Side Hustle City

Revolutionizing the Energy Landscape: Sustainable Solutions for Business with Gareth Evans

December 13, 2023 Adam Koehler with Gareth Evans Season 4 Episode 61
Side Hustle City
Revolutionizing the Energy Landscape: Sustainable Solutions for Business with Gareth Evans
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Step into the future with us and Gareth Evans, the intrepid founder of Vecta, a company on a mission to revolutionize the energy landscape. Gareth's journey from supporting the oil and gas industry in Iraq, to providing affordable and clean energy solutions to businesses, is as fascinating as it is inspiring. In this conversation, he unpacks the unique energy challenges faced by businesses, particularly in manufacturing, food and beverage, and healthcare sectors, and how Vecta is empowering them to design and implement effective and sustainable energy solutions.

Are you a business owner looking to not just save, but perhaps even generate your own energy? This episode offers a deep dive into an exciting new era of energy independence. We discuss the potential for businesses to become energy producers, the growing relevance of carbon credits, and the promising prospect of properties turning into net positive energy producers. Whether you're in real estate or an entrepreneur looking to add value to your venture, the insights shared in this episode are priceless.

No conversation about energy can be complete without discussing sustainability, and that's where we head next. We examine how franchises can leverage sustainable energy solutions for cost savings and efficiency, and in the process become community resilience hubs. Gareth also shares his experiences and challenges as an entrepreneur, and underscores the importance of having a passionate team. The episode concludes with a global view of the energy landscape, particularly shedding light on the opportunities and incentives available in the US due to its outdated grid. Join us as we journey through the uncharted territories of energy and entrepreneurship.

Next Steps:
As you're inspired to embark on your side hustle journey after listening to this episode, you might wonder where to start or how to make your vision a reality. That's where our trusted partner, Reversed Out Creative comes in.

With a team of experienced professionals and a track record of helping clients achieve their dreams, they are ready to assist you in reaching your goals. To find out more, visit www.reversedout.com. We also recently launched our YouTube Channel, Marketing Pro Trends,  which summarizes all of our blog posts.

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Speaker 2:

Welcome to Side Hustle City and thanks for joining us. Our goal is to help you connect to real people who found success turning their side hustle into a main hustle, and we hope you can too. I'm Adam Kaler. I'm joined by Kyle Stevy, my co-host. Let's get started. Welcome back, everybody, to the Side Hustle City podcast. Today we've got a special guest with us, gareth Evans. Gareth, thanks for being on the show.

Speaker 1:

Hey, great to be here and great to hang out with them.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, we're going to talk a little bit something a little different today. You've got a company called Vecta that actually helps businesses save money on their energy correct.

Speaker 1:

That's right. Yeah, okay, it's a huge opportunity for businesses to really reduce their energy costs.

Speaker 2:

Well, I have a building and I'm always trying to look to reduce my energy costs and I've got some friends in the industry and they're kind of helped me out. We actually had a Duke Energy which runs all of our electric around here. They had a program at one point where they would come out and they would get rid of everything that was inefficient and put LEDs in and all this stuff. I mean they probably did over $100,000 worth of work and then they only charged me $9,000 because I guess I don't know, maybe the federal government was subsidizing it or they were going to subsidize it because there was too much stuff on the grid at the time. But yeah, I got a lot of work done. It was pretty nice. We have a commercial kitchen down in the basement and it has all these fans that constantly are going in these motors and they went in and replaced all those suckers. I was like that's, that would have cost a lot of money. So thanks for coming in. And, yeah, thanks for coming in and getting rid of those old fans from 1996 or whenever they installed the things. So that was good. And then I've been threatening to put solar on my building because my electric bill seems to be just going up and up and up every year, when average is probably about $4,500 a month now in this building. So it gets a little crazy. And I'm sure I'm not the only one, and I also have a lot of friends who own commercial real estate, but residential commercial, I'm talking 100, 200 units, big apartment buildings, a lot of common space that they have to pay for. Some of the units are paid electric, paid gas and electric whatever it is in there. So talk about what got you into this, because you're an entrepreneur, it sounds like.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, well, certainly you're not on your own in terms of escalating energy costs, and so certainly my personal mission is to provide affordable, reliable, clean energy access for all, and I've had the pleasure of living and working all around the world and one of the best opportunities I had was actually supporting the oil and gas industry to move into Iraq after the Second Gulf War. So we're living on the US Army base in Basra pretty stressful, security threatening conditions but what I got to see firsthand was the impact to a country, to a community, to businesses that didn't have access to reliable power and were trying to survive on diesel gensets and backup power, and bad things happen and things deteriorate quickly when you're in that situation. So in the US we've had a really amazing grid and utilities are kind of looked after us for the last 100 years, but now that infrastructure is getting older, harder to maintain, less reliable and as such, a lot of money is needed to keep it up and running, and that's what's being passed on to you as the rate payer your costs are going up to offset the need for utilities to try and maintain that infrastructure. So what motivates me is that technology and capabilities and capital exists in the market today such that you can take more control over your energy future through what you're describing on site energy. So someone who's gone through energy efficiency like you just mentioned, like they're a perfect candidate for energy you've already reduced your energy consumption as much as you feasibly can, and now how do you offset your need to rely on the utility? So our approach is you're not an energy expert. You want to focus on running your business. You want to make sure that you maximize your opportunities, make it as profitable as possible. So we place you in control. Instead of being passively sold to by developers in the market trying to sell you solar or batteries or wind turbines whatever it is that they're trying to sell you. We look at all of the options for you and make sure that you design and configure the one that meets your specific needs and objectives, and then we get your firm quotes from the market, such that you're not having to figure out who's the right partner for you.

