“Detra Solar” founded by Kaunas citizens shares the Recipe for the Success: A Narrow Niche in which We are the Best
Photo by “Detra Solar”
“Detra Solar”, a company counting its 7th year, founded by Deividas (David) Trainavičius, already has impressive achievements: it has designed over 9 gigawatts of solar energy projects around the world, received recognition from market giants and now rapidly expands, consistently employs new people and prepares itself for new markets. David started the business as the first and only employee but today he has already brought together a whole team of talented people. Most of them are graduates of Kaunas University of Technology.
The Key to Success is Perseverance
“While studying Export Engineering at the KTU Centre of International Studies, I traveled to Mikkeli University of Applied Sciences in Finland with the Erasmus Exchange Program. There, one of the modules was renewable energy, so I was introduced to wind, solar and hydro energy,” David describes his path to the field of energetics. “At that time, solar energetics seemed as the most promising field. Then I had realised that this industry is promising in every sense, so it’s worth looking deeper into it and knowing more.”
After finishing his studies in 2009, David soon started working in the solar energy engineering company in London, and in 2011, after settling in Germany, he founded “Detra Solar”.
While recalling the beginning of the business, David is guessing that the perseverance helped to attract the first customers: “For example, I was trying to arrange the meeting with the engineering manager of a huge and very important company for four months. As I found out later, my efforts left an impression and were highly appreciated. It takes a long time to reach large companies but in the long run it pays off.
The second aspect is the wide technical knowledge and versatility: Lithuanians are renowned for their ability to do more work and their flexibility. I think that future customers have also appreciated that.
Well, of course, the success: I succeeded in meeting certain people at a certain time. Over the past ten years, this rule has proved to be true many times.”
From Bremen to Kaunas
The company based in Bremen, Vilnius and at the main office in Kaunas provides technical advice on solar energy projects – from engineering, calculation, analysis and consulting to market forecasting and optimizing operations.
Now, the company employs twelve people. Most employees at “Detra Solar” are young people who graduated from KTU in the field of renewable energy.
“This is one of the reasons why I chose to establish the company’s head office in Kaunas – cooperation with KTU is very important for us. Undoubtedly, the advantage of Kaunas is high concentration of people from technical field. But not only that: the city is attractive due to its convenient infrastructure, lower costs and its compactness, so it’s easy to attract employees to work in Kaunas, both from Vilnius and from other cities.”
Expanding Engineering Department
As the company and its scope expands, the team continues to grow: every few months, “Detra Solar” employs new people, thus strengthening its forces and preparing for new markets.
“We’ve probably tried all the methods looking for new employees. However, the recommendations proved to be the best option: the existing staff recommends their other colleagues who are the most motivated, have good English language skills and excellent technical knowledge. In addition, we have found that the best way to get specialists is to train them ourselves – we provide practice and share our knowledge. Such employees are motivated, work according to their chosen specialty and bring the most advantage,” says the founder of the company.
Getting Ready for New Markets
At present, “Detra Solar” has diverted forces to the US market, which has been a major player in the development of the company.
Another country shining bright on the world energy map is China. It has as many solar power stations as the rest of the world combined.
“That’s why we are also attracted to the Chinese market, we’ve already found the right partners for it,” says David. “Nevertheless, China has completely different business principles that require different preparation and acceptance that it will be a long road. We do not forget that China often hires consultants from Europe only once because after that they copy everything and make it ten times cheaper themselves, this fact somehow dampens the enthusiasm to work with this market.”
The third very important market which is interesting to “Detra Solar” is Australia: “We have already worked with this country and we know how big and extremely interesting projects they have. What does “big project” mean? For comparison: the average project we carry in Europe is 5-40 megawatts, and in Australia figures start from 200 to 600 megawatts. It is not surprising: Australians have excellent conditions for huge projects – not only a lot of sunshine but also unlimited land areas.”
In order to optimize the processes inside the company, to keep up the engineering activities and to minimize the probability of errors, there was a natural need to create specialized software.
“Indeed, there were several similar software packages on the market already. But the trouble is that they are mostly developed by those who are not very experienced in the technical field of our industry. So, we have developed the program according to our needs. And then, when we started taking to our customers about it, we found that such software would be very attractive and interesting to them too. So, we developed the idea of the product and now we are already finishing it and going to offer it to the market at the beginning of summer.”
To Occupy the Niche and to be the Best
“Detra Solar” have practically no competitors: those who may be called like that usually hire Lithuanians to carry out technical part of the projects.
“That’s exactly what I wanted to do: to create a niche product. When I am asked why we are not expanding and not providing advice on other renewable energy sectors, for example, wind energy, I say that you become much more valued than those who does everything by being the best in niche market,” the head of the company shares the principles of the successful business.