LAB Lara Naqushbandi Podcast Transcript

LAB Lara Naqushbandi Podcast TranscriptListen to episode here

Lara Naqushbandi: [00:00:00] Having the ability to say you have a partnership with a big name corporate is huge, right? Because it suggests to people that this big corporate who are like the real deal have done their due diligence on you and have chosen you out of the myriads of other.

Amardeep Parmar: How do you build corporate relationships as a startup? What's the importance of these? Why can they help you scale faster? How do you get your foot in the door? How do you convert these relationships so they actually become a financial gain for you? In order to answer these questions, we've got an expert with us today, Lara Naqushbandi, and she's going to give you her tips and tricks.

Amardeep Parmar: She's a co founder of ET Fuels and previously had a large and successful corporate career, including being Director of Lifestyle and Retail at Google. And this episode is powered by HSBC Innovation Banking. Please make sure you subscribe to us so we can continue to [00:01:00] scale and keep making videos just like this.

Amardeep Parmar: So Lara, so great to have you here today. And I think this topic is really important because I find so many founders we talked to are really focused on individual customers, but corporates are so important too. Can you go into a bit more detail about why it's so important for founders and startups to pay attention to corporates and what corporates could potentially do?

Lara Naqushbandi: I think one of the differences is Um, you know, we all relate to consumers because we all think about what we want, whereas the idea of having to engage, like, you know, the suits in the corporate office, like, boring, right? But I think, you know, I found in my business and just in generally, right? 

Lara Naqushbandi: There are two or three things that corporates can give you, which are potentially game changes for your business, right? And so if you can get over the hurdle of having to deal with the suits, um, you know, there's a real price there. So if I think about what those have been for us, right? So the first thing, right, when you start your startup, you're basically you a PowerPoint, and maybe [00:02:00] you've got a cat that's like giving you moral support.

Lara Naqushbandi: So. It's really hard to differentiate yourself amongst the myriad of other people with their pets and their PowerPoints. And so having the ability to say you have a partnership with a big name corporate is huge, right? Because it suggests to people that this big corporate who are like the real deal have done their due diligence on you and have chosen you out of the myriads of other.

Lara Naqushbandi: You know, like, wannabes out there. So brand name and credibility, um, costs them nothing, and it's huge potentially for your business. That's one. The second, and this is kind of the obvious one, is, um, if it actually is, like, if you are doing a B2B type business, Um, or even if you've got some other sort of mode of partnership, corporates are amazing to help you scale, right?

Lara Naqushbandi: They've got the infrastructure, they've got the people, they've got the expertise. And so, and they've got the resources, right? And so if you're trying to think about how do I go from 0 to 100 in five minutes, corporates can do that for you. And, and then the third thing, which I think is [00:03:00] really interesting is, um, corporates now all have like an innovation agenda.

Lara Naqushbandi: I mean, they're all trying to fail fast and be agile and whatever else. Right? And the reality is some of them can do that. And most of them can't, but they do have an innovation agenda. And there'll be some team somewhere in the corporate whose role is to do R& D or partner with startups or learn more about the evolving ecosystem.

Lara Naqushbandi: So they are incentivized to find startups and partner with them. And sometimes those teams also, well, oftentimes those teams have a budget. So of course, you know, we're always chasing for cash in the startup world. And so corporates are often a good source of resource. And they can also give you that cash on far more

Lara Naqushbandi: favorable terms than, uh, you know, some sort of sharky to like VC might. So those are the things that I think can be really helpful about the, um, corporate partnerships. 

Amardeep Parmar: You've also been really successful at creating those partnerships and working with corporates as well. And that's [00:04:00] not the case for so many people we talk to.

Amardeep Parmar: Um, like when people are thinking about this stuff, like maybe trying to work with corporates, what's some of the common hurdles you see people face that they can't quite say that. 

Lara Naqushbandi: Yeah. Well, look, I mean, I've, I've worked in the corporate world for like my entire career, apart from this brief stint doing the startup.

