Caritta Seppa: Forgiving yourself is the key to self-resilience

Caritta Seppa is the Co-founder and COO of Tespack, a company specialized in mobile energy to make everyone Energy Independent. She is currently responsible for the company’s day-to-day management and oversees the financials, operations, suppliers, import/export and closing partnerships, and managing investor relations and capital raising. Caritta was selected as one of the Top 100 Women in Wearables in 2018, awarded as Top 10 Entrepreneur Under 30 in 2017 by Global YE Awards, and one of the Winning Women Entrepreneurs in Europe 2017 by EY. She was awarded as one of the Top 10 Women in Tech 2017 by WSC and Craigs Newmark. She is the winner of the WSC competition Finland 2017 and Global Female Founders Start Tel Aviv competition 2016. She was shortlisted by Forbes 30 Under 30 Europe 2018 under the “Industry” category.

[Below is the transcript of interview that is edited for clarity.]

Sotheary: Welcome to the Next Women Generation. Today I have Caritta Seppa with us, who paves the way for universal energy independence. She is the co-founder and Chief Operation Officer of Tespack, a company created in 2013, with a vision to make energy mobile and develop products that can power all professionals’ needs under any circumstances with clean energy. Hello, Caritta! Welcome to Next Women Generation.

Caritta: Thank you so much. My pleasure to be here.

Sotheary: It is such an honor for me to have you with the Next Women Generation. I’ll start with what is your motivations and aspirations behind the Tespack?

Caritta: Everything started from our CEO and co-founders Mario’s experience back in South America when he worked in Special Forces. He would go on deployment and spend several days and even weeks in the middle of nowhere.

I met him and our third co-founder, Yesika Robles, in London. We attend the same university, but at different times and topics. I really got intrigued and excited about the idea of powering people by making every individual energy independent. 

If we look around the world, there are still over 1 billion people with no electricity access. This is directly linked to having no access to health care, education, citation, clean water, and so on.

We believe that portable energy would be the enabler that allow us to provide better access to all the other basic amenities that we all should have equal access to. That’s basically how everything started. Again, we’ve been now growing, working together, and having the mission that, in the future, every individual has access to their own energy needs.

At the moment you step outside your house, Tespack would allow you to create energy sustainably and efficiently utilizing different green energy sources. In the past year, one of our goals has been to support different agencies, organizations, and NGOs to provide better access to education in remote locations. Now during COVID-19 is more important than ever to ensure that nobody’s left behind everyone would have this equal access to education. Having access to electricity remains a vital part of this.

Sotheary: How does your company promote access to education and healthcare services?

Caritta: About a year and a half ago, we were approached by Plan International. It’s one of the largest NGOs. They face challenges when they work in remote locations, such as collecting data, conducting workshops, and training in remote locations when there is no access to electricity.

This inspired us to develop a new type of solution conductor, hardware, and software; we call this smart solar medium. What it does is it combines Tronics solar energy and IoT. Any NGO workers can carry everything needed to turn any room or place into a classroom. When you work in a remote location and there is no electricity, you can utilize our solar medium and put it anywhere. It comes from solar panels. They can utilize this energy to power the laptop, the tablet, as well as the projector.  You can provide audiovisual educational content in the middle of nowhere.

In addition to that, we would be able to provide all this information or content and to carry on training and workshops, and basically to teach in any remote locations with our IoT software platform. These NGOs and organizations also track with GPS where the products are and follow how much energy has been created by utilizing solar energy.

Another example is that there is a three months or six months project in a remote location. You can know exactly how much CO2 emissions have been produced during this time. We provide a new way to provide precise data. NGOs can then show their donors to focus on the idea that we need to utilize for different sustainable energy sources. This is one of the key solutions. Right now, we’re working on work with different organizations to provide better access to education.

Sotheary: I want to ask you about your passions to work with Tespack. Some people face challenges to answer to themselves what they want to do in life. So how do you know that this pack is what you want to dedicate your time and resources to do it?

Caritta: I think it’s a very good question. I was one of them. It is Okay, if you don’t see what you want to be doing. With everything that is happening, a lot of people are not sure what they want to do. Let’s say after they graduate, or when they go to university or let’s say lay on impact areas, there’s a lot of uncertainties. There’s also a lot of pressure putting on us already.  

At a young age, we should know what we want to be; what is that passion? But most of us, we don’t know what that is. To me, I think it is okay. When I was in university, I studied international relations. I never had an answer to that question. I never knew what I wanted to do when I was younger. I wanted to be a doctor, or I want to be a lawyer, or I want to be an astronaut. I never had that one thing or certainty to bide long for me to learn what I wanted to be doing and what I’m passionate about. 

How I found my passion is that sometimes we need to be doing things. For example, I used to be a really bad sale. I hated talking with people. I thought that I’m never going to be a good salesperson by working with one of these telecommunications companies back in London. I was putting myself out there and not being afraid of or embarrassed myself. This taught me so much. It made me realize that sometimes the things that we hated can turn out to be the things that we love today.

Now I love working with people. I only found my passion by going through those experiences. In the beginning, I thought that was one of the worst things to be doing. I think how we can find our passion is by trying something new or by doing the things we’re scared of. Everything started with tests.

I was so intrigued, and I loved the passion of Mario. It was so contagious that I drawn into the whole vision that he had. Today I read what is happening. I don’t know what is going to happen in the years to come. Some of the most exciting things that we can go through are keeping always having an open mind and trying out things. 

Overall, it’s okay if you don’t know what’s going to happen in the future or what we will be doing in the future. The most important thing is to have an open mind and try everything.