Speaker 2:

Wow, okay. So who are your main customers? Who are the people you really target?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, so commercial industrial customers. So we'll do multifamily residential but we won't do single residential properties. The whole residential market is fairly well mature now. Anyone can pretty much get solar on the roof fairly painlessly and utility scale projects are super mature. That's a long-term business. That's, people know how to deploy large solar wind projects at scale. But there's that big market in the middle of commercial industrial businesses and that ranges from properties like yours to micro breweries to wineries, to supermarkets, distribution centres, mining companies, oil and gas. These are all critical businesses. Energy is a super vital input to all of them. But certainly today manufacturing heavy industry, food and beverage because of the perishable goods and consumer facing. So they need to be more sustainable. And there's lots of very positive reasons why manufacturing food and actually healthcare, in fact, because they need reliable power and they want to do right by the community that they're serving. These are all prime markets for us today, but any business that wants to look at their options is a customer for us.

Speaker 2:

Well, not even from a hardware perspective. I was working with the state of Kentucky and talking to them about blockchain technology and we've actually got a group and we're going to meet next week on a report that we're putting together for the state of Kentucky, and the idea was, you know, energy is a strategic resource in a way. I mean it's if you lose, if your power grid goes down, you're in trouble from a defensive perspective. Right, and you I mean obviously, as someone who spent some time, you know, in a war torn country, you understand that if your power grid goes down or if you don't have access to to, you know the right kinds of things. I mean look at, I mean armies, have you know? You run out of oil. It's over, right, you're, I mean you're pretty much done. Your tanks don't go anymore. You stick them in the mud and you leave. So you know, when it comes to your power grid and the security on your power grid, we were recommending a more distributed type of computing system versus a single point of failure. When it comes to that, do you ever work on the like software side and the hardware side together to securitize? Not just I'm not just going into a commercial building and, you know, throwing some solar up there. You know recommend and whatever it is you recommend, but if you've gone to municipalities and talked to them about, hey, you really need to think about this. You've got one point of failure here when it comes to your, your computer systems that run your entire electric grid. Maybe you should do something about that.

Speaker 1:

You definitely spot on in terms of like. A more distributed energy future is one that's more secure, more adaptable, more flexible. It's quicker to build, you know, instead of like a big centralized gas plan, solar farm, transmission line. These are all five, 10, 15 year duration projects and a lot of objections to them, especially from the permitting perspective and people not wanting them running through their backyard. And so distributed energy assets and actually using the existing built environment and putting technology on it to generate and store energy is critical. The future you describe is where all those assets start to become interconnected and so they can trade, transact. You mentioned blockchain. The reality is, if you compare the energy industry to our web transition, you know web one was the read only era. You know we got to digest information from the web. Web two was we now got to provide some data. You know it became read, write. We could create social media profiles, we could share some information, we could talk to people. Web three is a future where we control our data, we control who we interact with and we have a lot more flexibility to operate in the in the world so we can decide. Today the energy industry is in web one mode, where we are passive consumers of energy. We have no control over whether we get it, when we get it, how much it costs and how clean it is. And so the future you're describing is the web three energy future, where we can generate our own. We can decide whether we want to over generate, share it with neighbors, sell it to neighbors, trade carbon credits. It's a super exciting time. Just the level of deployment is not yet there yet to be really facilitating that at scale. The reason why we target commercial industrial businesses is because their decision making processes are a lot more straightforward than trying to negotiate with municipalities, governments, utilities, who are all have more kind of bureaucratic, regimented procurement processes, and so it's a bit more challenging to do that at scale. But they are prime candidates to be thinking about. Oh my God, yeah.