Lara Naqushbandi: Right. And you know, the biggest issue, and I'm talking generically about, I mean, I've worked at Google, right. And everyone says, Oh, Google is super agile and super innovative. Trust me, people at Google complain about the same things that they did at, you know, that 120 year old mining company that I worked at, right.

Lara Naqushbandi: Corporates have a hell of a lot of process and they are generally risk averse. If you're like a startup founder trying to get your stuff done, like hustling away, like they can be a real headache and I, um, I read, uh, a good quote, um, on LinkedIn the other day, my source of my basic source of reading. Um, and it was as a, if you're like doing a startup to succeed, you just need 1 person to say yes.

Lara Naqushbandi: Right? Somebody should give you a bit of [00:05:00] cash to believe in you. Whatever. If you want a corporate to get anything done, you actually need nobody to say no. So the challenge with corporates is how do you navigate that decision making process and find out, like, the way to get nobody to say no. So you can get on and build your relationship or do whatever you want to do.

Lara Naqushbandi: I've got some tips and tricks I can share, but that's the biggest, I think, challenges. Getting nobody to say no. 

Amardeep Parmar: I'm not sure if you told me that quote recently. Because that, I feel like I've heard that. Maybe that's all the same LinkedIn posts you do. 

Lara Naqushbandi: I told you yesterday. I told you yesterday, right?

Amardeep Parmar: Yeah, it must be you, yeah.

Amardeep Parmar: So, like you said, you've got some tips and tricks that you've been able to do to like get ahead of so many other people, right? E. T. Fields hasn't been going for that long to reate this massively, these huge partnerships already. How have you done that? What tips have you used? What 

Lara Naqushbandi: Yeah. Well, it's very kind, by the way. Who's my cat? Like I do have my PowerPoint on my cat, but I've gotta try and get rid of her. Sorry, she wasn't invited. So look, I [00:06:00] mean, I think so, um, that the key with the corporate is to understand the decision making process and who's involved with that and what do you need to do to navigate that.

Lara Naqushbandi: So my, my first, my first tip is you need to find a sponsor in that organization who's going to be your friendly face to help you get through that. Right? And when you approach a corporate, I mean, often they've got like zillions of divisions. And just because you find someone who's not interested doesn't mean that the other divisions won't be.

Lara Naqushbandi: So find somebody who could be your sponsor. And typically that person might be, I'm generalizing, right? But it's someone who, you know, who's job description somehow involves doing something innovative because this person needs to be getting paid to basically find cool stuff to do. Right. And to take risk and to try out things.

Lara Naqushbandi: So that that's 1 right. So find your sponsor. The 2nd thing is once you found your sponsor, you need to make sure that at some point, once you've got your sponsor comfortable, what you're doing. That you have the right decision makers and that you're engaging with them. It's, you've got a man [00:07:00] mark or woman mark or whatever, right?

Lara Naqushbandi: So I typically find, and again, it depends on what your business is, but you've got your sponsor, it's always really useful at some point to make sure you meet the finance person. ‘Cause if you want cash out of this corporate, you need to look that person in the eye, convince them of your credibility. And engage with them because if they're not in the room, that means that somebody else is trying to sell you on behalf of you.

Lara Naqushbandi: And that's not always as effective. So find the finance person find the, ideally the P and L owner of whatever business you're trying to engage with as well. So, those are kind of the bits, you know, that the essential signals and they're likely to be others, but make sure you've got some way of engaging with those.

Lara Naqushbandi: And I like to think about, you know, once you're working with a corporate, making sure that you have. Um, very clear milestones and processes. They like to know when they have to make decisions who needs to be there. And so when I engage with the corporate, like, we'll pitch the idea. And then my 2nd thing is, okay, who else is going to have to who else?

Lara Naqushbandi: I need to pitch to. And then what is my process, [00:08:00] understanding their decision making process from first pitch to, okay, then this person needs to see, then that person needs to see, then we have a committee to decide, blah, blah, blah. And then, and so mapping out that timeline is also really important. And then I think the fourth thing I would say, and I will stop because I could keep going on, but the fourth thing I would say is, um, you have to get the balance right between being patient and making them feel some pain at some point.

