Mario Alejandro Rosato of Sustainable Technologies tells us about renewable energies.
First of all, how are you and your family doing?
Mario Alejandro Rosato: Apart from some minor health problems deriving from the age, our main worry is the war in Ukraine and how it will affect us in the short term.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded Sustainable Technologies.
Mario Alejandro Rosato: I was born in Argentina, where I obtained three degrees in engineering -electric, electronic and environmental. I’m bilingual in Spanish/Italian, speak fluently English, and a bit less fluently French, German, and Portuguese. I moved to Italy in 1991, then to Spain in 2000, where I was the general manager of the Spanish office of a German multinational. In 2009 I decided I was mature enough to devote to renewable energies, my passion since I was a teenager.
How does Sustainable Technologies its products/services online?
Mario Alejandro Rosato: Sustainable Technologies SRL is the distributor of the laboratory instruments for fermentative processes analysis of BPC Instruments AB in Italy and Spain. Our target is the biogas industry, both at the research and industrial levels. The online marketing strategy has several channels:
1) I provide professional training services online (e.g., https://www.tuttoambiente.it/corsi/impianti-di-biogas/ in Italian and https://www.worldbiogasassociation.org/wba-training-biogas-upgrading-technology-opportunities-in-english-spanish/ in English and Spanish);
2) I published an award-winning book (https://bookauthority.org/books/best-chemical-engineering-books?t=z26brm&s=award&book=1138626619) on how to use the said instruments to optimize biogas plants, and
3) I write on bioenergy for an Italian journal (https://agronotizie.imagelinenetwork.com/autori/mario-rosato/1517).
Altogether, this presence on the web increases the chances that anybody needing an expert in biogas technology will find my company and I first.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how did you get through it?
Mario Alejandro Rosato: The pandemic did not much affect the biogas business. The turnover was slightly lower than pre-pandemic levels because many universities suspended their research programs but, fortunately, did not cancel any orders. On the other hand, I replaced extensive traveling and on-site training courses with video chat and webinars because of the lockdown measures, which in turn lowered the costs, so the profits remained more or less unaltered. I have always been a supporter of remote technical assistance and video chat because of the carbon footprint, but before the pandemic, almost all of my customers wanted my presence on site. Thanks to the pandemic, now people regard video conferences as a usual communication channel, more efficient than emails or telephone calls.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to manage your online marketing?
Mario Alejandro Rosato: I wrote my website with WordPress; the organizers of my webinars employ GoToMeeting or similar platforms; I communicate with my customers with Zoom, Google Meet, or Teams depending on the customer’s preference. The BPC products have all native IoT connectivity, and I have three different models in my company’s lab. I use them both for online demonstrations to potential customers and anaerobic tests for third parties.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Mario Alejandro Rosato: I compete against several manufacturers of cheaper instruments for anaerobic digestion tests, plus many researchers that insist on building their lab instruments at home and inventing new test protocols instead of accepting international standards. I also compete indirectly against cheaper methods for biogas plant management, like the FOS/TAC and the offline chemical analysis of digestate. Despite being unreliable, they are popular because they are quicker and cheaper than mine. It’s just a question of time: sooner or later, the biogas plant will face some biological disruption that the said methods cannot detect. Then the plant owner will search for a consultant and find me or the method explained in my book to solve his problem.
Your final thoughts?
Mario Alejandro Rosato: Starting a small business in a niche market is not easy. Most people tend to follow the way of low cost. I chose the most expensive but top-quality product. In the long term, low-cost competitors are losing market quotas, and, against all odds, Sustainable Technology has been slowly but steadily growing since its foundation.