Speaker 2:

Well, I mean, let's talk about, you know, say, a multifamily person. We have a lot of real estate people who come on the podcast. Now could you possibly get them to the point where they are a net positive producer of energy, where they're selling energy and I don't know if that's the right term, but they're selling energy back to the grid after they invest these capital expenditures to create these like cleaner forms of energy or whatever, to run their run their operations? Is that possible now or is that something down the future that would be possible?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, so that's a big thing that we actually look at. Adam is like where is the property located? What is the? Who is their utility, what are the tariffs they on today? And there are certain states that or utilities that support something called net metering. So you, if you over generate and you want to sell energy back to the grid, they'll compensate you for that. So we look at what is the opportunity for you to arbitrage and play the market. And yes, you can do that today in certain areas not all areas but if you can't, you can potentially install a battery and if you are over generating, you can store that energy and then, instead of them being penalized by the utility during peak demand hours, typically between four and nine PM, a lot of utilities have what they call time of use rates, where that's when everyone needs the energy. So you get charged a huge amount more than what you would during the day or like at night, and so then you can use the battery to ride through those periods. So it's all about how can you strategically utilize utility power when you need it or when it's at the right price, but also when should you use your own generation storage assets to really optimize your expenditures?

Speaker 2:

Interesting and you could help them put the right systems in place with timers on them, almost like a nest thermostat at your house where it says hey look, you've got some energy stored up here and some I don't know Tesla batteries or whatever you might want to, and it just kicks them on. Maybe it's just like look exactly it knows how much is in there, it knows what it can use and you're just using that instead of paying these higher rates during these peak times.

Speaker 1:

Yes, boss on, we're sure the guy did a day. He asked do I have to go and turn on the battery on and off at set times? And no, you know that's how it works. Yeah, there's great, great technology microgrid controllers or Just controllers in general that will do all that for you and you can set it to around the optimal business case that we've designed, and then it can actually learn and optimize itself on the fly as well. And yeah, to be clear, we don't install that ourselves. You know, we're not the developer, we're not the installer, we are like the enabling Technologies. So, like you, go and use Expedia today to put in some data, get your options, book your holiday. Expedia doesn't fly you there or put you up in the hotel. We do that for energy. So we represent your best interests. We absorb your data, show you what's possible, help you get the right packages, get firm quotes from the market and then we'll monitor it to make sure you're getting what you were promised. Versus a you know someone kind of deploying something you don't know whether it's working or not.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, because I think nobody knows how this stuff works. I mean you know they need a broker, they need somebody who can go in there and knock this stuff out. And you saw the opportunity. And this is interesting, you know, because we have the side hustle city podcast and it's something that I, you know, we, we come on here we talk about, oh, buy some real estate, open a laundromat, do all this other stuff. You took that to another level. You're like no, this, there is a need out there for people to Distill this information down to, like, the common folk. Right, we don't, we don't know all this stuff. I mean, most people own an apartment complex. They, you know, they know how to, you know, hang some drywall or they, if they have to, they can go in and replace a faucet in a unit if they wanted to. They understand how the banks work and they understand how their taxes work and all that. Yeah, they understand how talk to people and Work with tenants. They have no idea what's going on in these buildings and how much money they could be saving in the value add. When you talk about value add, if you buy a building, you're talking about oh, let's, we're ago, we're gonna paint the doors, they're all brown, we're gonna, we're gonna make them look nice, we're gonna throw some new, new, you know numbers on the thing, some modern looking numbers outside. We're gonna clean the place up, plant some new bushes. Those are like the value add stuff. You go and you buy one of these apartment complexes. It hasn't been taken care of properly. You want to do things that are gonna bring up the value, you put more people in it and then maybe you sell it off unless you want to hold it long term or different strategies. But I Could see this as a huge value add, especially for a company that wants to come in and like buy up a bunch of units at one time and you've got this corporation that almost works like, you know, a hedge fund or whatever, where they're coming in and they're they're doing all the value add stuff right. This is something that could like save you money if you're a long-term holder of one of these assets.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and you don't even necessarily have to be a long-term holder. It's definitely easier when someone owns the real estate because they're not having to speak to landlords and negotiate and deal with all that kind of behind the scenes. But what we just did, an assessment for a small fast-food restaurants, and they lease in strip malls and so they don't own the building. And they were saying you know, we're obviously not going to deploy a bunch of solar panels because we're not going to install it, because we might want to leave in two years time. But what we look at, if they put a small battery in the back almost the residential size battery, they could actually half their energy bills because they wouldn't be paying those peak charges. We just told them that, oh well, you could reduce their demand charges. So when you think about, you know, even the smallest Facility that's maybe paying a couple of grand a month, being able to have that expense and then pay it off in one to two years. And even better, there are companies in the market that want to finance these systems. They want to build them, own them, operate them and just sell you energy as a service back, such that you don't have to worry about any of it. So these are some of the tactics that people can be thinking about, but, yeah, you're absolutely spot on. We want business leaders to focus on what they do best and not need to be energy experts. But let's give you the data, the insights, the guidance to feel confident about acting.