Lara Naqushbandi: What I mean by that is corporate's a risk averse. They're not just going to like, you're not just doing one pitch, then you get your way and you've got whatever you need from them. You've got to figure out a way to build a relationship with them, and often that might be sharing some insight with them, like providing them free stuff, right?

Lara Naqushbandi: Everyone likes, you know, free research, free insight, free whatever, and building a little bit of a cadence so you can keep coming back. Maybe it's biweekly catch up or whatever, but getting some cadence in where you are, giving them free stuff that costs you nothing normally insights or something like that.

Lara Naqushbandi: Or introduce 'em to your product, whatever it is, [00:09:00] and making sure you've got that over time. But at some point, and typically, I would say that's typically after the three month mark, you have to make them feel some pain to know they're serious. So what I mean by that is one thing that we sometimes push for is to say, okay, we've spent three months, you know, working with you on this initiative.

Lara Naqushbandi: Can we now, um, can you now sign something with us? Because if they have to sign something, they normally have to send it to the legal department, even if it's completely tame. And making somebody do that is like a sign that they really want to work with you. Or maybe, uh, another one that I've seen used is we want to be onboarded as one of your suppliers because the onboarding process is super complex to make them do that.

Lara Naqushbandi: Again, it's another sign that they want to, if even more, you can say, you know, can you maybe kick in 50K for this pilot even better? So getting them to feel some pain after you've invested in them, that's a way to make sure you're not wasting your time. And two years later, you've spent all your time with someone who's going that way.

Lara Naqushbandi: So those are my, those are my key ones. 

Amardeep Parmar: You mentioned a few [00:10:00] different interesting things there. So when I come back to right at the beginning, you mentioned about finding your sponsor, and I think some people really struggled with. Because it's just that social intelligence aspect, right? Of like, how do you, one, find the right person, but then also not repo them away from you.

Amardeep Parmar: Right? So how are you able to find the sponsor and then make them pay attention to you? Right? How did you get them to have that chat with you and want to have the chat with you?

Lara Naqushbandi: So I think, I mean, it is a great question, um, right, because I mean, the question is like, why is this, why is this person, you know, waste of time with you?

Lara Naqushbandi: Right? So. I have typically found like the reason that these corporates have these innovation teams or that they engage with startups is typically because they want insight into some part of the value chain that is changing and you're probably sitting in that part of the value chain. And so, um, I'll give you the example of my business and then, um, you know, people can see if they can convert it to what's relevant for them.

Lara Naqushbandi: So our business, [00:11:00] um, we've been looking at, we're developing green fuels and we've done a lot of work looking at the technology suppliers for these green fuels and figuring out how much it costs to produce these green fuels. So we were right in there, like talking every day to like technology suppliers.

Lara Naqushbandi: So we had really good insight on how the technology was evolving. And we also had like real life insight on how much it costs to produce this stuff because we were trying to produce it. And so when we engage with corporates, you know, they sort of read some McKinsey report that says green fuels will cost a thousand dollars per ton to produce.

Lara Naqushbandi: And there'll be 10 million tons in production by 2027. We can come in and say, look, we've actually got quotes from Siemens from whoever else other suppliers we've done the numbers. And actually it's not going to cost a thousand bucks. It's going to cost 1500. And here's why. And so the best way to engage, I mean, you know, most people come in and they want to try and pitch their product, right?

Lara Naqushbandi: Which. It's one way, but you need to also be able to provide some sort of intelligence to make yourself [00:12:00] really compelling and interesting for them to want to engage with you and also shows you're credible too, if you know what you're talking about. So, I'd sort of say drip feeding bits of, you know, pearls of wisdom is another way to like, really, you know, um, get corporates to take you seriously and spend time with you.

Lara Naqushbandi:

Amardeep Parmar: think. One of the things we're trying to do ourselves is we've now got this huge database of British Asian entrepreneurs and people in that space. We're going to start creating our own unique data. And obviously that's one way for us to then show that value to other people too. And just for the example for the audience, and you said so many good things there.

Amardeep Parmar: So one of the other things you mentioned as well is about how you want to make them feel some pain. And one of the things I think is often quite scary for many families is it feels like such a David Goliath situation, right? Here's this massive corporation, and it feels like they have all of the power.