Sotheary: You know, some people are afraid of trying something new or starting something that they haven’t seen anybody done that before. So how do you push yourself out of your comfort zone and then try something new?

Caritta: How you can start doing the things you’re afraid of or stepping outside your comfort zone is taking a small action. You don’t need to do something big, just two short steps at a time. For example, in my case, I was scared of selling; I just learned something small like in one day, I just learned a few new keyboard sentences how to apply and talk to the people. One small step at a time is recorded; I don’t need to do everything simultaneously. Somewhat that embarrass yourself or something from your feeling of humiliation would not last long. But, the sense of greatness, gratitude would be something that lasts forever. And that’s something we should all aim for.

Sotheary: I talked to people in the nonprofit or business field; many have the support system to support them during their challenging time. So how about you? How do you find your support system?

Caritta: That’s one of the first things I would advise: getting a support system or support network. It can be anything from your family, friends, or even just some of these mentors or people you look up to. It would be best if you always had at least someone you can go to when you feel like things are not working out or thinking that something is going wrong. For me, the most effective support system I can add is my co-founders. We have gone through so much; we stand by each other. I can’t be where I am today; I will not be the person I am if there wouldn’t be my fellow co-founders and my family. They have been the ones genuinely pushing me to go forward and always motivated me when I need the most. The best thing that you can have is to have those people that believe in you.

If you don’t have them, it’s also okay. Sometimes our companies might not be the right one or to be the most important. They might have different visions for us, which is sometimes also okay. You can try to join perhaps even other groups like right now there’s a lot of groups. If you’re an entrepreneur or starting a business, there are many unique online groups that you can join. There’s a lot of patient programs that you can find some similar like-minded people. You can get on tap, and then you can share your experiences. So it’s okay if it’s not always your closest friends or family, but there’s a lot of opportunities to learn from these people. 

What is essential is that always have some other people you can turn to, most importantly, you can talk to because being an entrepreneur is a very lonely road. You will go through a lot of challenges and problems. It’s vital to have those people who are there to listen to you. I think that’s one of the most important things you can be doing just people you can talk to whenever you feel you need that.

Sotheary: What are the challenges that you face as an entrepreneur?

Caritta: When you have your own company, you rely on yourself. You will depend on your skills; you have to be ready that there might be months, you’re not going to get paid. Everything’s basically on us. It is very different from just working for another company. If you decide to start to launch your own business, what do you need to consider is to have the right people to do it with. One of the biggest challenges during my journey as an entrepreneur is that I have worked a lot with people. It would be best if you made sure that the people who work with you and the team share the same vision with you.  They need to be having the same passion.

For us, we have a motto that we don’t care about the fancy degrees or the fancy certificate or the work experiences you might have had or not. What matters the most is that personality or the attitude you have, basically that can-do attitude and that you’re willing to do your best. Because in the end, skills and talent that can be taught and that can be learned. The attitude you have you basically either have it or you don’t. Having the right chemistry is one of the most important things because you should make sure that the people you work with are the right type of people. This might sound very hard. If you feel already from the beginning after a few days, weeks, or even months that it doesn’t work, you should share it straightaway. You can ask yourself whether this is something that can be used around or not. If not, then it’s better to move on. When you’re growing the company and individually, the people with who you work share the same ideas in our mission that you have. It would help if you also surrounded yourself with different types of people, backgrounds, and talents. Having diversity is another key feature that I believe I can benefit from. It is one of the critical reasons for the success of any company.

Lastly, you will be failing. We read this a lot, and there are many data on this. Failures will teach you a lot. I’d rather see failings more like learning. I think every day; I learn something new. In other words, I fail at something, but it’s okay. As long as we move forward, and we learn from this.

We need to remember to forgive ourselves. Sometimes we will take way too harsh on ourselves, and we need to understand that it’s okay to make some mistakes. It’s also okay if you don’t work 24/7. When you have a startup company, there is a notion that you should work 24 seven. It is okay if you don’t work constantly. It’s okay to take a break and not do anything. So again, it’s just to learn to be more forgiving ourselves. Trying to celebrate all the small successes that we have.

Sotheary: You mentioned about forgiving yourself. For many people, forgiving themselves is very difficult, especially when you’re young or a teenager or early 20s because you try to meet a social standard. How do you forgive yourself? 

Caritta: Even for me today, I think that’s like a learning process that we will never be good at is something that we can constantly be learning. And yes, it’s tough these days, when you keep seeing or reading online about all the fantastic things people are doing and extraordinary achievements, everyone has the degrees and so on.

You might be thinking, ‘Oh, my God, I might be doing enough, I need to be doing more and more and more.’ What you can teach yourself is that I don’t need to be overachieving. It’s okay if I don’t have that fancy degree. But how do you do it? Again, one size doesn’t fit all. What I think that can help is to remember that behind the success stories–what read online, the things that even your friends keep telling you, all the amazing, and the good stuff that you keep hearing or reading–is a massive story there. There may be a thousand different challenges or problems that a person might have gone through. What I have learned is that we will go through many difficulties and a lot of problems. And there’s quite a lot of similarities that we all have. But I mean, nobody wants to share that publicly. We are not going to be reading about any of these as a mean or passing on public radio. People don’t advertise this.

You need to remember and keep that in mind that everyone is going through some bad things in their life. It’s okay for you as well to be going through. It’s okay not to be doing the things. And sometimes, to be honest, we might be saying even that we’re doing these we’re working so hard, but even, in reality, we like to take what somebody who isn’t so, okay. But again, there’s no one way how to teach this to us. We simply need to keep learning about it. And to keep that in mind. 

Sotheary: Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you so much for your time joining me today.

Caritta: Thank you so much for having me. It was such a pleasure to chat with you today.

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