Speaker 2:

And you realize people are gonna pay a premium. And people will pay for this because not only do they not Want to think about it, they just don't have the time to mess with it. And they know that and they're willing to put the money out there to a consultant because they also, at the same time, don't trust the energy companies. They don't trust the guy who's putting in the solar, they don't trust, you know, the one per. Of course they're gonna recommend solar. Oh yeah, do all your old building solar. We'll put it all over. You know, spend all the money with us. You're saying no, no, no, no. That might not be the best solution. Let's look at what you have now and then what providers are around here, what part of the world you live in. Are you living a desert, or do you live in a cloudy, gloomy place that's overcast 80% of the day? Well, let's look at that stuff and then create a mix of solutions for you to save you money.

Speaker 1:

Exactly and we pull over 5000 different dates points for a single location. So you can imagine like this isn't a, let's pull up a spreadsheet and figure out something on the back of an envelope. This is pretty complex Optimization work to make sure that we get truly the right system. And and then location yeah, impacts everything from your solar potential to your utility prices and also the suppliers that are going to be there that Are right to support you. You know you've got a project in your backyard. Versus someone being in Florida, it would be a completely different installer that would be right for you. So, helping people understand which way they should turn. And we also firmly believe in kill bad projects, because if we look at your data and there isn't a use case and let's not waste anyone's time or money or energy developing it let's kill it early. Let's get you to move on to the next project where there's a great return on investment. This has to be profitable, otherwise it's not worth doing.

Speaker 2:

I love what you're doing. I have a client that is doing something very similar with fast food chains when it comes to printing. So they all do seasonal printing, right, they all need a. You know they need Halloween decorations put up, or their Halloween drink, or their Halloween meal or whatever in the world. It is their Christmas stuff, right? Well, the franchisees Don't know how to manage activities, don't know how to manage at themselves, right, they don't. It needs to come from corporate. Corporate needs to just order it and it Show up at the door one day, right? Yeah? Well, that's not how it works for a lot of franchises, right? So they record that. You know they. Each franchisees goes out and tries to find their own things, you know, maybe the the franchise or sends them, you know, the design files to mess with, but it's not automated. Really, there's an opportunity there to save them money, save them time, make the make having that franchise or franchisee relationship stronger. Because you know I could go and open my own burger shop what do I need your burger logo for on here and pay you, you know, 10% of my profits. I don't have to do that, you know, or maybe even more in some cases. But the thing is is with franchises, and I love when people sell to franchise. I had another company that did the same thing with franchises, but for networking equipment. So anytime they wanted to, you know they're building a new building. They went and installed all the networking equipment, all the white, all the whaps and all that our stuff. They did all that. And this is the second company, you're the wag, your the third company, now that I see that's doing something with franchises. And it makes a lot of sense because the cost of employees is going up. A lot of times you're not raising your prices right away. It's getting harder to find employees unless you pay them more, more money, and in every market it's gonna be different. So you, you know, mcdonald's might raise the cost of a cheeseburger a quarter for you, but it's costing you an extra dollar or two an hour to hire an employee and it just doesn't. The math doesn't work out. So these people are looking for ways. How do I increase efficiency even more and save money? I mean, some of these places are open 24 hours McDonald's and other places like that and they're running stuff all day. They got grills going, they've got air conditioning going, they've got you know If you're in a cold area, got a heat going all the time. This could be a way for them to Kind of hedge what's going on in the labor market 100%.

Speaker 1:

Especially, you have certainty of what your cost will be in the future. That's almost the most important for anyone running a business. Like what am I operating cost going to be? Like California, where I'm based right now, businesses have suffered 40% cost escalation in the last two years. The local utilities are proposing over 25% this year. So you can imagine for that McDonald's franchisee owner, how do you plan around that? Whereas if you can now put in your own system, know that this is what it's going to cost me every year, year in, year out, for the next 10, 15, 20 years. It just provides you that confidence to plan and optimize your business around that. So, and I think what's really exciting for service companies is power outages. Most people don't necessarily get impacted by them and don't think about them until they do get impacted. For service businesses, that can be the community resilience hub. When the power does go off and someone can come and order a burger and charge their phone and get a glass of water, that's super powerful because you can now build your brand, you can be the right, the true partner for your customers. I think there's something to be said for that. There's cost opportunities here, but there are also a lot of other soft opportunities around that. In terms of marketing, in terms of community building, in terms of brand awareness. It's quite an exciting time, but most people just don't know that they have options, and that's really the big part of the reason why I'm talking to you is how do we educate more people to be thinking about or exploring their options?

