Unplugged! Why & How to Stay Unplugged on the Grid with Dawan Global’s Nagwa Awad
October 21, 2015
John Shegerian: Welcome back to Green Is Good, and we are so excited to have with us today Nagwa Awad. She is the Senior VP of Business Development and founder of Dawan Global. To learn more about Dawan Global, you can go to www.DawanGlobal.com. Welcome to Green Is Good, Nagwa. Nagwa Awad: Hi John. Thank you for having me on. It’s a pleasure. John Shegerian: Thank you for spending time with us today. I would love you first to share a little bit about yourself with our listeners before we get going – your journey leading up to the founding of Dawan and then sharing a little bit about why and how you came up with the idea. Nagwa Awad: Originally, my education is in Computer Engineering, during a time when computers weren’t commonplace. So I graduated with a degree in Computer Engineering and a Business minor. And just to show you how old I am – I was the only woman in the graduating class. John Shegerian: Wow. Nagwa Awad: Which did not intimidate me. I actually saw it as a welcome challenge. When I graduated, I worked as a programmer in computers then I was promoted to Project Manager so I got to manage a team of people that were a good 10 years older than me. Then, when it was time to have children and start a family, I left corporate America and I managed a medical practice for 20 years. John Shegerian: Wow. Nagwa Awad: And my first order of business was to computerize it. Back then – we’re talking about 20, 25 years ago – you didn’t just go out and buy software. You actually programmed it, set up the networking, everything. I would say, like around 1991, 1992, I discovered investing in the stock market and found that not only did I like it, I had a talent for it. John Shegerian: Wow. Nagwa Awad: I know. I actually survived three stock market crashes and did really well. John Shegerian: That is amazing. Wow. Nagwa Awad: Yeah. And then when I turned 50, I decided to do two things. John Shegerian: That’s awesome. Nagwa Awad: It was a fork in the road when I was 50. It was either retire with a healthy pension and travel the world or start yet a third career. Then I realized I’ve travelled the world. I’ve seen almost every country in the world. John Shegerian: Wow. Nagwa Awad: What do you do when you’re retired, you know? John Shegerian: Yeah. Nagwa Awad: So that’s when I decided to start Dawan Global. John Shegerian: OK. Nagwa Awad: I’m an avid hiker. I’m not an outdoors person, but I do enjoy – we live on the East Coast so I enjoy every season. I enjoy skiing in the winter, hiking in the fall. And I’m a passionate hiker. I was always running out of charge for my cell phone, my digital camera. John Shegerian: I love it. Nagwa Awad: I wanted to be out in nature but I wanted to be out with my electronics. So I came upon this idea of using the sun to charge your electronics without having to worry about charging the charge for your electronics the night before. Then when super-storm Sandy hit, I said, “Hey, I have something here,” because I was the only one that had a functioning computer and cell phone, access to the Internet and most of all a working coffee machine, which is a big plus for me. John Shegerian: Wow. So wait a second. So first of all. So now you’ve had a fascinating journey and now you’re starting a new one. You decided to start a new one with Dawan Global to be an entrepreneur, again. Not just work for corporate America, not work for somebody else and even – or not even just trade your own stocks. Now you’re actually going to go do something as a real ecopreneur. So what year was this? What year are we talking about? Nagwa Awad: I started Dawan Global in 2013 on my 50th birthday. So now you really know how old I am. John Shegerian: Wow. OK. Now we know the truth. So that means – by the way we’re the same age, OK? Now you know how old I am. We’re the same age. So now you’re at 50 years old, you have this – I love it. And how did you come up with the name? Explain the name? Nagwa Awad: It’s my name backwards. John Shegerian: Ah. Nagwa Awad: I was toiling around – because, originally, I started selling the items online and I just was getting more orders than I could keep up with as a private person. John Shegerian: Right. Nagwa Awad: I’ve always had that entrepreneurial spirit. There is a rush that you get from selling something. John Shegerian: Right. Nagwa Awad: So I tried to put my name. It didn’t come up. So I put – I figure if Oprah Winfrey can do it so why not me? So it’s my name backwards. John Shegerian: I love it. It’s wonderful. That’s beautiful. OK. So you start this in 2013. Now explain the first year. How long did it take you to create something that was sellable, and how did you get the first sale? Talk a little bit about the second sale and then talk a little bit about how do you then socialize a product like this. How do you really start making a business model out of it? Nagwa Awad: Well, when I found this unit – obviously, it wasn’t my unit but I found this unit. John Shegerian: Right. Yeah. Nagwa Awad: And I purchased 10 units. John Shegerian: OK. Nagwa Awad: And if I’m telling you that – I posted it online, and since I posted it online, if I’m turning around to grab something on my desk, I get an email that says, “item sold.” Like, within a split-second, my first item sold. So then I increased the price a little bit more, and I found that when I increased the price, I actually sold more because I guess people felt like I was running out of inventory. John Shegerian: Wow. Nagwa Awad: So then I started negotiating with the manufacturer to purchase them at a lower price. John Shegerian: Wow. Nagwa Awad: I