Ask the Climate Startup is an interactive series we run at CLIMAFIX that derives key insights from innovative climate startup founders on many different aspects of their startup journey. (See all posts at Ask the Climate Startup)

This series is done as part of the CLIMAFIX Summit 2023, India’s largest climate startup summit, organized by CLIMAFIX & Energy Consortium – IIT Madras.

In this post, we have Prabir Mishra of TRST 01 for sharing his perspectives.

CLIMAFIX thanks Prabir Mishra for his valuable inputs.


1. Are you a first, second, or later-generation entrepreneur?

Indeed, I am a first-generation entrepreneur. Although entrepreneurial journeys often come with challenges and uncertainties, they also offer opportunities to pave the way for future generations. Coming from a non-entrepreneurial background, embarking on this path has been a thrilling and rewarding experience.

There is an old adage that says, “Every journey begins with a single step,” and in this case, my journey started with the decision to venture into the exciting world of entrepreneurship. This step into the unknown has allowed me to grow, learn, and adapt in ways I could never have imagined, and it has given me a chance to build something from the ground up and contribute positively to society. As a first-generation entrepreneur, my journey might be the first in my family, but I hope it won’t be the last. I aim to inspire others to take this path and encourage them to embrace the entrepreneurial spirit. Every great journey indeed has to start somewhere, and I am glad to have embarked on this exciting entrepreneurial journey.

2. What has been your previous work or professional experience?

I started my career in Investment Banking, gaining a deep understanding of global financial markets. My interest led me to work with several leading Venture Capital firms and investment funds, where I handled roles such as deal structuring and due diligence. In 2016, I launched my boutique investment banking services to cater to the unique needs of growing companies. We focused on being strategic partners to our clients beyond just fundraising.

With a keen interest in blockchain technology, Suraj and I co-founded TRST01. We recognized Blockchain’s potential to redefine transactions and trust in the digital world. Our objective is not merely adopting the technology but also identifying genuine problems that could be solved using it. Our commitment at TRST01 is to explore the vast potential of Blockchain to create more efficient, transparent, and inclusive economic systems.

3. Were there any special or specific reasons for you becoming an entrepreneur?

After spending two enriching decades immersed in the world of Investment Banking, I felt a stirring within me. It was the spark of entrepreneurial spirit, yearning for new challenges and opportunities. With a wealth of experience and in-depth industry insights under my belt, I decided it was time to set out on my own and explore the vast, uncharted waters of entrepreneurship.

My attention was drawn to an emergent technology that was starting to reshape the global business landscape – Blockchain. With its potential to redefine trust and transparency in digital transactions, Blockchain offers the perfect platform to leverage my expertise and explore new possibilities.

I recognized that this innovative technology could be the foundation of an enterprise that not only drives profit, but also creates value in unprecedented ways. This led me to co-found TRST01, a company that identifies and implements real-world applications of blockchain technology.

At TRST01, we aren’t just about leveraging Blockchain for its own sake. We are committed to uncovering genuine problems that can be addressed by this technology, enhancing efficiency, increasing transparency, and ultimately fostering a more inclusive economic ecosystem. Thus began my exciting journey from a seasoned investment banker to a pioneering entrepreneur in the blockchain space.

4. Where or how did you meet your co-founders?

Suraj and I have shared a professional and personal relationship for over two decades. He successfully ran a Telecom tower business where I, with my investment banking background, offered support in financial planning and deal structuring. This long-standing collaboration enabled us to understand each other’s strengths and leverage them, forming the foundation for co-founding our blockchain-focused venture, TRST01.


5. Was there anything noteworthy you wish to talk about from your first year or the first couple of years of your startup?

Our journey began as a blockchain technology startup with a keen focus on revolutionizing supply chain, education, and healthcare sectors. However, in the course of our work, we identified a more pressing issue that demanded our attention: climate change.

We recognized the enormous potential that lay in addressing this global crisis. The urgency of climate action presented not just substantial challenges but also significant opportunities. In response to this, we pivoted our operations and transformed TRST01 into a pure-play climate tech startup.

Our goal now is to utilize advanced technology to facilitate effective climate action and to contribute to the creation of a sustainable and resilient future. We believe that technology can play a critical role in combating climate change and we are committed to harnessing its potential for the greater good.

6. Was there an Aha moments during your startup journey that made a dramatic difference (positive or negative difference)?

Our journey with TRST01 has been marked by several significant milestones and ‘Aha’ moments that have defined and shaped our growth trajectory.