Amardeep Parmar: And when you give them free stuff, how do you know when to stop giving them free stuff? You're trying to build that relationship, but then they can just keep taking without really having any intention of following [00:13:00] through. So how do you manage that part? 

Lara Naqushbandi: I mean, there's no right answer, right? Um, it's kind of one of those things like, how do you know, like you're exclusive?

Lara Naqushbandi: Like once you've gone, uh, some of my friends say apparently nine months you've got away. I don't know. I'm happily married. Well, I'm not necessarily happy. I'm fine. But like the point being, um, the, I think it's, it's a, it's a balance. And I think realistically expecting a corporate to do anything within 3 months is unrealistic.

Lara Naqushbandi: It's just, you know, I mean, maybe you'll be lucky and you'll find some avenue, but generally it's just like, it will take at least 3 months for them to actually, you know, meet you 3 or 4 times at most and, you know, talk about what you're doing to their other stakeholders. So don't expect anything. I would say within 3 months, if you're still like faffing around with them after 6 months and you haven't seen them go through any pain, as I would call it, they're probably not going anywhere.

Lara Naqushbandi: Right? Um, and so, you know, I think definition of pain can be lots of different things. It could be as simple as I want to have a meeting with your boss's boss. [00:14:00] Right? Nobody wants to put in their boss's boss for like some joker meeting, so you've got to figure out what pain means for your situation, but if you are sitting there with 6 months having passed and you've only spoken to 1 person at that organization and they're just milking you for Intel, waste of time.

Lara Naqushbandi: So, I think it's between that 3 to 6 months figuring out what the, you know, how you get over into that sort of next level of relationship is kind of the right time to push. 

Amardeep Parmar: Yeah, that makes, like, huge sense. I think that helps a lot of people as well, just to get that level of where it is, because it's like you said, it's almost like a relationship exactly where I think people worry very awkward about that part, right?

Amardeep Parmar: And you mentioned a few other tips and tricks here as well. So when it's the case of like finding the right people and getting to meet other people in the firm, so you mentioned about finding a finance person, do you ask the people that you already know to introduce you to them or do you try and do those relationships independently?

Lara Naqushbandi: Great question. Yeah, super important in corporates is to make sure that [00:15:00] that you are what's the right word that you are, um, that the right people are looped into the right conversations. So, I would say, if you have gone in with a particular sponsor or a particular introduction, you should always make sure that 

Lara Naqushbandi: particular person knows or is ideally guiding you through that organization as opposed to like, um, you know, starting with 1 person, then going to another person because nobody likes to, um, be surprised at how you, you know, conversations you're having on the side with their colleagues. So, yeah, great question.

Lara Naqushbandi: And I should have mentioned that it's always really important to to sort of show a lot of love to your sponsor and ideally help go go via them and always keep them informed and always, I mean, you know, really manage that relationship very carefully, um, particularly with their peers and their colleagues.

Amardeep Parmar: Hey everyone, we hope you're enjoying this episode so far. Quick note from our sponsors who make this all possible. From first time founders [00:16:00] to the funds that back them, innovation needs different. HSBC Innovation Banking is proud to accelerate growth for tech and life science businesses. Creating meaningful connections and opening up a world of opportunity, entrepreneurs and investors alike.

Amardeep Parmar: Discover more at Back to the show. 

Amardeep Parmar: What about that first person you meet? Maybe you don't get the right vibe from them. You feel like they're just faffing you off. Do you then kind of abandon that client for the time being and maybe try again later? Or do you try and find somebody else to become the sponsor?

Lara Naqushbandi: Yeah, I would definitely say the latter. So, I think, you know, one of the challenges with corporates is that there are so many divisions. And, you know, 98 percent of the time, like 98 percent of the people that you might think are relevant, just don't care about what you're doing because they've got other other jobs, that doesn't mean that the 2 percent of people that you haven't yet contacted aren't like the exact right people to be engaging with.

