POLINA VASILENKO, FOUNDER AND CEO OF HELIOREC
This week, we are privileged to speak with Polina Vasilenko, a passionate environmental entrepreneur determined to “make this world a better place”. After more than 14 years of experience in the oil and gas sector, Polina decided to take a career shift to the renewables sector and set up her own project. She is the Founder and CEO of HelioRec, a French-based startup delivering a new zero waste floating solar technology. Awarded with the first “Women in Tech” International prize and having completed a new testing milestone with the technology model at wave tank in Ecole Centrale de Nantes, the next step for HelioRec is to set up a pilot project in the Netherlands.
Polina Vasilenko #SheLeadsTheChange
- What is your project about and what do you love about it?
HelioRec is a cleantech industrial startup focusing on the generation of green electricity from a cutting-edge floating solar technology. I am passionate about sustainabiity and renewable energy in general.
- How does contribute to improve the environment?
First of all we produce clean energy, saving land space, but on top of that our technology has some extra multifunctional features like charging stations for EVs and parking places for boats and jet skies etc. Another unique feature is our construction model based on circular economy standards, we use recycled plastic and we do not generate waste in the process.
- What other women have inspired you in your career?
I do not have any in the field of cleantech, but I admire Ayumi Moore Aoki for her energy and passion to close the gender gap in STEM.
- What challenges have you face in your entrepreneurial journey that could help others?
Four key things for me are: the team, it is extremely hard to find like-minded people, with the proper set of hard and soft skills. My advice would be to not start the company alone and do it with a co-founder and to be in the right ecosystem or accelerators, incubators. It helps to find good people for your startup development. The lack of funding, typically, if you want to get grants, you need to have co-financing, own money or the support of a business angel. In my case I found an investor from my network, something I would not recommend is to seek VCs money if you do not generate revenue yet. It is difficult tto find paid customers, here my advice would be to look for customers constantly, before even opening the company. It will help to validate your idea and start to generate revenue and after you can raise money with VCs. And last but not least to bear in mind that the devlopment process can be long, so you could run out of cash very fast, especially for hardware startups, typically it takes 5–10 years to become commercially ready.