Speaker 2:

Oh yeah. And then on top of that, it's the costs that you think, oh man, I'm going to have to spend all this money, but there are grants out there. I mean, you're in California. I mean there's probably more California than anywhere else in the country, maybe in the world, maybe in the world.

Speaker 1:

Yeah Well, and federally. The Inflation Reduction Act is absolutely killer for these systems. For every dollar you spend, you can get 30 to 50 cents tax credits back, and so you can either take advantage of that yourself if you've got a tax burden that you want to manage, or if someone else is going to finance it for you, they can take advantage of that and just pass on those cost savings to you. So you're essentially getting a system at half price is what it equates to today, and so there actually couldn't be a better window of opportunity over the next few years for businesses to be deploying these systems, because you're spot on, the incentives are there and in addition, like the depreciation opportunity, you can depreciate these assets over a couple of years super quickly, and that's very valuable to businesses as well.

Speaker 2:

Oh, wow. So if I was looking to say sell my building and I had a system installed, I could pass that along to the buyer. I could say, hey look, we've got this. You know, we. Just, you know, there's brand new this, there's brand new that. It could possibly be a deal that you work out with them. Maybe they decide to buy the building, they finance this, upgrades or whatever, and then you pass the savings on to them. Somehow it can get creative with things and try to figure stuff out with this, but it could help you to incentivize a purchase on your building versus maybe another building if you're more flexible with these kinds of upgrades.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and there's actually great. There's great providers in the market that forge you know some of the customers you've or partners that you've spoken about multi-family home, multi-tenant. There are software packages that will actually look at everyone's consumption individually, pack it up, accumulate the savings, share it across the whole tenant base. So there are smart ways to do that to really incentivize everyone. But in terms of the actual investment deploying these systems, it's been proven that your property value should increase anywhere from five to $11 a square foot. So that alone for anyone who's looking to flip a building, they should be thinking about that and pricing it.

Speaker 2:

That is wild. Five to $11 a square foot, that's crazy. Wow, that's great man people. Yeah, hopefully people heard that and that's operating increases are typically 2.4 to 5.6%.

Speaker 1:

So anyone who's running NOI calculations, these are some of the opportunities that are available.

Speaker 2:

Wow, wow. What is it normally like? Costs Are you taking, like, how do you guys bill? Do you guys? Is it something? It's like you know, depending on how much money they end up spending on the total project? Do you get a piece of that? How does that work out?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, we want to minimize the cost to the buyer, so we have a platform and they pay a small access fee to get that intelligence and the insights and get the competitive quotes from our marketplace of suppliers, and then it's actually the supplier who wins their business, that actually pays us a success fee, the suppliers. It's free for them all to be there to get access to the deal flow. But we only want to capture value, and value is created for everyone. So suppliers want access to good projects, customers want to receive good outcomes, and so we're trying to align everyone's interests and act as that kind of Switzerland entity where we can rise all boats by bringing value to everyone. But, yeah, depending on the size of the business, depending on the number of properties they have, that's how we charge for the platform access.

Speaker 2:

Wow, and I love this. I love people who build two-sided marketplaces. We built one and we sold that back in 2015,. But it is difficult to build a two-sided marketplace. You've got customers and you've got suppliers, and you know getting them both on the platform. You know one. You know in order for the platform to work, both of those groups have to be there. So you have to have incentives for both of them to be there, your incentive to get these, these suppliers, on here. They could probably come first, because it's like hey, look, do you want business? Well, how many people are on your system yet? Well, none. But you're just going to have to wait and I need you here first. But some of these platforms, you can't do that. Like some of these platforms that people build, it's hard to invest in those or see them working out, because if one is not in there already, the other one won't come and vice versa. So, with your platform, you could actually and let me know if I'm wrong, but did you go after the suppliers first and just say, look, we're building this marketplace, we need you in here and the sales will come eventually. If you're here, these guys will be here.

Speaker 1:

Exactly Because the suppliers biggest frustration today is in decision from the customer. Because you can imagine if me and five other solar guys come and knock on your door and say hey, adam, do you want to buy my solar panels? You don't know which one of us to trust, and you try and do some homework, you try and do some due diligence, but at the end of the day you don't necessarily believe any of them and you don't know how to vet it, and so you just end up doing nothing, and so that in action, and that cost of sale for the supplier then gets rolled on to the next person. And so then, adam, number two is incurring the cost of you not buying, as well as the other people before you. So now their system is costing way more than it should, and so suppliers just want access to good quality deal flow. Their capabilities are immense the technology, the construction, the capital exists in the market, but they want to home and they want to be able to work for good quality customers, and so our job is to, yes, give you know, provide that deal flow, and so it's easy for us to attract supply. The challenging side of the marketplace is originating good quality deal flow.

