Alexei Levene – Co-founder of Innovation eXperience

Alexei Levene hails from London, UK and is a graduate in Philosophy and Law. With an early career in business development and sales roles in the supply chain technology, Alexei later set up an innovation strategy business based in Paris working with clients such as Shell and Philips. Later Alexei co-founded an award winning crowdfunding platform for renewable energy in the UK. After volunteering for the charity Kanthari in Kerala, Alexei co-founded Innovation eXperience, a company that brings together applied clean tech development with human centered design and a core focus on achieving positive social impact. Alexei lives between London and Trivandrum, Kerala.

[quote style=”boxed”]Sometimes you can feel overwhelmed or even paralyzed, when self-doubt creeps in. Taking time out to ground myself, to try and slow my thoughts is something I find useful that makes me more productive overall.[/quote]

Where did the idea for Innovation eXperience come from?

The idea came from lots of trial and error, testing new ideas, building partnerships and lots of learning. We were once described as ‘transforming through action, not over thinking’ and this sums up our approach well, for example, we try something out and learn from our errors.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

A lot of communication with the team, clients and partners and a fair bit of administration. Most energizing for me is to meet and interact with people across the spectrum who ‘get it’, who embrace divergent thinking and who want to make a positive social impact. I travel a lot and try to make time for hobbies and exercise when I can.. its not so easy!

How do you bring ideas to life?

Through trial and error. Build, break, learn, adapt.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

There are so many. The world is arriving at a point where we are starting to understand the real cost of fossil fuels and where renewable energy is becoming the only viable alternative for the planet. The paradigm shift comes not just from the technology but from a shift in collective consciousness the understands how we are all interconnected.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

Sometimes you can feel overwhelmed or even paralyzed, when self-doubt creeps in. Taking time out to ground myself, to try and slow my thoughts is something I find useful that makes me more productive overall. Enjoying what I do helps a lot and waking up and setting my motivation for the day is an important ritual that keeps me focussed.

What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?

I once worked as a para-legal and spent my days sitting in a basement surrounded by files which, one by one I had to categorize. Trying to suppress my imagination to complete the tasks was too much for me and led to lots of mistakes on my part. What I learned and have continued to learn is that there is no point trying to put a round peg in a square hole.

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

It’s been an incredible journey and the downs are as a much a part of my experience as the ups, I would not change a thing.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Connecting with like minds. Growing the eco -system is energizing, opens up new doors and advances my thinking.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.

Growing the eco-system is important, having a great team too. Also we have faced many nay-sayers and risk aversion, listening to these thoughts but not being paralyzed by them has helped us to build a culture where we embrace failure as the only way to learn.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

Having a business fail was a poignant time for me. I overcame it by allowing myself a week of self pity.. but a couple of hours was enough!

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Over a billion people do not have access to energy. Whether through renewable energy, lighting or other solutions there is an opportunity to build scalable organizations that address the needs of this demographic.

Tell us something about you that very few people know?

I like to sing opera in the shower.

What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?

We use Basecamp for project management and it is a great system. Hackpad as a brainstorming tool is something really useful for us as a team, especially when we are in multiple geographies

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Women who Run with Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. This is an essential book if you want to understand the power of story in strategy.

What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?

Ghandi and the Dalai Lama are people that I admire, my grandfather was also a big influence on me. My good friend Geshe Thupten Khedroup has also had a profound influence on my thinking


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