Starting a business can be a daunting prospect for any young entrepreneur – Let alone building a low-carbon startup with its own set of challenges.

Low-Carbon Startup
Tom with his innovation ‘Breathaboard’.

For example, it is much more difficult for a business within the renewable energy sector to access finance as there are fewer financial providers specialising in those areas within the UK.

Tom Robinson, the founder of low-carbon startup Adaptavate, developed ‘Breathaboard’ back in 2013 as a biodegradable alternative to plasterboard to enhance sustainable housing.

Breathaboard aims to mitigate CO2 driven climate change by locking carbon into the fabric of buildings and saving energy.

His innovative idea has brought him several accolades, which includes winning the 2015 Shell LiveWIRE ‘Young Entrepreneur of The Year’ award.

He shares his top 10 tips on how to build a green business from the ground up as a young entrepreneur.


Number 1 – Get Going

There are so many people out there that I speak to with great, game-changing ideas and inventions or services. We are at a time when we need innovative solutions to help overcome challenges such as climate change and energy security, so turn that idea into a business by just getting started.

Number 2 – Find Your Passion

If it gets you going right at the pit of your stomach or fired up in your heart – then you would look forward to getting up every day and dealing with the rollercoaster of emotions that comes with starting your own business. Passion, along with persistence, is a powerful combination.

Number 3 – Immerse Yourself In The Industry

You’ve got to know who and what you are up against and, more importantly, with whom you can collaborate. It is essential to understand the trends in the industry and how it may be changing. This enables you to have the knowledge to remain nimble, which is an advantage for any startup.

Number 4 – Be Sure About Where You Want Your Business To Go

Have a vision in your mind and keep hold of that. Without a point to aim for, you can become lost and go in too many different directions. It’s navigation 101 – set the bearing and head towards it.

Number 5 – Don’t Be Afraid To Be Innovative In A Conservative Sector

From my point of view, the construction sector is inherently conservative. This could be viewed as a disadvantage, but we see it as an opportunity to make dynamic, game-changing ideas, products, and companies really stand out and attract people’s attention.

Little by little, things are starting to change and more and more people are taking notice. Just take a look at mobile phones, which people thought were unnecessary once upon a time.

Low-Carbon Startup
Immerse yourself in the industry to be able to understand the ever-changing trends.

Number 6 – Apply For Grants, Awards and Accelerators

We have been extremely fortunate to have benefited from a range of accelerators, grants, and support, which have been instrumental in helping us to get Breathaboard off the ground. Having an external support can help you connect with like-minded people and businesses.

Number 7 – Ride The Rollercoaster And Relish The Ups and Downs

Starting a business is an awesome experience – full of highs and lows, which is one of the best and worst things about it. But don’t worry about the lows. Learn from them and ensure that they help you hit even higher highs.

Number 8 – Focus On How Your Product Can Help Consumers Instead Of What It Does

As inventors and entrepreneurs, we can become obsessed with what our ‘thing’ does, but this isn’t what most people engage with.

They want to hear about how it can help them, by improving their lives, processes, businesses or saving them money. If we become preoccupied with the technical performance of our products or service then we don’t allow people to see the real benefits.

Number 9 – Don’t Be Afraid To Make Mistakes

Mistakes are part of the journey and it will help you improve your product and business pitch. Just make sure to always reflect on how you could have done something better and learn from them.

Number 10 – Surround Yourself With Friends And Mentors Whose Opinions You Trust

As a business founder, it can often be just you with the ‘whole weight of the world’ on your shoulder. Find people that you respect and know well who can be informed advisors to you.

From business advisors to your partners – these are the people that can help you through and share the roller coaster journey with you. Listen, take advice on board, and turn it into action. 

Exclusive content for I Am New Generation Magazine by Tom Robinson, founder of Adaptavate.

Images – Unsplash


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