Speaker 2:

Awesome. Yeah, I love this. What made you want… Now, you mentioned you were doing this overseas. You've done it in multiple countries. What made you think of creating a marketplace? Where was the gap? What did you… Was there a spark? Something that somebody said to you, something that you saw? That was just like I got to build this thing because you could have just kept going in the industry and making money and doing your thing, but you're an entrepreneur and something, something you know, popped one day and you were like I got to do this, I got to spend my time building this thing instead of just out making money, and now you have a platform. What was that? What was that moment?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I was working for the largest energy engineer firm in the world, actually Wally. I spent 15 years with them, so I saw the corporate side of the world and got to learn a huge amount about how to build businesses and deploy projects. But I had the pleasure of leading the team as the global power consulting lead for the business and I had an amazing team. What we were seeing was the trend of more customers asking for solutions, costs going up, how to just increasing need into hit sustainability targets, so there's the kind of mounting pain points. But then there was the confusion in the marketplace. You know the supply side of the market, it's almost like the wild west and so we saw that there needed to be more structure and coordination, more data, more insights, more enabling technologies, and we didn't think we could do that within the corporation. So actually entrepreneurially convinced them to support us to spin out the business. So they're original investors because they saw that we were going to automate a lot of consulting and engineering work and then coordinate the supply side of the market. But I couldn't have done it without having a few team members who really saw the opportunity and helped frame it. I am not the energy expert, I'm not the software expert, but I like building teams, I like building businesses, and so as soon as I saw the opportunity and we mapped it out. It's an opportunity to make a hugely positive impact on people's lives, on the world, on our economy, on our business. So, yeah, there's not too many opportunities in your life where you get to work on something that you're passionate about. That can make a huge impact. And it's a completely untapped market today. You know, less than 1% of buildings commercial industrial buildings have an on-site energy system and yet they are all going to want pretty soon if the trends keep going like they are.

Speaker 2:

Oh, I agree. And the fact that, back to it, people don't know, you found a really good niche to be in because you're like look, this is a trend. There's incentives for people to do this, especially in these industries that you have on your website here food and beverage manufacturing, mining, wineries, and those guys they know about how to make wine. These are farmers. Yeah, you know, these are miners. They know how to break rocks and look in them and tear them up and get the stuff out of them. You know, these aren't people who are energy experts by any stretch of the imagination, probably. But here you are saying, okay, well, there's something there. Let me start a business using my knowledge. Bring some people in that I know what's you know, that know what's going on with me, that complement my skills. And then we need somebody to frame what our business is going to be, and that's a tough part, especially as an entrepreneur, because you're not always the person. You know what you need to do, you just don't know how to put it onto a website.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, exactly yeah, I'm trying to tell this story in a really simple way is challenging because, to your point, like the farmer, the winery person, they don't think about energy. They don't wake up thinking about energy. We've just seen it. They're just finishing harvest season right now, and harvest season coincides really nicely with wildfire season, particularly here in Napa, sonoma, kind of the winery areas that everyone's heard of, and so what they do is they all spend a huge amount of money getting back up diesel generators and they sit there. They hope that they never use them, but they spend a huge amount of money and those that don't get them are then stressed the whole harvest season, because if they harvest the grapes and then the power goes off and they can't process them, they can't chill them, they lose an entire year's worth of crop. So we just looked at a project for a fairly sizable winery up there and we can actually save them $400,000 a year in energy costs on a $1.2 million bill that they pay today. So you can see this is an insignificant amount of money and with the incentives they can pay it off in less than two years. So huge, huge opportunity and they wouldn't have to worry about energy outages ever again in kind of wildfire pro and area.

