Award-winning entrepreneur: Small start-ups need monthly VAT refunds

The COOL4SEA team [Mark Viese]

Being a small start-up with limited funds, a monthly VAT refund could make a big difference to cash flow, said award-winning young entrepreneur.

Mark Viese is founder of COOL4SEA, which develops energy saving cooling solutions for the maritime industry by utilizing unused energy contained in the cooling water from the ship’s main and auxiliary engines. Cool4Sea has been awarded the AmCham EU Youth Entrepreneurship Award on Tuesday (17 November).

First reaction on winning the AmCham EU Youth Entrepreneurship Award 2015?

We were incredibly happy and proud to receive this recognition given the competition included young entrepreneurs from across Europe. We did not in any way expect to receive this award, especially given some of the fantastic business ideas that came from our competitors.

The award makes it possible for us to expand our current testing period by about a month, which will give us crucial test data that can be used for our future development

What were the major obstacles for creating your business?

Given that we are a start-up that is working with heavy industrial equipment, it was hard to find suitable laboratory facilities. That could have been a stumbling block but we luckily we were able to find facilities that gave us very good terms.
Given the complexity of the project, we had to seek advice and guidance from experts in the areas of chemistry and physics in the basic principle was also very difficult. But again, we found some very competent people in our network who were able to help us to get where we are today.

Do you think the business ecosystem and the regulatory framework in your country and/or Europe facilitate the setting up of start-ups like yours?

We did not see any obstacles in the requirements to actually set up our business. The process of registering the company took less than a day. However following that, one really needs good basic business advice as well as information unique to the project.  

We were very lucky in that we received a lot of support in areas we weren’t familiar with such as funding and seeking investors.

The thing that comes immediately to mind that would be helpful is the VAT refund. Currently in Denmark, when you create a company, you automatically get a VAT refund every third month. Being a small start-up with limited funds, a monthly VAT refund could make a big difference to our cash flow.

The EU has tried to pave the way for young entrepreneurs to set up their business and create a culture for entrepreneurship among young people. What can be done differently?

We are happy to have had the chance to participate in an entrepreneurial programme while we were studying. Combining our engineering background with a practical start-up programme allowed us to come up with a really innovative idea which received a lot of recognition and support from various organisations. The work of the Danish Foundation for Entrepreneurship and JA Europe is a good example how public-private partnerships can make a difference and boost youth entrepreneurship. COOL4SEA is an example for this! 

If you had to give one piece of advice to a young person who wants to start his/her own business, which one would that be?

Do something you are good at, instead of doing something you believe you can make money at. When you do what you are good at, you are more certain to beat your competitors and stay ahead. The other thing I would add is be aware of what your limitations are and then seek advice to fill those gaps.

Last but not least: your next project?

We are currently testing our second prototype on land. When that is done, we will be testing the prototype in a dynamic environment. After this, we will be implementing the cooling units on a number of our test costumers’ vessels.

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