Lara Naqushbandi: So typically, I find if someone's not interested, I would, I would say when I reach out, I do a lot of linkedin stalking and, you know, [00:17:00] second connections or even 3rd connection sometimes. And I always say, you know, you or someone else in your organization, because you don't want to, if there is, you know, they may be able to pass you on to someone else.

Lara Naqushbandi: So keep that window open. If they do come back and they're like, no, you're not interested, I would go again. And if I hadn't asked the first time, say, is there anyone else who might be? Um, but then I wouldn't, I wouldn't go back to that person because I think, you know, they've obviously got a different job role and just find another avenue.

Lara Naqushbandi: Um, the other thing that's also useful thing to do is to look at, um, whether, um, which corporates are doing stuff with your competitors. 'cause if they're engaging in, I know Green Fuels with some other startup over here, they're probably likely to engage with us and say we look at what we see in the trade press as well, quite extensively.

Amardeep Parmar: I  like that's all because it's if somebody messaged me and they said, I was just somebody else, you know, in the organization, what you're doing for them. It's like, that's less work for them. I was like, okay, yeah, sure. Like, you should talk to that person. They might not say that name unless you've asked that.

Amardeep Parmar: Right. So. You're [00:18:00] not actually asking very much, if they're just saying a name, they don't even the introduction, I guess, right?

Lara Naqushbandi: Exactly. And that's what I often see. They just, they won't even send the email. They'll just be like, reach out to that person. And it's an easy win for us. And, uh, yeah.

Amardeep Parmar: As those relationships are growing as well, right?

Amardeep Parmar: So let's say you've got somebody you feel like is going pretty well. And then when it gets to that financing decision maker, there's that holding point there. What things have you done in order to be able to get something from almost there to just push over the tipping point just that bit further?

Lara Naqushbandi: Yeah, so I, I guess I, I'm deeply biased towards the importance of engaging and managing finance people because I'm, I spent most of my life in that, in that sort of world.

Lara Naqushbandi: And I would say with the finance person, um, the analysis that they always do is what is the value impact of doing this thing versus doing nothing and versus my alternatives. And so when you do engage with a finance person, you need to be always thinking, not just like, here's my [00:19:00] brilliant idea. I'll make you loads of money, but you need to be basically, you need to put them in, put yourself in their shoes and say, okay, this is the value that my product can bring to you.

Lara Naqushbandi: You need to have some sort of an insight as to what their alternatives are and what kind of value those alternatives risk reward that those alternatives can bring. And then you also need to be able to compare all of that to doing nothing, right? Because that's typically what a corporate will do is do nothing.

Lara Naqushbandi: And so when people, you know, I think on the finances, people often get all intimidated by, I don't know how to calculate an MPV or what's an IRR. I mean, whatever that doesn't matter. The key to be able to stretch your argument as these are the pros and cons of what I'm doing. These are the pros and cons of your alternatives.

Lara Naqushbandi: And these are the pros and cons of doing nothing. And obviously making sure that your, your solution is the superior one.

Amardeep Parmar: And you mentioned there about LinkedIn stalking as well, and how much of that, so you're looking at different people and trying to work out who's the right person to contact. Have you got any tips or anything there about like, how to make sure that those people [00:20:00] accept your requests or answer your messages as well?

Amardeep Parmar: So you mentioned about giving them insight. Is there anything else you've done that could maybe help?

Lara Naqushbandi: Yeah, look, I, I wouldn't say I'm like a champion LinkedIn stalker. I just use quantity as a, as a weapon. Um, so I do have that, you know, the expensive thing where you've got to pay and you've got like, but I think it's really useful.

Lara Naqushbandi: I mean, I've got value out of it. Right. I would also say like, you know, um, Obviously going by people that you have second connections with, even if it's unlike second connection, you don't actually know it does actually help say we have this connection and you know, um, but I, I typically find I'm ready because you don't, you don't really know what people do in corporates being broad is..

Amardeep Parmar: Sometimes they  don't know what they do either.

Lara Naqushbandi: Yeah, well, exactly. Does anyone does anyone know what they do? I don't know. I'm trying to find that person who's cracked it. So, yeah, 

Amardeep Parmar: And so you generally think about going through that method rather than going through warm intros, or if you know..