Speaker 2:

Wow, I mean you've looking at the website. I mean you guys framed this really well. I love the how we serve, the who we serve, and then you've got each of these sections for each of your four main customer groups. You've got landing pages for them so they can go through here, they can check out everything you guys do that's specific to them. I'll tell you what you need to come to Kentucky I'm sitting in Kentucky right now. So Cincinnati I'm from Cincinnati, which is literally across the river, but you're at this bourbon country right here. It's not a winery, but it's still the beverage business and uh, oh yeah, I'm sure they could use some help over here. You got an entire state that pretty much just produces all the bourbon and uh, we'll have to collaborate, I uh yeah, yeah, there's the, and it's such a small, it's not, it's everybody knows everybody in Kentucky in a way. So if you talk to one guy, you'll talk to three other guys and then you'll end up with every bourbon, every bourbon distillery in this in the state. Somehow it's uh, it's just the way it works. And there is a winery with my last name it's Kailer K-O-E-H-L-E-R winery in, uh, napa somewhere. We were cruising around and I saw it and I went and got a shirt and a bottle of wine, even though I don't even drink, but I was like, ah, my name's on it. And then people were like, whoa, is this your winery? Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, that's how it works. Yeah, I got a winery. Yeah, it's just this little thing we do. Well, that's awesome, man. Well, gareth, this is, this is very interesting, and what would you say to to other entrepreneurs? You mentioned something here that piqued my interest a little bit. You said if you do what you love and you're passionate for it, I think a lot of people they see opportunities, but it's it's not really something that they love, but they think there's an opportunity there to get customers in whatever that industry is, and it ends up failing, not because the opportunity was bad, because they weren't passionate about that opportunity. Yeah, they were passionate about the money they could make in that opportunity. Yeah, but they weren't passionate really about helping people. They weren't really passionate about, I mean, you're probably you go into these projects. You see these people light up when you tell them how much money you're about to save them and you probably get some sense of like gratification from that.

Speaker 1:

Oh that's. It's awesome, I'd say. The reality is, adam, entrepreneurship, as you know, is brutal. Like it's hard. It's every day you get punched in the face. Occasionally. You get that path on the back and that sense of achievement when you get to see these systems deployed and people saving money. But if you're not passionate and you're not committed and you're not able to integrate your work and your life and your family and your sports and kind of do all that together and try and have some degree of balance in your life, it's really challenging. So I'd say to any entrepreneur make sure you are passionate about it, make sure you're willing to commit to it for longer than you probably expect, because these are long-term journeys for you to do it properly and have the right impact. So there's no quick wins and all the quick wins aren't necessarily worth doing.

Speaker 2:

So, yeah, yeah, and did you have to raise money for this? Was this something that you funded initially and then you went out and raised some money? How'd that process work for you?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, we got it initially funded by that corporation the story I told earlier and then we've done two venture capital raises since. So, yeah, we've got some great backers, we've got an awesome group of investors and they see the opportunity and they see that we've got the right platform to build from. But it's a capital intensive process to get going.

Speaker 2:

I got a question why do Europeans hate air conditioning so much? What is going on in Europe, particularly Italy, where it's really hot and there's no air conditioning? What's going on and why do they make fun of us for loving air conditioning?

Speaker 1:

It's amazing, isn't it? Most places in the world realize actually don't even have air conditioning like my wife from Canada, no, and if you went to Calgary, a lot of people wouldn't have air conditioning. But now again, summer days as hot as what we get here in California, 100, 120 degree days, and so people are now starting to think about it. But more aircon units, more energy usage, more stress on the grid, more risk of barratherages, so it becomes a self-fulfilling cycle. But yeah, europe and there's a lot of stress over there we speak to a lot of manufacturers, especially in the likes of Germany and places like that, and for them it's actually their concern is actually surviving, because if they don't have power they can't run. And with the conflict in Ukraine, I think Europe's done a fairly good job of trying to create other ways of energizing their economies. But they haven't gone through a hard, cold winter yet and we'll see. We'll see how it goes this winter. But a lot of companies are now flocking to the US, especially on the back of the inflation reduction act, to try and capture some of those incentives.

Speaker 2:

And well, there's a lot to it in Europe too. I mean, you've got older buildings harder to get air conditioning and HVAC you know, hvac things like that into the buildings. And where do you put the air conditioning unit outside, like, is there a patio or something we could put on? I see those in Thailand a lot Like every one of those condo buildings are. They got the aircon unit just out on the porch, you know, and you know it's taken up a quarter of the porch, a quarter of the balcony in the apartment but and you got those, those ones the little above the doorways and things like that, the air conditioners up there, and but it's a, I guess it's an issue. And also, you know Europe, largely parts of Europe, depend on places like Russia to provide them with energy and it could have been a strategic thing, I mean it's. You know you can't waste energy on things like air conditioning and you got old buildings, old infrastructure that are hard to upgrade and it just never happened the way it did in America. Where we're, you know we can do whatever we want. You know we don't have to worry about getting invaded necessarily, unless you know your wife's people up in Calgary decide to come down and do something, or you know Mexico, but you know for the most part we can just kind of do what we want. We don't have to worry about it.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it's a bonkers world right now. It is pretty well in all lessons.

