Once upon a time, there were two guys called Itai and Warren who met whilst studying two different subjects and after becoming acquainted, they realised they had one common vision.
After a couple of joint entrepreneurial projects, splitting their startups into two then going back to freelancing for one another, their income took a hit due to electricity being available in sporadic patterns. So Itai decided to do what all good entrepreneurs do and invest a little of his own money in order to make a lot more money.
The initial idea was for Itai to utilise solar powered electricity at his house so they could both work from there and meet their service deadlines. But, through this process he soon came to realise that there was something lacking in the way customers and solar energy providers in Zimbabwe were interacting. Itai was quoted USD3,000 for a solar power installation by a professional service provider but ended up paying USD800 by using independent electricians and sourcing his own products.
He quickly realised there was a gap in the market to be taken full advantage of and decided to reunite with Warren to lay the foundations of what we now know as Unipower Solar and Unipower Tech. Warren and Itai started out by outsourcing their installation to an existing, reputable solar installation company and even made themselves trainees in their own startup so they could learn from the ground up and build up slowly.
Unsurprisingly, business was going well so they decided to formalise the company structure and ride the wave of their success. After learning the ropes as interns, they rightly so promoted themselves back up to the top and moved onto taking on electricians as employees to build a company. As we get to hear more and more about their startup, it should be pointed out that the pair have something which I feel is lacking in both startups and established businesses.
Many times, I see entrepreneurs becoming slaves to the money or position of being a co-founder so we can’t ignore the pow- erful message that lies within their startup process. Itai says “when we were forming, the main thing we kept asking ourselves is “what need are we trying to solve?” so we always looked at it from the customer’s perspective”.
Let us just take a moment to imagine the amount of conviction they must have to do right by their customers for them to have started out as trainees in their own company. The pair soon found out that most people didn’t have solar installations on their properties due to inadequate information and high prices being charged by installers in Zimbabwe.
Fast forward to 2020, Itai and Warren have built on their knowledge and continue to expand the Unipower brand. They are fast becoming one of Zimbabwe’s leading providers of solar power installation and product provision and have now expanded into other areas.
They offer IT consultancy services and solar power installations with the aim of using technology to solve problems for large and small busi- nesses alike. But of course, it hasn’t all been smooth sailing. I always make a point of asking fellow entrepreneurs what they have found to be their biggest challenges along their journey which I think helps us to appreciate the blood, sweat and tears that go into any startup.
The biggest challenge they faced was turning the ideas into actions whilst trying to factor in all the variables of operating in real life. As the saying goes, the hardest step is the first step but from where I’m standing it looks like they not only took the first step but turned it into a somersault before landing firmly back on their feet.
To witness this kind of success especially during trying times caused by the global Coronavirus pandemic, Unipower continues to push through although Itai says learning how to handle a disaster during a disaster is probably the second biggest challenge they’ve faced.
Unipower is truly a forward thinking operation which I’m confident will change the way a lot of companies operate through leading by example. Itai says “we are not just an IT or solar company, we are a technology company at heart and that means our main goal is to solve problems using technology”. We’ve already seen how they ensure their packages are tailored to each customer’s needs by being customer focussed, but it’s important for us to celebrate how they are also continuously improving their product offerings to ensure they provide nothing but the best service.
I’ve been so humbled to write about these two amazing gentlemen and their story. What I love is that they treat customers as real people dealing with real people providing a service and it’s clear to see there is so much heart in what they do. Itai says “if I was to give my younger self three years ago when we were still starting is, be resilient and don’t give up even when it’s tough. Your plan doesn’t make sense right now and nothing in the plan will work. You’re going to rewrite it a million times but that’s okay”.
A massive well done and congratulations to you both – I’m sure this won’t be the last time we tell your story of success. If you would like to find out more about the services they provide, you can find their website at www.unipower.co.zw, their Facebook page called Unipower Solar Solutions or on Instagram @unipowersolar.
AUTHOR : Blessing Mutamba
Email : email@example.com Instagram : missirelandinternational2019
Bio: Blessing is the former Miss Ireland International and a financial services professional. Blessing is the founder of Zimbabwe Bright Futures Syndicate which is an organisation that provides Zimbabwean businesses and models mentorship over a wide range of topics including confidence coaching, public speaking and youth empowerment.