Lara Naqushbandi: I love, love warm intros and I have to say, people have been like the most brilliant warm intros [00:21:00] for me have been actually other founders and other entrepreneurs because they,

Lara Naqushbandi: they know the struggle is real. So like, you know, leverage your, your bank community, your other, you know, startup, uh, colleagues. Cause I think those have been, those have been the most useful for me, actually. 

Amardeep Parmar: And the other part of all of this too, right. Is that sometimes people come from the corporate world, what they're hit by is all this stuff that they don't know how to write about.

Amardeep Parmar: So there's early processes, that scrappy bit, but you've also learned so much from being at a corporate, you've transferred really well to being the founder. Can you, for the people listening right now who are in a corporate job, who are thinking about quitting their job someday, can you make them feel happy that maybe they do have a chance of transferring those skills?

Amardeep Parmar: What, how has that helped you find the corporate ladder? 

Lara Naqushbandi: I mean, look, I, I'm permanently insecure about, I think they say that the best founders are the ones that have done it and failed. And I mean, maybe it's great that I haven't failed, but I also haven't done it. Like I, I, I, look, I mean, you know, I, I'm always insecure about not having that startup experience, but what has been helpful is obviously

Lara Naqushbandi: [00:22:00] knowing how to navigate corporate partnerships, perhaps, you know, in a different way. I think the other thing, um, you know, working at a corporate, you, um, you know, the challenge with a startup is always like, at what point do we put process in versus just like going for the opportunities and running around and changing our minds all the time.

Lara Naqushbandi: Um, and I think, you know, corporates. They do know generally what best practice process looks like, right? And so, you know, whether that's like how we onboard people or how we think about allocating our budget, um, in a disciplined way, um, the, the biggest thing I think as well, like, is, um, just being able to put together, like, sort of a strategic plan.

Lara Naqushbandi: Um, but those, those sort of, you know, skills that when you're at corporate, you don't really realize you've actually picked up, but just that kind of discipline about running a business. I think that's been, that's been quite helpful. 

Amardeep Parmar: So you're one of the first founders on this lab podcast, and you're going to be on the BAE podcast soon as well.

Amardeep Parmar: But, but before we wrap up and go to the quick fire [00:23:00] questions towards the other side as well, could you tell me as well, what is it that ET fuels does? And what are your dreams and ambitions so that the audience can check that? 

Lara Naqushbandi: Sure, sure. So, um, we are developing projects to produce green fuels and these green fuels are basically substitutes for oil, predominantly, um, and they can power ships, airplanes, that stuff.

Lara Naqushbandi: So, um, the thing that we're doing that is a little bit different, I think, is, um, to produce these green fuels, you take renewable energy, you use the electricity to split water into hydrogen and oxygen, and you can basically use the hydrogen as an energy source for powering different vehicles and just different processes.

Lara Naqushbandi: Right? And, um, the biggest challenge broadly, I'm going to go out and get my soapbox here. But if we think about like, everyone wants to decarbonize, right? And we're like, let's do loads of renewable energy and let's electrify everything electric cars, electric houses, electric, electric, [00:24:00] electric, the biggest challenge with that strategy is that the electricity grids that were designed, you know, tens of years ago, never envisioned a world where we'd be electrifying everything that we use.

Lara Naqushbandi: So you've got these old grids, which just is are not fit for purpose. And if you were to go and try and build a wind farm or a solar power farm or something like that, and try and get a connection on to that grid, you could struggle and you would be waiting for years. And that's particularly the case in Europe and the US.

Lara Naqushbandi: Right? So, what we're doing is we're saying screw the grid. We're going to take all of that amazing renewable energy. And turn it straight into fuel at source without going on the grid. So we basically take the renewable electricity, run it straight into our factory without a grid connection. And then that allows us to produce these fuels far cheaper at bigger scale and so on.

Lara Naqushbandi: So that's what we're up to. Um, and you can check our website out as well, if you wish. 