Firstly, we had the privilege of creating India’s inaugural carbon credit token, NFT BHU. This was a pioneering achievement, leveraging the power of blockchain to create an entirely new paradigm in carbon trading. The development of NFT BHU represented a major advancement in India’s fight against climate change, facilitating the democratization of carbon credits and enabling more entities to participate in this essential market.

Next, we embarked on India’s first distributed Measurement, Reporting, and Verification (dMRV) project. The dMRV system, enhanced with blockchain, ensures transparent, tamper-proof, and efficient tracking and reporting of emission reductions.

In addition to these groundbreaking projects, we also developed India’s first blockchain-enabled Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) reporting tool. This tool, which combines advanced blockchain technology with robust ESG metrics, provides a trustworthy and efficient platform for companies to manage their ESG reporting.

Currently, we are working on creating the country’s first traceable sustainable supply chain. This will leverage blockchain technology to provide transparency, accountability, and efficiency in supply chains, helping businesses minimize their environmental footprint and promoting sustainable business practices.

Each of these achievements reflects our commitment to driving innovative solutions for climate action. Our work at TRST01 is not just about harnessing emerging technologies, but about leveraging them to create meaningful and impactful change.

7. Were there any memorable, amazing or funny memories from your journey?



8. What was your biggest mistake in the startup journey? Something that you would like other startups to avoid?

Reflecting on our startup journey, one of the significant challenges we faced was partnering with people who were not fully committed to the venture. This is a mistake I would advise other startups to avoid. In the fast-paced, high-stakes world of startups, full dedication is an absolute necessity.

We learned that partnering with part-time individuals who weren’t wholly invested in our vision and mission led to a lack of alignment in our goals and execution. Startups require a team that is passionate, committed, and ready to give their all towards building and growing the company.

Another essential piece of advice I would give to other startups is to be resilient in the face of negativity and emotional challenges. The journey of building a startup is marked by highs and lows. There will be moments of doubt, frustration, and even fear. However, it’s important to not let these negative emotions hinder your progress.

The ability to maintain a positive outlook and persevere through the tough times is crucial. In fact, these challenging moments often serve as catalysts for growth and innovation, and provide valuable learning experiences.

Remember, building a successful startup isn’t just about creating a viable product or service. It’s also about cultivating a strong and committed team that shares your vision and is willing to navigate the roller coaster journey with resilience and optimism.

9. Looking back, what would you have tried to do differently if you were to start again?

Looking back on our journey with TRST01, there are indeed a few things I would approach differently if given the opportunity to start again.

Firstly, I would spend more time on clearly defining the problem statement. A well-articulated problem statement is fundamental to a startup’s success. It forms the basis for product development, business strategy, and customer engagement. In our initial stages, we could have invested more time in meticulously understanding and defining the problem we were aiming to solve. This could have led to more streamlined efforts and potentially saved valuable resources.

Secondly, the importance of choosing the right collaborators cannot be overstated. As we learned, working with individuals who were not fully committed or aligned with our mission caused setbacks. In the future, I would ensure that anyone we bring into the team shares our passion and commitment to the venture’s goals.

Lastly, I would foster an even more adaptable mindset from the very beginning. The journey of a startup is fraught with uncertainties and rapid changes. It’s crucial to be open to pivoting your business model, strategy, or even the product based on market feedback or changes in the environment. While we did eventually pivot to focus on climate tech, cultivating an openness to change from the very start could have accelerated our progress and helped us adapt more effectively to evolving market dynamics.

While these lessons came with challenges, they also served as valuable experiences that shaped our growth and helped us build a stronger, more resilient business. We will continue to leverage these insights as we navigate the path ahead.

10. Is there a question you would like startup founders to ask before they start?

What is Success and How they would like to define success


11. What keeps you awake at night?

Being an entrepreneur often entails navigating through a plethora of challenges and concerns that can keep one awake at night.

For me, one primary concern is ensuring we maintain our focus. In a world where new opportunities and challenges are continually emerging, it’s easy to get side-tracked. Keeping our mission front and centre and staying committed to our core objectives is something I constantly ponder.

Securing funding is another area that demands a significant amount of attention. A startup’s survival often depends on its ability to raise capital at critical junctures. Developing effective strategies to attract investors and demonstrate our venture’s potential is a recurring thought.

