DIFFERENCE?
Global warming and climate change concerns have triggered global efforts to reduce the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2). Carbon dioxide capture and storage (CCS) is considered a crucial strategy for meeting CO2 emission reduction targets. So there are growing interests in CO2 capture and our startup CO2Catalyser (me and supervisor Dr. Yusif Abdullayev) is focused on capturing CO2 emissions by conversion of CO2 to the chemicals that have high demand in industry.
CO2 is known as the cheapest carbon source, but utilization of this material is not viable because of the precious metal catalyst high cost. We use naturally abundant electrochemical (natural available mineral) catalyst for CO2 conversion. In such processes, CO2 is converted to valuable organic products currently accessed from petrochemical processing. One of these organic products is ethanol/ methanol – fuels for future cars.
Compared to the efficiency, cost and durability of other global market products/competitors, CO2CATALYSER offers a groundbreaking advantage, which is 3 times more effective, 2 times more durable than other catalysts, and 6 times cheaper to manufacture. The prototype of the product includes a batch reactor and a special electrode designed for carbon dioxide reduction.
When applied globally, the CO2CATALYSER invention promises to dramatically reduce the ever-growing industrial emission of CO2 for more than 85% of the world, which will have a direct positive impact on global warming.
WAS IT DIFFICULT TO FIND SPONSORS TO SUPPORT YOUR IDEA?
To be honest with you, from my point of view, to find sponsors for your idea is harder than to do experiments and analysis. Because you are the only one that know what is the idea about and it will work or not. To explain your idea to others is the hardest part of startups. I have faced with it when we start to join startup competitions like “New Idea 2017” and “ClimateLaunchpad 2017” in Baku. However, once you get the main tricks, how it works, and then everything starting to be slightly better than before.
Nevertheless, the problem with sponsors never leaves your project until you will start to make more money. Once you will make a profit, I guess it is a bit easier.
WHAT WOULD BE YOUR ADVICE TO THOSE WOMEN WHO WANT TO LAUNCH THEIR OWN STARTUPS? WHAT IS THE KEY TO SUCCESS?
Starting a business is not easy, especially for women. Whether it is picking a business idea, creating a business plan, making appointments or attempting to secure funding, many things can go wrong and you will find that it affected your motivation at the end. However, with a solid idea and a strong support system and team, each woman can become a successful entrepreneur.
My Advice to those women who wants to start their own business: Try to make everything simple and not complicated.
If you do not have, any idea then just look around and you will see many problems that waiting for their solutions.
Sometimes it is not obvious because people get used to live with them. Therefore, your first target have to be simple rising those issues and showing others that can be actually better.
Only after showing the problem try to share with them your own solution and possibilities.
Secondly, tell everyone what you are doing. When I say “everyone” it literally everyone that around you: you friends, family members, colleagues etc. because people around us actually our first customers that listening us. If your idea is simple and understandable enough for them, then well done, you passed first exam. After this, you have to follow several other steps to success such as be decisive, identify your customers, create list of goals, find a mentor or someone that already has experience in this area, have networking and at the end don’t be afraid.