Amardeep Parmar: I mean with the corporate side of that, right? How does that exactly plug in? What's the ideal scenario? It's like five years time, 10 years time with that corporate relationship, like what [00:25:00] corporation works for you the best?

Lara Naqushbandi: Yeah. Well, so, um, these projects to build like a massive wind farm or solar farm, and then build a massive green hydrogen factory, um, you need a whole bunch of corporate, they're quite massive, right? So each project is going to cost us around 800 million euros, right? So there's a significant amount of investment.

Lara Naqushbandi: And to put that together, you need a whole bunch of corporate partnerships. So we need a corporate to supply us with our feedstock, one of which is CO2. So we need to have industrial partnerships with cement companies or steel companies. So we've got a couple of those. You also need customers and typically our customers are large shipping companies.

Lara Naqushbandi: It's a, it's a B2B business. So you need to have customers who believe in you and who are willing to, um, enter into long term offtake agreements. And then, of course, for the supply chain to actually build the stuff, you need like, you know, companies like Siemens to enter into sort of deep partnerships with you to, to help you build.

Lara Naqushbandi: [00:26:00] You know, all of these different parts of the value chain. So we spend a lot of time talking to these sort of large industrial corporates to try and get our products off the ground. 

Amardeep Parmar: That sounds amazing. So I guess the other thing too, is when you know that corporate isn't a right fit for you, maybe it's, they're really interested in you, but you just think actually these, this isn't what's going to take us forward.

Amardeep Parmar: Because sometimes things, people maybe get really access by the, the name value of the brand, but it might actually be a detriment to them. 

Lara Naqushbandi: Yeah. Well it's interesting, right? 'cause we had that experience too. So when we started, we thought that oil and gas companies would be ideal partners for us because they all want to do carbonize.

Lara Naqushbandi: They have kind of the skill set to make fuels, right? That's what they do. And they have the customer base and all of that. And, um, so we spent a lot of time talking to some companies who's they, who's, she'll not be named. And they'd always want a meeting. They'd always be happy to chat to us, but it was like an information suck.

Lara Naqushbandi: And, you know, we'd never get anything back. I, you know, it was always, oh, well, [00:27:00] you know, why don't we have another chat and talk about your current cost structure? It's like, well, hang on, what's going on here, you know? Um, and so I think, you know, what, what we sort of realized was the fact that we weren't getting anything back and the fact that it was always just information, information, information.

Lara Naqushbandi: It's kind of a waste of time. And also, I guess, just looking at their sort of strategic imperatives that just wasn't really an alignment. We really challenged ourselves on it because, you know, we're, we're trying to basically do things to displace fuel oil as opposed to, um, you know, enhance that business.

Lara Naqushbandi: So it wasn't the best fit. Whereas some of the other, um, Relationships we've had, like with the cement companies and with the shipping companies who genuinely need businesses like ours to decarbonize. Those work really well. So, um, yeah, it's it's when you get that sensor and it's just an information site that it's just not going anywhere.

Amardeep Parmar: So we're going to move this quick fire questions. So first one is, who are three British Asian that you'd love to spotlight, that you think are doing incredible work? 

Lara Naqushbandi: Okay. Okay. Well, so my first is one of your previous [00:28:00] guests, Saalim Chowdhury. Um, so Saalim, you know, incredible background. He has been, um, you know, MD at Textiles uk.

Lara Naqushbandi: Um, he, why is he incredible? This guy has seen so many startup situations that, and he has an amazing brain to pattern recognize that literally. Every situation that I've come across, you know, that I don't know what to do, Saalim can give me like 20 times that he's seen it and then generally how things work out.

Lara Naqushbandi: So, um, and he's incredibly generous with his time, with his insights. So, Saalim, brilliant, generous, can't get, and somewhat funny, not that funny. Anyway, whatever. So that’s one. Um, second person I would shout out is, um, a guy called Khurram Hussain, who is a headhunter. Actually, he's a partner at an organization called Warren Partners.

Lara Naqushbandi: Um, Warren Partners. I shout them out because, um, they are doing some really awesome work in the diversity space. I mean, I'm a [00:29:00] woman. Like, everybody has like some woman initiative and that's great. Right. I love it. Right. Like, you know, we've got to reverse like whatever, but there just isn't, and look, your podcast, right?

