Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs and Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, who are advancing the UN SDGs.
Hello there! If we haven’t yet been introduced, my name is Spiffy and I’m an interplanetary journalist. I’ve been speaking with innovators from around the world who are working on affordable and clean energy, as well as responsible production and consumption. One of those entrepreneurs is Luiz Guerra, the co-founder and CEO of ATMOS who joins us all the way from Brazil!
Spiffy: Hi Luiz, thanks a million for talking to me today. Tell me, what challenge is ATMOS addressing?
Luiz: Thank you for having me, Spiffy! ATMOS was created to help micro and small enterprises reduce energy waste and to give transparency of their energy bills. By providing relevant information about their usage of electricity, we help companies become conscientious consumers, reducing not only the total amount paid in these bills, but also the reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Spiffy: What motivated you to do it?
Luiz: Our biggest motivation was seeing how many people in Brazil and in the world didn’t have access to electricity. In Brazil, more than one million people have no electricity, and this problem affects more than one billion people worldwide. We found out that Brazil loses 4 billion dollars with energy waste each year, which is absurd when Brazilians lack basic resources such as food or access to education. We had no doubt that this was an important opportunity and that it was our way to help our planet.
Spiffy: How are you and the company working towards a more equitable world?
Luiz: ATMOS delivers a solution that helps consumers be more conscious about energy use— this way we make the world more equitable by creating environmental awareness and by preventing the waste of resources that are unavailable to millions of people. Our strategy is aligned with the 2030 Agenda, specially with SDGs 7 (affordable and clean energy) and SDGs 12 (responsible consumption and production), making sure we are working towards problems that are relevant worldwide.
Spiffy: Tell me about a recent organizational initiative. What impact does that make on your community?
Luiz: This year our startup was selected for a program with a multinational beverage company, Anheuser-Busch InBev, focused on creating solutions for the climate crisis. We developed a solution for bars and restaurants that controls and optimizes the cooling functions of refrigerators and freezers. With this new technology we are able to save up to 40% of the energy use of these machines, which saves a considerable amount of money for these companies but also prevents energy waste for our planet.
Spiffy: That’s very cool! Next, could you please share an experience when you faced failure and didn't give up. What did you learn from it?
Luiz: Recently, our startup faced a near-death threat because we didn’t have enough cash to support our operation and we couldn’t get more investment. We realized that our clients weren't fully happy with our solution, and, as a result, we were struggling to sell our product, and the investors didn’t want to finance our idea. So, we realized we needed to take some steps back and truly understand our client's needs which made us change most of our business model and pivot our product strategy.
Spiffy: Wow, that’s brave! I’m glad it’s all working out. Is there anything else you would love to tell our audience before I let you go?
Luiz: We believe, and the vast majority of startup literature says, that we really need to solve our customer’s pain, otherwise we will just be creating another problem. My advice is to make sure you visit and truly listen to your first users. They are the key to discovering if you're on the right path. Oh, also don´t forget to align your strategy with the 2030 Agenda to make sure your idea helps our world´s main challenges and helps to take care of the planet for future generations.
Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, Luiz—it’s been an honor!
Luiz Filipe Guerra, the co-founder and CEO of ATMOS, is an electrical engineer and MBA in Smart Cities. He is also a counselor of conscious capitalism and a speaker on sustainability including at the Chamber of Deputies, Campus Party, and the Latin American Sustainable Energy Summit. Luiz was a delegate of Brazil at the UN Youth Assembly, at the Vienna Energy Forum, and at the BRICS YEA Summit 2021. (First published on the Ladderworks website on November 23, 2022.)© 2022 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Anushree Nande. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Launchpad: Creative Entrepreneurship Workshops for K-3 Kids and their caregivers here.