didn’t set out to start a company. It just started itself. But then I realized that I have something here and maybe it was better to form a company and sell it through the company. So I incorporated exactly on my 50th birthday. It was my 50th birthday gift to me. John Shegerian: Wow. Nagwa Awad: Once I incorporate, then you have a little bit more freedom in negotiating. You get your DUNS number, you file your IRS forms and you have a little bit more freedom to negotiate with manufacturers and be able to attend expos. People are willing to talk to you a little bit more when you’re actually a company as opposed to just an individual. John Shegerian: So explain for our listeners and for me, how unique is your product, and how many competitors do you have, and how have the last two years been? So now you get going, you incorporate, you’ve created a better manufacturing position for yourself with your manufacturer, better contract. Talk a little bit about the last two years. How is the rise of your great company? For our listeners out there to find your product, please go to www.DawanGlobal.com. Nagwa Awad: Well, what initially attracted me to the product that I’m selling is, it’s the size of a cell phone. It really is the size of a cell phone. John Shegerian: Wow. Nagwa Awad: But it can charge anywhere from three to 30 cell phones depending on power. So I figured, what am I looking at as a consumer? John Shegerian: Yeah. Nagwa Awad: But then I decided for ethics sake, because I’m a very – I like to be ethical. I just believe in karma. What goes around comes around. John Shegerian: Yup. Nagwa Awad: So I realized that even though there is a great demand for my products, I’m really warranting somebody else’s product. I’m purchasing from a factory. Whether the quality is good or mediocre I’m warranting that product. So this year what I decided to do is, I’ve actually branded my own products. We design. We came up with four new designs for four different purposes. They’re lighter in weight, bigger in capacity, plus they really do have the name, “Dawan Global,” on them. John Shegerian: Beautiful. Nagwa Awad: Because I warranty my products for a year. No questions asked. You can return them because – I don’t know – you don’t like our company colors. It doesn’t matter. I just think of myself as a consumer. John Shegerian: Right. Nagwa Awad: So once that happened, then the next phase becomes then you go out there and you market the product and wait. They say you should really spend the most amount of money on your marketing and sales team, and that is the business model I attribute my success to. I invested heavily in my marketing company – I do have a marketing company on retainer – and very heavily in my sales staff to get the word out. But that’s enough to get people in the door. Now you need quality to keep people in the door, to get them coming back for more. John Shegerian: Right. Nagwa Awad: So I made sure that the product – and, actually, we had to send an entire shipment back because it had like a yellow dot. I guess there was a problem with the dye. I’d rather take the financial loss than to have to put out a product and have my customer come to me and say, “There is a yellow dot in the middle of the screen.” John Shegerian: Right. And so when you say you have a marketing team are you doing most of your sales online right now? Do you have analogue people that are trying to get it placed in stores? Explain your model. Where are the majority of your sales being derived from right now? Nagwa Awad: Well, we have a website at Ecommerce, but that is mainly for end-users, B2C. But as far as our B2B, that is mainly face-to-face where we actually – I like to use the term “pound-to-pavement” because in my mind we’re all seriously like glorified salespeople. Even when the President of the United States runs for office, he is selling his talent. A doctor is selling his services or is education. So we are all salespeople. There is nothing to be ashamed of in that. But to get good sales, to get leads you really have to pound the pavement and that’s what I tell my sales staff. So B2B is face-to-face. We are getting our products in the stores. We do have distributors kind of throughout the country. In March, we’ll be kind of throughout the country. In March, we’ll be distributing internationally. But as far as B2C – end-users, just single customers – we strictly sell online. John Shegerian: Wow. So right now B2C is strictly online, but you’re also doing B2B, and next March, you’re going to be international. Nagwa Awad: Yes. John Shegerian: That’s so exciting. Wow. So talk a little bit about the journey. What would you like our listeners to know about your product? How can they buy your product? How expensive is it? And then we’ll get into some other stuff. Nagwa Awad: Well, if they log on to the website, www.DawanGlobal.com, they can purchase the products. Any emails, any phone calls – they come through me. As I said, I started this company with just myself out of a home office and my warehouse was my basement. John Shegerian: Right. Nagwa Awad: But now we’ve actually expanded. We have an office in New Jersey and we have an office in New York. But that doesn’t mean I don’t get to see every single email, every single piece of communication that comes from customers. Every one of my employees has to have me as a CC on every communication that goes back and forth. Anyone who calls, it comes to me first and then either I return the phone call or I pass it on to the person who can help them. John Shegerian: Wow. Nagwa Awad: So if they log on to the website, they can purchase the product. John Shegerian: Wow. Nagwa Awad: If they are looking to purchase in