We talked to Ion Padilla of WeGaw about addressing the problem of the lack of high reliable snow data in the mountains, and he had the following to say:-
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Ion Padilla: Everybody is good and safe.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded WeGaw.
Ion Padilla: My background is in Software Engineering. After finishing my studies in the UK, I moved to Switzerland to work as an engineer at CERN. After CERN, I moved to a more business-oriented role in Hewlett-Packard as a business consultant. At that point, I started being really interested in entrepreneurship, and I decided to co-found WeGaw to address the problem of the lack of high reliable snow data in the mountains.
Slowly but steadily, moving in different markets like Tourism or Insurance, we realized the most promising market was the energy market, as this was speaking to the core problem of how to envision water availability.
How does WeGaw innovate?
Ion Padilla: For the first time, we combine remote sensing satellite data technology with deep learning in order to be able to measure snow and water datasets purely from space, without any hardware or local weather datasets. This allows us to help our clients anywhere on the planet.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Ion Padilla: During the pandemic, oil prices hit a low record, even negative for the first time, which made all energy utilities to re-do their innovation strategy and dry the majority of budgets. After the initial stages of the pandemic were behind, we started to work with energy utilities to demonstrate how without any additional infrastructure, our data could deliver results.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Ion Padilla: Difficulties are always good for lesson learning. We learned to be austere and optimize our costs. In a way, it helped us in connecting more with our customers to deliver real value, as there was not much cash to be spent on experimental projects.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Ion Padilla: As we decided to reduce as many costs, we were not using many fancy tools. The key was to engage constantly with customers, partners, and internally ourselves. We were constantly doing virtual coffees and drinks to make sure everybody on the team was mentally stable, giving some of us were in forced quarantine for some time.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Ion Padilla: Our competitors are mainly the old-school way of doing things. Usually, energy companies can get access to similar data themselves by setting up fieldwork teams to measure snow. However, we can provide a constant stream of high-quality data that will funnel their digitalization journey, and if that was not enough, our dataset is more accurate. Helping reduce costs and derive much better results.
Your final thoughts?
Ion Padilla: Entrepreneurship and startup founding is, and has always been, a showcase for perseverance and grit. In the end, the winners are the ones that manage to make the boat float when in front of the biggest storm.
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