Speaker 2:

No, no, and energy is a thing. I mean people are literally fighting wars over energy. And I mean you're in a, you're in a space where you know people need these things. It's not just the four groups that you serve the food and beverage manufacturing, those guys. I mean this is government. This is governments need to figure out ways to. I mean, look at all the buildings they own. Look at DC, like the entire you know entire. I don't know what a district is run. It's the government, you know, and they have to reduce costs. And here you are in a great industry and you know, in a position where you can go and recommend things to people. It's great.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah, energy sovereignty. I think it's going to be. It's already important, but it's going to literally wars are being fought over energy, as you said, and they always have been, and so the more we can have sustainable, reliable, affordable, lean energy, I think that's the key for success long term, like our economy is ground to a halt without energy, and so, yeah, we need to all work together to ensure we control that.

Speaker 2:

That's right. What's your? What's the best place for you to work at? I mean, you're in California, which obviously there's tons of incentives, there's tons of money getting thrown around for things like this. They want to go green. For the most part, it's a very liberal state. In the whole world, all these places that you've worked at, what's your favorite place to go into? Where do you see the biggest impact?

Speaker 1:

Actually the US today, because the grid's so old, the incentives are very good, and even the states that you'd never expect to be embracing this, like Texas, has deployed more renewables than any other states in the last year, and they, if you ask people on the ground, they'd probably say no, we're kind of anti that, we're all about our oil and gas, but Florida, like anywhere, that's like in terms of incentives. California, the Northeast US, are super positive from an incentive perspective. From a an outage protection perspective, houston, florida, any of the states where there's hurricanes, tornadoes, storms they're all now aggressively thinking about this. Like in the Texas storm a few years ago, samson's facility in Austin was down for a week. They lost over $300 million in one week because of power outages, and so that brings opportunity into focus for a lot of businesses very quickly. You could pay for a system many times over for the cost of that, and now, with insurance premiums going up and all these sort of compounding stresses on people's businesses, they're thinking about how they can be more resilient, and so the US is the place to be, I think, at least for the next few years, and then thereafter the whole of Asia is going to blow up, because today they're very reliant on diesel generators and things like that, and there's a lot, of, a lot more kind of middle class coming into fruition and they want access to energy, and so we need to make sure that that's done in a really sustainable way on on all fronts cost cleanliness, because otherwise it's going to impact everyone's kind of lifestyles.

Speaker 2:

Preston Pysh. And here you are with a great business that sounds like you're doing awesome. You've got investors. You're rocking and rolling. What do you want to tell people? You know where, where. How should they reach out to you? If, if you know, this resonates with someone, if, if you're a real estate investor, if you're a government, if you're you know a bourbon distillery down in the state of Kentucky somewhere, what do you want to tell people? How do they reach out to you? How do they find you? David Bowden?

Speaker 1:

Well, first of all, I'm always up for a bourbon, so let's have more of those conversations and I'll come and do some site visits, but, yeah, super active on LinkedIn. So, gareth Evans, if you look at Gareth Evans Vector, you should find me. We actually have our own podcast to try and educate people, called Renewable Rides, so check out the podcast. And our website is pretty awesome in terms of blog content, in terms of white papers, updates on what's going on in the industry, so, vectorvcktacom. But yeah, would love to hear from you and always here to support anyone who's thinking about their options and wants to make a positive impact on their business. Gareth, Evans.

Speaker 2:

Well, I would say I'd read your blogs and download your white papers, but I'd probably just call you David.

Speaker 1:

Bowden yeah, exactly, give us a shout. There's a phone number right on the website. I'll go to our head of sales down and he would love to chat to you as well, gareth.

Speaker 2:

Evans. Awesome, gareth man. This has been great man. Good luck with your business. Congratulations on starting a business and providing something that people need. David Bowden.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, thanks, Adam. I really appreciate the chance to hang out with you and share some knowledge with your audience.

Speaker 2:

Gareth Evans yeah, yeah, and get you some bourbon. Maybe they'll trade you a barrel. A barrel for some consulting. How about that, david?

Speaker 1:

Bowden yeah, exactly, I'm from your private winery.

Speaker 2:

Gareth Evans. There you go. Yeah, all right, thanks, gareth.

Speaker 1:

David Bowden Cheers. Have a good one, gareth.

Speaker 2:

Evans, Thanks for joining us on this week's episode of Side Hustle City. Well, you've heard from our guests. Now let's hear from you. Join our community on Facebook, Side Hustle City. It's a group where people share ideas, share their inspirational stories and motivate each other to be successful and turn their side hustle into their main hustle. David Bowden, We'll see you there and we'll see you next week on the show. Thank you.

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Entrepreneurship and Energy in Europe and US