Lara Naqushbandi: I mean, there just isn't enough focus on other forms of diversity and Warren Partners, um, I mean, actually founded by like, you know, a lady, Joelle Warren, who's not Asian, but like, they are really doing spearheading work in thinking about sort of ethnic minorities. Putting, you know, uh, programs in place to help ethnic minorities get board positions and Khurram Hussain's been an amazing, um, an amazing mentor and, and, and support for me, uh, and many others in that space.

Lara Naqushbandi: Um, and then the third person I, I was, I, I sort of wavered a bit between this. It was kind of a tie between my mom, my sister and, um, Sadiq Khan, and I'm going to go for him. I don't want to make it political. That's not going to be. It's not going to be light, but I mean, there are so many brown politicians not doing what they need to be doing right now.

Lara Naqushbandi: So my, you know, shout out to Sadiq Khan for like, at least, you know, I won't say anymore. I won't say anymore. [00:30:00] 

Amardeep Parmar: So I think that's, that's needless from like your mom, your sister, obviously you can't. You imagine sleeping your mom and your sister shout out there. 

Lara Naqushbandi: Five. Is that four what I just do Five or four?

Lara Naqushbandi: Four. Five. Five. 

Amardeep Parmar: Yeah, it's five. 

Lara Naqushbandi:Whatever. 

Amardeep Parmar:quick question is how can people find out more about you? Find out more about ET fuels and other stuff you've got going on?

Lara Naqushbandi: Yeah. Okay. So, uh. Et Fuels. I think it's a dash or hyphen et hyphen Uh, our website. Um, I do loads of humble bragging on LinkedIn about all the amazing things that we're doing.

Lara Naqushbandi: I'm sure we all do it, but like, you know, I'm on LinkedIn, um, and, uh, yeah, I, I don't, I'm not an Insta, I'm not, I'm on Facebook, but yeah. LinkedIn. LinkedIn is, I feel like I plug LinkedIn so much. I'm not sponsored by LinkedIn, but I'm happy to connect with [00:31:00] anyone who's interested on LinkedIn. 

Amardeep Parmar: Is there anything that our audience might be able to help you with today?

Lara Naqushbandi: Yeah, so this is a bit niche. Um, but we are looking for electrical engineers, phenomenal electrical engineers, um, and, um, power systems engineers. I know it's niche, but if anyone has phenomenal people in that space who are interested in green hydrogen, who live in Ireland, Spain or the UK or Texas, please get in touch because people know everything and we're looking for great people.

Amardeep Parmar: So thank you so much for coming on today and I look forward to interviewing you again in person. In a few weeks time, have you got any final words to the audience? 

Lara Naqushbandi: No, I just wanted to say, look, I, um, really thank you for having me on the show. Um, it's, uh, it's been a great chat. I've really enjoyed chatting to you.

Lara Naqushbandi: And I, um, yeah, uh, you know, uh, hang in there. Everybody else's struggle is real. And, uh, Yeah,I  really appreciate the opportunity. Thank you. Um, yeah. And so my third person would be Sadiq Khan. [00:32:00] Um, I think it's awesome that we've got so many brown people now in politics, and I love what he's doing with, you know, making London open.

Lara Naqushbandi: I think that's Phenomenal tagline. And, uh, yeah, um, given that I'm born and bred in London, it's my favorite city in the world. I'm really proud that we have, uh, an Asian mayor to represent us.

Amardeep Parmar: Hello, hello, everyone. Thank you so much for listening. It means a huge amount to us. And we don't think you realize how important you are because if you subscribe to our YouTube channel, if you leave us a five star review, it makes a world of difference. And if you believe in what we're trying to do here,

Amardeep Parmar: to inspire, connect and guide the next generation British Asians. If you do those things, you can help us achieve that mission and you can help us make a bigger impact. And by doing that, it means we can get bigger guests. We can host more events. We can do more for the community. So you can play a huge part.

Amardeep Parmar: So thank you so much for supporting us.