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Two Start-Ups: The Story of Resilience

Entrepreneur brings you the most fascinating story of resilience of these two start-ups
Two Start-Ups: The Story of Resilience
Image credit: Entrepreneur
Entrepreneur Staff
7 min read

It is not easy to build a startup. It never has been. The media tends to glamorize entrepreneurship, making it seem like a walk in the park and boom… you have become a millionaire overnight. This has resulted in a tendency to drastically underestimate what it takes for new entrepreneurs to build a successful startup.

Few startups manage to evolve from concept into reality—with studies confirming 70% and 90% fail within five years.Nevertheless, there are risk-takers who overcome the challenges. In this article, we want to recount the journeys of two resilient start-ups that beat the odds, ultimately succeeding in the market. 

No 1. SolSuntech, Inc.

SolSuntech team spent more than 10 years in South Korea developing a unique technology. After almost a decade of R&D SolSuntech presented in 2018 the revolutionary 3D solar cells with an ultra-high 33% efficiency, while the productivity of other solar cells on the market is limited to about 18-22%.

Back in 2011, when SolSuntech team began developing the world’s first 3D solar cell, they faced a difficult task of preserving its solid, fracture-free structure. In fact, many people thought this technology could not be developed for commercial usage. Every time they attempted to cut the cell, they ended up with microscopic cracks that greatly decreased efficiency. With failure after failure, thousands of hours of work seemed wasted. The team knew that the key was to create a technology, which would be accurate enough to cut the silicon with a laser precision without fracturing and deforming it, and at the same time prevent overheating of the silicon.

Through years of painstaking research, and investment of nearly 7.5 million dollars, SolSuntech perfected the machines that cut silicon in a specific way without fracturing it, so that the integrity of the 3D corrugated cells remains solid and undamaged. SolSuntech became the first company to come up with the innovation of cutting silicon wafers with diamond wire.

“When you invent something that no one else has it’s always a big win and a reason for celebration,” said Lou Kraft, SolSuntech’s Chief Executive Officer. “When you stick with it for years until you get it right always keeping your eye on the prize and knowing that it's possible to solve this puzzle and then you finally achieve it, that is more satisfying than anything you could compare it to.”Rapidly outpacing the market in optimizing the efficiency of solar cells, SolTech’s goal is to attain a minimum of 500 mW to satisfy the escalating worldwide demand for clean energy.

No 2. Academia Book Buyers.

Upon college graduation, Braxton Amundson decided to dedicate his early 20s to travel and self-discovery. EstablishingAcademia Book Buyers, he began trading college textbooks across the country, making enough profit to support his adventurous lifestyle.

After several years of trading, Amundson decided to expand his emergent business. He took a loan, rented a warehouse, hired employees and bought more books. Unexpectedly, expenses started piling up, and increasing operating costs and salaries threatened his business’s financial solvency. With barely $800 dollars in his bank account, he ended up owing his employees nearly 4K. This is one pivotal point, according to the study, where 70%-90% businesses fail.

What had been a promising business turned into a nightmare. Braxton struggled to increase  revenue, ashamed that his while employees looked to him for leadership, he seemed to have no control over the crisis.“Everything was falling apart. At some point, I remember having a panic attack: I did not foresee so many problems coming at once.”

Refusing to give up, Amundson slept in his truck to save money and kept implementing new strategies to increase revenue, while his 72-year-old dad was running in and out of the post office to complete book orders. At this critical moment, the emotional support from his family encouraged Braxton to maintain a more positive outlook. 

“Having this emotional support from my father and other family members was really supporting me. Every time they acknowledged how proud they were about me doing stuff on my own, even when I messed up,” said Braxton. “Without a doubt, it helped me to deal with the challenges.”

After a few months of grappling with the crisis, Braxton met fellow entrepreneur, Nate Goebel, who had a steadier infrastructure and more experience in the bookselling industry. Together, as Academia Book Buyers, they created a new marketing plan, paid off all the debts and increased business revenue by nearly 80 percent.

Now, Braxton not only sells textbooks but also acts as a life coach. Using his rich life experience and lessons learned from business mistakes, he motivates people to overcome obstacles in pursuing their own passions.

“My journey gave me many insights on life: I look at every mistake and every interaction as both a blessing and a gift as they are all learning opportunities,” said Amundson. “I begin each and everyday with the question: ‘What gifts and learning opportunities have I yet to experience?’

Braxton inspires others to have courage and take full responsibility in their life. The victim mindset, he believes, dilutes human potential. By not accepting personal responsibility for the circumstances, people dangerously reduce their potential to change them.

“In order to make a change, we first need to take ownership for all our actions and see the situation as a mirror of our decisions and our inner being.  What we see isn’t the world as it is, but the world as we are. When I can take ownership for my actions, I am able to make a change; otherwise, I am just playing a victim.”

“We are excited about our invention and our will to now put it into production and make the world a better place freeing up some more clean air to breathe while keeping the ever-growing energy needs of the world satisfied with a high level of new product solutions,” said Kraft.

Despite limitations on resources, energy consumption is constantly growing. Pollution caused by the traditional energy production has increased the demand for solar panels—thus,SolSuntech is poised to take the lead in the U.S. and global market.

Perhaps, the most crucial challenge for every company is funding and competition. However, before seeking investors, a startup must become visible and recognizable. “First of all, you need to become visible online and in the minds of prospective partners and clients. You must offer something unique, a world-class service that will make people talk about you, something absolutely different and terrific, unmatched design, artistic vision” said Valentin Saitarli, partner in Exclusive PR Solutions. The company operates internationally offering a one-stop world-class business solution such as branding, media and public relations services, ads buying, press release distribution and full stack web development.

According to Saitarli, “In the case of SolSuntech, there is a unique technology, unmatched by any other company in the world. As for Academia Book Buyers, there is leadership. Interestingly, what unites these two companies is the people behind them and their unwavering commitment.”

There are no shortcuts to success in any business. But as proven by these two resourceful entrepreneurs, with innovation, hardwork and leadership, startups can beat the odds.

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