Retaining talent is also a significant concern. Our team is our biggest asset, and creating an environment that not only attracts but also retains top-notch talent is crucial. Fostering a culture of growth, learning, and engagement is a constant focus for me.

Then there’s the challenge of planning for growth. Ensuring we’re scaling at a sustainable pace while also capitalizing on new opportunities is a delicate balancing act. Considering the right time to scale, the markets to enter, and the resources required are frequent thoughts.

Lastly, the future success of our venture is something that occupies my mind. As we look towards the future, I am continually thinking about how we can stay ahead of the curve, adapt to changing market dynamics, and continue to drive innovation.

While these concerns can be daunting, they also fuel my drive and passion to overcome these challenges and steer our venture towards success. They serve as reminders of the responsibilities I carry and the impact our work can have.

12. What do you think are your biggest strengths that are especially helping you in your journey?

As an entrepreneur, I believe my biggest strengths lie in my ability to maintain focus, innovate, adapt quickly, and pivot as per market demands. These are the key skills that have significantly shaped and supported my journey with TRST01.

Staying focused in the face of various challenges and distractions is crucial for any startup’s success. My ability to stay on course, keeping our mission and goals at the forefront, has helped navigate through complex situations and make strategic decisions that align with our company’s long-term vision.

Innovation is another strength I bring to the table. In a rapidly evolving industry like ours, constant innovation is a necessity rather than a luxury. My capacity to think creatively, challenge traditional approaches, and embrace new ideas has driven our venture to develop unique and impactful solutions.

One of the most valuable strengths in my entrepreneurial toolkit is the ability to pivot quickly and adapt to market signals. In the dynamic world of start-ups, being nimble and responsive to market changes is paramount. My knack for recognizing changing trends, anticipating needs, and swiftly adapting our strategies has been instrumental in keeping us relevant and competitive.

Each of these strengths has served as a guiding force in my startup journey, enabling me to steer our company through various phases of growth and navigate the complex, ever-evolving business landscape.

13. How were you able to find – and retain good talent – given the vast, lucrative opportunities such talent has today?  

Attracting and retaining talent in today’s competitive IT landscape indeed presents a significant challenge. With numerous lucrative opportunities available, it is essential to offer more than just competitive compensation to engage and retain the best talent.

At TRST01, we have adopted a holistic approach to talent management that focuses on motivation, value creation, and job satisfaction.

We strongly believe in the power of motivation and recognize our team’s contributions regularly. This recognition not only takes the form of financial rewards but also includes verbal acknowledgment, opportunities for career growth, and the chance to participate in meaningful projects.

Value creation is another critical aspect. We ensure that every team member feels that they are making a significant contribution to the company and our mission. We involve our employees in decision-making processes and value their ideas and feedback. This sense of ownership often leads to increased commitment and job satisfaction.

Additionally, we strive to make the job interesting and challenging. We believe in promoting a culture of continuous learning and growth. Our employees are given opportunities to explore new areas, work on diverse projects, and develop their skills.

We also foster a supportive and inclusive work environment where everyone feels valued and heard. This culture plays a pivotal role in not just attracting but also retaining talent.

While the battle for talent in the IT sector is intense, we have found that this people-centric approach significantly helps us stand out as an employer of choice.

14. Was there some support or help you received in your startup journey that proved critical? Who would you like to thank?

Throughout my startup journey, I have been incredibly fortunate to receive critical support from various individuals who believed in our vision and were instrumental in our progress.

Firstly, I would like to express my deep gratitude to my co-founder, Suraj. His unwavering faith in our shared vision, his commitment to our mission, and his invaluable contributions to our strategic decision-making process have played a significant role in our venture’s success. His understanding and implementation of our business themes were pivotal in establishing and growing our startup.

I would also like to express heartfelt thanks to my mentor, Mahesh Ramanujam. His strategic guidance and belief in our potential for value creation have been a source of continuous inspiration and motivation. His wisdom and mentorship have provided us with invaluable perspectives and insights that have significantly contributed to shaping our strategies and guiding our growth trajectory.

Lastly, I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to all our colleagues and staff members. Their belief in our mission, their hard work, and their dedication to our shared vision have been fundamental to our success, and their commitment to our cause is what drives our venture forward every day.

Every individual who has believed in us and supported us throughout this journey holds a special place in the story of TRST01. Without their faith and support, we wouldn’t have been able to achieve what we have. Their contributions have been critical in shaping our venture, and  I am profoundly grateful for their unwavering support and their crucial roles in our journey.