bulk – if they are a distributor or electronics store owner or another small business – then I would put them through to my sales account executive because then he can give them special pricing. We do have a lot of clients that will purchase, for example, 30 units at a time to give them as gifts to their staff so those also I would put through to my sales department because then they get special pricing. Obviously, they don’t pay taxes, they don’t pay shipping. There is a little bit more involved when we’re dealing with a business. John Shegerian: And are you where you want to be after two years? Is it bigger than you thought it would be, Nagwa, or is it smaller than you thought it would be? And where do you want it to go in 10 years? I mean, listen, you’re a young 52. You’re like me. We’ve got a long road ahead of us here. Nagwa Awad: Yes. Of course. John Shegerian: We’re just starting up. We’re just in the second half of the game here. I mean, there is a long way to go before they blow the final whistle on us so where is this going to go? Are you where you want to be after two years, and where is this going to go in the next five to 10? Nagwa Awad: Well, I will say that 50 is the new 30, but as I keep telling my staff, the company is growing on its own and we’re just chasing after it trying to keep up with it. John Shegerian: That’s so great. Nagwa Awad: So it has grown a lot more than I anticipated. Where do I want to be five to 10 years from now? John Shegerian: Yeah. Nagwa Awad: Sincerely and from the heart, I’d like to see everybody have access to some power for their electronics. John Shegerian: Right. Nagwa Awad: Whether it’s my products or – we really don’t have many competitors – but whether it’s our products or somebody else’s, everybody really needs to tap into natural resources to keep your electronics. So that’s where I want to see a Dawan Global, in every hand, in every household. John Shegerian: That’s a fascinating point. Before we went on the air, you and I were talking where we all are today. And Michael is in New York and I’m in L.A. today and you’re in New Jersey. Can you share a little bit about how long – because we all have different levels of sun based upon time of year and also geographically where we’re sitting – how much solar does it take for your device to charge up my cell phone typically? If it’s not a sunny day, am I out of luck? Or even on a cloudy day will it still derive some energy to put into my cell phone? How does it really work, and how many minutes on a sunny day does it take? Nagwa Awad: Well, let me just start by saying there are solar banks and there are solar chargers. John Shegerian: OK. Nagwa Awad: Solar banks are like batteries. John Shegerian: OK. Nagwa Awad: For a solar bank to charge, you need the UV rays. John Shegerian: OK. Nagwa Awad: So even on a cloudy day the sun rises every day, so every day you can charge it because just because you don’t see the sun doesn’t mean it’s not there. It’s still up in the sky. John Shegerian: Right. Nagwa Awad: So you’re getting the UV rays from the sun. But the solar chargers – that you need direct sunlight for because there is no battery in it to harvest the sun power. So just getting back to the solar banks. You’d need one hour per 1,000 milliamp hours to charge it. So our smallest unit is 5,000 milliamp hours, which is enough to charge one-and-a-half cell phones on a single charge. From depletion to completion, you would need about an hour per 1,000 milliamp hours so we’re talking about five hours. Our biggest unit, though, is 100,000 milliamp hours. That can charge 30 cell phones on a single charge. So even though, technically, it would take 100 hours to fully charge, it’s never going to be depleted. John Shegerian: Got it. Nagwa Awad: Because on a single charge, you can charge your cell phone and your laptop and your digital camera and still maybe – you haven’t put a dent in this thing. John Shegerian: Ah. I see what you’re saying. So you’re saying on a sunny day – if I’m sitting in San Diego or L.A. and on a sunny day I leave your biggest unit out to get charged now, it stores energy for me and I can plug into that whenever I want. Nagwa Awad: Yes. John Shegerian: Ah. That’s awesome. Nagwa Awad: I put it in my purse. When I see that my phone is running out of charge, I just hook it up to my phone and I’ll stick it inside my purse with no sunlight around because the charge is already in there. John Shegerian: We’re down to the – unfortunately – you and I could spend an hour together on the show – because of time limits today – but we’re going to have you back. We’re down to the last minute. Why isn’t every Best Buy buying from you? Why isn’t every Wal-Mart? Talk a little bit about – is that what’s coming? Is that what is going to come in the future? Are you going to get into all those great retailers, and are we going to see your product all over the place soon? Nagwa Awad: Yes. Yes. And Yes. John Shegerian: Yay! Nagwa Awad: We are talking to Best Buy; we are taking to Wal-Mart; we are talking to these people right now; and yes, you will see it in stores and you will have more access to it than the Internet. But I do want to say that if you purchase it through the website, it’s very convenient. You get it within two days. John Shegerian: Wow. That’s awesome. Well, people should go to your website, which is www.DawanGlobal.com. Nagwa, we’re going to have you back on the show because we didn’t have enough time today. Your journey is fascinating and we want more people to buy your great product and make the world a better, cleaner and greener place. Thank you for being on Green Is Good today. You are truly living proof that Green Is Good.