Guido van Tartwijk tells us about turning Heliatek’s vision into reality & enabling the world to accelerate the transition to green & sustainable solar power.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Guido van Tartwijk: Fingers crossed, we are all in good physical health. I believe, however, that everybody is starting to become a bit fatigued mentally because of the ongoing social limitations. Especially for young adults, I hope that we will soon return to a more normal situation.
Tell us about you, your career, how you joined Heliatek?
Guido van Tartwijk: I am originally from the Netherlands, have a physics education, and love bringing high-tech innovations to market. I have worked in several start-ups in the USA and Europe before spending considerable time in globally active (LED) Lighting companies, which brought me to China (10 years), Austria, and (again) to the USA. I joined Heliatek as CEO about 2.5 years ago, and my objective is to turn Heliatek’s vision into reality and enable the world to accelerate the transition to fully green & sustainable solar electricity.
How does Heliatek innovate?
Guido van Tartwijk: We innovate by linking a world-class level of expertise in organic solar cells to excellent market insight and authentic customer relations. In our initial phase of commercial operations, we work with visionary customers who fully embrace our vision and want to be part of this. We bring our innovations to market by a fully in-house process from laboratory to mass-production. Our brand-new series production line is the first of its kind and is built around a roll-to-roll process in a vacuum, which we have found to be essential in delivering to market requirements. Our technology enables innovative solar solutions for existing and new applications, where conventional PV reaches their limits or may not be practical or even possible. Our products are ultra-lightweight, flexible, ultra-thin and truly green. 2021 is an important milestone for Heliatek, where we start our commercial operations from our brand-new manufacturing line.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Guido van Tartwijk: Like I believe most companies, the pandemic affected all areas of private and professional life. As a company, we had to cope with travel restrictions, more remote work, and strict health measurements. We learned to cope with this situation with everyone’s contribution and mutual support. We consider ourselves fortunate that we have been able to continue on our path, albeit a bit slower.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Guido van Tartwijk: We are in the process of ramping-up our series production for mass producing our organic solar films. The strict health measurements require more remote work to protect all our employees, which is difficult for some jobs, especially in the production environment. To find the right balance between employee’s protection and business interest is not always an easy decision. We are grateful for the tremendous flexibility of our employees, without whom we would never have been able to proceed so well.
What specific tools, software and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Guido van Tartwijk: It’s very simple. We openly communicate with our employees and stakeholders about our challenges and how we try to master them. This creates transparency and credibility. Even though communication tools are now much more used than before the pandemic, authenticity and transparency remain the essential ingredients to navigate any crisis with your team.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Guido van Tartwijk: We respect our competitors, and we wish them all the best as this crisis is continuing. We focus on continuing our journey with existing and new customers and on the execution of our roadmap to continuously improve our offer.
Your final thoughts?
Guido van Tartwijk: Nobody can predict how long the COVID-19 crisis will last nor how the ‘new normal’ will be. We wish every reader to stay healthy and to be ready to embrace the future.